The cat’s cradle

One night after bath, my rambunctious seven years old daughter jumped next to me and invited me to play cat’s cradle with her.

“Cool, honey. I played this when I was little.” I was bewildered to find some thing from my childhood, half world around and thirty decades later my daughter would enjoy.

“You meant you played this in China?” She was surprised.

“Ya. And I’m pretty good at it.” I skillfully showed her few ‘movements’.

“Mom, you are good.” My seven years old was impressed, and shouting to her brother, “K, you’ve got to see it. Mom knows how to play cat’s cradle!” Her face was gleaming,
“Mom, do it slowly, please. Show that to me again.”

She giggled to bed at curfew time. “Good night Mom. It was so fun!”

“Good night, love. Have a sweet dream.” We kissed.

“Mom, let’s do it again.” Then, she questioned, “Mom, did your Mom play this with you when you were young?” I felt a knot in my throat. Luckily the lights were out so she won’t see my red nose and teary eyes.

“Not really, love.” I smoothed her hair that were spreading out on her pillow. Would she understand that at her age, I didn’t have a mother?

“Didn’t she love you?” She asked innocently.

I wished and pretended that my mother loved me.

“Of course!” But then, did I really know?

I lost in my own thought long after every one had gone to sleep. I envy her entitlement, of which I would generously provide to no end. Because I decided to bring them to this world; I ought to see them to strengthen their feathers (to grow).

I could not bring myself to talk about my mother and I had never questioned her decision to suicide. It was a fact and I lived with it. I secretly licked my wound and quietly swallowed my tears. She had always occupied a very special corner in my heart, almost too holy that I was seldom to visit. I was afraid as if too intensely gaze would melt her fragile image away. I had this anger and the sense of abandonment. It’s so profound, that it was almost humiliating. For my own sense of comfort, I chose to believe that Mom had loved me. But then, on the same token, how could she commit suicide, left me alone? This believe had been diminishing ever since I had become a mother. My daughter’s childish timbre had finally brought me to face the reality, to confront it. The moment of truth was she was selfish.

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2 Responses to The cat’s cradle

  1. Auntie Sun says:


  2. Yang Jingshi says:

    Fully agree with your auntie’s comment.

    Please read “Mom’s will” now and again, over-and-over.
    At least It moved me deeply and I found it was full of love, great love of a mother.

    “My Dear daughter, my good Ning-ning,”—she called you so sweetly and dearly;
    “I stared at your childish face for long time, poor you, I love you”,
    “Be good with your father”,
    That is what she wrote on paper. You can see how she loved you and was hard to part with you.

    Don’t forget, it was written on a day in those terrible years: love, sympathy, concern, care, dear, all good things died away. Small red book drove some people crazy. Political argument in one family and made the family apart, divorce, suicide, son beat father to death, husband killed wife…..all these were common social phenomena. Thousands, or millions people were facing the same fate as your mother’s. We can imagine, it was very difficult for your Mom to write out such kind words to show you her love and her unwillingness to leave, because she knew every word she wrote down that could be an evidence to determine her fate after passing away, even make sense to her child. BUT she did that, and I guess, only because of you.

    I know, you are studying your genealogy and building your family trees of your mother side. I should say your family is one of the old, noble and glorious families in China, its roots could be extended to the years of BC. You should be proud of having such a family background. But, did you think how to live for a person with such a family background at that time I described above?? I don’t think so, you were too little to understand. Tell you that it must be a big burden and even a crime. Some people must say that this man or woman was growing from a family living on the blood and sweat of slaves and laboring people. Just because of this, the only one point, they could torture your mother to death.

    In a supposed case, just supposed, your mother deemed that her family background might put a dirty spot on her child’s future and she decided to sacrifice herself to make her child clean. Isn’t it possible?? If it was true or even one of those reasons she made her decision to suicide. How great your mother is!

    I don’t like your hesitation while saying that your Mom loved you, or you wished, or pretended to say that. You complained that she left you alone in the world when you were a seven years little girl, but you didn’t think about from a broader and social angle trying to know all pressures she suffered from physical wounds and disease, family and relatives, mental humiliations…. Taking all these into condideration, and then, study her, do your best to know her, to understand her. I am sure you will find that your mother IS really a great mother. She should occupy the most important position in your heart. Her image should be noble and clear, but not be fragile. Seeing things just from your own angle, is it selfish?

    Say to the Heaven “ Mom, you loved me, I felt, I love you, I love you forever”.

    p.s. I like to express myself straightly and directly, say what I am thinking about. Did I hurt you? No, I hope not. I am just trying to release your knot in your heart and wishing you a happy and lucky life.

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