I didn’t include this little story in Good Chinese Wife because it didn’t move the story forward and I was already way over word count.
But the spring before we moved to San Francisco, my in-laws descended upon Hong Kong and stayed with us in our 420 square foot flat out in the New Territories.
For three weeks.
I worked full-time in Kowloon, so was out of the flat for most of their trip. But we still spent quality family time at dinner and on the weekends.
If you’ve read Good Chinese Wife, you might recall that Baba was my strongest ally in the family. He was a veracious reader and when he got to Hong Kong, there was suddenly a world of books available to him for the first time ever.
One of these was The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Written by Mao’s physician, it was very popular in Hong Kong in the mid-90s.
At the time, I had just finished Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, and couldn’t stop talking about it with my father-in-law. I was determined to buy a Chinese translation for him, but never got around to finding one. I don’t know if it was because I rushed home after work each day because Cai and my in-laws were waiting for me with dinner on the table. Or maybe it was because we didn’t venture out much beyond the New Territories while they were staying with us (my mother-in-law suffered from acute motion sickness).
In any case, the openness of Hong Kong–still a British colony at that point–was an eye-opener for my in-laws, especially Baba.