Monday, November 11, 2013

doyoung jeong/interview/tue56

Mum was a girl once 


Mum's recount of her past history is always interesting. Though I have heard about it so many times before, it never gets old. Her full description takes me to the past, and I marvel at how things are so different from the present. My first question was about her favorite pastime as a kid. 

"There weren't any smartphones or playstations or whatever, But that doesn't make our pastime any less dull. We played with gonggi and I was a queen of gonggi, no one could beat me. But I was a tomboy and catching locusts with the boys was the best."

Her eyes were suddenly mischievous, as if she was back to those locust-catching days. Mum, always so brave and vigorous, would have surely been the leader of the gang.

"How was everyday like?"

"I was brought up with three brothers and two sisters. The house was always bustling with kids running around, roaring and screeching. There were never quiet moments. Every meal was like a battle. You had to make a frantic dash for dining table and snatch your portion of food or there wouldn't be anything left. After devouring food, though always craved for more, there were huge piles of dirty dishes I had to wash up. And that's not all-there were all sort of chores I had to deal with like laundry, scrubbing floor, bathing my baby sister... Being the second eldest, and a girl, I was expected to carry out such duties."

"Did grandmother always favored boys over girls?"

"Always. She can't help it. She is old woman with traditional values, and such notions were firmly rooted in her brain. It was same with education too. She poured all her effort and money in educating the eldest brother, saying he will one day become the man of the house, but didn't care much about educating girls. 'what's the point of educating girls?' She used to say. I, however, saw a potential in my sister and urged her to study hard. She passed her exam and got a job straight away, and brought home a lot of money. Educating a girl had its uses, after all."

I felt sorry for her, since I don't have to do too much housework and I get plenty of education, if not too much. I moved on with the question that intrigued me most.

"How did you get to marry father?"

" Grandmother was friends with a women who lived across the street. She had a son. They thought we would make a good pair. We met a couple of times and then got married."

"As simple as that? But that is practically marring a stranger! How could you take such a risk?"

" Well they all said he was a kind person... And anyway, young people these days take more than a year to get married but they still get divorced, while me and your father live in perfect harmony."

I goggled at her. Strange how minds of past generations works.

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