Imagining the Golden Days
Over the past few months, I have heard of dad working intently, eating every minute of his after work hours on his first memoir. Growing up, dinner was the time our whole family got together to reminisce our day. At the table, dad was always an animate story teller. Some stories, he had told over and over again, as we would say in Chinese 老到掉牙，”it is so old that teeth fall out.” At his first words, we would already say, “Oh yeah I know this one.” Yet we never grew tired of listening to the old tales.
A month ago, I finally received his final Chinese manuscript. Due to my poor Chinese, I took a much longer time in reading his 209 pages masterpiece. To compensate, I had read every single word.
Not only is my dad a good story teller, he is a talented writer. I am most impressed with his ability to detail the events of his life as early as 3 years old. I don’t even remember what happened in high school let alone elementary or toddler years.
What makes his book interesting beyond personal anecdotes is the way he relates to life in the “golden days” as I put it. The 50s and 60s of Taiwan was not glorious by any means. It was a time when everyone was poor and the only reason for living is to get by everyday. Under those harsh conditions, the stories overflowed with the rare beauty of simplicity, creativity and comradeship of the time.
Imagine a time when children ran wild in the mountains, catching mangos and longans they hit off trees and swimming at the military harbor, only to dry their wet bottoms on hot sun-dried roads. A time when anyone can claim an uninhabited land and establish his family. A time when friends and neighbours lent sincere helping hands and have bonded deeper than blood. A time as rough as a rock, but as golden as the sun.