I Finally Met My Sisters
I'm finally here. Dad woke me up as the plane landed. As I stepped off the plane, I was worried that they might hate me. I didn't know what to expect. And then I heard it.
"She's arrived!" I look in the direction of the shout and see her; two of her, actually. It's at that moment that I realize that they are my sisters; my mother's long-cherished wish. I see in one hand the Polaroid that I sent them. They are both crying as though I was lost and now I had been found. As soon as I am past the gate, we run toward each other and embrace. All of my nervousness falls away; I am one of them.
We murmur, "Mama, Mama," and we begin to cry once more. I look at their faces and see no trace of her there. They still look familiar though. They are my family, and I am finally able to meet them. They take a quick look at me and then, as if in a chorus, both excitedly say, "Little sister has grown up!" I remember my imaginings of little girls crowded around me, first at age four, then at six, and I cannot remember why I would imagine them so young. Of course they would be older than me, but I couldn't picture it that way.
We join together as my father lifts the Polaroid camera. The flash goes off and my father hands me the picture. We watch as the gray-green surface begins to change and show the bright colors of life. We watch amazed as though none of us have ever seen a Polaroid. As we watch, we see our three shapes appear, darkening and sharpening at once. None of us say anything, but I know we see it. Together we look like Mama. There is her nose, her mouth, and her eyes. We begin laughing as I hand the picture to my father.
"How alike you look! You all have traits of your mother!" We all hug, and then begin walking to the exit.
"We will take a taxi to get home." It was difficult to know who was who, considering that they were identical twins.
"Will you please tell me your names? I'm having a hard time knowing who is who." I blushed a deep red from having to admit this. They laughed and told me that many people could not tell them apart.
"I am Wang Chwun Yu," said the woman in the pink flowered dress.
"And I am Wang Chwun Hwa," said the woman in the purple flowered dress.
"You can tell us apart in one way," said Yu, "I have a widow's peak and she doesn't. Don't worry, sometimes our step-mother could not tell us apart." I felt much better after she told me this. We took a taxi to their house. It was very nice.
The house was two stories tall, with two large bay windows on each side, one on the bottom story and one above it. Each of the upper bay windows was larger and led onto a balcony. I was surprised by the color of the house; it was light pink with lilac sponge painting. We were ushered in through a large gate that was wound with vines. It was about waist-high, but at the entrance it led off in two directions. One went up in an arc about a foot above my head, and the other continued at waist height and was an entrance door to the garden. The garden was beautiful. There was a little cobblestone path that led around the entire house. In the back right corner there was a little pond with lily pads that reminded me of the stories Auntie An-mei had told me. One the other side, there was a large oak tree with a giant tire swing hanging from it. It made me wonder if my sisters had children. There was grass on either side of the path, and beyond the small strip of grass there were flowers. There were roses of all colors, tulips, daisies, sweet peas, lilies, jasmines, daffodils, gardenias, orchids, and so many others that I didn't even know the names of. Everything was well tended.
Yu and Hwa led us inside. The inside of the house was even more amazing than the outside. Everything was so ornate. There were large pictures of my parents and grandparents as well as large pictures of two people I didn't recognize. I assumed they were Mei Ching and Mei Han, my sisters' foster parents. The pictures had large, baroque frames that held my eyes until I pulled them away to take in the rest of the entrance hall. I saw the circular staircase. It appeared to be made of marble. The floor beneath me was a pretty pink and purple tile pattern. The walls had wallpaper with a lovely vine pattern. I looked up and saw a large, crystal and gold chandelier. It was so big that it cast light into every corner of the room.
The entrance hall led off into four rooms: the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, and a bathroom. The living room was furnished with fancy furniture. There were two overstuffed chairs, one pink and one lilac. There was a rosewood table in front of each chair, each with a different half-finished puzzle on it. There was a small television on the far side of the room with two small mirrors on either side of it. There was a small rosewood end table next to each chair and each one had a small lamp on it. There was a large, overstuffed sofa opposite the chairs. It had a vine pattern with pink and lilac flowers blossoming on the vines. There was a luscious, light pink carpet beneath my feet. There was a large, purple, circular rug in the middle of the room. The curtains were pushed back allowing the daylight to stream in through the window behind the sofa.
Hwa and Yu led us to the dining room. It had a large rosewood table in the middle with matching chairs. Large, lion's feet table legs supported them. There was a cabinet with wine on the left, and some serving bowls, plates, and utensils were held in a cabinet on the right. The drapes were pushed back on the far end of the room allowing sunlight to enter.
They took us upstairs to show us our rooms. At the head of the stairway was a long hallway entirely covered in a light pink carpet. There were a total of five rooms upstairs. We walked down to the right first. The first room had a closed door. The second room was mine. As I stepped into my room, I set my suitcases down. I was so amazed by what I saw, I stared at the room open-mouthed. There was a magnificent bed in the middle of the room. There were drapes hanging from the ceiling all around the bed. They were a slightly transparent white. The bed had covers with a pink and lilac pattern. There were two pillows, one pink and one purple. They appeared to be made of silk, as was the cover. There was a small television in front of the bed with a mirror above it. There was a small door next to the television that, as my sisters told me, led to the bathroom. On the other side of the television was a clock that was almost exactly like the one that Auntie An-mei told us about in her story. Directly opposite me was a large window. The curtains were drawn back revealing the balcony. I knew my balcony would have an amazing view in the morning.
We went back down the hallway the other way to my father's room. His was manlier with brown sheets, no drapes around the bed, and a plain clock above the television. The drapes were drawn back in his room as well. At the end of our tour, we all went downstairs again and Hwa called to the maid to start dinner.
We sat in the living room trading stories. I remembered what everyone had told me. "Tell them stories of your family here…tell them stories of lessons she taught, what you know about her mind that has become your mind….her kindness, her smartness, her dutiful nature to family…" I thought about all of this advice and began to tell them stories. I began with her "Kweilin Story". This story alone took until dinner. We ate our dinner in silence, as custom requires. As soon as dinner was finished, we went up to bed. All of us were exhausted.
Once in my room, I took a quick shower and then pulled on my pajamas. I was amazed when I looked at the clock. It was only 9:00! I decided to watch some TV before I went to bed. I climbed into bed and was pleasantly surprised with how deliciously soft and cool the cover and pillows felt. I tapped the button on the remote control and the TV clicked on. A news show was on. An earthquake was being featured. I changed the channel. This show had an opera on. I hate opera, so I changed the channel again. There was a ballet featuring a Russian dance company. It looked like Swan Lake. I changed the channel still again. A movie was on. The main character was none other than Sylvester Stallone. Now this was something I could watch. It hadn't been translated, so I just ignored the captions on the bottom. I probably watched for about a half hour before I fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up as the first rays of light were appearing in my window. I checked my clock. It was 4:30 in the morning. I pulled on my robe and opened the bay window. I stepped out into the cool morning air. I had been right; the view was amazing. I turned when I heard a knock on the door.
"Come in." My sister stepped into my room. She wanted to know if I had slept well. A quick look at her forehead let me know who she was.
"I had a great night Yu. Thank you for asking. How was yours?"
"It was fine. Breakfast will be ready in about ten minutes." She left, and I took a shower. I stepped out, toweled myself dry, and put on lotion. I stepped out of the bathroom and walked over to the closet. I pulled out a light blue dress. I brushed my hair and pulled it back into a ponytail. I slipped into a pair of sandals and went downstairs.
Everyone was already at the table, and I was embarrassed to have made them wait. I murmured my apologies then sat down. Just then the maid came in with breakfast. It was fried rice, egg rolls, and hot tea. I was surprised at how full I was after eating so little.
After breakfast, dad and my sisters went into the living room to talk while I went outside to explore the garden. I walked out to the little pond. I was surprised to find a little turtle sitting on one of the lily pads. There were also large goldfish swimming around. I reached over and picked up the turtle. I felt a rush of energy run through me. I remembered Auntie An-mei's story. I started crying as I remembered the pain in her voice. I was surprised when the turtle swallowed my tears. I was afraid the turtle might start talking to me like in the story, so I set it back down and hurried away.
I went to the tree and sat down on the swing. I begin to swing. As I did so, I had a surge of childhood memories. I remembered my mother brushing my hair as she told me her Kweilin story. I remembered her pushing me on my swing at home. As I was swinging here, I could almost feel my braids bouncing and the softness of her touch on my back as she pushed me.
I stopped myself when I heard Hwa calling.
"Jing-mei! Where are you? We're going shopping!" I jumped off the swing and ran down the path as though I were still a little girl. Hwa told me that the town wasn't too far out so we would walk. She also told me that dad wasn't going. When I heard that, I decided to stay to take care of him. I've been worried about him since he fell asleep with the stove on. Luckily, I stopped by that day and nothing happened. My sisters urged me to go with them. When I didn't relent, they gave up and went alone. I napped while they were gone and didn't wake up until they returned.
"Meimei! Sister! We're home!" I awoke to my sisters shaking me.
"We bought some things for you!" I blushed when they told me this. I was embarrassed. I tried to show proper Chinese humility by refusing the gifts, but Hwa and Yu pushed the bag of presents into my arms. They turned from me and pushed a bag of gifts into my father's arms as well. I opened my bag and saw all sorts of things. I pulled out a couple of silk Chinese dresses, both in pastel blues. I looked at them and decided that both were my size. I pulled out a Chinese fan painted with images of women holding fans. I pulled out a pair of blue, silk slippers with flowers embroidered on them. They were beautiful and they were just my size. The best thing is that they matched my dresses exactly. I looked at my sisters wonderingly.
"We're going to a party tonight. A traditional Chinese party. We decided you needed something to wear." I was surprised. I wondered where it was, but decided not to ask.
"We're leaving in about an hour, so you'd better get ready." I went upstairs and took a quick shower. I stepped out and pulled on the darker blue dress. I tied on the slippers. I looked at myself in the mirror and my face fell. I realized that my hair was all wrong for these dresses. I walked out of my room and knocked on my sister's door. She told me to come in, so I did.
"Sister! Please help me with my hair. I don't know what to do with it. It looks wrong just hanging limply like this."
"Don't worry sister. I will help." She sits me down in a chair and starts brushing my hair. I was surprised by how gentle her touch was. As I sat there facing the mirror, I watched her style my hair elegantly. Hwa styled it into a type of bun while leaving two ringlets to frame my face, and she placed delicate flowers in my hair. I was amazed by how elegant I looked.
About ten minutes later, we were all piled up in the backseat of a taxi on our way to the party. I felt glorious. When we arrived, I was surprised to see so many people. We stepped out of the taxi and followed Hwa and Yu inside. I noticed one young man about my age, who was very cute, as we walked inside. After saying hello to the host and hostess, Yu whispered to me to socialize. I immediately went in search of that young man. I went back outside and around the corner of the house. There he was. He was alone, so I managed to walk up to him and say hello.
"Hello," he said in perfect English, "My name is Anthony. I am from LA. Are you from here?" I laughed as he said this.
"No, I'm from San Francisco. My mother was from here. I'm visiting my half sisters." We had a wonderful conversation until it was time for dinner. I, of course, had to sit with my sisters and my father. He sat across from me at the table. After dinner, I went back outside with Anthony. We talked until it was time for me to leave. I discovered that he was returning to LA at about the same time I was returning to San Francisco, so I left the party with plans to meet up with him later.
The next day, I packed to leave. My sisters promised to come visit soon. I was sad to have to leave so soon, but I was looking forward to seeing Anthony again. I was also extremely excited to go home and tell my Aunties about my stay in China. I was especially excited to go show off in front of Waverly.
My sisters went with us to the airport. We said tearful good-byes, and then my father and I departed for the plane with promises to write. We were sad to go, but happy to be going home.