Above: My Grandpa, Cheung Ching.
Translations of Fictitious Journal Entries
loosely based on a true love story
Dear Work Report,
I am relieved. My work is done. After three arduous years, I believe I have finally convinced Mrs. Leung that Cheung Ching is the right man for her daughter. I think Mrs. Leung was completely sold on the idea when I told her Cheung Ching spoke English and conversed with an English man yesterday when I was spying on him at work. Well, at least I think he was having a conversation with him – I’m a matchmaker, I can’t be responsible to know such things. The foreigner said something to him and Cheung started moving his mouth quite frantically and took out every fork that was on the Sincere Department Store catalogue. At the end of his feverish oral movements, the foreigner nodded, looked at the various forks and pointed at one and walked away looking satisfied. When I summarized that to Mrs. Leung, she looked to so blissful, like some bomb filled with happy ready to explode, I knew I didn’t need to say anymore.
So now that all that’s finished. I hope they’ll get married soon. Mrs. Leung has such picky taste; I don’t want to go through the whole process of finding someone she sees “potential” in again.
– Ms. Matchmaker, July 14
What a wonderful day! I’ve been dreaming of Red, Red, Red! I’ve started the dowry list! I’ve gotten my calendar out to figure out that special day when all the luck, love, and prosperity will flourish! My mouth waters to taste the tea that will be given to me by my daughter and her groom! What a mystical elation my heart feels!
I had a meeting with my beautiful daughter’s matchmaker to hear of the report she had promised to give me today of Cheung Ching, the young Sincere Department Store salesman from Hong Kong, and what a report! on top of his professionalism, the matchmaker said he was charming and most impressive all – he was speaking English to a foreign customer! Imagine that, my future son-in-law can communicate with the foreign world! There’s no doubt that he’ll go far in this long and treacherous life. According to the matchmaker he was having lucid conversation with a foreigner about forks! His linguistic ability has won me over ten fold!
The report was told to me over tea today and just exhilarated me. So much so, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening daydreaming about the marriage that will inevitably happen now. I’m glad Cheung Ching has redeemed himself. I mean, you have to understand as being part of a family which owns one of the largest cow-bone-fertilizer companies in Macau, I had my doubts about this boy. He comes from a penurious background and spent the two years prior to his salesman job being pretty much a slave to some unknown architect. Do you know how embarrassing it was to tell people that a slave was courting my daughter? Because of Cheung Ching’s status, I was the butt of all jokes around the mah jong table. It was utterly mortifying. It had gotten to the point where I was going to either blow up in front of my friends and lose face or break that courteous boy’s heart and tell him to give up the chase and I’m quite well known to be one who often shows equanimity, so lucky for Cheung for getting that salesman job. That boy has really gotten onto his two feet.
Though I have only seen Cheung Ching alone from a distance and from his visits to our family home here in Macau, he has made a strong impression on me. He seems to be a hard worker maybe even fit to take over our fertilizing business when my husband and I grow old! He’ll learn the trade of crushing cow bones and using the remnants of that to maker fertilizer. What peacefulness my heart feels now that such a competent suitor is courting my daughter!
– (My grandmother’s mother’s name), July 14
The pit of hell has broken past the mantle of the earth and is swallowing me whole. I cannot lift my face to look at myself in the mirror . I will die alone. I have brought disgrace to my family forevermore and more. I will die alone. The fates have decided. I cannot retaliate. My gaff has left me loveless. What am I to do?
Having worked at Sincere now for almost a year, of all days why did that foreigner decide to ask me something? I can’t even write down what he asked me since I have no idea what he even said to me! Those guys never come up to me. They know better than that. If you’re foreign, you always go to the manager or at least othe person who looks like he can speak English.
Worst of all, this paled skinned freak caught me by surprise. I was daydreaming about next week when I’ll be taking an overnight ferry to see the love of my life in Macau. Then all of a sudden this foreigner comes up to me asking about gods know what. I frantically mumble sounds I thought meant, “I don’t understand.” But obviously I wasn’t communicating that since he kept talking to me, so I looked around hoping to find the manager, but no one was near me! It’s gets worse. As I looked around, I was quite certain I saw a glimpse of the matchmaker hiding behind a display in the bedding department, which is right across from the cutlery department where I work.
In the rush of things, I suddenly heard the foreigner say the magic word, “fork.” The architect I used to assist from some european country, I forget, was a voracious eater and always asked me to help him get his forks for him. After hearing the foreigner say that exact same word as the architect, I went right to work taking out every single fork in the cutlery department saying, “very nice” with my thumb up to every fork I took out. I was trying my best to smile and stay composed, but any fool would have been able to tell how ridiculous I looked. Thank goodness the manager didn’t show up, he would probably killed me for taking everything out. Luckily, I guessed right, the foreigner did want forks. He eventually picked a set and said something along the lines of “geelee gooloo.” After he finished saying whatever he was saying, I bowed like a small child bowing in front of parents at a piano recital. Why did I bow?! No one bows anymore! Why did I bow?! Stupid.
Oh the dread. I’m just waiting for the poison to begin its work. For that judge to slam the hammer down and sentence me an undeserved death. What havoc and embarrassment when the matchmaker goes and reports what she saw to Mrs. Leung, god knows she already hates me. I better start making plans to do something productive next week since I doubt Mrs. Leung will want me to see her daughter ever again.
– Cheung Ching, July 14