I was 7, perhaps, or 8. Maybe older; time has faded some of the relevant facts, but others stand out the starker in comparison. My mother is sitting at our dining table, and it is late at night. She’s just come home, and others are seated around her: an aunt, and my father.
I’ve only passed through the dining room on my way to my bedroom. My aunt turns to me from where she has been listening to my mother talk of her night, and asks me, in Chinese, “Aren’t you worried? Your mother was just in a car accident!”
I shrug, keep walking. The shrug is more out of shyness and discomfort than anything else. Behind me, I hear my mother tell my aunt, also in Chinese, “See, she doesn’t care! She doesn’t care what happens to me.”
I kept walking, not looking back, and closed my bedroom door behind me.
I’ve never talked to my mother of that night, but it continues to come back to me at random moments, like tonight. You see, what I never told my mother, my aunt, or my father, was that I did not know the Chinese phrase for “car accident.”
I thought that my aunt had told me that my mother had been in heavy traffic. In my mind, that explained why she’d gotten home so late, and so I summarily dismissed the matter from my mind.
There are many things one might draw from this memory. I’ve gone through them all. But, tonight, I just wanted to record it here. A small scrap of a memory, but significant all the same.