Thursday, September 27, 2007

Growing Pins

Mother's pins.

Father's Pins.

Last week while I was still unpacking some boxes after moving to a new apartment. I found a small bag of pins that my mother passed to me last summer when she visited New York. There are about 50 of them from the Chinese Cultural Revolution era (1966-1976) are separated in two small boxes, a paper box with the text “Injectio Vitamin B Complicis” and a plastic box labeled “High Quality Toothpick.” In the plastic box, well-polished pins with Mao portrait placed in between 3 layers of napkins and red velvet, a typical way my mother storage every little precious item.

About 5 years ago, along with the raising of Chinese Contemporary art which at the time most work seem to be political themed. I was also interested in Cultural Revolution. After some books and films, I was saddened just to imagine what my parents had gone through. I think I will never be able to understand the emotional damage that cast on that particular generation.

When I opened the paper Vitamin B box, I was muted. There is a bunch pins jam-packed in this tiny little box. Almost all the pins are cracked, faded, chipped and rotten. I knew they must belong to my father as I can even smelled the machinery grease from the box. But strangely, I felt very much connected to this box of not so perfect pins. I have never felt a strong connection to my father who I normally could not handle a conversation for merely 10 minutes ever since I’ve grown up. But somehow I see father’s non-stop struggling life while go through every single pins in the box, from growing up in the slum, missing education during the Culture Revolution, raise me and my sister while working and schooling, as well as scared to loose job each year after his factory took a new system. All that was in this box.

Last week, I called home and my father answered. I was not brave enough to say what I would like to tell him, and I couldn’t even keep the conversation in a few minutes. I feel shamed and regretted.

"Happy Birthday, Dad!"


5 comments:

robert said...
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robert said...
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robert said...
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Anonymous said...

令尊是在哪种单位,会时时担心失去工作?是改革开放之后的担心?

我在做一个东西,其中提到70年代一个溜来这边的女工,向上海的单位请假,但又做好了立刻被除名的准备。老外不理解,为什么会请假而招来开除,小老中也不理解,准备在美国混了,还和单位请什么假?因私人原因到美国去的个人,将成为一个“特殊”的人,这老外不理解;几乎所有中国人都隶属一个具体的机构(所以叫做“单位”),这是小老中不理解的。当然,这都是从前的情况了。

常回去吗?有没有回上海拍的作品?我出来五年就没回去过。原来在卢湾南市,后来给赶到浦东区了。

zeyez

Tom said...

This is very touching... I hope you can find the courage some day to tell your father your thoughts....