Story with Uncle Reggie : if I did not have my hemorrhoids,….
与曾叔叔講故事:假如我没有痔疮……
( Sonic翻譯)

I have only known my mother as a quiet shy woman. But in her 20s, this brave young American born, ethnically Chinese woman who spoke no Chinese, ventured to teach English in Hong Kong, at a time when Imperial Japan was invading China, and war clouds were looming.

我的记忆里我的妈妈是个安静、羞涩的女子,但在她20多岁的时候,这个出生于美国,有中国血统但不会说中文的勇敢女性冒险来到香港教授英语,其时日本帝国正入侵中国,战争乌云压境。

A few years after arrival in Hong Kong, she was notified that her uncle was sick and was being treated in the historic Queen Mary Hospital for an operation on his hemorrhoids. My mom-to-be went to visit him as one of the few relatives in town. And there something happened.

抵港后数年,她获悉她的叔叔病了,正在久负盛名的玛丽医院接受痔疮手术治疗。我未来的妈妈作为香港为数不多的亲戚之一去看望他。故事就发生在那里。

Her uncle’s physician/surgeon just happened to be the newly minted quite handsome (I am often told) Kenneth Tsang. He had grown up in a very small Hakka mountain village, in the province of Guangdong, China. As a child, he attended a Scottish Presbyterian run mission primary and high school, before going on to the big city to study at the University of Hong Kong Medical School.

她叔叔的主管医师刚好是初出茅庐的曾广球医生(Kenneth Tsang)。人们多次告诉我那时的曾医生真是一表人才。他生长于广东省的一个小小的客家村寨。孩提时他在苏格兰长老会主办的小学及中学学习,直到去香港医学院学习。为了去医学院学习,他此前几年就来到这个大城市完成高中后两年的学习。

Shy girl goes from Seattle to China towards her tian yi.
羞涩的女孩因着天意从西雅图到中国

Growing up as a child, for some strange reason, I did not think my father’s (Kenneth’s) English was very good. Maybe it was his Hakka-Scottish accent, or my hyper-critical attitude. But in retrospect, I can only assume that his English must have been good enough, and his manners western enough, to impress my American born and raised, thoroughly western, English teacher mother. For, soon, to everyone’s surprise, they were married, a truly cross-cultural east-west marriage. Indeed, I understand from relatives that there was some general grumbling that my father had married “this foreigner.”

在我幼小时,由于奇怪的原因,我不认为我的父亲Kenneth的英语很棒。也许是由于他的客家话-苏格兰口音,或者是我的吹毛求疵。但回头看,我只能认为他的英语够好,举止够西化,才能给我的美国出生并长大、全盘西化的,作为英文教师的母亲以深刻印象。出乎大家的意料,他们很快结婚了,真正的跨文化的东西方的结合。的确,从我的亲戚那里得知他们有一些嘀咕我的父亲娶了个外国人。

Years later, this uncle who precipitated the encounter over his hospital bed, would remind me that, “if it were not for my hemorrhoids, you would not be here today.” Which is really sort of true.

多年后,这位在病床上促成了父母亲相遇的叔叔提醒我:“不是我的痔疮,今天就没有你。”某种程度上讲是对的。

Thinking back, I really cannot fathom how my timid quiet mother was so brave as to cross the Pacific alone, from Seattle to China. All I know is that her sister, Florence, had graduated as one of the few women doctors from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and had preceded her to go to China as a medical missionary. And somehow she had the guts to follow her steps.

回想起来,我仍不明白是什么促成我羞怯文静的母亲勇敢地独自跨越太平洋,从西雅图来到中国。我只知道她的姐姐Florence作为位于Ann Arbor市的密歇根大学的为数不多的女医生之一毕了业,成为医学传教士先于她去了中国。因此她有勇气去跟随她的脚步。

So in some strange way, my very shy mother, who liked to keep to herself most of her life, and who never learned Chinese, landed in China, to teach English. I understand from relatives she could not adapt too well with the situation, and had to move to the British colony of Hong Kong, since there it was quite possible to exist without knowing Chinese. Especially if she was teaching English. So in this very strange way from Seattle to China to Hong Kong Queen Mary hospital, it happened. You could definitely say, “if it were not for”……at many many bifurcation points in life…… and so here we are…….

以某些奇怪的方式,我羞怯的母亲大部分时间总是独处,她从未学过中文,来到中国教授英语。从亲戚处得知我的母亲对环境不是很适应,只好搬到香港英国殖民地,那里不懂中文也能生存,特别是她教授英文。从西雅图到中国,到香港玛丽医院,它总是以一种很特别的方式发生着。你可以明确的说:“要不是”……在生命中众多的分支点……,我们在这里了……

“If” the Scottish Presbyterian mission hospital doctors in the Hakka village of WuKingFu had not spotted my grandfather in his childhood, and nurtured him to be the elder and doctor of the village, I’m not sure that Kenneth, his son would have been sent to the very prestigious English-speaking University of Hong Kong, all the way in the big city far away. And “if” young Kenneth had not made a decision to become a surgeon, ………

“如果”苏格兰长老会传教医院的医生在客家小镇五经富镇没有看到孩提时期的我的祖父,没有把他培养成村里的长老和医生,我不能肯定他的儿子 Kenneth会被送到名闻遐迩的香港讲英文的大学读书,此后一直呆在遥远的大城市。“如果”年轻的Kenneth没有决心成为外科医生……

Shy girl leaves Thailand to the big city, towards her tian yi.
羞涩的女孩因着天意离开泰国到大城市

Many years later, thousands of miles away in Thailand, in the 1950s, there was a great fear of communism in Southeast Asia. China had just had its revolution, and the giant nation was wakening up. Many Chinese immigrants lived in Southeast Asia, and were often wealthy and influential. Many countries at that time were really alarmed that they would come under communist influence through the Chinese immigrants among them.

多年后,在上个世纪50年代,数千英里外的泰国,弥漫着东南亚的共产主义恐慌。中国革命了,这个大的民族苏醒了。居住在东南亚的中国移民往往富裕并有影响力。那个时期很多国家担心受到他们中的中国移民的共产主义影响。

Thailand came up with an ingenious way to “assimilate” the Chinese communities living there, and potentially reduce the perceived ‘danger’: all Chinese had to change their names to Thai names, and all Chinese language schools were closed. Being one of the most welcoming countries to Chinese immigrants, with practically no restriction on job opportunities (compared with many neighboring countries) and thus having very little ethnic discrimination, this indigenization program became a very successful one, which ultimately fully assimilated the Chinese among them. Ultimately the country even elected 2 Chinese brother and sister Prime Ministers for the nation, quite a testament to their assimilation policy.

泰国提出一个很有独创性的方法去“同化”居住在那里的华人社区,尽可能的减少所感受到的“危险”:所有中国人改泰姓,所有的中文学校关闭。作为最受中国移民欢迎的国家之一,与邻国相比,没有工作机会的实际上的限制,因此几乎没有民族歧视,这个本土化政策非常成功,它最终同化了他们中所有的中国人。后来甚至选出两个中国兄妹作为首相,这就是同化政策成功的明确的证明。

However one little girl, whom I know personally as being a quiet gentle person, resolutely decided that she would not be assimilated. She insisted on getting a Chinese education somewhere else rather than to remain in Thailand. Corruption was rampant during that time, and she intensely resented the evil of policemen coming to her father’s medical clinic for “protection” shake-downs. Assimilation seemed to include shake-downs bribes, and she was not going to live with that.

然而,一个我所了解的非常文静小女孩,坚定的拒绝被同化。她坚持到泰国以外的其他地方学习中文。那个时期腐败盛行,她强烈憎恨警察到她父亲的诊所索取保护费的敲诈勒索罪恶行径。同化就包含着敲诈勒索贿赂,她不能容忍这些。

During that time there are only a few options for finding good Chinese education, and these were in Singapore, Malaysia or Hong Kong. Her mother had relatives in Hong Kong, and so it was decided that she would travel as a young girl of 14 years from her small home town of Haadyai in southern Thailand, to live thousands of miles away from home, in the metropolis of Hong Kong.

那时只有为数不多的好的中文教学可选择,像新加坡、马来西亚或者香港。她的母亲有亲戚在香港,因此决定让她,这个14岁的小女孩从泰南小镇合艾(Haadyai)跋涉到离家数千英里的大都市香港生活。

In this story, the girls are definitely tougher than we imagine. So indeed, “if it were not for the turmoil in the Asian world, the smart Thai assimilation program, and the determination of a spunky Thai-Chinese girl,” I would not have even met her, and certainly could not have brashly convinced her, not too long after her arrival in Hong Kong, to pledge to wait to marry me in 10 years, which amazingly really happened………. (See Uncle Reggie’s Stories: “Making an Impression”).

这个故事里,这些女孩比我们想象的要坚强。因此事实上,“如果没有亚洲的动荡,没有聪明的泰国同化政策,没有果敢坚毅的泰-中女孩,”我遇不到她,当然也不会在她抵港不久热切、贸然地恳请她在10年内等我,并嫁给我,这些都令人惊讶的发生了……(参看Uncle 故事:Making an impression留下印象)

Sometimes it’s very difficult not to think that there is a guiding force somewhere, “tian yi” as they say, or “heaven’s plan.” It’s just amazing to think backwards, and trace the stories, even from the perspective of a patient in a hospital bed with a condition not often discussed in polite company. Tian can be pretty impressive and amusing, and His yi mysterious.

有时,很难不去想到某个导向力的存在。他们称之为“天意”或“上天的安排”。回头看,追溯故事,会发现很惊奇,甚至从一个患隐疾的病人的视角来看也是这样的。“天”相当感人又有趣,他的“意”却神秘莫测。