My unbound feet served as a bondage to my oath,*The names of Ming Hui’s eight daughters: Jade Coral, Beautiful Jade, Jade Dragon, Victory in Battle , Aromatic Jade, Gentle Jade, Strong Jade, and Assured Triumph.
Taken for granted like the sun and the moon.
At least dignity was mine when I dug through dung,
When I believed I was your one and only, your only one.
Who can understand my anger, betrayed by one I love?
My voice fled like a bird when I arrived at your new door.
Silence is my only plea, silence--my cloak and protector.
Twice exiled, my heart and of my body,
Banished from my homeland, the country of my brothers.
Like animal without affection, I abandoned my young daughters.
Roaming in my own home like a foreigner in the land,
I neither spoke nor understood your tongue.
When is love ever equal? Who says love can be shared?
If I had known, I would not have come for you.
Such as one who looked for moon in the lake,
When I jumped in, you disappeared.
My daughters suffered, singing my song of bitterness,
I was unable to love them.
Walking in constant snare and stare of the Others,
My daughters were scorned and mocked, abandoned and beaten.
My wings were not wide enough to hide them.
Strong Jade is the name of my daughter,
Though Heaven may give me no son.
My daughter bears the mark of a Dragon,
Yet gentle as the ocean is deep.
Victorious in battles and beautiful are the sisters,
Eight with strength like the River, ever pressing on.*
Spirit has not flown from me,
Though my voice for a time might have ceased.
Though the bamboo might seem hallow,
Do not be deceived, air is not nothing.
One cannot bend me easily
Nor can one take my life,
For my roots go deep and my life is long
Striving towards the Heavens.
Life was difficult for my mother, whose name is Strong Jade (pei chiang). A masculine name was given to her because they were sure the seventh child must be a boy. My mother grew up with the expectations of the name placed on her.
At 25, she met my father. He proposed. Among her essential expectations? That he remains loyal. That she will always be his one and only, his only one. Together, they raised four daughters, who love their femininity.
This is the story of my grandmother and my mother, who ate bitterness for our unbound feet.