Journey of Giving and Receiving Blessings – Childhood
Chinese religion is not Buddhism. Instead, it’s polytheism in that they believe in multiple gods. It’s also a dualism; they believe gods and evil have equal powers. When I was a child, we lived in a flat on the third floor. There were red wooden plaques with images or writings represented different gods displayed around the flat. A container with ashes was attached to each plaque to hold incense. Two were hung on the side of the top and bottom part of the doorway signified to protect people’s coming and going. There was one plaque by every window to guard the evil from coming in. One plaque was in the kitchen. The kitchen god listened to people’s gossips. At the end of year, the god would report to heaven. So before Chinese New Year, people made offering to the kitchen god to bribe him. This was my mother’s religion.
When WWII was over, we went back to Hong Kong from China. My mom gave birth to five younger siblings, and they were about eighteen months apart. My mom’s generation didn’t practice birth control! When the third sister was sick with meningitis, my mom didn’t take her to the doctor. She went to a temple to make an offering, and asked for healing of my sister. She also hired a monk coming to our home to chant and burn incense. He waved the smoke from the burning incense over and around her. It didn’t heal my sister.
Eventually my mom took my sister to the hospital. She died of high fever in her brain. My mom came home crying. When I asked where my sister was, she said the doctor kept her to take care of her. It was the way she dealt with the pain. That event gave me great impressions and cast a doubt in my mind of mom’s religion.
I started going to school when I was six and a half years old. Both of my parents worked, so I had to take care of my younger siblings during the day. I went to night school until 4th grade. I walked 500 meters or one-third of a mile to school by myself for first grade. The following year my sister reached school age, we walked to school together. I enjoyed going to school. The best thing was that when I was in first grade, my teacher said I was bright. The teachers liked me and I liked the teachers. I even had a crush on my fourth grade teacher Mr. Wu.
All the subjects were taught in Chinese. My dad wanted me to learn English, so he sent me to English tutoring when I was in fourth grade. By this time, my mom stopped working so that she could take care of four little ones. Since my mom was home, my dad decided to send me to day school. It was in Wan Chai, half an hour tram ride from home. We had school five and a half days a week. I made friend with teacher’s daughter, Shirley. We became lifelong friends.
“The first grade teacher said I was bright, and that made a big impact on my life.”
The first grade teacher said I was bright, and that made a big impact on my lif. I did well at school throughout elementary school years. Each class had about forty students. At the end of school year, the report card showed our performance in terms of their places among the forty students. Throughout elementary school years, I didn’t get the first place. I was in second to ninth places. That means, I was at the top twenty-three percentile of grade points. It broke my heart when I got the ninth place that year! I gave credit to my dad for my good grades. He checked my homework every night and quizzed me every week. It was a blessing to have a dad who cared so much about my education.
Courtesy of https://mygulitypleasures.wordpress.com for the street sign Pok Fu Lam Road.