Wednesday 14 January 2009

Silver Threads and Golden Pens

Silver threads and golden pens
You never can tell
Just around the corner
there's a spell
waiting to be cast
A web waiting to be woven
around you.

You can be unafraid
but never untouched
Tomorrow you're the storyteller
when it happens to you too.

And there will always be
Silver threads and golden pens
For life will never be quite the same
As you fall and rise
To meet time again.

dec 31 1998


Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

Dearest Shaista,
Today, Sunday afternoon in America, I have spent my day navigating all over Luus in Flight trying to learn all I can about you. Trying to get a glimpse of you. It is a maze.

I have learned two things about you today that make me shudder with a familiar sense of knowing. My mother is blind. She has glaucoma in one eye and in the other a detatched retina. It is a strange feeling that my mother has never really seen my art. Probably that is why I have such an emphasis on the story. I read them to her and she remembers the freinds and neighbors I paint.

Second, My mother is from India.
Let me explain: My great grandmother went to Shanghai in 1886 as a single woman, a Quaker doctor. After a couple years, her medical school boyfriend, followed her to Nanking, where by now she had settled and opened a hosipital. He showed up with some lab equipment and a microscope. She said yes.

Thus began my families immigration to China. My grandmother was born in Nanking, delivered by her father. But by the time she was 12 both her parents had died of malaria. She and her brothers lived in the orphange that her parents had started until finallly American consul officials stepped in and sent the three children to the Quaker headquarters in Ohio, a place they had never been. They were farmed out to a couple who had no children and a large farm, as laborers.

By 1935, my grandmother, now married was on her way back to China.She was pregnant with my mother. They were aboard a British ship and ended up stopping in India enroute to China. A series of events including my mother's early birth forced the family off the boat to wait. My mother was born on that voyage.

Life being what it is for doctors (you will know) there is alwasy a need. My grandparents were sucked into a growing need in the central plains of India to provide medical help at a Quaker mission there. Any month, they would be released to continue on to China.

Then the war. And China became a distant memory, trapping my two great uncles who were already back in China. My grandparents stayed in Bundelkand and eventually lived in Chhatarpur for decades. My mother went to Woodstock School until she left India for university.

Eventually, in 1974, my grandparetns left India and came to Taiwan where I lived. My grandmother had spent her whole adult life trying to get back to China. India had been a detour.

To her surprize and shock, here she found us in southern Taiwan, living in a Japanese occupation era house, eating predominately Indian food. It was all my mother knew.

You are beautiful. Brilliant. Brave. Well loved.


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