© 2016 Karissa Chen all rights reserved.

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[ g r a n d f a t h e r ]

March 16

2012

It's been almost two weeks since AWP.  As usual, it was an exhausting lovefest of writers -- seeing old friends, making new ones, meeting Twitter buddies for the first time, copious amounts of alcohol and swapping of books, and the occasional panel.  I love and hate AWP.  Love it because it appeals to the extrovert in me that loves meeting likeminded people.  Hate it because inside this extrovert still lies the shy girl who wrote during recess because she only had two friends, and I come back needing to seriously recharge alone.  Also because I always come back sick (case in point, I'm still sporting a phlegmy cough).  Still, I always have a fantastic time.

This year, Kartika Review and Lantern Review shared a table, and Iris Law, editor of Lantern did a lovely thing where she asked writers of the two journals to submit short little stories and poems to be given out at the table.  She designed each card herself and gave them out for purchases and donations.  Each one was lovely.  Here was mine.

: :

When my grandfather and grandmother passed away, my aunts, mother and I were going through their things.  Among a stack of photographs were several of my grandfather standing in front of a Chinese grave, his hands pressed in prayer, incense clasped between his fingers.  His face was scrunched up in raw emotion, tears down his face.  As soon as I saw the picture, my own eyes welled up.

My grandfather left his home in Shanghai when he was eighteen to travel with a family friend, with no idea that he would not return again for nearly fifty years.  It was around 1949, wartime, right before the Communists took over and China would close it's borders for several decades.  When the gates of China began to open again, my grandfather started to search for his family.  When he finally got in touch with them, he was told he had missed his mother by mere months; she had passed away still calling for her youngest son.

This story haunts me, causes an aching in me.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be my grandfather, or his mother.  It will become the basis for something larger one day.  For now, I wanted to honor this story with these thirty-something characters.

Thanks to Iris for designing something so beautiful.

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