She centers a tear-drop jade pendant on a silk scarf, folds the four corners on top of each other, flips it, and ties it up with a gold string. She admires her neat packaging, pats it twice with her fingertips, then slips it in the tiny inner pocket of her handbag, perfect for its size. On the fourteen-hour flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles, she reaches inside the bag and feels the comfortable weight of the small stone.
On her daughter’s wedding day, she dons her red qipao, pressed in early morning after a sleepless night, smooth like a mirror. Her daughter wears white, as is customary in a Western wedding.
Before the ceremony, she strings the pendant through a red thread and puts it around her daughter’s neck. The tear-drop stone sets right at the dip of her collarbone, marbled by smokes and fogs of soft green.
When her daughter stands at the altar, next to a straw-haired man, in front of somebody else’s god, she notices that the jade is tucked behind the lace of her daughter’s white dress.
Almost a hundred years earlier, a young woman steps off a green-skinned sleeper train in Shanghai.… Read more »