Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Memory of Blue Bells--Copyright Kyi May Kaung

A Memory of Bluebells--

I was maybe 5 or 6.

Mummy said, "We're going to visit your Daddy's yee sar" (girl friend).
She had a put upon expression on her face.  From that early age I knew that if it was something she did not like, it was "Your Daddy," or worse, "You, your father's daughter should--"

I don't know if I understood at that age what girl friend meant, but Mummy explained anyway.

She shrugged and said, "It's OK.  She married someone else, named McClintock (name changed) and he died in the war."

That was World War II.

The year was 1947 or 1948, more likely 1948 and we were living in a suburb of London called Eltham.  Previously we lived in Richmond where Mummy gave me permission to go pick the red peony "pyo ni" in the back garden, and I excitedly grabbed the pair of pointed scissors, the only one we had, and rushed off.

But I fell down on the steps and poked myself in the chest with the scissors.

We got in the car, a Morris? and Daddy drove us there.

On the way, we got to one of those picturesque English countryside level- crossings.  The gate was white or of wood painted white, (the style now called "distressed" or shabby chic and so fashionable these days) and over the waist high grey stone walls were spilling tumbling masses of white rambling roses.

The train had already gone past, but the gate was still closed.

No attendant was in sight.

Daddy was about a little over 40 at that time and he jumped out of the car and opened the gate, then jumped into the car again and drove through.


Aunty Fiona (first name changed too) was a very sad-looking, dumpy woman, who looked very unhappy.  Today I'd say she was about 5' 6" and about 150 lbs, with unremarkable hair, a dark color.

She was dressed in a black dress, about mid-calf length, and really looked dowdy to my judgemental little eyes.

[They might once have been passionately in love, and decades later I was to find a bundle of my father's love letters to her in my mother's steel trunk, but I did not read them, after I opened the first letter and read the first few words, and recognized what it was.]

During that short 1948 visit, the rest of us just stood around, and Daddy and Aunty Fiona went and leaned against one of those stone walls, and talked in very quiet tones.

We waited out of ear shot.

I don't think we were offered anything to eat or drink, a great house rule with Mummy and Nanny Ma Tin (name changed too).

We just came back home.

But on the way, maybe we came back a different way, maybe we came through Kent, we came to a small wood and the ground was covered with blue bells in bloom.

Daddy parked the car.

My mother and Ma Tin got down and picked armfuls of blue bells.

My brother Zor (name changed) poked his thin legs out of the car, and took pictures with his box camera. 

We brought the flowers home.
They filled every vase we had, but they all wilted the next day.

I do remember seeing faded black and white photos of that time in my mother's England photo album.

But I don't know where it is now.


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