Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What Ma told me

A couple times a week I walk over to my mother-in-law's for lunch. This is partly out of guilt for moving her in across the alley from us in Towson and then ditching her when we moved to Baltimore 6 months later, but mostly it's because Ma is a good cook. I can't go every day because she makes so much food I might get taba. Yesterday I got chicken adobo, fried tofu, fried rice, steamed broccoli, and candied mongo beans. That's a better buffet than most of the local restaurants, and the price is right to boot. Oh, and we watch the Price is Right. I had no idea Bob Barker is stepping down at long last. His retirement will leave Big Bird as the only TV character still around from my childhood.

Sometimes I ask Ma about her life in the Philippines. She was a child when the Japanese invaded and took over the family home for use as an ammo dump. Ma and her family lived in a field by digging a hole and putting metal and plastic over top. The Japanese executed people in her village by beheading them with swords in the town square.

Ma, like many people of her age, has severe racial prejudices. She doesn't like African-Americans. She hates the Chinese. But despite her youthful experiences during the war, she has no prejudice against the Japanese. I can't figure it out. But recently she told me a story that helped:

"You know? There are good Japanese. They are like us. Some of them had to do what they did. They didn't want to, but they had to. Some of them take care of us children. They think we look like their babies at home. Some of them help when they can with food and water. When the Americans are coming the Japanese General, he say 'kill everybody. Kill the villagers.' We did not know. We thought we were saved because the Americans are coming back. But the Japanese are sending soldiers to kill us. Two of the Japanese soldiers run very fast ahead. They run for miles, and it is dangerous to do it because they might get catched. They come and they say 'Run away, the Japanese General says to kill you! The soldiers they are coming!' Everybody is running. We escape into the jungle. Those men save the town. Why did they do that? They are like us."

Ma also tells great stories about escaping Marcos's martial crack-down with the family gold stuffed in her bra. She was incredibly lucky to get out, but then was a Marcos supporter over here, and supported Reagan who adored that wretched fascist. People make no sense. If they did they'd be less lovable.


alicia said...

Ma, does have some great lines. Who would I be, if when I was young and had a scraped knee or elbow, if my mother didn't scold me saying, "Who will marry you, now?" With my wedding less the two weeks away...I guess I have my answer.

geoff said...

You are a precious vessel!

Everytime Patricia gets a boo-boo I ask who will marry her now. I have to ask often.

Geoff's Mom said...

After a boo boo my Mother would always say that "it will be better before you get married!"