This illustration is for a short story by Jenny Kim about a Korean immigrant girl trying to find her identity in the USA.
"Nobody “told” me that the woman in the family serves herself last. I watched my mother bustle around the kitchen after rushing in from a full day of work, not even taking time to change her clothes. When the When the dinner was ready, she would scoop a heaping mound of fresh, hot rice for my father first, then my younger brother, then me. Then she’d scrape together a small handful from the bottom of the rice cooker and take the smallest piece of fish for herself, insisting she wasn’t hungry. When I was younger and couldn’t finish my food, I’d give my plate to my mother, not realizing what I was doing. I was giving my mother the leftovers, something she grew up with as a postwar Korean female—the generation that knew firsthand that things, dignity, family, and friends, peace, and national unity, could be taken away at any instant, and that woman were taught to put themselves last. Hearing about her impoverished childhood made my eyes sting, my privileged conscience uneasy, and my own childhood stories pale by comparison. For her, scraping the rice pot sometimes yielded nothing, an humble survival came down to accepting leftovers from your own—it was one of few constants provided in the former precarious world of hers. (old habits are hard to break.) Yet, my mother told me not to stand there with both hands open, meekly waiting for things do happen. An ambitious and generous woman, she even chose the name Debbie(meaning “industrious”) when she immigrated to the U.S. Nothing gets accomplished sitting down, she says. I was left with this contradiction and a half-eaten bowl of rice. Watching, waiting, and never understanding."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Posted by KittenChops at 6:26 PM