“You have best quality heart. Best quality is everything. Mothers know this.” – Suyuan Woo, mother of June Woo (The Joy Luck Club)
If anyone were to ask me who my favourite author is, no doubt would it be the sensational Amy Tan. Sure, there are many authors who I know of, who are exceptionally good in what they do. But if I were to meet anyone of them, it would be Amy.
(Photo credit – Amy Tan – Wikipedia)
Although my background is of Chinese, I was brought up in the Western culture. The first time I knew of Amy was in my teens when I saw the film ‘The Joy Luck Club’. After watching the film, it left a place in my heart. I then decided to look it up on the internet and found out that the movie is based on Amy’s best selling book of the same name. It is about four Chinese mothers and their relationships with their Americanized daughters. It is a touching movie. I have seen it several times, and every time I see it, I cry, because it reminded me of my relationship with my mother.
My mother and I had a good relationship. We were close. But I guess sometimes she wished that I would have followed parts of my Chinese roots growing up rather than follow the Western culture in which I was brought up in. She would always tell me stories of her childhood in order to try to remind me where my roots belonged. But being the rebellious teenager I was back then, I never really paid attention. I only thought of the present then. I did not appreciate what she told me, until now. She even tried to teach me to cook proper traditional Chinese dishes, the kind that you hardly find in Chinese restaurants. She said to me, “Listen, so that one day when I am not around, you will know how to cook for your husband.” Probably to most, that is just a sentence. But in Chinese culture, especially those from the older generation, would know that the actual hidden meaning of that sentence is, “Listen carefully and pay attention, because one day, I will not be around to cook for you.” Most Chinese from the older generation do not like to say what they mean. They rather you see the ‘fiction inside the lie’. I never realized any of this until after she was gone.
Later on, as years went by, after the death of my mother, I began reading most of Amy’s books, in which most of them explores the mother-daughter relationship, friendship, and family. These books include The Kitchen’s God Wife, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, A Hundred Secret Senses, and The Opposite of Fate (a non-fiction). I have read many books in my life, but nothing like these books in which I could relate to. I could see myself being a part of Amy’s story, even my mother. Maybe not as the main characters. But just a part of it. After reading those books, not only did it make me think about my roots and the relationship I had with my mother. It also made me think about my mother’s roots and her background. Sure, my mother did tell me stories of her childhood. But one thing she never told me about was about her parents, my grandparents. My mother and my grandmother did not have a good relationship. Although my mother allowed her to be in her life, they hardly had the kind of relationship my mother and I had. And when I asked my mother and my grandmother (both on different occasions of course) why that was, they would never give me an answer. Until today, it remains a mystery. It does make me wonder what happened. There were also other mysteries involving my mother’s childhood. For instance, she never knew who her father was. Apparently, my grandmother was involved with many men before. Maybe that would explain my mother’s slightly exotic looks. Sometimes I wonder if she was mixed race with a touch of Caucasian blood.
Just like Amy, I like to write through experience. With my first book A Chinese Christmas Carol, I based that on real life. And I think it’s safe to say that the foundation of the story can relate to The Joy Luck Club. It was in a way an emotionally painful book to write. But at the same time, I managed to find some closure after having written it. And I can’t wait to expand the story and give it a bit more meaning to the readers with sequels and a prequel.
In one of my previous posts I did on Amy, I shared one of my projects I did back in art university. We had to create and make a gift to give to our favourite person. And of course, I chose Amy. So what I did was I made her chocolates (not real) made out of plasticine. Each of the symbolic ‘chocolates’ represents the similarities to Amy’s and my life. Yes, I know it sounds kind of ‘stalkery’. But hey, it was a fun project. But don’t worry. It’s something I don’t think I would do in real life. There’s more chance of you being an Amy Tan fan to figure out the meaning of each ‘chocolates’. Here’s the link to the ‘chocolate’ post. https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com//?s=amy+tan&search=Go
If I were to meet Amy in person, I think we would have a lot to talk about, especially about our mothers. We would definitely get along.
If any of you are planning on watching ‘The Joy Luck Club’, beware, it’s not for the faint-hearted. You will shed a tear or cry.