When all her friends used all means to send their children to prestigious schools including kindergarten, she taught me herself together with other children in her own "private school.” Illegal schools were common then, but most who ran them sent their children to the official schools.
Like all mothers, she nagged a lot, but I don’t remember that she ever scolded me severely, although she was truly gifted in doing that to the many other people who annoyed her.
In those days my father had a lot of gambling debts. Because of her fights with my father, my mother ran away from home several times, but always came back with lots of gifts, especially food, for me and my brother.
One time when I was a child, she said she was going to take me and my brother out shopping. But then at the last minute she changed her mind and only took my brother. I was so disappointed and angry that I decided to take revenge. I went to her closet, took out her clothes and found two newly-tailored cheongsam, Chinese dresses with a high collar and slits on the sides.
These two new dresses must have cost my mother a lot and she must have been saving them for some special occasions. As a child, I had no idea about the importance of the dresses for her, especially when my head was filled only with revenge. So I took a scissor and cut two very small holes on the waist of the dresses, hoping that when mother wore it, she wouldn’t notice.
But of course she did. This time I was expecting a huge scolding and even beatings. But miraculously my mother only asked, “Did you cut those holes in my dresses?”
I nodded. “If you knew how much this cost me … don’t do anything like this again!”
I nodded furiously.
That was it. My mother didn’t scold me at all, not to mention striking me!
It was much later that I found out those dresses – since the family had no money left -- were for job interviews. Thinking of my mother on Mother’s Day…