05-Has To Be That Color

Brown Rinsing Cup and Navy Blue Pillowcase



在跟她生活的這幾十年,這些事情加起來的災難性應該不能算少,我只是覺得莫名其妙。她明明是我母親,我們好像兩個極端,青春期起我便努力向她嚴正表明「我」是誰,因為她會強加她那套在別人身上,會買紫色的Little Twins Star被子和銀色的拖鞋給我。



I don’t remember if it was in Woody Allen’s movies, but there always seems to be a character, an elderly person who would insist to be seated at a certain spot in the restaurant, or that the restaurant would always reserve a certain spot for that particular guest; these scenes are always full of depth and stories.

In reality, that particular guest would be my mother, and though there is nothing too interesting about her, she can be very stubborn. She is similar to that type of movie character in that she too is very particular in terms of where she sits in a restaurant, for example, she always prefers a booth. She insists on standing and waiting by a booth, even though there are empty chairs around, and she will stare as people finish their meals, which is quite embarrassing. There are other habits of hers which are both funny and annoying, for example, she always requests for three extra cups of hot water at a Cha chaan teng, she insists on keeping emptied glass containers (we have several cabinets full of these empty containers at home), she never uses a chopping board when cutting food (our poor chopping board has been hanging on the wall for a long time), and she is very particular about clocks — we have several in our living room, kitchen, toilet, and next to our beds, and all these clocks are set at least fifteen minutes fast…

For the many years that my mother and I have spent together, the repercussions brought about by her habits can be considered disastrous, which brings to light conflicting emotions in myself. She is obviously my mother, yet the two of us seem to be two extremes. I’ve been trying to let her know who “I” am since adolescence yet she still imposes her personal preferences on me, like buying me purple Little Twins Star quilts and silver slippers.

She also replaces items that are still in usable condition. One day, I saw that the cup I’d been using for rinsing after brushing my teeth was a bit old, so I took the initiative to say to her, “Mom, please don’t throw away my coffee-colored rinsing cup.”

A cunning smile appeared on her face, “It’s been thrown away already. I’ve replaced it with a new one.”




It was then I realized she had gone looking for a replica of the one she threw away when I was not around. She even teased me for not noticing the replacement even though I cherish used items so much… I was mad but I also had mixed feelings; the cup was actually bought by her, I found that I was unwilling to have it changed because she rarely got things right, and the fact that she eventually bought the right cup made me think that my rinsing cup should always be brown from then on. She also got me a pillowcase that just happens to be a timeless navy blue, I’ve been using it and cherishing it so much that I don’t think I will ever get a pillowcase in another color.

After years of self-defense, I think she finally understands me a little better, at least in her way. I really hope she can remember me, and that what she can remember is someone like me.