⟨ I Know I'll Often Stop and Think About Them ⟩

05-Has To Be That Color

Brown Rinsing Cup and Navy Blue Pillowcase

Words & Photography / Holun Tang
Translation / Fanny Chan

不記得是否活地亞倫的電影了,好像總有一個角色設定,一個上了年紀的人非得坐餐廳某個位置不可,甚至餐廳會長期把座位預留給那個客人,這真是充滿故事性的情節。

現實生活裡,這個人是我媽,不過,她不是有甚麼有趣的故事,她只是有點冥頑不靈而已。她同樣是指定要坐餐廳某些位置,例如包廂座位,就算有其他空位,她會堅持站在一旁等,眼瞪瞪望著人家吃飯,好不尷尬。她的其他生活習慣也讓人哭笑不得,例如:在茶餐廳用餐必須額外要三杯熱水;堅持不扔掉所有用完的食物玻璃瓶(我家有幾個專門放這些瓶子的櫃);煮飯切菜堅持不用砧板(可憐的砧板長期掛在牆上);對於時鐘非常執著,客廳、廚房、洗手間、床邊全部都要有時鐘,更把所有時間統一調快至少十五分鐘……

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。

她還會隨便換掉還能用的東西。有一天,我看我的漱口杯有點舊了,便主動跟她說:「媽,你千萬不要扔掉我那個咖啡色的漱口杯。」

她露出狡猾的笑容:「已經扔了。你那個是新的。」

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.”

這時我才恍然大悟,她竟然特地去找一個同款,趁我不為意時換了新的。她更揶揄我平常那麼愛惜舊物,被人家換了竟然懵然不知……我生氣之餘,又有許多感觸,我的漱口杯其實是她買的,我發現我不捨得換,是因為她罕有地買對了,讓我覺得漱口杯以後必須是咖啡色。枕頭套也是她意外買了耐看的深藍色,我一直用著,用到不捨得換顏色了。

經過長年的自我捍衛,現在她終於有一點懂我了,至少以她的方式。我真的希望她會記得我,希望她記得的,是這樣的一個我。

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.