samedi 19 septembre 2009

China - 29th February 2008

China, China, China tata China – I love China and the little Chinese!” That’s what I sang, straw-hat on my head, at the school concert when I was five or six years old. Later, Darhan babysat me every evening, taking the place of a French student. It was this Chinese woman who came to pick me up from school over a three-year period, taking care of me until my parents came home from work. She taught me to eat with chopsticks, so I asked my grandmother in the south for a pair. This annoyed her a lot, but she nonetheless bought me some, to make me happy.

Strangely, my clearest recollection of Darhan is that she watched Santa Barbara with me in order to learn French, but also – in my memory – through genuine interest in the series. I also remember the apartment where she lived with her husband, in a tower on the Esplanade (at the time it was my first visit to a tower, and I don’t recall that it greatly impressed me). Also, two small jade elephants that she had brought from China and which had stayed at my father’s place in Neuilley until they were lost. The paper knife in its silk case that I have kept until now and which, I think, will already have landed in Australia, inside the suitcase where I also slipped some other objects: the penguin-shaped hot water bottle, the stork toy, several rocks, the box made of thuja from Caroline, the stones of Guyana from aunt Nène, my mother’s rings, and those metal figurines from the British Museum.

At present I have some Chinese friends – Ming came to eat sauerkraut at our place on Saturday evening – and I make preparations for my own trip to China, right across the continent, like Darhan, who took a bus to come to France.

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