A Good-luck Dumpling

 Zhang Lin

In the second of those tumultuous years, I was labeled one of the "reactionary gang." What I feared most was not being queued up among this gang of so many, but the vicious practice of being publicly denounced on a truck in front of my own house. Well, fear or no fear, the lot fell on me soon enough. When the truck drove to the gate of my own house, my mother, who was already in her eighties, spotted me on the truck. Her lips trembling and eyes shut, she first leaned against the wall, then collapsed, weak and limp like soft mud on the ground. Meanwhile, my wife just stood there dumbfounded like a blockhead, forgetting even to help my mother up.

There and then I was afraid Mother would leave me forever. Thank God, she somehow managed to survive.

On the eve of the Spring Festival of that year, I was unexpectedly released to return home.

As I stepped into the house, Mother looked me up and down with unbelieving eyes before she threw herself on me and caressed my face. Then burying her head in my arms, she wept bitterly while my wife and children stood sobbing at a distance.

"Daughter-in-law, let's start making dumplings for the Festival!" Mother said to my wife. Instantly the whole family began chopping meat and kneading dough. In no time, all had gathered around the table to make dumplings. Just then an idea dawned on my mother, and she suggested, "I say, let's put in a coin and make a good-luck dumpling. Whoever eats it will be blessed."

I agreed to make Mother happy, hoping that the coin would fall to her. With all my heart I wished her a long life.

Mother took a blue cloth parcel from the wardrobe, unfolded it and picked out a copper coin of the Daoguang period. With shaking hands she put the coin on a dumpling wrapper, added some filling, and made one which we used to call a good-luck dumpling. During the process, Mother secretly made a mark on the edge of the dumpling before mixing it with the rest. She pretended nothing had happened, but the trick didn't escape my eye. I bore the mark firmly in mind.

Mother boiled the dumplings all by herself. The nearly cooked dumplings floated onto the surface like a herd of lambs. I spotted the marked dumpling at first sight.

When she scooped up the dumplings, Mother deliberately put the good-luck dumpling on top of the others in a bowl and pushed the bowl to me, saying, "Help yourself, Take as many as you like while they are hot.” A ware of warmth surged over me and my nose twitched. I had thought it would make Mother happy and give her a lovely surprise if she ate the good-luck dumpling. But I could not figure out how to get her to eat it for she could easily identify the dumpling.

I then thought of my wife who had lived with me for twenty years and was getting on fifty. She was almost worn out with worry as I was denounced. Taking the opportunity when she went to the kitchen for chilli oil, I put the good-luck dumpling into her bowl. Who could have expected that she would recognize the dumpling as well! Back from the kitchen, she took a glance at her bowl and then gazed at me with tears brimming in her deep grateful eyes.

She kept silent and ate a few dumplings; then she said," These dumplings have stuck together."She stood up and shook the bowls one after another while shifting hers withmy mother's. Obviously Mother didn't notice the shift and went on eating with her eyes on me the all the time. "Ouch!" suddenly she cried out. The coin had hurt her teeth.

"Oh, Granny is blessed! She got the good-luck dumpling! " my wife shouted like a child.

" I. . . . How come?" Mother was puzzled. Just at that moment, something fell out of her mouth onto the plate with a clang. It was none other than the coin.

So I joined my wife and children in a chorus, "Granny is blessed! Mother is blessed! "



Mother burst into laughter, and then into tears, as my wife and I shared with her all her sorrow and joy.

Post a Comment (0)
Previous Post Next Post