The Lunar New Year Party (Flash Fiction #102)

Image by k-e-k-u-l-é from Pixabay

Armei has had relatively good relationship with her mother-in-law Nana, who has been living with them in New Jersey for seven months for the purpose of taking care of the grandson. However Nana is about to leave, flying across the Pacific and going back home, where her other son and daughter-in-law are anxiously waiting for her return to help take care of their children. Nowadays, many grandmas have started to refuse the urgent request for them to raise their grandchildren, contributing to a shortage of nannies and a falling birth rate. In this aspect, Armei and her husband Arhu are lucky, each with a mother who is willing to give up their own comfort and lend domestic help.

Before Nana leaves, it is a standard practice that she will go on several trips. Even though it is winter, she wants to go visit the museums in D.C., one or two casinos, and downtown Philadelphia. She also has to go shopping at the outlet stores, where the Nike shoes and brand name clothing items can be bought in a cheaper price. Arhu’s too busy to accompany his mother and Armei ends up doing most of the work. Needless to say, the friction between the two women escalate during these frequent trips.

Armei tries hard to dissemble, not expressing anything, thinking that Nana is leaving soon anyway. However the more she wants to repress herself, the more she wants to express. It finally explodes in the Lunar New Year dinner party, just three days before Nana’s departure.

Actually everything is going very well initially. Towards the end of the party, Nana starts to describe her life with Pammy’s mother Paya. When Nana first came, she wanted to plant vegetables in the backyard. Even though it’s the end of June, they could still grow pretty good veggies for a fall harvest. Armei didn’t want to bother and tried hard to dissuade Nana. Days later Nana fell on the kitchen floor–it’s wet for some reason and Nana slipped. Fortunately there’s no broken bone or anything. After an emergency room visit, Nana was as healthy as before, much to Armei’s infinite relief.

“Oh, Paya, I wish I could have grown some vegetables in the backyard. And we could have a harvest party in the fall. Of course I was overruled.” Nana says, glancing at Armei before continuing, “If I didn’t slip and fall, I would have insisted on growing vegetables, but you know…”

“Wow, that’s dangerous. At our age, a fall is awful. Be careful. What kind of shoes are you wearing? Wait, let me see the bottom of your shoes. No. Definitely not. The bottom your shoes are too smooth and flat. That’s a no no. Even at home, you want to wear sports shoes, which have much better hold and much less slippery than these slippers you are wearing.” Paya says.

“Really? I thought it’s because there’s a bit of water on the floor, which contributed to my fall. Now you said it. These shoes too.” Nana says, eyeing Armei again.

Armei can’t contain her anger. Suddenly she is accused of depriving Nana’s pleasure in growing vegetable as well as causing Nana to fall by providing slippery shoes. Armei has this pent up anger up to her neck right now and she suddenly stands up, grabs the big soup bowl, which still has a little less than half of the soup left, and dump the soup on Nana. Armei thinks of dumping the soup on the head, but Nana, seeing her coming her way, gives a reflexive push and the soup lands on her sweater, from one shoulder dripping down.

Pammy and Pammy’s mom come over immediately to help with cleaning up and to persuade each side to stay calm. Nana is at first shocked, but then she starts to scream, “that’s very good soup. Oh, what a waste of soup. How wasteful. I love this soup. I was thinking of finishing it since nobody else wants it. Oh, my soup, my soup.” She is quite loud and her exaggerated manner sends everybody laughing.

Once her anger is expressed, Armei feels very sorry that she could suddenly lose control of herself. Is she trying too hard to control herself? She tries too hard at self control, which is what pushes her over the edge. At least that’s what Armei is thinking.

10 thoughts on “The Lunar New Year Party (Flash Fiction #102)

  1. It’s funny how different families have different attitudes to displays of emotion. In our wider family it was more suppressed and passive-aggressive I suppose. My grandfather and great uncle once fell out because my great uncle said that he thought my grandfather had cut his lawn too short. There was no row or anything like the soup incident, but they didn’t speak to each for a whole year after that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I can imagine it as if it happens right next to me. Sometimes just one word. So true. Whenever we are not allowed to directly express, our emotion finds its way to leak by some other ways. It’s like water. It has to find somewhere to go. And we are so affected by trivial matters. We are.


    1. Yes, I feel sorry for the soup too. Whenever I watch the scene of pie flying on people’s face in movies, I feel sorry for the pie first before I start laughing. Yes, I’ve seen people holding too much within them that they go crazy. I wonder how to write about these characters. I really want to write these, LOL, but don’t know how. Live and learn.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to tell you I’ve been to parties during which screams, crying, and fights broke out, all because people held up too much inside them, thinking that not expressing is the safest way. The thing is the safest way is also the most dangerous way. Sometimes it explodes out of control.

      Liked by 1 person

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