My night was dreamless, but it still was a deep sleep. I was put in a coma like state with my first and second Chinese New Year's meals. When all the festivities were done, and having learned from the exploits from earlier on the morning, I paid attention to when my sister showed me the best technique for washing. I got to the first stage, sitting on a stool and letting my feet soak in hot water , when I realized that for four or fifth time sleep was ready to conquer me. I poured out all the water and put on my sandals and poured fresh water into another bowl. I opened some the faucet and let some of the liquid cold into the bowl. I washed my face and arms and tried washing my chest but I was getting water equally on my pants and on my chest. It was not a spa...but it cleaned me and warmed me up. I put on my shirt and sweat shirt and lay my jacket on the bed next to me so I would not need to get out of the bed. I was awake long enough to remember to turn off the light, but my brain had turned off before my head hit the pillow.
I woke up and it was still dark. I did not hear the dog nearly enough to justify getting out of bed. When I heard the dog barking a sufficient amount I decided to venture outside. The mother had already gotten breakfast ready for me. It was porridge and manto (steamed buns) . My sister was still asleep and the mother did not understand English so I went to my room and brought out my itouch. Originally I was going to listen to music but instead I decided to show her some photos from London. While pictures of this far away place interested her a little she was far more interested in photos of my family. She would always listen to me say who it was and then look up to catch my smile
She then brought out her photos. First she showed me photos of herself and her husband. They looked lovely. The years had began to show but in their eyes and smiles they were still young. I saw pictures of her sister and brother in law. They had moved to Australia and apparently had become quite successful. Her nieces and nephews looked as if they had lived in Australia there whole lives. I wondered if they spoke Chinese. I wondered if they ever wanted to come "back home" or if Australia was home.
I wondered many things until I saw the picture of my sister. It was black and white. It was worn on the edges, but it was worn through all the love of happy hands holding it. I t was so much more personal and intimate holding this photo that holding my itouch. When she let me hold the photo I became part of a chain of people who including aunts, uncles, grandparents, close friends and of course the mother and father, who had been allowed to hold that photo. I think for the mother , this picture was her most valuable possession, well except of course for her daughter.
My sister slowly emerged from her room, I suspect encouraged by her father. We chatted, drank coffee, at food and got ready for a day that was for lack of a better word, a kaleidoscope of activities. But I never forgot that time I spent time sharing photos with her mother. It was amazing how such a simple act of sharing photos did more to bring to cultures in harmony then all the multi-billion dollar super summits. Amazing, but not surprising.
To be concluded...