PART205 wedding( Dads family)


Sunday, 22nd, August, 2010. I
had a very vivid dream about trying to light a fire. It wasn’t working and all
I had just before Sarah woke me up was a couple of charred sticks. I felt
terrible. Tired, hung over and sick. I had the beginnings of a cold and when I
looked at my reflection in the bathroom mirror my eyes where an unhealthy pink
and my face pail and ill. I donned my smart cloths and we said goodbye to Mums
brother and his wife who had treated us very kindly yesterday. Today we are
going go to the village which Dad grew up in and meet his side of the family
who I have never met before. I always found it a little odd that I have never
met any of Dads family apart from his younger brother who has schizophrenia and
a cousin who stopped by for meal before. Sarah has told me a lot about his
family history. Living in a small village next to a coal mine. So many sad
stories, so many people being unforgivably horrible to one another. His family
is massive, having 4 brothers and 2 sisters and more relations beside. All
growing up in poverty during a tumultuous time in China. That story within
stories is one I would like to write about one day but it would take more than
a mere blog to do and also out of respect I don’t want to post too much
personal information without asking Dads permission before hand. Watch this
space.

 

Dad’s exceedingly rich childhood friend who
now owns coal mines sent his driver in a swish land rover to pick us up and
take us to the village. On the way Dad told us how he once brought a cow and
used to take it into the mountains to eat. “But he didn’t respect me, so I sold
him, it was so much work to keep him, I was really looking forward to eating it”
he laughed. We pasted a epic crash. An articulated lorry had driven off the
road and hit a tree. Spinning the front part of the lorry around so it awquardly
faced looking back on its self. It was blocking half the road and thankfully no
other cars had been hit by it. “The driver was asleep or drunk” Dad said with surety.

 

After driving along wide muddy roads, huge
puddles after the rain easily traversed by the large land rover we turned off
to a raised concrete road with large articulated Lorries transporting coal from
the big mountains in the distance which lined the whole of the horizon. Corn
and sunflower fields on either side of the road and I wondered how many trucks
had fallen of the edge of the road and gone into the fields. Boys on bikes
cycled on the road side by side laughing until the land rover beeped them into
single file. We entered the small village and although it looked older than
Mums side of the families’ village it looked like it was very wealthy in some
parts. I questioned Sarah about this. “Yes, it’s because there is a coal mine
near here so there are a lot of very wealthy people here and also a lot of very
poor people as well” she replied. Old style Chinese houses with big red doors,
large metal rings and studs made some houses look like mini fortresses next to
the smaller houses made from brick with mud and straw used as plaster.

 

We arrived in the centre of the village and
drove into a compound with a large car park and long bungalows surrounding it.
One of the bungalows had a stage at one end with red curtains and wreaths of flowers
hung over it. A woman in a tight red dress was belting out pop music which was
flying out of the massive speakers and even from the relative safe position of
the car park it was very loud. The poor guests who were sitting next to the
stage somehow where able to smile and chat to each other. (Chinese people have
a much higher tolerance for noise than us silent Brits) where able to smile and
chat to each other. We met Dads friend and I met many of Dads relatives, there were
so many people all relations. After a light breakfast which also involved a
bottle of Bei jiu we just had to wait until lunch time. Dad took me around and
I met his Dad who was very old and could not hear or see very well. He had been
on the long march with Mao zhi dong but had been shot in the spine and had to
be left behind. He smiled and tottered around being surrounded by relatives all
concerning around him. I became rather tired of meeting the seemingly never
ending hoards of relatives and Sarah and I escaped to explore the village. We disappeared
down small streets with old men standing by their bird cages. We went and
visited Dads childhood house which was very small considering the fact that it
was his parents and 7 children who used to live there. The mountains where
close and we could see some small temples near one of the peaks, a white wooden
pagoda with up turned roof. “ Grandpa built that with one of his sons” Sarah
told me, I thought that it must have taken a very long time to get all the
material up there and only with two people. “Grandpa gets up very early” Sarah
said dryly. Even thought we were disappearing down small roads we still managed
to bump into a steady stream of relatives. We met Dads older brother zipping up
the road on his electric scooter. He had white hair and he looked old and
tired. He was the same age as my own Dad in England but he looked at least 70.
He had a haunted look in his eyes. Following close behind was Grandma, in a
wheel chair she was blind and partially deaf. Sarah introduced me but she could
hardly remember who Sarah was and I just held her hand for a moment as she sat
mumbling. As the relatives kept on steaming up the road towards the wedding
Sarah told me all their stories, some being horrible gangsters who cheat on
there wife’s, others being very intelligent students who were forced to stay in
the village instead of going to places like Shanghai or Beijing due to no money
or overbearing parents. Others coal miners. Negligent parents who abandoned
their family. The stories went on and on. Dad joined us for the walk and it
showed when we kept on meeting people that he is not very close to his family.

 

When we got back in time for Lunch I went
to the loo and found it was another of those communal jobs where there are 4
holes in the ground and four walls and that’s it. No privacy, thankfully no one
was there and also I only needed a wee. I was marched into one of the bungalows
and sat down next to Dads friend, I was not sat with Sarah or Dad because I was
a guest not a relative. The food came and so did the bei jiu. The food was medeoca
but the bie jiu was first class. It was Wu liang ye which is about 800 Yuan a
small bottle now (80 pounds). Smooth and tasty. There were only a few drinkers
on the table but it all really kicked off when Dads younger brother asked me to
down a large glass of the stuff. I refused and took a sip instead, he looked
offended and everyone muttered over the matter. Up until this time I had a
reputation for being able to drink a fair amount, I could feel that reputation
crumbling. I could not have given less of a shit really. Chances are I will
never see these people again and I am not going to make myself sick for others pleasure.
I will drink a lot but on my terms. It was then I needed the loo again. I
excused myself and some of the relatives looked worried about what I was doing.
The bride shot out of the bungalow she was eating in and shouted to a young boy
playing nearby “take brother in law to the loo”, he pointed to the direction
which I already knew and I thanked him. I passed the cooks smoking cigarettes
and having a break after having cooked for 600 guests. As I entered the loo
there was a few other people loosing their bowls and I stood rather unsteady in
the same spot I had been before. It’s strange coming back to the same place
again but clearly being in a different state of mind. Like watching one of
those deliberately confusing films and then they explain everything at the end
and you see things differently. Not that I had some grand epiphany ( apart from
knowing that if I had downed that hideously large glass of bie jiu I would be
puking up right now), I was just observant that I had been here before but now
that I was inebriated it was like being on another planet, I scrutinized a fly
on the wall moving in jittery fast forward.

 

 I
really needed a poo and throwing caution to the wind I whipped now the trousers
and squatted in plain view of the other squatters. This is the first time I
have ever done this in China. It was at this time in mid red faced strain that
Dad came through the door less way and asked me if I needed loo paper. I showed
him that I didn’t and he stood there and said something to another one of the squatters,
something like “ how’s your family?”, the other man grunted and then Dad moved closer
and started to chat with me about how we are going to get home. I was very glad
I was so drunk because otherwise it would have been a toughly embarrassing experience
pinching one off bare bottomed down a hole while my Father in law chats away
looming over me.

 

He waited outside and we walked back, him
going to the relative’s bungalow and me going back to the guests table. Much
later as the food had gone down and I open up the crate of beer and we had a
much more pleasant leisurely drink we slowly wound down. I was in a brilliant
mood and had a chat with one of Dads younger brothers who operated a digger in
the coal mines; he had been mute until the age of 7 when walking with my Dad he
suddenly spoke. He was very cheerful and kind.

 

We all got a lift back with someone who was
sending his child back to high school in Xin zhuo. We left the village and went
back onto the main road and I fell asleep. When I woke up just before we
arrived back home. I was glad to get back and very pleased to see Bojang prancing
around and also very happy to see us. We rested for the rest of the day. Then
later Dad told us that we were going back to his village next week as his
friends son was having an engagement party. Does it never end?

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One thought on “PART205 wedding( Dads family)

  1. Fascinating stuff . Well done on the alcohol . Just watched a frightening programme about lifestyle related liver disease in young people [your age ] It is a killer I’m afraid .I’m even more afraid when I note that your consumption and hangovers continue mostly unabated ..Wish I could get thro. to you ,darling heavy drinking boy ..

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