Being Raised

Nicholas Quirke was amused on one level and affronted on another on 10 April 2021 when he discovered that Peng’s aunt had asked if Er Wen was being raised by Peng. The expression in China meant ‘living off’, or in the UK ‘freeloading’. He liked the notion that as he had ‘raised’ his children he was now at sixty being raised. His conscience was clear and as he was definitely ‘paying his way’, he did not feel guilty but he did feel a little insulted that they would think he was not contributing. The issue came up as they were lunching again with Peng’s parents, who clearly felt they had to do what they could to help him raise Er Wen. The food was as always amazing and when they came to leave they were sent away with goodies including a batch of bing and a packed bag of sweetened walnuts which were one of the most moorish treats he had had the pleasure of tasting. He was also given a demonstration by Wang of making noodles which he was definitely going to have to attempt at some time. As always he felt more informed about China and life under the CCP. It was always puzzling to him how citizens of any dictatorship were able to live without colluding in the appalling atrocities that were committed in the name of the leader and knowing that Peng’s parents were teenagers during the cultural revolution was a fascinating opportunity to learn more. He didn’t want to offend and asking the right questions was imperative. Being shown the commemorative coins issued on the 100th anniversary of Mao’s birth, and with his tongue loosened by the glutinous rice liquor he shared in was a a perfect chance to ask some direct questions. As literary people their engagement in some of the excesses of the period and the Gang of Fours pre-eminence was limited and though they held Dr Sun Yat Sen in high regard for his role in building a new China they felt an emotional link to the revolutionary Mao who had united China and led its people into a new world. The destruction wrought by the 10 year policy was not addressed and he was not sure he could ever ask them how they felt about it. They could talk about the Chinese name he had adopted and he expressed his gratitude for their assistance in finding a name with such gravitas. They were also helpful in trying to find an appropriate seal to have his name embossed on. He felt absolutely bloated by the time he left having not only helped to consume the many dishes but also devouring the enormous bowl of noodles he had been given. He did feel that if he was ‘Being raised’ then they were definitely doing a very good job. When they left he noted the trees were laden with blossom and he could not help but eulogise about how beautiful they were and he realised that his street in the uk in Preston park must be looking equally resplendent and he momentarily missed home and the delight that spring bought with it. The afternoon was spent in a cafe close to Caishikou and home where the antics of a young boy kept him amused. A day would not be complete without an accompanying movie and the thriller ‘Don’t Tell a Soul’ was adequately interesting enough to keep him watching, even if it didn’t inspire him in any way and at least allowed him to go to sleep till digesting the spread he had indulged in woke him and ensured a broken slumber.

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