On the MRT to my next destination, I opened my new Chinese seal and tried it out. It wasn’t my name. I studied it for a minute, since I sometimes forget my name.
I got off at the next stop and hopped on the train heading back towards the 30-square-foot shop.
“Excuse me, but . . . this isn’t my name.”
“That’s your name,” the stamp guy said, puzzled.
“Sorry, but it isn't."
He shuffled through a messy stack of papers, finding the one with my information on it. “Here - this is what your mom wrote!”
I recognized her handwriting and remembered Mom scribbling on the pink scratch paper. We had spent the afternoon doing errands.
“Oh, you're right. Sorry! I guess she doesn’t know my name.”
We laughed and I ordered another seal.
Later I asked Mom about it.
“Sorry,” she said sheepishly. “Aiyah, why do you need your name on a seal anyway?”
“It’s for painting.”
“Aiyah, so particular. Not necessary.”
For dinner, I cooked buckwheat noodles to pair with spinach and broth. Chupa found the noodles in the sink and began eating them out of the colander.
“Mmmm,” he said.
“Do you like them?”
“Mmmm, warm rubber bands,” he replied.
“Want to play a game?” Mom would ask.
The game turned out to be us pinching and pulling the skin on the tops of our hands in a perpetual dog pile of claw hands. She’d pull/pinch the skin on the top of my right hand with her right hand. While she held the pinch, I put my left hand over her right hand to pinch her skin and hold it while she put her left hand over my left hand and pinched hard. I’d take my right hand from the bottom, and put it over her left hand to pinch, and so on. This game never lasted long, as Mom, smiling, would speed up the process until we ended with a big collapsed hand pile.
This game was painful and not fun, but Mom enjoyed it. She probably had some nostalgic attachment to it.