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A mid-autumn festival story

A mid-autumn  festival story

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by Jeana Jack Fri, Sept 28, 2012

This is a true story. No names have been changed , as there are no innocents to protect.{{more}}

It was the fall of 2006 and the new semester had just started. I had finished class for the day and was on my way to have dinner when I saw a smiling Taiwanese girl coming towards me.

“Hi Jeana,” she chimed. I was startled. Seeing my puzzled expression, she continued, “I’m your roommate, Kelly. Remember me?”

Kelly! Right! My failing memory suddenly returned.

We had met briefly at the end of the previous semester when we were moving into our new dorm room for the year. Shortly after, I had left for St Vincent to enjoy the long, lovely summer, and on returning to Taiwan just a few days earlier, had gotten engaged to the love of my life.

The brief encounter with one of three Taiwanese roommates three months prior, had been forgotten. We started to chat. Kelly felt fortunate to have me as her roommate and to get to know someone from St Vincent, this tiny country she had never heard of. She was utterly amazed that I was getting married. After all, I was only a sophomore and she didn’t even have a boyfriend! She was excited about her upcoming study exchange to Poland, although her parents were worried about it. Then, the invitation came. “Do you know there will be a holiday two Fridays from now?” Yes. “Do you have plans?” No. “I would like to invite you to spend Mid-Autumn Festival with my family. You should bring your fiancé too.”

Although a bit apprehensive, I accepted the invitation. Kelly was ecstatic. On the evening of October 6th, 2006, Kelly met Jamali and me at the metro station close to her home. A short walk later, we were on the rooftop of the family house, had been introduced to her extended family, and couldn’t help but make ourselves at home. They were naturally curious about us, and grew even more intrigued as we shared with them pictures of our families and our beautiful country. They would love to visit, they said, but it was so far away! We assured them that the long trip would be worth it. We huddled around the miniature grill and helped cook the meats and vegetables impaled on skewers. The food was delicious, but this was a totally new experience for us. I mean, when we thought about barbecue, clams, sweet peppers, mushrooms, tofu, and little bits of meat on sticks were nowhere on our Vincentian minds. But none of that mattered. There we were, bathed by the beautiful moonlight, surrounded by the fragrant barbecue smoke, serenaded by Kelly’s uncle, as he strummed on his guitar and sang along lustily, connected to a new friend, and embraced by her Taiwanese family. Far from home. Completely at home.

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