My father always said that people from Fujian province were known for being world travelers and for moving to other countries not because of their adventurous spirit but because if they did not leave Fujian, they starved to death. I’m not quite sure of all the reasons why he left our family, but I suppose this was at least one of them.
The night before Father left, Mother cried for a long time. Father comforted her impatiently.
“Don’t cry. I’ll be back soon enough with enough money to bring us all to our new home,” he told her. He patted her back a little roughly. The wind that night was rather strong and I remember the sea sounding even louder than usual. The wind whistling through the cracks in our door sounded like the tea kettle Mr. Ma used to boil water for tea at the pastry shop.
“You’ll see,” he told mother. “I’ll get a job quickly, make lots of money, and be back in a year or two.” Mother continued to cry but Father looked at me and my brother, and whispered something to her. She looked at us and did her best to stop the tears.
“Would you like to have a bicycle?” Father asked me. I nodded eagerly. “Someday, I’ll buy you a bicycle. But I need to make some money first.” He ruffled my hair and smiled.
That was the last night I saw him and I still wonder if he died at sea, or has a newer and better family somewhere else.
For a long time after that he left, Mother looked lonely and hardly ever seemed happy. However, I eventually became used to seeing her that way. My little brother was only three years old so I doubt he remembered Father too much. At first, I missed him a lot. But after a while, we accepted that he would not be coming back to get us.