August 24, 2002  |  Chifa el Sol
Before leaving Lima I went back to Chifa el Sol for Yanhua, with some trepidation, both because of a bit of guilt and for the stories I can anticipate. ( I thought if I were to live in Lima, I'd add to the abundance of Chinese restaurants, la Chifas, with one called Dim Sun Dim Sum.) A week ago Olaf, Pierre and I went there for dinner and Yanhua, the 20-year-old hostess, chatted happily in Chinese with me for sometime, and she asked if she could accompany me on her day off which is the next day. I'm not sure why I didn't call her the following day... because she was eager, I turned a little smug, I think. Why couldn't I have been more generous, more kind? So I went there on my last day, so that we could talk, though I could do nothing for her dashed hopes. Two and a half years ago she came to Lima to join an uncle, though she did not want to leave GuangZhou, a large city in Southern China, but as the eldest daughter she has to make tough choices. Her younger sister, 16 at the time, was the one eager to go overseas and the family was talking to "traders" who were sending sons and daughters to Holland, then that failed, then New Zealand, then that failed. Lima is not in any way a better city than GuangZhou, Peru does not represent better opportunities than China. I don't understand the logic of the "traders" indeed, and what convinced the families, in return of a fortune, to send their children to these places?

Though chifas day in and day out does not lead anywhere, she does not see going back. This must be more of a desert for her than for me. I know that she and I are in different places in the world, I know of her envy. I felt people are trapped in the ways of their families. Her diminutive figure, the tiny face with long straight hair that sticks close to it, belie the size of her desires for a bright future, that neither the past nor the present could lead her to.

The lunch was on the expensive side, though I only asked for rice and stir-fried cabbage. I paid it with a feeling of sheepishness as if I was paying for the stories.

Posted by yingzhao 02:24 PM | Permalink
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