Chinese Walls &
Daughters of Hui

from CHINESE WALLS (novel, 1994)

“Say your dynasties,” my mother commands, and we three children begin our recitation, first in Mandarin, then in Cantonese, while Mum listens for mistakes or mispronunciations in Mandarin, as if she could tell the difference. We drone our litany, a litany we know almost as well as the Our Father, Hail Mary and the I Believe.

I am six, Philip ten and Paul twelve. It is 1960. Paul recites the loudest, to cover up Philip’s mistakes and my giggling.

“Again,” Mum commands. “You must always remember you are Chinese no matter where you might live. In Indonesia, when I was small, I could always recite the dynasties from the time I was five. And it had been eight generations, eight, mind you, since my ancestors left Fukien for Java. But as my father always said, our family is pure Chinese blood through and through.”

Copyright © 2002 Xu Xi (aka S. Komala)


DAUGHTERS OF HUI (1996)
A novella and three stories

from DANNY'S SNAKE (novella)
The Monday afternoon Rosemary picked up Danny hitchhiking, his van had a flat tire. A snake coiled around his neck.

“Is it poisonous?” she asked.

“No, but it’ll squeeze you to death if you let him.”
She had recognized her former student, a tall pale figure, standing along Route 9 midway between Amherst and Northampton. Leyland, she remembered, as she slowed down for him. Halfway down last semester’s roll call computer printout - a Hampshire College student.
But a thirteen foot boa! In her eight-year old Toyota Celica. What would Manky say?

As she drove, the reports of the recent Tiananmen Square massacre dominated the news. She could feel him watching her as they listened to the radio.

“Rosemary Hui.” He let her name rest on his tongue, as if luxuriating in its shape and sound. “You’re Chinese, aren’t you?” His voice was deep, almost a bass.

“Yes,” she replied.

“I hope you have no relatives in China.”

“No. Only in Hong Kong,” she said.

Copyright © 2002 Xu Xi (aka S. Komala)


STORIES

LOVING GRAHAM
When an adulterous, sex-obsessed, perpetually faithless female falls into bed with her male counterpart, is it true love or eternal lust?

THE STONE WINDOW – 4 part story
The mystery of Philomena Hui, a Hong Kong painter floating like a ghost around Greek islands, selling watercolors in London, who never appears but infects the lives of others.

VALEDICTION
‘twere profanation of our joys,
to tell the laity our love. John Donne
An incorrigible, trouble-maker muihmuih ("younger sister") says goodbye to ga je, her "older sister" and protector, the "perfect" overseas Chinese woman who commits suicide in a hotel room as neatly and perfectly as her life has been, "so that cleaning up would be no problem."