Thursday, November 30, 2006

Deaf

February 2003

Actually, not everyone was there when we got back. Maggie’s sister hadn’t arrived yet.

Maggie disappeared for a few minutes and then returned carrying a box containing a set of mahjong tiles. ‘You want to play, honey? She asked. I noticed with a little disappointment that she’d changed her clothing. She was now wearing jeans. ‘Yes, I’ll play. Shall we play a team? Then maybe I can learn from you’

There we five of us playing, though Maggie and I were one team. We played for money. Maggie gave me a quick explanation which I didn’t understand. ‘I think it is better if we just play’ I said, ‘Then I will pick it up as we go’

No-one else spoke any English. They talked and laughed, Maggie included, but I had no idea what was being said. Every ten minutes or so, someone would win a round, and I would give them some money. I was very slow, which frustrated the others a little, although they remained good humored. Eventually I let Maggie play alone for a while to speed the game up. She did manage to win back a little of my money.

I sat down and ate some of the snacks and drank a glass of red wine.

Everything stopped for a while when Maggie’s sister and her boyfriend arrived. I shook hands with him and we exchanged a few words. Then he sat on the sofa, and was quiet for some time.

Then around 7pm everything was cleared away and we all went out to dinner.

As with previous family dinners, the conversation was predominately in Cantonese. Only occasionally did someone try to speak to me. Maggie would translate a little of what was said. ‘Now I know what it must be like to be deaf’ I said.

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