n. mass of condensed water vapour in the lower air, often greatly reducing visibility.
‘London is the Capital of fog.’ It saying in middle school textbook. We studying chapter from Charles Dickens’s novel Foggy City Orphan. Everybody know Oliver Twist living in city with bad fog. Is very popular novel in China.
As soon as I arriving London, I look around the sky but no any fogs. ‘Excuse me, where I seeing the fogs?’ I ask policeman in street.
‘Sorry?’ he says.
‘I waiting two days already, but no fogs,’ I say.
He just look at me, he must no understanding of my English.
When I return Nuttington House from my tourism visiting, reception lady tell me: ‘Very cold today, isn’t it?’ But why she tell me? I know this information, and now is too late, because I finish my tourism visiting, and I wet and freezing.
Today I reading not allowed to stay more than one week in hostel. I not understanding hostel’s policy. ‘Money can buy everything in capitalism country’ we told in China. My parents always saying if you have money you can make the devil push your grind stone.
But here you not staying even if you pay. My parents wrong.
I checking all cheap flats on LOOT in Zone 1 and 2 of London and ringing agents. All agents sound like from Arabic countries and all called Ali. Their English no good too. One Ali charges Marble Arch area; one Ali charges Baker Street area. But I meet different Alis at Oxford Circus tube station, and see those houses. I dare not to move in. Places dirty and dim and smelly. How I live there?
London, by appearance, so noble, respectable, but when I follow these Alis, I find London a refuge camp.
n. 1.person entertained at another’s house or at another’s expense; 2.invited performer or speaker; 3.customer at a hotel or restaurant.
A new day. You call me. At once I know your voice. You ask if I want visit Kew Gardens.
‘Meet me at Richmond tube station,’ you say. ‘R-i-ch-m-o-n-d.’
Is beautiful weather. What a surprise. And so peaceful in the grassy space. So green. Cherry blossoms is just coming out and you tell me about your favourite snowdrops. We see there is different small gardens with different theme. Africa garden are palm trees. North America garden are rocks. South America garden are cactus. And there is too Asia gardens. I so happy Manager not forgetting Asia gardens.
But I so disappointing after we walk in. Lotuses and bamboos is growing in India garden, plum trees and stone bridge is growing in Japanese garden. Where is my Chinese garden?
‘Doesn’t look like they’ve made a Chinese garden,’ you say to me.
‘But that very unfair,’ I say in angry voice. ‘Bamboos belongs to China. Panda eats bamboos leafs in China, you must hear, no?’
You laugh. You say you agree. They should move some plants from India and Japan garden to make Chinese garden.
The meadow asking us to lie. We rest beside each other. I never do that with a man. Juice from grass wetting my white shirt. My heart melting. Sky is blue and airplane flying above us, low and clear. I see moving shadows of the plane on the meadow.
‘I want see where you live,’ I say.
You look in my eyes. ‘Be my guest.’
misunderstand v. fail to understand properly. misunderstanding n. informal a disagreement, argument, or fight.
That’s how all start. From a misunderstanding. When you say ‘guest’ I think you meaning I can stay in your house. A week later, I move out from Chinese landlord.
I not really have anything, only big wheel-missing suitcase. The husband helping me suitcase. The wife opening door. Your white van waiting outside, you with hands on wheel.
Husband puts wheel-missing suitcase on your van, you smile to landlord and turn engine key.
I want ask something to my landlord that I always wanting ask, so I put my head out of window:
‘Why you not plant plants in your garden?’
Wife is hesitate: ‘Why? It is not easy to grow plants in this country. No sun.’
For last time I look the concrete garden. Is same no story, same way as before. Like little piece of Gobi desert. What a life! Or maybe all the immigrants here living like that?
White van starting up, I respond to wife:
‘Not true. Everywhere green in this country. How you say not easy growing plant here?’
We leave house behind. The couple is waving hands to me.
I say: ‘Chinese strange sometimes.’
You smile: ‘I don’t understand you Chinese at all. But I would like to get to know you.’
We driving in high street. My suitcase lie down obediently at back. Is so easy move house like this in West? I happy I leave my grey and no fun Tottenham Hale, heading to a better area, I think. But streets becoming more and more rough. Lots of black kids shouting outside. Beggars sitting on corner with dogs, smoking, and murmuring.
‘Where your house?’ I ask.
‘How is Hackney?’
‘Hackney is Hackney,’ you say.
adj. 1.having a close personal relationship; 2.personal or private; 3.(of knowledge) extensive and detailed; 4.(foll by with) euphemistic having a sexual relationship (with); 5.having a friendly quiet atmosphere. n. close friend.
How can intimate live with privacy?
We have lived together after first week we met. You said you never lived so closely with another person before. You always avoided intimate with the other person. You said to have your friends more important than your lovers. That’s so different with my Chinese love – family means everything.
Maybe people here have problems being intimate with each other. People keep distance because they want independence, so lovers don’t live with together, instead they only see each other at weekend or sleep together twice a week. A family doesn’t live with together therefore the intimate inside of a family disappeared. Maybe that why Westerners much more separated, lonely, and have more Old People’s House. Maybe also why newspapers always report cases of peterfiles and perverts.
We are in your old white van. You want to show me somewhere special called the Burnham Beach.
‘Is it the British ocean?’ I ask, excited to visit sea for first time. You are laughing.
‘B-e-e-c-h, not b-e-a-c-h. In English, a beech is a type of tree, not an ocean. I’ll take you to the sea another time.’
How I ever understand your complicated language – not even any change in accent like we have in Chinese. We have four intonations, so every tone means different word. Like:
mi in first tone means to close eyes.
mi in second tone means to fancy something.
mi in third tone means rice.
mi in fourth tone means honey.
Anyway, on the highway of M40, I have my dictionaries to check out what exactly that beach/beech is. Collins tells me that is a European tree, but when I look my little Concise dictionary, says it is a tree called ‘Shan Mao Ju’, which grows everywhere in China. We cut those trees for lighting fires in kitchen. We used to carry baskets and collect their nutty seeds when we were little.
The woods are dark, lush, and wet.
Trees are huge, tall, and solid.
The whole woods are growing silently and secretly. The whole woods are decay. On way to woods it was a beautiful day, but inside woods the climate is totally different. Is chilly and rainy. Rain drops from those hundred-year-old greyish branches and leafs, and the rain fills the ponds stuffed by weeds.
In the muddy and greeny pond, lotus gently floats, and the dragonfly dashes. You hold me and caress me. We are in each other’s arm. You lift my denim skirt, and you touch my garden. My garden is warm and moist. You stroke my hip, and I unzip your jean. We make love. We make love. We make love under the silent beech tree. So quiet, so quiet. We can hear children on the football field in the distance are yelling. Only the rain drops, fall on our hair, our skin. Rain drops on the cowslip flower by our feet, without disturbing us.