In order to know what lies
Behind the door of a secret room
It is necessary to know
The appearance of the door.
Memory is also important
For the key to the door
Is the memory of it.
How patiently the earth
Protects her doorways from view
With ubiquitous moss.
ROY studied himself casually in the long thin mirror. Although the material was comfortable, he felt strange in the long-sleeved traditional gown of heavy silk brocade. He felt he should not be dressed that way. Although the silk undergarments were soft and gentle to his skin, they felt alien, quite unlike the tailored clothing he was used to wearing back home. It made him feel a stranger in a strange place.
He decided that the feel of silk gave him pleasure. It is sensual, the light touch of a woman’s hair on the bare flesh. No man of quality should ever have to wear anything less than silk next to the skin. It is so luxurious, and costs an arm and a leg back home. Yet everyone wears it here, except the peasants in the ricefields!
Hearing a sound, he opened his eyes wide, looking around to see his Uncle Sun regarding him benignly from a doorway. He too was dressed in radiant silks.
“What were you thinking about?” Sun asked. “You seemed so very far away.”
Loy laughed. “Oh. I was back home.”
“Gim San. In San Francisco actually. Having a nice suit cut by my tailor, Charlie Woo.”
“Your tailor. Char-lee Woo? He is Gwailo?”
“No. He speaks Toishan. Used to work in Kwangtung, then got into Hong Kong. Father got him into Gim San aboard one of our charter vessels, so he is grateful to us. A fine tailor. He is generous to a fault.”
“Grateful to us. Does he make you traditional clothes?”
Loy laughed again. “We don’t wear traditional clothing over there, Uncle. That would make us look far too different. We strive to look the same as the Gwailo, so as to not stick out more than is necessary.”
“That is a pity. If you lose touch with your umbilicus, it is bad Feng Shui, an interference with wind and water. You should keep tradition alive as a religious act.”