The Double Life of Benson Yu by Kevin Chong EPUB & PDF – eBook Details Online
- Status: Available for Free Download
- Author: Kevin Chong
- Language: English
- Genre: Asian American Literature
- Format: PDF / EPUB
- Size: 2 MB
- Price: Free
A few days after I receive that noxious letter from C., the boy appears for the rst
time. The picture lls my eyes, and the most expedient way to clear them is by
writing it down. I see the boy, on the street, cowering behind his grandmother.
That’s his default pose. He’s holding a fold-up cart. His ailing poh-poh nudges
him forward. Up until a month ago the old woman pulled the two-wheeled cart
herself. Then, one morning, after she’d been coughing through the night, she
made the boy do it. On that initial outing, as they embarked on their errand
running, she made a point of moving at her typically brisk pace. “It’s just my
hand,” she said in Cantonese, with a village accent she used only around family,
like a pair of ugly slippers. “It hurts, that’s all. It’ll be ne tomorrow.” But then
she asked him to pull the cart again the next day.
Every week, on Sundays, this depleted family unit makes their rounds to the
markets for dried scallops, for pea shoots and watercress, for oxtail and tripe.
Everyone knows Poh-Poh. She used to teach Chinese school to half of them in
the church basement. Everyone stands up straighter, eyes jittering, the second
Whenever he’s out with Poh-Poh, the boy worries about seeing kids from his
class. Their side-eyes and smirks could strip paint. Those jerks will wait until
they’re in the schoolyard to tell the boy they recognize his clothes from gift-shop
clearance racks and church donation bins. They’ll ask him where his parents are,
as though he hasn’t told them already.
Now that he pulls the cart, the shopkeepers direct their attention to him rst,
as the person who handles the business. They all know better than to see him as
in charge, but this way they don’t have to meet the gaze of the woman who
would pick their Chinese names from a roll to recite classical poetry.
Today, it’s Mr. Mah, who runs the convenience store across the street.
“Dai lo!” he says from the back of the store. He’s nished stacking cans of
soup. “How may we serve you?” he says in Cantonese.
Poh-Poh tuts, her voice like the rasp she uses on her feet before bedtime, and
allows the boy—I guess we’re gonna call him Benny—to choose a shrinkwrapped package of snack cakes for acing his math test. One indulgence he’s
earned from pulling the cart is getting to stop here rst. He no longer has to wait
until their errands are done for his weekly treat. “You’re acting as though he’s the
one paying for everything,” she reminds Mr. Mah.
“One day he will. Big head, big brain, woh!” says Mr. Mah, rubbing his hands
on his annel shirtsleeves as he follows them to the front of the store. The sides
of his face are crinkled from all the smiling he does.
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