A Twist of Jade
Translated by Pow Jun Kai
By Soon Ai Ling
Weak and sickly since young, I have always suffered low self-esteem. To this day, I have been wearing a jade pendant around my neck, as Mother says it will protect me from calamities. I, however, do not know whether I'm unlucky, or simply possessed by evil. The pendant has been worn for such a long time, it has faded from its original bright green to a turbid shade. Mother has all the more reason for me to keep wearing one; she keeps changing the pendants, with each one larger than the last. No matter how smart my new shirts make me look, the jade pendant would protrude out from my neckline. If I don't button the shirt up, the jade pendant would jut out from my chest, making me feel embarrassed. Nevertheless, I have got used to it over time and never thought of removing it.
That's not all. I can't bear Mother's nagging too, especially when fuelled by my elder sister's instigation, which caused me to feel even more insecure. Sister, who is 10 years older than me, is an exact imprint of Mother, talking at the same speed and is equally frantic. With the two of them together, trivial matters get blown up and I become the target of their jabs.
I brought Happy Grace home one day, and she was judged sternly. "I have never seen a girl with such a large mouth," Sister began.
"Exactly, her teeth aren't straight as well. The front teeth look just like a book's fore-edge."
"Her skin is still acceptable, but her limbs are just too hairy."
"Is it? I didn't notice that. I just find her mouth too wide, especially when she starts talking."
At first I thought Happy Grace looked pretty alright. She is not only kind-hearted, but more importantly, she promptly says yes whenever I ask her out. She'd cling onto me when we go shopping or watch a film. Her eyes aren't too ugly, and she would occasionally steal glances at me. She is also quite busty and, occasionally, her breasts would rub against my arm. I wonder if it is intentional or accidental. With our clothes acting as a barrier, there is a certain reservation, although the desire to progress further is palpable.
It was a coincidence that I brought Happy Grace home. We had wanted to go for a swim, but I had forgotten my swimming goggles. I am a creature of habit. Since primary school days, I always wear goggles when swimming. Without the goggles, it feels like I'm missing something. Luckily, the swimming pool was not too far from my house and so I dragged Happy Grace home.
Stepping through the door, I saw Mother and Sister folding paper ingots. They were preparing to perform prayers somewhere. As usual, Mother would pray for me, while Sister hoped for a newborn. Their initial reaction on seeing Happy Grace was shock, followed by an appraisal of her from head to toe. Normally, Happy Grace would dress up when we went shopping or to the movies. She would often don stockings too. Not today. We were heading to the pool, so she was casually dressed in a T-shirt and Bermuda shorts, and without any make-up. She was chided by Mother and Sister for such casual fashion sense.
It didn't take too long to fetch my goggles. When I get back to the living room, Happy Grace was already helping out with the ingot-folding, and chatting with her mouth wide open.
"I always help my mother fold ingots at home. She likes to go to the Wong Tai Sin Temple and visits the fortune teller next to the temple. My father says she is too devout – she has visited every god in every temple in Hong Kong."
I saw the change in Mother's facial expression. Sister frowned. I hurriedly asked Happy Grace to leave. She stood up and said jovially, "I'll come back another day."
Mother and Sister did not respond. I pushed Happy Grace out the door. On the way to the pool, she mentioned that our homes look similar, except that her father was still around. My father had passed on. I didn't feel too happy as I know Mother and Sister were the sort of people who only looked up to those who actually paid them no attention. For someone so warm-hearted like Happy Grace to get criticised, I was uneasy.
These troubling thoughts were forgotten once we reached the pool. In the water, Happy Grace looked very pretty in her bright red swimsuit. Snow white skin, red swimwear, blue water. I felt an unexplainable excitement. I pulled her towards the deeper end of the pool. She didn't know how to swim and, once we reached the other side, I tightened my grip around her. She held on to my neck, soft breasts pressed onto my back. Our skin came into contact and our bodies responded. The guys at the pool stared at her figure. As long as she did not pander and remained chaste, she would still be regarded as marriage material.
We had steak after swimming. Once I got home, I was interrogated by Mother and Sister about Happy Grace's shortcomings. Mother asked, "Are you really making her your wife?"
"Mum, we are only friends."
"She came unannounced and without a gift. She appeared to be on such familiar terms with us on our first meeting. I am really impressed by her manners."
"Mum, we were going to the pool and I forgot my goggles. She accompanied me so I could fetch them. What's wrong with the both of you?"
"Son, none of your girlfriends are satisfactory. The last one is undersized and too tanned. This one has a wide mouth and big face."
"I am not talking to you anymore. Nothing I do pleases you."
I'm used to it. Since young, I have never been complimented by Mother. She's always picking on me. I'm not the only one who has been on the receiving end of such criticism. Father was tormented when he was still alive.
My father was a postal worker. He reiterated that being a postman was a very meaningful job. He prided himself for delivering any mail no matter how far the letter had come from. I have always believed that my father was an honourable person. In kindergarten, my classmates and I used to sing a song called 'Postman, Postman'. I would raise my hand and announce that my father was a postman. My classmates would look at me with envy.
My pride was intact, until one day when my parents and I were at the government housing agency applying for a larger flat. Sister and I were already in secondary school then, and we could not no longer share a single bedroom with our parents.
Mother held out the rejection letter. The estate officer expressed his inability to assist. Even though I was young, I remember Mother's emotional state – she was as agitated as a lioness.
"My husband is a postman, contributing to the greater good of the society, toiling day in, day out. But he doesn't get to live in a proper place. You tell me, how can you be more anxious about Vietnamese refugees than about your own people? This is topsy-turvy! We are so stupid!"
She turned around and pointed at my father. She vented her frustration. "Idiot! An idiot your whole life! Why be a postman? Why not be a refugee? You don't have to do anything and will still receive food and shelter. They said they are concerned about the citizens, but we are homeless. We pay taxes, but to who? Liars! You! You said they will definitely approve our application on the basis that you are a postman. You think being a postman is very honourable? They have already rejected you."
The estate staff members invited us into the office having seen the kerfuffle caused by Mother. A year later we were allocated a flat twice as large. Since then, Mother would go around boasting to everyone that it was due to her effort, and soon she became the "administrative adviser" for several ex-neighbours.
Growing up, I have witnessed such tactics from Mother. The maxim she has inculcated in me was "speak out against injustice"! Naturally, any injustice was defined by her.
She took full control of my life in school. She was very familiar with my teachers and maintained contact with them. When I was in Secondary One, I was assigned to sit at the back of the classroom. She wanted me to sit in front. She told my teachers repeatedly that I had lazy eyes and couldn't see far. Actually, she was afraid I would be distracted. My teachers were so annoyed by her constant pleading, they placed me right at the front. She also accompanied me at lunch. My classmates made fun of me, calling me a "mummy's boy." I asked her not to come to school, and she actually reported those classmates to my teachers for bullying me.
After Father passed away, Mother became the breadwinner. Her surveillance was somewhat relaxed. Unbeknownst to me, Sister took after Mother's role, and was even stricter.
She'd take phone calls on my behalf, was aware of my whereabouts, and told on me to Mother. Take the time I wanted to major in the Arts, together with my 10 other classmates. Sister countered with the brilliant reasoning that studying the Sciences would mean better job prospects, and pressured Mother to get me to pursue the Sciences instead.
I qualified for the Sciences but I wasn't interested at all. Mother was at first oblivious, but later she reprimanded: "Are you as stupid as your father? Here's the chance to study the Sciences and you'd rather study the Arts. Do you want to become a postman?"
As I expected, my Sciences exam results were horrible. My classmates, who got worse results than me, got into university, as they majored in the Arts. After receiving my results, I immediately confronted Mother and Sister.
"Please don't scold me. It was you who forced me to study the Sciences. If you scold me, I will jump down the building."
In a fit of anger, I slammed the door and left. When I returned home after midnight, Mother spoke in a low tone for the first time.
"I don't blame you. You already tried your best. Come drink some soup. I had boiled your favourite chicken soup for four hours."
Being a person of such low calibre, I wasn't able to hold my anger against her. So, I gulped the soup down obediently.
As it turns out, my job suits my personality to a T. I've become a library manager. Libraries nowadays operate largely on a computerised system, and library officers need to be equipped with the necessary professional qualifications. Having graduated from the Sciences, I'm relatively more familiar with the computerisation processes than my colleagues who were from the Arts. Mother also sponsored some of my computer lessons. I mastered the computerisation project and soon become the go-to person for my colleagues. Whenever there is any IT-related problem, they would approach me. Over time, I've become a vital asset to the company and feel a sense of achievement.
I've also gained more confidence at home. At dinner I often share with Mother my work reputation and the trust I enjoy. Mother takes pride in my accomplishments and emphasises, "I knew that having you go for computer lessons would be beneficial."
Actually, one's knowledge of the computer operations depends more on trial and error, and on-the-job exposure. Still, I wouldn't argue with her. Fundamentalists love to take credit, and shift whatever blame onto others. Moreover, she is my mother. If I could make Mother feel she is intelligent, capable and has foresight, isn't this an expression of filial piety? So I allow her to indulge in her happiness, instead of disagreeing with her. My father was similarly accommodating, giving her the pride of place, thus shaping her character today.
Recently, the library hired a mentor on library classification who could impart the latest developments in book categorisation. The latter had just come back to Hong Kong after receiving training in Britain, and her name is Liberty Jade.
It was difficult to view her as our mentor on the first day we met her. Her hair was very short. There was only an inch of hair on the back of her head, and her fringe was covering her eyebrows. Unlike my other colleagues, who made an effort to remember all our names, all she cared about were computers. She told us about her task and got down to work.
She was not at all bothered by those who were fearful of using the computers. She said, "Why are you so afraid of pressing the wrong button? The text can be retyped if it went missing. Who hasn't made any mistake while learning to use the computer? One button can erase everything; one mistake can cause eternal regret! But it doesn't matter. You will learn a lesson and not press wrongly again."
She was highly demanding. Not only did she want everyone to pick up the skills quickly, she targeted the computer operation to begin within two weeks. She said, "Suffer for a month! After that, you will feel uneasy if you haven't touched the computer even for a day."
This is a fact. Those of us who have become well-versed in the computer are already addicted to it, and cannot do without it for more than a day.
We have to be practical in the society we live in. Our survival depends on our ability to respond and adapt swiftly. Oftentimes, we need to rely on having confidence and being cunning. Many people are full of confidence, but they are not cunning enough. Conversely, others are cunning but lack focus and substance.
Liberty Jade is different. Never tell her anything that cannot be accomplished. She will stare at your eyes when talking to you. She doesn't look at your body or limbs, but only at your eyes. You cannot defend yourself. Don't even try to lie. As long as you are willing to learn, she will give you time to do so.
Among all my colleagues, Alice was most resistant to computerisation. At lunchtime, she'd complain about Liberty Jade. Eventually, Liberty Jade became aware of these complaints. Liberty Jade asked Alice to come to her office every day and spent an hour coaching her on computing and impart the necessary skills. She bore no grudge.
After a month, the situation changed. In the past, Alice would go to the toilet, wash cups, redo her make-up, or comb her hair 30 minutes before work ended. Now, Alice will be glued to the computer at the end of the day. Her colleagues have to remind her of the time before she would get up and leave. People change. That said, don't expect Alice to be full of praise for Liberty Jade. The fact that she hasn't said a bad word since is already a miracle.
We alternate our lunch timings. Liberty Jade, though, will always take a break at lunch. She will eat with whoever she meets at lunch, or read the newspaper by herself.
I have lunch with her today. After ordering our dishes, she takes notice of what is around my neck and says, "Why don't you throw that jade away? It looks so ugly!"
I'm taken aback. I have never ever harboured such a thought. Neither has anyone told me to throw the jade away in such a straightforward manner! I do not know how to respond. I lower my head to look at the jade pendant and ask, "Is it really that ugly?"
"You use it to ward off evil and fend off calamities?" She twitches the corners of her mouth almost in a mocking tone before sipping her coffee.
"I have been physically weak since young and my mother's intention is for me to wear jade."
"Are you still weak and sickly?"
"Now? I haven't had flu or fever for two years. You want me to remove the jade pendant?"
"Oh! I just thought it's an eyesore. Of course, it's your choice. Men relishing gold, jade and silver is very much out of fashion already."
"You don't like Jade."
"Me? I prefer Tarzan," after which she laughs.
At home, I inspect my body in the mirror. I remove the pendant and realise for the first time that my body looks good without it. It's a clean look, or at least I appear clean, even though swimming during the summer had given me a tan, except for the part of the body covered by the jade pendant.
I like the way my body looks indeed, without the pendant. I wonder if it's my own liking, or it being the preference of Liberty Jade. Am I influenced by her? I don't wish to be influenced by her.
I put the pendant back on and get dressed. Mother knocks on the door.
"Hey, I have been calling you to come out and drink some soup. Have you fallen asleep?"
"Hasma chicken soup. You have been at the computer all night. You need some tonic soup to booster your health."
"Mum, there is no need to make such expensive soup. Just make simple soups like radish and carrot soup, which is good enough."
"Those soups are too cooling. They will not benefit you."
"Why so? I haven't been falling sick for a few years."
"Stop it! A healthy person shouldn't speak of falling sick. It's a bad omen."
"Mum, what do you think if I remove this jade pendant?"
"Cannot. Don't be rash."
"I will remove this jade pendant one day."
"You'd better not do that. The jade has protected you from harm and evil. It has already let you grow so big and strong."
"Why don't you say the chicken soup is more effective at doing that?"
"You better don't remove the jade. Who gave you that idea?"
"Mum, it is really ugly. Look. Don't you think it's ugly? I went to try on a silk T-shirt the other day. The sales assistant said that the jade pendant didn't go with the look. My colleague also laughed at me wearing jade at such an old age."
"What do they know. You go ask Happy Grace. She will certainly not be bothered by the jade. Let's stop talking and come have dinner."
Speaking about Happy Grace: Mother and Sister may not like her at first, but they've had a change of heart of late. She frequently visits, sometimes bringing along her mother's braised duck and yam dessert. It helps that Happy Grace's mother is Teochew, and Mother and Sister both love Teochew cuisine.
As for myself, I have not developed any deeper feelings for Happy Grace. I don't know why. When Mother isn't at home, Happy Grace likes to come into my room and I would teach her some computing skills. She'll try to kiss me. I hug her instead. I can't help it, but there is a force within myself that prevents me from going further. Once, Happy Grace got very excited and removed the buttons on her blouse. I almost succumbed, but once I raised my head and saw the computer, my desire subsided. I lifted her, and buttoned up her blouse.
That night, Happy Grace was in tears as I walked her home. I could only console her, but she placed the blame on herself and kept asking, "Do you think I am very cheap? Offering myself to you? Are you still interested in me? Will you look down on me?"
I told her, "Dear, go back and stop thinking too much. Don't worry."
Once we reached her place, she wiped her tears and told me, "I knew it. You don't love me."
I wanted to tell her that it was not true, but she had already closed the door.
Happy Grace, computer, jade, and Liberty Jade… these things trouble me lately. Whenever I feel frustrated, I'd remove the pendant. In the past few nights, I had slept without it. I felt more comfortable whenever I rolled about in bed. My sleep was also sound.
If I sleep with the pendant on me, the string often gets wrapped around my neck. When I turn about in a fit, the pendant hits my chest, startling me awake. The string gets stretched too and entangled with the pendant. It'd take me ages to disentangle them. Yes, I'm starting to find the pendant rather cumbersome. Whenever I put on a white shirt and look myself in the mirror, the pendant does look like an eyesore.
Yet, I have not thrown it away.
Liberty Jade announces she'd be leaving the company after four months. We ask her where she is heading to, and she says Singapore. An IT multinational has invited her. We ask if she is migrating. She says she's only there for work. Her horizon remains wide open.
Speaking of migrating to Singapore, Mother decides to join the queue on the very day official immigration forms are issued. The long line snakes from the Admiralty Centre towards the direction of Wan Chai. Holding an umbrella in the summer sun, she collects the application form then returns home, face all flustered.
It makes me so exasperated.
"Didn't I ask you not to collect the form? I can get it later. Why didn't you listen to me? There were so many people and you had to queue for hours. How could you bear it?"
"I am doing this for your good. When will you have the time to queue? I have nothing to do at home, so I collected it for you. Fill up the form quickly and submit it early. Let me see what I can cook for dinner."
That night, Mother comes down with a fever and a headache. I am not happy.
The application form comprises a set of eight blue pages and a set of six yellow pages. I retrieve all necessary records – my old address, birth certificate, identity card, passport, secondary school certificate, university certificate, and work experience. It seems that everything needs to be submitted, including photocopies, pay slips and tax bills. I spend an entire week on the form before submitting it. The agency receptionist firmly presses a stamp on the envelope. I ask her how long I have to wait. She says, about three months!
Coincidentally, that is the day Liberty Jade told everyone it's her last day at work. So, indeed we wait for a full three months. I also receive a phone call from the Singaporean immigration agency.
"Sorry, your application has been rejected. Please come to the office to collect your HK$1,200 and photocopied documents."
Receiving two pieces of bad news at the same time, I do not feel well. I have no idea which matter was worse.
Mother is particularly disappointed. She has been holding out hope these past few years. Yet, the truth is starkly laid out. I have somehow fared worse than Father at the same stage of our lives. Based on his benefits as a postal officer, he was allocated a house twice the size of the previous one. Even for my HK$7000 salary, examination qualifications and five years of job experience, I still failed to meet the requirements of the immigration company.
The Singaporean administrator says I have to secure a job in Singapore first and attain a SG$1,500 salary. Only then can I reapply and be more certain of a successful application.
I'm feeling down. Liberty Jade says: "Perhaps I am able to find you a job when I'm there. You've lost out on the account that you don't have a professional certificate. Since you have such great interest in computing, you should study for a degree. Haven't you saved up enough money after working these past few years?"
I don't think one is too old to return to school at 23. Besides, Mother still has some savings. When Father was working as a postman, he bought an insurance policy. If I go for further studies in the USA or Canada, Mother will claim the insurance pay-out. She has always thought that the national examination results were a big blow to me and that I would not study anymore. Actually, I have put that behind me. So when she finds out that I'd like to return to school, she's overjoyed.
"Go to Canada. Auntie Chan and Auntie Fong are there. They will help you find a university. Canada is great!"
"Mum, look at you. Please don't mess this up. I will submit the application myself."
"We can use the pay-out from your father's insurance."
"Mum, I am worried about you!"
"I still have your sister. I forgot to tell you. Your sister is pregnant. After she gives birth, I will take care of the child. She will come back and live with me. So you don't have to worry about me."
There is still a way forward. As long as we are alive, we will take one step at a time. The boat always floats under the bridge. All of a sudden, I'm liberated and I feel calm.
Liberty Jade is leaving. A farewell party is being organised. The weather is still warm at the end of September. Alice suggests we rent a yacht and go out to sea. There is a resounding yes from everyone.
Liberty Jade and I have been seeing each other every day and I find her to be quite friendly. Sometimes, I'd join her for a drink, something she enjoys after work. She says, "I like the feeling of drinking cold beer. It cools my body and makes me feel good."
She'd puff a couple of cigarettes after that. She also enjoys the al fresco ambience. "When night falls, you feel you are being shrouded by nature."
I like Liberty Jade, or I should say I have fallen for her, but I don't say it loud. I know I could not keep her in Hong Kong. I'm not Nature and I'm not the Tarzan in her heart. She confesses, "It is the first time I have acquainted with a person as young as you. My friends are all older than me. They are more illustrious and sensible. I have received much guidance in their company."
For sure, befriending older people allows one to learn more things, just like how much I've learnt from Liberty Jade herself. I'd join her for drinks after work, chit-chat, and then return home separately. Back home, I always look forward to seeing her the next day.
Alas, she would soon be leaving… me!
Alice is the one responsible for renting the yacht for the farewell party. The rent is HK$3,000 and the amenities, including showering facilities on board, are decent. We steer the yacht close to an obscure islet and then swim towards it. Liberty Jade is a great swimmer; she loves the sea. Everyone reaches the shore. She calls out and swims towards the cliff at the side of the island. No one except me follows her. She deftly swims around the uneven rocks. She climbs onto the cliff and waves enthusiastically towards the rest of the gang on shore. No one moves. Everyone is contented with their resting spot.
I'm not tired. I swim a little while. I have recently picked up the butterfly stroke and wanted to show off my skill in open waters. I swing my waist and flap my arms like a dolphin, my feet like a rudder. I'm getting excited. At one point, I consider the swimming trunks to be a hassle – it's as if they are asking to be taken off.
It's the first time I feel thought and action are completely aligned in the water. I'm feeling terribly accomplished.
Then I notice Liberty Jade focus her gaze on me from the rocks. I swim towards her and climb up the rocks carefully. I am truly ecstatic. Drenched, I turn to face her and say: "Ah, I'm so happy."
"You know, you look really like a dolphin just now."
"Like a dolphin! Very strong and smart."
"Really? Oh!" I peer into her eyes, laughing.
I lower my head and glance at the water droplets on my body. I see the jade pendant, remove it and hold it in my hand. This is the best moment to dump it into the sea.
"Are you thinking to throw it away?"
"Yes, since you mentioned it for the very first time, I have thought about throwing it away."
"Why have you not done so?"
"I am afraid my mother would nag."
"Now, how are you going to explain to her?"
"I have been dropping her hints. One day I will throw it away, but I cannot hurt her too much."
"Really?" She strokes the string on my neck and I kiss her hand lightly. She says, "Jade represents desire!"
"What?" I am shocked.
"Jade represents desire. They share the same pronunciation."
I have a revelation. This jade pendant symbolises my desires as well as those of my mother's. I hesitated.
"Do you still want to throw it away? The jade?" She takes the pendant from me and kisses it. I'm aroused by her little gesture. If she were agreeable, I would have loved her for seven lifetimes. Then I remember her name is Liberty Jade. I become worried. She senses my sentimentality.
"Can't bear to part with the jade?"
"No, I can't bear to part with its symbolic meaning."
"Then just keep it. Removing it is good enough. No one in this world is as liberal as a precious jade." She caresses my waist in her consolation.
At that moment, I need her. Both spiritually and sexually.
I gaze towards the shore. The other colleagues are further away now as a result of the rising tide. The large rocks on the cliff are our cover. Liberty Jade wears a two-piece swimsuit. Her skin is tanned by summer.
I place my lower jaw on her shoulder. Her shoulder has two different shades, thanks to frequent swimming. A strip of fair skin separated one shoulder into two. The brown skin on either side of the white line looks like two delicious pieces of chocolate sandwiching a slice of butter. I can't resist myself from kissing her body. I have become the adroit and energetic dolphin of her heart.
As I rest and stare upwards at the blue sky, Liberty Jade sits up and peers towards the sea. I stroke her back lightly, feeling bliss. I have given my first time to her. It's obviously not her first time, but I'm willing to give mine to her. She deserves it. I think about why I didn't give my first time to Happy Grace. It's because I've always intended to wait for Liberty Jade. Here and now, it's not up to me anymore. My gaze is suddenly fixed on the jade perched on a rock as the waves crash.
The tides are higher and the water level inches upwards. We slip into the waters and swim back to shore to join our colleagues. We spend the rest of the afternoon as if nothing has happened. My heart is calm and satisfied as I steal glances at Liberty Jade.
My mind and body undergo a new breakthrough that day. I have matured and grown self-confidence within a day.
On our return journey, I ask Liberty Jade to come to the stern of the boat. The sky turns a light purple. I hold onto my jade pendant and tells her, "Come, see how I throw it into the sea, and let it return to nature."
I throw the jade pendant with much strength and turn my head around to look at Liberty Jade. Two teardrops sparkle from the corners of her eyes. She wipes them off and smiles. We are about to say something when Alice yells towards us, "Hey, we are taking a group photo!" We leave our imprint at the twilight.
That night, I accompany Liberty Jade home. Since we are both tired, I don't stay long. I see a calligraphy scroll on the wall that says, "When falsehood is taken as truth, truth becomes falsehood; when absence turns into presence, presence becomes absence!"
I wonder if such notions of truth and falsehood, absence and presence, echo Liberty Jade's worldview. I need to spend some time and effort to comprehend it. I'm aware now that to be with Liberty Jade is not an impossibility. Ever since I've thrown the pendant away, I have a new understanding about life's entanglements. Honestly, even if Liberty Jade is out of my life, I would still remain realistic.
On the way home, sounds of the evening news can be heard from the windows in the neighbourhood. The next day the British parliament will announce the number of Hong Kong residents being awarded British citizenship. I would not get a chance; I belong to Hong Kong. I was born here, the large rock on the cliff. The jade pendant I threw away is still on this island, on the land and in the sea! I think, "Having been accustomed to this path in the world, my heart won't be at ease anywhere else."
Mother is heartbroken over the loss of my jade pendant. Not long after, she is relieved by a bout of happiness – Sister has given birth to a son. Mother now pins all her hopes onto this newborn. The most miraculous thing happens when the baby turns a month old – Mother takes out another piece of jade from her pocket and carefully ties it around the infant's neck. She and Sister laugh in contentment. Jade!
QLRS Vol. 22 No. 1 Jan 2023