11 November 2000 Saturday
Your grandfather first taught English in the evening in Shanghai when
he was only 28. At that time he worked for General Electric factory as
accountant during the day time. He studied English very hard, all by self
teaching. No one taught him. His alma mater? none. Or you may say: society.
His father was so poor that he didn't finish fourth grade! Around 1940,
he rented several primary school classrooms for his evening classes and
I became one of his students. He was very strict and I was quite scared
of him. I still remember I had to read an English lesson 30 times while
he sat in his chair and listened after we returned home from evening classes
at 9 PM Mon thru Sat. The first lesson went as follows: This is a book.
That is a pen. Is this a book? Yes, this is a book. Is that a pen? No,
that is not a pen. He went to wartime capital Chung King to become an
English interpreter for the army led by Chiang Kai-Shek in 1943. He was
35 and had to teach English in the evening daily to make ends meet. When
the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the family moved to Nanking. He was
an English instructor for the air force staff and command college. He
had a family of eight to support and so he had to teach English in the
evening again. In 1948, I was 18 and I started to help him by teaching
a beginner class. In Dec 1948, the whole family moved with his college
to Tung Kang town, Ping Tung county, Taiwan. In 1950 he rented a class
room from local primary school again to teach English. I was 11th grader
(senior high) and on Mon thru Sat I rushed from senior high by train for
more than one hour to evening class to teach a class. That was the time
when I bought my first wrist watch. I was the third student in the 11th
grade who wore a watch. In 1957, the family moved to Hsinchu.
On the crowded train home tonight, I leaned against
a pole reading the two page interview of the actress Gwyneth Paltrow in
the Daily Telegraph. I wanted to know why she said,"I'm totally Daddy's
It didn't appear - until the end. She reminisced
of her first trip to Europe at the age of ten. Her dad Bruce Paltrow (who
is fighting throat cancer at the moment) took her to Paris. On the way
back to London, he asked her, "Do you know why we went to Paris,
just you and me, and why Mummy and Jake stayed in London? I wanted you
to see Paris for the first time with a man who will love you forever,
no matter what."
Tears rushed my eyes. I bent my head down and remembered
how my father and I had gone to Paris only two years ago. He wanted to
see if French cuisine was truly superior - and he also wanted to take
the Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel.
While he couldn't have said this to me as I've
been to Paris numerous times, I would have said, "Dad, I wanted you
to see Paris for the first time with a woman who will love you forever,
no matter what." And I hope it's not the last time either.
Related diary entries:
Another daddy's girl:
Gwyneth Paltrow acted in Great Expectations, Sliding Doors, Shakespeare