I am interested in the idea of inheritance — gifts from those who have left our earthly world. They might be material, but could also be intangible. The inheritance of language, names, physical features, mannerisms, all matter as much, or more than, money and things. My grandfather did leave things, but the inheritance I have and most love from him are the stories my family shares. This is my memory of the things — the money is gone, but the story remains.

 

The evening dragged on.  The lawyer

and my two uncles sat in the

living room, talking quietly.

For the daughters and children

of daughters, the talk hardly mattered,

and we sat around the table

eating longan fruit.

Sticky juice ran down our arms

and brown skins spilled over the

edges of the bowl.  Grandfather

was a Hindu.  We knew

everything would go to the sons.

 

“Slap!”  Papers

thrown angrily on the table.

An uncle’s loud voice,

our silence, another uncle’s voice.

The nervous lawyer, speaking

softly but too quickly.

“They are arguing about money,”

my aunty said.  The words

ran, fast, climbing higher, until they

started to descend, breathing

slowed, and the uncles

sat down again.

 

And then, as if from a dream,

someone threw handfuls of

money into the air.  Money from

Grandfather, I suppose.  Screaming with

excitement, we jumped up to catch

the money as it came down.  Colorful Thai

bills floated above us, suspended in the air

a moment or two.  Breath held, silence,

eyes focused on the soft flutter of

reds, greens, blues – nothing but

paper, but everything we had

at that moment – that seemed to rise

higher before dancing down.

Sound returned, arms reached

high, children crouched low,

crawling between the legs of

adults, reaching for our inheritance.

 

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