Selected poetry and prose from Rain Chan. Read “A Tribute to Tiger Mom” below and click here to read more of Rain’s work.
‘A Tribute to Tiger Mom’ was a poem written for multiple reasons. It was written as reaction to a stereotype that did not justify the complexity of what it means to be an Asian mother, the children of Asian mothers, and the ramifications of growing up in a western culture that dehumanizes groups of people who are oppressed systematically. It is a piece which attempts to express the pains of restrictions imposed by a variety of powers that be, only to eventually come to a deep understanding of the difference between abuse of power and tough love as a consequence of the struggle for survival. It is a piece dedicated to all those who love their mothers while also seeking desperately for ways to forgive.
A Tribute to Tiger Mom
Tiger moms are real
They are not figments of our imagination
They roar at us when we make mistakes
we sobbed and whimpered like tortured animals
in their presence.
Their claws sharpened
by centuries of ancestral bickering.
In the eyes of tiger moms
there is only one form of love—
We compare our tiger moms with white mommies
we see on TV
secretly wishing we were born with lighter pigmentation
Our naive selves long to develop strong,
so we can win
battles against our white counterparts
on the school yard
My tiger mom wanted to prepare me for a cruel and unjust world
where i can fend for myself
because that is the world she grew up in.
i would experience
all kinds of isms.
Underneath this tiger is an abandoned little girl
who forgot how to laugh,
how to weep,
how to reach out,
to hold your hand,
to say “I love you”
This little girl wanted to ensure
that i will always know
how to read
this little girl
held on tightly
so as i sit by the window watching the white kids
play tag in the park
poems from Tang dynasty.
Not every tiger moms are teachers back home
not every tiger moms marry violent men
not every tiger moms become astronaut parents
Some are even capable of compliments.
my tiger mom gave me a gift
that i, as a child,
did not understand how to appreciate
the gift of being literate
in my own mother tongue.
It is a gift that caused Canadian born Chinese kids
to label me Fresh
Off the Boat.
As an adult, this gift is unimaginable
amongst Chinese community
How is it possible that one can speak fluent English
and also read Chinese?
“How old were you when you came?”
as if my language skills define
who i am.
This gift created an envy
i never understood.
but i assure you
there would be no envy
had you known how much tears
were shed in the process of keeping
Saturn return takes approximately
28-30 years to occur.
i begin to yearn for roots
to dig through Chinese sources
to unravel mysteries of 5000-year-old histories
analyze the need to critique Mao Ze Dong and Confucianism
to embrace Daoism and read Lu Xun
to commemorate June 4th
to value deep bonds and exchanges with FOB friends
to follow Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement
to value Taiwanese indie musicians
i begin to cook
i begin to study Chinese medicine
i begin to dry up my tears
i begin to forgive
i begin to forgive the child in me
the child who did not understand the power of language
the child who did not care for ancient classics
the child who could not fathom colonialism
or cultural genocide.
the child who could not imagine an adult’s hunger
to reconnect with genealogical stories
or the commitment of healing
Tiger mom’s tough love
is in essence
Rain is a writer, performer, artist, facilitator and community activist. Most recently, Rain was awarded second place for their play The Virus at Pat the Dog Theatre Creation 24-playwriting contest. Aside from writing and performing, Rain enjoys training in qigong and has received two medals at the Toronto Health Qigong Tournament. Rain is currently working on their first science fiction novel while also studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. Photo Credit: Brian Gonzaga
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