Whatever Should Have Come Did Not; Whatever Should Not Have Come Did
Strictly speaking, this very story is not related to Go. But since I am supposed to write Go-related ones, and since this story is quite juicy, let me try to interject some Go-related stuff here first.
As I am growing older, sometimes even the oldest in a certain group of people, I somehow tend to be interested in things only in two categories: (1) yin/yang stuff, and (2) whatever requires me to exercise my brain in logical thinking. Most people are also interested in (3) information scouting, such as traveling, novel reading, TV watching, and website surfing.
In category (2), in my opinion, the activity can be most typified by board-game playing, which again can be most exemplified by Go games. In my shallow opinions, (1) and (2) are made by Divine, hence they are beautiful, worth our earthlings’ pursuits. (3) is mostly man-made, except sightseeing sceneries made by Mother Nature.
You may say, wait a minute, aren’t most of the TV programs yin/yang stuff? Exactly. They are, with vinegar and salt added. I think that I am a decent cook, and would rather cook my own dishes.
Having justified myself, I will now share with you a story that started taking place near the end of my military service, July 1971. It had lasted for about two years.
By then I already received an admission sent by University of Southern California in Los Angeles to study a master degree there, starting in September, 1971. For the next two months, I really did not have serious matters to take care of, other than getting myself ready to go abroad.
My niece was being nice to me, and wanted to introduce one of her schoolmates to me. Since I am the youngest sibling in my family, and my niece is the eldest daughter of my 2nd eldest sister, she and I are only 3 years apart.
Taiwan is like an elongated potato. My niece lived in Taipei, a northern city, also the capital of Taiwan. My parents and I lived in Taichung, a centrally-located city. Her schoolmate, SH, lived in Kaoshung, a southern city. So my niece took the train to travel south, to meet me first, and then we both traveled further south to Kaoshung.
I had a sister who lived in Kaoshung at that time, so both my niece and I stayed with my sister’s family. At that time, my brother-in-law’s sister also stayed in their house (did I get you dizzy? She is my sister’s husband’s sister) . I do not remember her name, but she had a beautiful voice, so why don’t we name her BV?
BV’s voice was truly gifted. If I claim that Zhang Mei Yue (see “Confidence”) was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my life, I would like to claim that BV had the most magnetic and feminine voice I have (have, not had ) every heard. Well, it was no wonder that she worked at a radio station, with a job of talking in air to those fishermen fishing out at sea, soothing their minds.
I almost wanted to drop the idea of meeting SH. Why not BV? She was right in front of me and seemed to be eligible. But at that time, the concept of classifying people was deeply rooted in Taiwan’s society. I graduated from the best University in Taiwan, and was about to go abroad to study for advanced degrees, whereas she graduated from a vocational school, one equivalent to a combination of high school and a two-year junior college.
Furthermore, she appeared to be a little older than I was, and also a hint of being my relative lingered in my mind, hence romancing her was not too arousing to me. Her beautiful voice, however, forever registered in my memory. I would rather hear her scolding at me than hearing you sing to me.
In the afternoon of the next day, my niece and I set foot in the living room of SH’s parents’ house. Her parents emerged first, greeting us. After a while, SH carried a tray of teacups, and showed up. In this story, I will intentionally omit all the adjectives that describe a lady’s look. I will let you exercise your own imagination to visualize how she looked.
According to my niece, SH was a homecoming queen in her university. But in reality, there was no such an official title. She was on the bashful side. In fact, overly bashful. Or, I could have been totally incorrect. She could have been simply a quiet introvert. Her voice was normal, nothing wrong with it. But after I had just heard the most beautiful voice in the world, anything else was inadequate and inferior.
The worst thing was that she rarely talked. One had to pull her teeth to get her to utter a few words. After a little while, SH and I, with my niece acting as our chaperon (in Taiwan we call such a role as a “light bulb”, irritating, too bright, underneath which nothing could be sneakily done) went to a theater to see a movie. Again, during this outing, she was as quiet as a pussy cat. I had to be the one who initiated all the topics.
After the movie, we escorted SH home, then my niece and I left. According to my niece’s analysis, and my own, too, this match-making affair was finished. We both interpreted her quietness as a disinterest in me. That night, I was sighing left and right. After all, I found myself being attracted to her, her femininity, her ability of playing piano, etc.
BV sat next to me, consoling me thoughtfully, and told me some fishermen’s stories, in a nice attempt to divert my disappointment.
Based on our original plan, our next day would be spent with SH to do some sightseeing. But my niece called up SH to tell the family that we were leaving early in the morning. On the phone, one of the family members might have asked my niece about the train schedule.
To my big surprise, when my niece and I just entered the platform in the train station, we saw SH and her father standing there, waving and smiling to us. Should I have canceled the return trip and stayed around for a little longer? Had I done that, the life journeys of hers and mine could have totally changed.
But I did not cancel the return trip. I do not remember why I did not. Immaturity, fate, or little confidence?
During my study at University of S. Cal. in 1972, she and I did write to each other. And our fondness for each other did increase somewhat. Had there existed this fancy Internet available, she and I might have communicated much more. But, instead, about every two weeks, I received a letter from her by oversea postal mails.
Neither I nor she committed myself or herself to each other. I met another girl named D on campus, and gradually became semi-steady with her.
In January, 1973, I received my master degree, also broke up with D. There was a winter break, and decided to return to Taiwan, for a month, to see my parents and to see SH.
As soon as I left the airport near Taipei, I headed for the university campus in the suburban area where she and my niece studied. By ranking standards, it was a good university. She lived in a girl dorm. I informed the guardian at the dorm gate that I liked to see SH. After a-cup-of-tea time, a girl came out, and told me,
“Sorry, SH is not in. Is there anything I can do for you? I am her roommate.”
I quickly identified myself, and asked to see SH again, pretending that I did not hear what she said about SH being out. She then returned, and again after some time, SH appeared. Such a fending-off procedure was explained in one of her letters to me. She explained, had she not done so, she would have been too much disturbed by boys who wanted to see her.
I was anxious to see her, of course. And I was expecting her to wear something nice for me. After all, she and I had not seen each other for almost one and a half years. No, she did not. A pair of very plain shoes, and some clothes as plain as they could possibly be. We walked around the campus a little. As in the past, I had to use a pliers to ply open her mouth to talk.
In retrospect, she did not show any disinterest, either. She actually might have listened to me fairly attentively, because I did not notice her answering anything incoherent or absent-minded. We must learn NOT to equate quietness with disinterest.
But I did, compounded by the fact that she wore so lousily for me. After we departed, I had not tried to contact her for a few weeks. To be honest, my parents also arranged a few match-making meetings for me to see a few girls. One day, near the end of my trip, I suddenly received a letter from her. In the letter, she mentioned a key sentence that forever remained in my memory:
Whatever should have come did not come; whatever should not have come came in a bundle, in reference to the letters she received during that winter break.
I was greatly encouraged by that key sentence, rekindled my hope, and tried to contact her. We agreed to meet again on a certain day prior to my return to the U. S.
Before that day, I devoted a great effort to borrowing a motorcycle from my eldest sister’s friend. On that day, I drove it to pick her up. Ah, on that day she finally put on something nice on herself, a nice bright dress and a pair of heeled leather shoes. With a motorcycle available, it was certainly wise for us to utilize its availability to drive around, doing some sightseeing.
But we ended up going into a “teahouse”. I do not remember whose idea it was, but certainly it was not mine, because I did not know the existence of such a so-called “teahouse” near her campus. And it was also my first time to enter such a place. Why is it essential to know whose idea it was? because if it was hers, most likely it was not her first time. In addition, we may need to carefully define "bashful".
It was pitch dark inside, darker than in a theater. Such a facility was designed for young college-student couples who did not have convenient places to make hanky-panky adventures. (We did not have cars to drive ourselves to the drive-in theaters, you know.)
Although it was pitch dark, after the pupils of my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, I could see that the house was actually quite crowded. But it was relatively quiet. Don’t we expect tea accompanied by nice conversations? No, no conversations, all we heard was giggling, moaning, and groaning.
Although I did enjoy messing around with her, (yes, very very much, in a seat with a tall back, wish I could freeze the time), I was more eager to talk to her about our futures or our plans, or at least to know each other better, intellectually, as opposed to bodily. I proposed to go to Slate Green Lake, a nearby famous scenery place, where she and I could rent a boat, row it around the lake, and talk. She did not seem to be interested, however. We ended up staying inside the teahouse several hours. We even ordered our lunch, two bowls of noodles, inside.
One more good thing that resulted from the teahouse adventure was that she opened up a little more. She became more willing to initiate some question-asking toward me. After we got out from the teahouse, I suggested to her that we take a walk to my eldest sister’s house, which was nearby. She promptly agreed. I believe that it was my intention to walk with her, instead of driving her on the motorcycle, so that I could show her off to more pedestrians.
It was an experience like a fox walking with a tiger. Every animal that saw the tiger was scared. Almost every male pedestrian who saw her on the street stared. Even my eldest sister was in awe when she saw SH. We stayed at my sister’s house only very briefly, long enough for me to show SH off. She drank one half of a glass of drink. Upon departure, I nonchalantly took the glass stained by her lips, and finished drinking for her, just to show my sister that SH and I were intimate.
After I returned to the U. S., there was a period of several months when I was waiting to transfer from U. of S. Calif. to U. of Calif. at Berkeley to continue pursuing my Ph. D. degree. During daytime, I studied professional Go games. At nights, I went to Hollywood Ping Pong club to play ping pong. What a good time I had! As in the past, I also received letters from SH at a frequency of about twice a month.
Even though, she seemed to be more open in the letters, I do not recall she ever asked me about future-related questions, such as my family, what I was studying, or what I was going to do after having received my advanced degrees.
Then, suddenly, her letters stopped arriving. I kept writing to her, but received no reply. One day, my niece's letter arrived, instead. She informed me that, dear uncle, sorry, SH got married a few months ago with the son of Kaoshung city mayor, one of the wealthiest tycoons in Taiwan.
I remember that I was hurt, and was sad. But the feeling was not too deep, and neither did it last too long. Perhaps I was smart enough to have realized that I was never her primary candidate anyway. I was only one in the reserve.
Besides, I classified others, and hence ended up being classified. Fair.