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Memory and Mourning

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It was a small funeral, despite being augmented by some tabloid reporters hoping for a story. Museum people, mostly, and a tiny, elderly Chinese woman who spoke to the coffin at length in tones that Andy tried very hard not to think of as "sing-song". Soo Lin had hated it when people described her dialect that way. "Like bad poetry," she'd said once, her small mouth twisted downwards, when the subject of misinterpretations and stereotypes had come up in the restoration room, and Andy hadn't had the courage to tell her that the sound of Cantonese made him think of music, and of birdpeople discussing the details of wind and feather in terms that would make no sense to the dirtbound people below the trees. He didn't know how to make her understand that he didn't mean it like she was a bird. Just that she was beautiful like one.

 

At a signal from Mrs. Hathaway, he rose and moved up to the front of the room to begin the tea ceremony, explaining, just as Soo Lin had always done, each step of the ritual to the audience. His hands moved like they were attached to someone else, to someone who knew just how many times to swirl the pot, and just when to push down the lid, to force the hot tea up over the brim. "I asked Soo Lin once, why she would make herself a brew in a 400 year old pot, and she told me some things are meant to be used. But I think she meant that some things are meant to be cared for or they crack and break. To be loved." Andy stopped and looked over to his boss, saw the tears slipping down her dark cheeks. "Some people are like that too."