It's a cold morning. I walk into the drawing room with my shawl wrapped around me. Suzee my elder daughter is outside in the balcony and I rush to her.
'Are you alright darling?' I ask her and she nods slowly.She's a beautfiul child of 13, with black hair and 'chinky' eyes. She looks strikingly like me but I suppose more polite than I was when I was even younger than her. She sighs giving me a hug 'Do you miss your mum?' she whisperes and I shake my head 'No..she never was a good mother so I don't think she has any right to be loved' She hugs me tightly and I hug her back. 'Why are you suddenly asking me this..hm?' I say trying not to cry. We hardly have any emotional moments so why suddenly this?
'You had such a dangerous childhood..I'm glad I didn't grow up in China. No offence Mummy' She hugs me even tighter and I laugh 'Well...I'm glad too cupcake..you're a lovely girl..so delicate..' I kiss her cheek and she grins 'Was your grandmother nice? And what about your Nai nai (mother's mother)?' I explain to her that my grandmother was strict but for good reasons too and she nods.
'Oh Nai nai was my favourite family member..though you're not supposed to have family favourites..is that clear?' I say tapping her nose and she nods grinning.
'And your best friend Adeline? Do you miss her?' I wince at Adeline's name. I have named my younger daughter after her...she was not Chinese but had come to my village because of war reasons. Tears well into my eyes as I remember the fun times we had as children. Adeline's family were meant to be moving back to London since war was almost over but our village was bombed the day before they moved. I don't know what happened to them after that.
'Oh of course I do! She was such a kind friend..not like that stuck-up child Dao-ming' Dao-mong had been my neighbour's daughter who came to play with me.
I realize how much I miss Adeline.
'Go back to your room now poppet...there's a good girl' I ruffle her hair and she walks away sighing.
I burst into tears.
I hated China but now I miss it.
Adeline is clutching my hand nervously as we walk passed the busy streets of London. Bustling past grumpy men an chatty women we finally reach the butcher's stall.
'I'd like some of that fresh meat of yours please' I say taking out my money and handing it to the butcher. 'Yes of course Anne...here you go..you're lucky we still have fresh meat left..because of rumours war things have started to disappear..just like that' He snaps his fingers as he chops up some meat. Everyone here calls me Anne though I much prefer An my true name. Adeline wrinkls her nose in disgust and I pat her hand. She is a very nervous child of 10. She has ginger hair obviously from her father...my darling husband though she still has my chinky eyes and flawless complexion.
'It's sad China is in war with Japan isn't it? You must be feeling awful...my friend works there...looking after children and fighting for their rights ..that sort of nosh' He explains to me.
'I only wish your friend was around when I was a child myself' I shrug when the butcher laughs sympathetically.
'Ah but she was only four herself probably' He says handing me my meat. I thank him but before I walk away I notice a young lady bustle past people and reach the stall. She's tall and blonde with big beautfiul eyes. She looks so much like Aunty Hanna, Adeline (my friend's) mother. 'Ah here she is! This is my friend I was explaining about to you just a few minutes ago!' He points to her and she smiles at me and I smile back nodding.
'Didn't know you were in London these days Adeline' I gasp at the name.
'Adeline?' I ask and she nods 'That's my name.'
'But that's my name' My daughter pouts unhappily and I laugh ignoring her 'Oh ADDY! It's me An! An your friend from China!' Adeline looks at me and then gasps rushing to me hugging me with all her might.
Tears pour out of my eyes.
'But...I thought..I though you died! Because of the bomb raid!' I finally manage to gasp.
'No..we had decided to move earlier...when I heard about that awful bomb raid..oh god I cried so badly! Where's your nai nai? And your mother? And your un-born baby brother? That's what you called him didn't you?' She asks quickly but I look down and explain my story to her and she hugs me.
'Oh! I'm so sorry An! Oh and you named your little girl after me! Oh thank you! Oh my god' She wipes her tears and kisses my daughter's cheeks.
'Well! What a reunion!' Butcher says clapping his hands happily. 'Let's go to my house' I whisper to Adeline and hand in hand smiling we walk away slowly.
'Suzee will be pleased to meet you...and of course Edward Darling too...my husband'
Everything is wonderful now. My life is officially complete.