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  • I.
    ORIGI (NATION) June 21st, 2011

    Thrown to the other-side of the world, I am in Beijing.

    Funny, I'm feeling homesick for the other side of the world when I am now finally planted back in the soil that holds the trunk of my family tree. I am the branch that fell loose, and was carried to North America before I opened my eyes.

    I dreamt of lying on my back at the center of Tiananmen square. I press my ears to the ground and listen to the rumble of rewinded decades, and listen to the soft drip, drip of scholar's blood. The dribble becomes a deafening crescendo of thousands of voices and screaming people, and BOOM, it's 1989, the Chinese government is painting the square red. Hospital stretchers zoom back and forth like freight trains collecting the injured off the floor. The already hazed beijingskyline is now a trail of endless smoke infused with the metallic smell of young blood. Where do all these bodies go?

    Fast forward a few years. Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United States, out of shock and sympathy to the events of 1989 -- open their doors of higher education to the scholars of mainland China. While I'm getting Ds in highschool pre-calculus, my father's brilliance in mathematics got him a full ride to earn his Masters and PHD in engineering at the University of Toronto. Faster forward another decade, I was born. Mixing up stutters of English and Chinese syllables in my blender of a mouth.

    So it still haunts me today - that if that blood shed in 1989 never happened, my American upbringing would cease to exist, and I would have never met any of you, and shared these inspired experiences that I've had growing up in North America. This, in fact is the same origin story of an entire generation of chinese immigrants.

    II.
    Beijing: A FIRST IMPRESSION

    Beijing is highrise office buildings with sparkling windows and stilted steel frames
    growing next to century-old apartment complexes, their dusty roof tiles ripped off by a soft summer breeze. Beijing is laundry hung out to dry on balconeys, seven year old boys and middle aged lades selling hello kitty stickers, and fake brand-name purses on heat-bruised subway stations. Beijing is 5-hour traffic jams, packed cafeterias where 10 US cents can buy an entire pot of dumplings, while the rich dine in private dining rooms and have their feet washed, and full body massaged right after. Beijing is a time traveller that cannot make up it's mind. Blue skies here are like panda bears, beautiful and sinking into deep extinction. While being plunged into the maze of westernization, Beijing is fighting to remember it's rich cultural past, so it sticks imperial-style roofs on every mall, movie theatre, and office building. This marathon runner of a city traces it's map of scars every night. Everyone over forty can remember their stolen adolescence. But morning comes, and this resilient city continues speeding into the future fast.

    All the while, I am embraced by my relatives in Nanchang China. I am seeing frogs being decapitated in my grandmother's kitchen -- they make shrieking gulping sounds, while feeling a love from family members I haven't seen for fifteen years. I am speaking to my grandfather about his severed thumb, the phantom limb of his body and the phantom pain of the cultural revolution that he says his country still feels, but cannot talk about.
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