The Malachite Curse 2: Ming-Hoa’s oration

The Malachite Curse 2: Ming Hoa’s oration

29 August 2014


When Ming Hoa had to face the look of Chow, he felt a cold chill run through him and had to look elsewhere. She definitely knew what had happened was trying to drive him crazy. He had tried to make amends for his wrongdoing by providing a funeral in great pomp for Cuifen but to no avail. It seemed to him that Chow was like a demon determined to track down every bit of sanity within him and drive it out of him in a frenzy of vengeance. Not only was she fully aware of what had happened and wanted to make him lose his mind by giving him the place of honor in the seating but she also openly flouted it by forcing him to perform the funeral oration.

Ming Hoa was not particularly superstitious but he could not help thinking of the old legends that told how the spirit of the deceased stayed with the one who had made the oration as long as such person still had feelings for the deceased. Chow had to know the intensity of his feelings for Cuifen and therefore wanted him to suffer eternally because Cuifen would never leave him and he would be forever haunted by the pale glow of her bright face. Fever seized him again despite the gust of the wintry wind blowing into the temple. He got up, stood in front of the assembly and cleared his throat.

“Cuifen was a very kind and sweet-natured girl,” he said. “She had the beauty of those who do not need any artefacts and saying she was beautiful would be an understatement as she was a sparkling splendor.” The image of Cuifen, eyes half-closed watching him flashed in front of his eyes and he felt faint. “In the beginning,” he continued, “I did not realize how kind she was. She was a wonderful girl who never hesitated to help Ju-Long, Eu-meh’s nephew, at the stables for all of us to have healthy horses to transport the mail”. “She was beautiful,” he carried on.

Cuifen with her little velvet headband that held her hair, Cuifen with her frenetic desire to live, Cuifen whose successive layers of clothing had made him think about matriochkas, Cuifen who denied him calling him a vulture. Cuifen lying dead beside him …

He had never understood exactly how it happened. One moment he was holding her while she inflicted on him a severe pain by pulling his ponytail carefully knotted at the neck and the moment later she lay dead beside him. Since that day the world around him was colored gray and he had gone about minding his business like a lost soul, colour-blinded and sentenced to not see any other color than the brilliance of malachite Cuifen’s eyes donned when she smiled. He was sometimes also obsessed by another color when he allowed himself a thought of the poppy made ​​of three large spots that stood against his immaculate white pants: blood red! He had asked himself when waking up with Cuifen dead at his side from what mysterious illness was he suffering for him to want to absorb the smallest particle of this blood that flowed from him, a little as if to regenerate himself in self-sufficiency. However he soon realized that the blood was not from him but from a small wound in Cuifen’s temple. A small hole made by a sharp object that was shaped like the profile of a small poppy. Like a human blotter, Ming-Hoa would have liked to absorb every drop of blood that had flowed out of Cuifen.

Damn it, he thought. Why had she refused? It was totally incomprehensible after these few weeks when he had observed how she tried to tease him. Besides he had been drinking a potion of cloves and therefore had a very good breath when he had talked to her before her death. It was probably prejudice against old leaders of his type who had lived in splendor while the others had experienced poverty in a simple home. When he was transferred after the revolution to his old neighborhood for the restructuring of the old post office, he knew he would face taunts since many people in the district had never accepted him as one of their own.

Ju-Long watched Ming-Hoa with eyes full of hatred. For him the old fool was an anomaly and an aberration of nature that he would have gladly done without. He found that his body was reminiscent of a delta where putrid flesh would have filled the role of sediments and fetid blood the role of water seeping into his old carcass. Ming-Hoa’s facial skin was indeed so wrinkled that it looked like strata of unidentified origin. He thought about the role being played by the old fool in Cuifen’s funeral and jealousy tormented his heart. He felt rising in him an irresistible urge to put his hands around the neck of the ridiculously thin Ming-Hao and tighten his hold until the latter could no longer utter a word.

Eu-meh looked fearfully at her nephew. She felt that he hated Ming-Hoa more than she could ever hate another person. She had never been able to accept the bombastic speeches of the old fool and understood that many did not like him. Something bothered her, however, in Ju-Long’s anger. It was a cold and murderous rage. She gazed for a while at his profile before looking away. The night of Cuifen’s death, he had returned with haggard eyes, circled with purple rings. Without a word he had taken one of the packs of drink that had been left on the table since the wedding of his cousin and had swallowed it in one gulp. She remembered the black fury she had read in his eyes that day when his eyes had met hers in the mirror.

Read here the earlier chapter “The passage”

Read here the later chapter Ju-Long’s anger and Eu-Meh’s disarray

The Malachite Curse 1: The passage

The Malachite Curse 1: The passage

29 August 2014


Cuifen hurried on. It was getting dark and her mother, Chow, had so often warned her against the dangers of the streets at night for a girl that now her footsteps were almost desperate.  She wondered how she could have lost so much time between the rotten old Ming-Hoa at the post office and her daydreaming in front of Eu-meh’s pastry shop.

Ming-Hoa spoke only a version of ancient Mandarin that no one spoke anymore and you really had to concentrate to understand his sentences so complicated was the Mandarin. Besides the old fool was an absurd megalomaniac who still “lived in his head” as some of the old women said cackling – a not completely normal head if you wanted the opinion of Cuifen – in the time of his youth and expected utmost respect from youngsters due to his past rank of notable. He recounted how he had played golf with the British ambassador and how the ambassador complimented him on his outstanding technique, how many poets thronged on his doorstep to be able to recite poems and odes composed glorifying him at Banquets he gave.

He seemed to forget that since the revolution, nothing was the same for decades and that all the ceremonials formerly dedicated to his glory had no place to be today. Besides these days, nobody wrote poetry anymore neither in honor of a notable nor even to sing the praise of porcelain skinned young girls whose praises were sung once in a thousand sonnets.

These days the old titles no longer meant anything and she did not understand why her mother always forced her to kneel to speak to Ming-Hoa and never turn her back but made her come out backwards instead of walking out normally . He was no longer significant and had a poorly paid function as a clerk in a small post office in the neighbourhood. That being said, without his help, it is true that nothing bulky could be sent because he had to personally sign on any bulky item for it to be sent. So if she and her mother wanted to sell their embroidery to rich clients in town, his help was necessary to send the bulky packages to their aunt who later dealt with the individual sales to the clients. Most of the time Cuifen and her mother worked and went to deposit the package together but today her mother had a lot to do and had put her in charge of the mailing.

Cuifen hated going alone to the small cramped post office because Ming-Hoa had, despite his old age, keen and searching eyes with a light she did not like at all. She had already seen this craving in the eyes of young boys who were trying to get her attention when she was walking around without her mother but in this old man, the light took on an intensity that made her feel particularly uncomfortable. This was even more the case because the rotten old man kept scrutinizing her face even when she caught his look instead of looking away as the youngsters did when she caught them gazing at her.

Going to meet Ming-Hoa was such an ordeal – with that horrible olden times green tea he forced her to drink with her mother – that she always needed a small consolation after and what better than the pastries of Eu-meh indeed. Usually she drank in one gulp the horrible green brew all the while glaring at the old man before giving him his cup back with a murderous look so he would not be tempted to offer her yet another cup of it. After that, there was always the consolation of a sweet treat at Eu-meh’s pastry shop. Today though, she had lost too much time to choose a delicacy – a little dry rice flour cake with powdered sugar and small sesame seeds on top – and was therefore going home at this late hour. Most of the road was lit but there was a dark passage she had to cross to get home. It was not far from home and only extended over a distance of 800 meters, but she had never dared to take it during the night because it took on a sinister aspect when all the shops were closed with only a few shutters banging in the wind. She swallowed, raised her chin up and walked into the passage praying Buddha that nothing would happen to her.

Ming-Hoa, sitting in a hollow space behind one of the pillars of the passage, watched the slight figure of the girl who approached silhouetted against the glow of the street lamps behind. She had grown up a lot and became a true beauty now. He remembered how he had been struck by her porcelain complexion and large eyes that glowed dark green spangled with small specks of light making them look like a raw malachite. Her beauty did not need any artificial enhancer and although he kept thinking to himself that her skin would be even more translucent with the rice powder that geishas of olden times knew so well to apply, it was already such a delight for him to observe her.

It seemed to him that the feelings he had kept to himself for so long had found some resonance in the girl’s heart because she recently insistently held his gaze as if to encourage him to go further. Besides, he had watched as she drank the tea he served him. Normally a shy girl barely dips her lips into it but not Cuifen! She drank with gusto and sensuality the whole cup and when she gave him back the cup, her eyes seemed to challenge him to offer her something else.

Enough procrastination, he thought to himself. Today, he would declare his love, shielded by the darkness of this passage which complicity would help bridge the gulf of years that separated him from the girl. This thought gave him hope and he leaped out of his hiding place.

Cuifen, lips pressed into a silent prayer, was accelerating her pace to finish crossing the distance which separated her from the ending of the passage when a figure jumped in front of her from behind a pillar. She let out a muffled cry and panic seized her for a moment before she calmed down recognizing – by the smell more than anything else as she could barely see his features in the dark – the old Ming-Hoa. She took a few quick steps towards him to ask him to accompany her home but something made ​​her slow down. She noticed a difference with the old man behind his desk. His step when coming out from behind the pillar was rather quick and ill-attuned to his wizened old face. It looked more like a feline stalking its prey. She stopped in her tracks. Ming-Hoa’s teeth, alit by the glow of a few stray streetlights lining the entrance to the passage gleamed in the darkness with a surreal glow.

Chow looked with glazed eyes at the platform where the coffin of her daughter lay. Cuifen was so beautiful that it seemed impossible that she was lying there dead. She remembered the fateful moment when the neighbor accompanied by Eu-meh had come to give her the horrible news. Cuifen was found dead in the passage next to the house. Chow, a strong woman with shoulders lowered by years of manual labor, looked nothing like her daughter. Her skin was weathered by the sun and her dark eyes were as expressionless as her daughter’s had been animated. She looked at her daughter lying down and for the first time felt a tightening in her chest as she thought about how she had never told her how much she meant to her. Suddenly, all her legendary toughness vanished and her neighbours were surprised to see tears rolling down her cheeks.

Apparently she was not the only one suffering because by her side Ming-Hoa also seemed subject to a distress that was painful to witness. He was muttering something under his breath over and over like a mantra and his feverish eyes were filled with tears. Chow put her hand on the old man’s wrinkled old hand in an attempt to calm him down.

He had been so generous in wanting to bury with great pomp Cuifen in a dragon-shaped platform with a coffin made of marble, as if she was the daughter of a notable. Chow regretted the times she had cursed inwardly against the old man when he had begun to ramble on about the splendors of the past and thought to herself that one sometimes really tended to judge badly people.

She had never realized how big his heart was and how much he too loved Cuifen as if she were his own daughter. To reward his generous gesture, she had wanted him to be the only one to talk about Cuifen during the funeral oration that was usually reserved for relatives of the deceased. She was initially surprised that he refused but attributed the refusal to his big heart that wanted no reward for his generosity so she insisted and Ming-Hoa accepted although keeping enough good taste to seem to do so with contrition.

It was now the time for the oration. Ming-Hoa gave her a strange look as if he wanted to tell her something but thought the better of it and went to the platform to begin his oration. He straightened his frame and cleared his throat.


Read the next chapter: Ming-Hoa’s oration


Requiem for the undead

Requiem for the undead

27 August 2014


Pale flame flickering

Shadow upon shadow cast

In cold of twilight

A chest heaves in the darkness

Of feelings woven in stone


Listless eyes follow

The reaper in slow motion

As he glides across

A starless night breathes sorrow

Into a beckoning sky


Lips split in prayer

Moonlit night calling to dawn

Talks of frozen end

The mind stilled by starless glaze

Hovers above thoughtless form


Heartbeat feels its way

Sinuous through veins alit

With nucleus blue

Eye meets eye dispassionate

Seething waves of forgiveness


Spirits locked we chant

As sun breaks into darkness

A bright song unseen

Requiem for the undead

A soul free from heart of lead

Spirit calling

Spirit calling

26 August 2014


Let me not follow your tradition

That into submission stifles you quiet

While I follow my heart

That is of the infinite

The whole and the part


Bring me not back chained

To your borders

While my mind roams

The eternal wilderness

Free and worriless


What ties a man to a land

And a soul to that man’s world

Is but a foot long of sand

Square, all edges cutting

And an invisible chain of woe


When the hurricane blows

The body latches on to a brick

While spirit latches on to the stars

The gusts shake the clinging body

While spirit flies in stardust


“I belong to the beloved”

He is none, he is many and he is one

Paper clippings one can trim

But spirit’s wings

The infinite will not shun


Call me not to the limited township

Where your body dwells

Come fly with me

In the infinite time

Where my soul soars

The meaning of pain

The meaning of pain

23 August 2014


We often find ourselves in situations that we think unfair that cause us what we think is undue pain that we do not wish to accept, that we think are not meant for us, should not exist in our lives

What we tend to forget though is that such situations exist to help us evolve, learn about ourselves , our limits, learn tools that would be necessary to help ourselves and help others in often similar circumstances.

When I talk about pain, I do not talk about mere physical pain inflicted upon one by another or by oneself but about the pain that is borne out of hardship, the pain that one feels when unknown change is about to happen in one’s life, the pain that one feels in being engrossed in the feeling of failure, of helplessness or exhaustion, in brief, the pain of letting go of what one is used to, one’s control over one’s life and accepting what is to come.

There was a time when I would feel punished for having to go through any sort of pain but after some events where what I learnt during times of hardship was put to good use later on, I started realizing that pain was not an idle item in life. Pain had a mission and it was about exacerbating the sensation, the feeling to a point where the mind becomes totally malleable and receptive to the ideas and lessons gravitating all around one. Every single item in life is a teacher and every atom bears a lesson to be learnt.

After these experiences, I now welcome such pain for I know that it will teach me something about myself that it will teach me something that will allow me to help another in difficult times.

I do not mean that one should be like a masochist seeking pain. There is a difference between seeking and attracting pain and accepting it in your life if it is meant to form and transform you into the person you are meant to be.  Without pain in one’s life, one would tend to want to glide away into the oblivion of an easy life, not realizing what one’s fellow human beings are experiencing.

We surround ourselves every day with idle items of life in order to escape feelings while to feel is the greatest treasure of all. One of the funniest examples of this is the interaction you will get when you say that you are really not doing well to someone who just asked you whether you were “ok” and just meant it in the social sense without heeding your response. More often than not, the person would have just responded “good”, not realizing what you actually said. We tend to live our lives in an automated way, blending into the most current thoughts, the most usual ways of expressing oneself in society without actually thinking and feeling what is happening within and around us.

We don’t want to think. We don’t want to feel. There are even a multitude of expressions thwarting from feeling in every human language a few examples of which in English are “man up”, “it is not worth crying about”, “it will pass”, “grit your teeth and move on”, “be strong”, etc. We are so bent on not feeling the hardships that come our way that we only go through them gritting our teeth and holding on tight to our hope it will be over quickly while we go through it. What we forget is that the hardship is the goal of the moment for it is teaching you precious insight about yourself and about your surroundings. We are meant to feel every inkling of what is happening while we are in the eye of the storm, to think about it and not about when it is over, to ponder on our reactions while we are living it not to paint a rosy picture of what will come after the hardship and cling to that rosy thought. We are not meant however, to completely dissolve in our pain, thoughtless, full of abjection and of self-reprisal but we are meant to be active receptors of the pain, welcoming its effects on our psyche and using its energy to transform.

Pain is the catalyst of change. It is a wake-up call, a reminder that we are here not to accumulate wealth or anything material but a range of experiences and interactions that are meant to help us all evolve.

Above all, pain is a reminder that we can feel, that we are not numb and that the dulling of our senses is not meant to be, that we are meant to feel and thrive on feeling.

When one accepts pain as well as its lessons and integrates that discovery into one’s being, the only outcome of pain is love, an all-encompassing love for one’s human state, for what we are, what we could be, what we are meant to be, what we shall become.

Sleep eternal

Sleep eternal

21 August 2014


The night closes in

Starless skin engulfs my frame

The road lies ahead

Winding maze I walk into

Garland in hand for my groom


Yama looks upon

As I follow in consent

Starlit path goes live

Engorged with his scent, bloodless

Mind flees earthen illusion


Pink petals falling

Silken weave tied to his hair

We tour sacred fires

How many years will it stay

Eternity as I pray


A thousand souls plucked

Follow our trail in blessing

Of union divine

A call from another world

Stirs thoughts of fragmentation


The beloved smiles

Pearly white outshining heart

Pulsating with love

Who could see him thus fearsome?

Sleep eternal here I come

Mother, still my soul

Mother, still my soul

1 August 2014


Mother, answer me

Where are your sons?

Your dried bosom

Will not bring the pink back

Into our lives they darken

As blood bathes my footsteps



Hair loose I will walk

On crimson cast earth

And the raven will crow

For the loss of innocence

As the scent of jasmine withers

While darkness still lurks



Mother, they drank

From your weak chest

And plundered your loins

While you gave freely

Your every treasure

In peace as all mothers do


Eyes shut I will wail

For every broken dream

Fading in their memories

As blood fills their eyes

Where tears flow no more

For wells dry in summer’s heat


Mother, take me back

Let your heavenly scent

Bathe my senses in clay

Knead into me your strength

Give my voice your thunder

Strike lightning into my heart


Soul heaving I will wander

Over hills and through meadows

Mind shut and heart throbbing

Pulsating with a thousand cries

Of familiar faces I will know not

For I bear kinship to all but none