Inheritance + Sorry

by Ho-Ming So Denduangrudee



Back in the days of film, my father grabbed the Nikon of a tourist getting in the way one too many times and exposed his entire roll without saying a word. He and my mother took what they called transactional worship very seriously, and if we’re at the shrine, you better believe we were asking for or warding off something major. Someone had good luck there for something major once upon a time, so now it must be contagious.

It’s always bustling, a tiny little place in the middle of the city, nowhere to park, sky train overhead, on the corner of an eight-lane intersection that gives Roman roundabouts a run for their money. Overseeing all of us, a four faced deity, dancers you can pay to chant and sing and give your prayers an extra boost, drugged birds you can buy to release and make extra merit in the temporary freedom they find, before they fly back for more drugs and more food and the comforts of the cage, all of us groveling. The whole thing tiled sparkly and so much gold, incandescent and raucous, a spiritual rave, potpourri on crack, punching you in the nose.

We were just kids then. My stupid cousin giggling and not paying attention, singed a hole in my favorite shirt with his stupid head bowed, smirking, and waving his incense this way and that. What an idiot. I hope his dreams came true.








You’d scribbled, on your name card, “amateur barbarian.”

You once told me a fortune teller told your ancestors to pick between wealth or the happiness of the women of your family for eight generations. You couldn’t remember if you were the eighth, or the ninth. No one could remember.

I forget how someone convinced you to try therapy. The man came out in tears and told you never to return. You’ve always been accommodating, and so you obliged.

I’ll conjure you a support group led by Jackie O. I never understood what you saw in her, the demureness, the acceptance. You’ve never been ladylike, only beautiful. Maybe you’ve never been comfortable in your body, too. Maybe you wished it was more restive, peaceful. Maybe Jackie O will be the first step to bringing you peace.

On your left I’ll put Che. It’s impossible to find a revolutionary with a sense of humor anymore. He may be your only hope. You’ve always loved the idea of Sandino but hate earnestness and bores. You’ve always loved the idea of revolution but hate disorganization and the unknown.

On your right, I’ll bring in the Air France desk agent you saw bullying an elderly Algerian couple in CDG. Your French is rusty but you mustered it up to give him a piece of your mind. You made such a fuss the CEO sent you a letter of apology. None of us knows what happened to the elderly couple.

Next to each of them we’ll put, first, your cousin, who was your best friend, and then you stopped speaking to each other for reasons you won’t tell anyone. And then, Beyonce.

I’ll throw in Zhou Enlai, handsome, eloquent. Let’s round out with peace. Wracked with guilt, unable to stop the deaths of millions, unable to talk some sense into people, unable, in the end, to disperse hundreds of years of humiliation, he absorbed it into his own body and died. You’ve been looking and looking for an answer for us all, and we’ve only been looking for apologies.

Ho-Ming So Denduangrudee lives in Truckee, California.