• Part 1/4

    The old man wore a playful smile as he beckoned them closer. Karin and her cousin Randy stepped across the yellowing floor of the immense den, deep within their grandfather's ancient house. They were paying their respects to the old man, as their parents han insisted. On a cherrywood table rested a menagerie of colorful origami animals-a folded-paper zoo. Karin wondered whether her grandfather spent all his time making them or if he had folded the animals to impress her and Randy, the way he used to when they were five. He always spoke to them in chinese first, as if his speaking the language would magically make them understand it better. Karin understood a little bit, but she knew that Randy didn't speak a word-he just squirmed and looked annoyed. For his sake she said, "you have to talk english, grandfather." "English!" spat their grandfather, then waved his hand as if swatting the thought away. "Ah! you children lose everything. All the old ways, you lose. How can you call yourselves Chinese?" "We're not Chinese," Randy said defiantly. "We're American." Karin gave Randy a sharp elbow to the ribs. "Don't get him mad!" she whispered. The old man looked at Randy with hardened eyes, and then he laughed. "Yes. American," he chuckled. "Applt pie!" He laughed and laughed, and Karin elbowed Randy again. "Don't you know not to say things like that to him?" she said. Randy never did learn how to deal with grandfather. Still, her cousin was right. They were both born in America: even their parents were born in America. How much more American could they get? Grandfather laughed a little too long, and Karin began to feel uncomfortabled. Finally, he shook his head and wiped the tears from his eyes. "Yes. American," he sighed. "The old world is gone. My world-gone. soon nobody will be left to remember." "I'll remember," offered Karin. Grandfather smiled. "sweet girl," he said. "But stupid." Randy snickered. "You should not laugh," said grandfather, wagging an arthritic finger at him. "Next to you, she looks like a genius."