By Anita Ngai
I am eating phở alone at a street stall,
sitting on a low plastic stool next to the tall pots of broths and noodles.
Good morning, well, we’ve still got some heavy showers,
brought by the low-pressure system swirling around
Northwest England, heading down to the London area.
This is the BBC World Service.
It is night. I have just arrived in Nanyang, the old
name for Southeast Asia.
“South Seas” gives away the fact that the
name was created by the Chinese.
My uncle sails through here extensively.
He is earning a high school diploma from a
work-study program, living on cargo liners. (I will discover
the modern term for that job: Logistics Specialist.)
We interrupt our regular program to bring you this breaking news.
The chief architect of the Chinese revolution,
Mao Tse-tung, has passed away on at ten minutes
past midnight on September 9, 1976 in Peking
because of the worsening of his illness,
despite all treatment.
The world is in chaos: Vietnam has just
fallen into communist hands, and the US has withdrawn.
The west is just coming out of an
oil crisis, a crash in the stock markets.
My uncle is so poor, and sailing is the only way
he can be fed and learn something. And,
the seas will reciprocate him with
knowledge on shipping containers,
and his life of riches in servicing them.
But that is later, after I grow up.
He finds calmness in the seas, in his life as a sailor.
He learns how to stay levelheaded
through waves, even the big ones. I wonder
if sitting in front of computers trains me the same way.
The Communist party had delayed the announcement of Chairman Mao's
death for about 16 hours. The announcement included
an appeal to the people: “China must continue to carry out
Chairman Mao's revolutionary line and policies in foreign affairs resolutely.”
This concludes the breaking news broadcast. All normal
programming operations may now resume.