時光易轉,就在台山阿伯女兒十四歲的時候,那和他同艱共苦的妻子突然因病逝世,中年喪偶,阿伯只能嘆命,雖有續弦之心,但生意纏身,華埠僧多粥少,又那有机会、時間、和心情去找另一個上年紀的拍檔。那時北美中國熱,李小龍、打功夫、吃唐歺等大行其道,連帶作用,歺館的生意也忙了起來,客仔也对唐人有多點認識和敬意(多謝李小龍),也不像以前,大声呼喝企枱, 侮辱叫唐人做「查理」(Charlie Chan 是早期荷里活淩辱中國人的影片)。台山阿伯,愈做愈忙,週末為甚,做午和晚兩個歺期, 凌晨一時收市埋數,和伙記吃完之後,回家攪這攪那,早上三時才睡,見和管教女兒的時間就少了。
阿伯的女兒,畧曉台山話,是地道的CBC Canadian Born Chinese「土生女」,沒禮貌的唐人就叫她做「竹星女」。母親去了世之後,父親又忙生意,就開始和一羣在「波楼」好打billiard 的留學生來往,年輕人無所事事,十六歲體內荷爾蒙盛發,又沒有人照管,沒多久她就懷了孕。起初,她還希望或許是「大姨媽」事忙,遲了來探訪,但希望和事實是兩回事。她和那年輕經手的,兩個在情感和理性方面都未成熟,將事隠瞞了一段時期,到了最後,那留學生說:「我在這裡讀大學都是讀不成的了,父親說我還是年青,要我返回南洋,跟他學做生意, 我實在不能和你結婚的。」阿伯的女兒聽後, 哭得像個淚人兒,那年青人安慰她,但沒啥用処,反而被攆了出門。在這一日間,她是由一個天真的女孩,轉變成了一個現實的懷孕少女。在那脕上,女兒等候她父親至凌晨收工收家,一看見他進門, 她迎上去,只能說到:『爹啊......』那兩年來積聚的隱屈眼淚,就隨著爹啊那兩字,像堤崩洪水一樣, 從她心深処湧出來。在淚流滿面之際,她才察覺父親在這兩年,也添了不少白頭髪。自她母親去世後,這還是第一次父女之間,她願意和這「陌生」的父親,作一個正面的交談。
下續 ..... ....Part 4
Time flew by quickly. When Albert's daughter was 14 year-old, his partner who had shared his hard life over the years, fell ill and died suddenly. Losing his wife in mid-life, Albert could only accept his karma. The thought of remarrying did cross his mind, but with the high men to women ratio in Chinatown and the encumbering restaurant business, he neither had the time, the energy nor the mood to search for another companion in his age group. At that time, North America was infatuated with China and it was a fad to watch kung fu movies by the iconic Bruce Lee and to order Chinese food for supper (sweet and sour chicken balls, chow main, fortune cookies, and all that stuff). Albert's little Chinese restaurant was doing great business. The clientele changed from those who yelled at waiters and said rudely: "Hey, Charlie, bring me some egg rolls, chop chop!!" (Charlie Chan being the inscrutable evil-looking movie character stereotyped by Hollywood) to a more sophisticated and younger crowd who actually tried to better understand and respect the Chinese culture (thank-you Bruce Lee). The business kept Albert extremely busy, especially during the lunch and dinner meal-time on weekends. It also kept him away from his daughter. Every night, he would see the last customer out at 1 am, close the cashier, eat a midnight meal with the workers, and then head home. By the time he finished fiddling here and there around the house, it would be 3 am when he hit the sack. He seldom saw or talked to his daughter.
Albert's daughter understood a little bit of the Toi-Shan dialect but could hardly speak it. She was in many ways a typical CBC or Canadian Born Chinese. Some might even deride her as being a "bamboo" - open to both cultures but blocked inside (i.e. belonging to neither). After the passing away of her mother and with his father being so occupied with his business, the daughter started hanging out in the pool hall with a group of foreign students. Young, unoccupied, and with hormones acting up inside her body, the unsupervised teenage girl soon found herself pregnant. At first she was hoping that her "auntie's monthly visit" (a.k.a. period or menstruation) was just a bit late. But she soon realized wish and reality are two different things. The unmarried couple were immature emotionally and mentally and they did not tell anyone for a quite a while. In the end, the young man told the girl "I am not doing well here at school and my father wants me to go back to my home in South East Asia while I am still young and to start learning how to run a business with him. I will not be able to marry you." Upon hearing what her lover said, she was devastated and cried like a baby. The young man tried in vain to comfort her and was told to get out. On that day, Albert's daughter lost her childhood innocence and became a more mature and realistic young woman. She waited till the wee hours of the morning for the father to come home from work. As soon as she saw him coming through the door, she went up and could only say "Dad, ..." before she broke down. She was no longer able to hold back the two years of dammed up emotions that burst out of her heart like a deluge. Through her teary eyes, she noticed her father's hairs had turned greyer in the past two years. She also realized that it was the first time since the death of her mother that she was willing to approach this "stranger" for a daughter to father talk.
(to be continued ....Part 4 )