“What does that mean?” Adrian shouted from across the street. She smiled with her eyes vanishing into a line and pretty little dimples forming craters in her cheeks which were a shade deeper now as she repeated, “Gong Xi Fa Cai my love!”, and then translated it in her Asian accent, “Happy New Year, congratulations ,wishing you abundance my darling”
Adrian and May met last year. Despite the huge dissimilarity as far as cultures were concerned, both of them connected instantly. She came to NYC to study Art in Cornell University. She loved her family living in Malaysia and wanted to finish the course and return, until she met him.
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I remember last Chinese New Year when he met her at the oriental restaurant, The Dynasty, on the 3rd Avenue. She wore a stunning red dress and had insisted that he wear something in red too as that was customary to their celebration. Usually, I have seen him in subtle colors but that day he got carried away and wore a stark red tee on his denims, I looked at him in amazement and teased him about losing his sanity on the Temporary Insanity Day. He laughed and rushed to join her in the traditional reunion dinner where to his surprise he was the only invitee. He had heard, they celebrate it with folks and friends together and there is a lot of noise and laughter. He had expected people but was happy to be alone with her.
Adrian was excited as he recounted to me about the evening spent with May. Aroma of chicken, Chinese cuisine and wine floated. Music of drums and cymbals drifted in the serene ambience. There were dancing figurines of lions and dragons elaborating the counters. Red flags with symbols of horse were swaying in the cool breeze. Red lanterns were lit on every table and she looked scintillating in the scarlet radiance. The whole town was painted in red that day and so was his heart.
They were served with a Chinese salad first; interestingly she explained the fun behind the salad ritual, known as the prosperity toss; it was a raw fish salad which they were supposed to mix with chopsticks. The tradition is that the higher one tosses the salad, the more fortunes will grow in the coming year. So Adrian attempted the heroic stunt and his fish flew high in the air, with pride he held out his plate firmly for it to land safely but it decided to take a sudden turn and landed on his girlfriend’s lap. She seemed cross but as he looked at her with his puppy eyes she broke out laughing and showed him the right way to toss the salad gracefully. Peals of laughter echoed and without much of his knowing his heart was painting a picture on his life’s campus which was meant to stay with him beyond this ephemeral moment in time.
She gifted him oranges as in Chinese tradition oranges bring in luck. He could not agree more with her as his lady luck stood right there in front of his eyes. Haven’t you felt butterflies, in love? Somehow that night he mustered all courage and proposed to her and without many words she welcomed him in her life.
Then, it happened. The path they were walking on forked into different destinations. And as ice melts in its own water so was she to return to Malaysia. You know how it feels when you say nothing will change and yet the sinister distance and time play their part. She had assured to come back in the next Chinese New Year. He was hoping against hope to relive those moments.
Today as the horse gives way to the sheep and again Chinese New Year comes by, he recollects the moments of love spent with May. No matter the moments are short-lived, they have a long life in the mind of a lover.