For a pair of small bound feet, shed a vat of tears.
- Chinese proverb
「裹小腳一雙，流眼淚一缸」 - 民間諺語
My maternal grandparents passed away when I was very young. Although most of my memories of them are vague, a few are so fascinating that they are still vivid in my mind.
Grandma always wore her hair in a neat bun behind her head, a classic qipao, and black embroidered shoes, which were only four or five inches long, so small. I was told her feet were once bound. Being about five years old, I did not comprehend what that meant, but I was always curious about her arched feet. Grandpa was slender and over six feet tall. He always looked clean-cut, in a suit with a white dress shirt. He especially liked things to be clean and neatly arranged. I remember he would purify his drinking water and dip his ice pop in hot water to sterilize it. I was told it was because he was a medical doctor and valued a sterile environment. He kept some of his small medical items in our guest room, things such as empty apothecary jars and an apothecary weight set and balance which I used to play with as toys.
What impressed me most, however, was how attentive my grandparents were to each other. Because of Grandma’s bound feet, she walked very slowly and had to hold onto someone or something to keep her balance, and usually Grandpa was the one holding her hand firmly and walking slowly beside her. And whenever walking or sitting, they would lock their fingers together and whisper to each other. At that time I believed, and I still do, that couples should have such love and devotion as they grow old together.
In 1974, when I was six years old, Grandpa passed away at the age of ninety. Grandma passed away soon after. I believe she was too lonely to go on living without him. At Grandpa’s funeral I saw three urn slots under his tombstone. His urn was placed in the middle. As a curious child, I asked the adults about the other two slots. I was told they were for Grandpa’s two wives. My mommy told me she had a half-sister, whose mother was Grandpa’s first wife, a woman who moved to Canada many years ago. That explained the space for the third urn. For a young child, that was as much as I could understand.
Through the years I have grown more fascinated by my grandparents’ stories of their time in Manchuria before and during World War II, and I have often wished they were still around because I have so many questions. Grandpa graduated from Taiwan Government-General Medical School in 1909 and soon after moved to Dalian, Manchuria. He had a successful medical practice and lived a luxurious lifestyle. Grandma was his second wife and never had any biological children of her own. Besides her half-sister, my mommy had one older sister and one younger brother. All three were born in Dalian. Their biological mother left Dalian after giving birth to my uncle. But she returned later to take my aunt to Taiwan, as my grandparents had to flee there after World War II and were only able to take my mommy and my uncle at that time.
My mommy told me many of her childhood stories. Besides his medical practice, Grandpa had many real estate investments, and later owned a large parcel of land near the Laohutan Coast, where he grew apples. She and her sister and brother were born into wealth and privilege. Each child had their own nanny. They enjoyed western fancy candies such as chocolate for sweets and had an unlimited supply of apples because of the apple farm. However, she also recalled not being allowed to leave the house due to the frequent airstrikes during the war.
In 1987, when the president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Chiang Chingkuo, proclaimed the lifting of Taiwan Martial Law, and initiated communication between Taiwan and Mainland China, my uncle visited Dalian, where my grandparents used to live. He discovered that all the properties Grandpa once owned had been confiscated by the Communist government. My uncle told my mommy he believed Grandpa would be thrilled to visit his land and properties again, even though he had been forced to abandon them after the war.
“Bound” is not a memoir of my grandparents. It is a work of fiction in which I imagined how their stories might have unfolded, based mostly on actual historical events and geographical settings. All names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either imaginary or used in a fictional manner. The plot, wherein the two protagonists, Yafong and Mingjie, saw each other is based on how my parents actually met. I believe romance runs in my family. Although I never met my mommy’s biological mother and heard precious little about her, I gave her a nice destiny after the war in the story, to thank her for giving birth to my loving mother.
外婆的長髮總是乾乾淨淨地盤繫在脖子後面，穿著傳統旗袍和大概只有四或五寸大的黑色繡花鞋。家人告訴我外婆曾綁過小腳。當時我也只是六歲，並不了解綁小腳意思，只是對她那雙彎曲的小腳非常地好奇。外公身高超過一百八十公分，瘦瘦高高的。他總是看起來乾乾淨淨，穿著西裝、白襯衫及汗衫 ，而且他特別愛乾淨及要求整潔。爸媽跟我解釋這是因為他是醫生，非常看重無菌環境。 他在我們的客房裡留了一些他的小醫療用品，比如空的藥劑罐和藥劑稱量器，我小時後常把它們當作玩具來玩。
然而，最令我印象深刻的是他們如何恩愛和關注彼此。因爲她彎曲的小腳，外婆走路非常慢，而且需要扶持。而外公就是扶持在她身旁的人。我特別喜歡看他們不時十指相扣，對彼此輕聲細語。當時我以為 (至今任然相信) 情人們老時應該是充滿像他們這種的愛跟執著。
多年來，我對他們在滿洲時代的故事是越來越著迷， 真希望他們還在，因為我有太多問題想問他們。 外祖父1909年畢業於台灣政府綜合醫學院，不久後移居滿洲大連。 他有成功的醫療事業，過著奢華生活。 外祖母是他的第二任妻子，但她從未有過自己的親生孩子。 除了同父異母的大姐，媽媽還有一個姐姐和一個弟弟。 三人都出生在大連。 他們的生母在生下我舅舅後便離開了大連。 但後來她回到大連去帶我二姨逃往台灣，因為我的外祖父母在二戰後不得不逃往台灣，當時只能帶我媽媽和我舅舅。
媽媽告訴過我她的許多童年故事。 除了行醫，外祖父還投資了很多房地產，後來在老虎灘海岸附近擁有了一大塊地，他在那裡有ㄧ大片蘋果園。 媽媽和她的姐妹和弟弟從出生就過這奢華生活。 每個孩子都有自己的保姆。 他們喜歡西式零食，比如像是巧克力糖，並且因為外祖父的蘋果園，他們有無限量蘋果可以享用。 然而，她也回憶說，由於戰爭期間頻繁的空襲，她們是不被允許離開家的。
“綁”並不是我祖父母的回憶錄。這是一部虛構的作品，是我依實際的歷史背景而想像他們的故事會是如何發展的。所有名稱、人物、事業、環境、事件和地點不是虛構的就是以虛構的方式撰寫。 兩個主角看到彼此的情節是套用我父母認識的情境。 我相信生性浪漫是會遺傳的。 我從未見過媽媽的親生母親，對她的了解也很少，所以在故事中，我決定在戰後給她一個美好的命運，感謝她生下了我親愛的媽媽。
1910s - 1940s
Dalian, Manchuria (Northeast China)
Locations of Empire of Manchuria/Taiwan/Japan/China 1932 to 1945
Original creator: Crab2814
Changes made by Sufen Adams
Grayscaled and locations added
She is the only child of a successful businessman and his wife.
Graceful, enchanting, quiet, and introverted
He was born and raised in Taiwan and received medical education and training in Japan. He successfully practices medicine in Dalian, Manchukuo.
Dashing, debonair, a perfect gentleman, and a well respected doctor
She is the daughter of a handyman and Yafong's personal handmaid.
Outgoing, expressive, and bold