It's finally Friday which means I have two chapters done plus a poster. Enjoy!
Reflection in the Water
“Okay,” Gai Gong Gong began, holding a pair of blue clothes and a cute black hat. “Go put these on.”
Wing Yi takes the clothes he offered and looked at them suspiciously.
“Don’t look so surprise,” he started, seeing her reaction. “Remember, you are no longer a girl. From this day on, you must think of yourself as a boy. You are a young eunuch working in the palace.”
Wing Yi’s eyes immediately darted up to look at the man’s face.
“This is the palace?” Wing Yi asked in disbelief.
He nodded slowly and proceed by saying, “I think that you would eventually need to be told. It is best that I let you know or else you might run about and then both our heads will roll. If the king ever finds out…”
He stopped briefly and looked at Wing Yi with a concerned face, before saying, “You must never let anyone know that you are a girl.”
Poor Wing Yi, stood there stupefied and speechless. All she could do was nod.
“Good,” Gai Gong Gong said quickly. “Don’t worry, nothing will happen if you do as I tell you. Quickly, now.”
Wing Yi finally breaks out of the trance and walked to her room.
Gai Gong Gong lets out a long sigh and went over to pour himself a cup of tea. He eyes fixated on the flickering candle as he sips the tea.
Once she closed her door, Wing Yi goes over to her bed and drops the clothes on her bed.
She makes a slow gesture of picking up the hat.
“This is kinda cute,” Wing Yi said to herself. “Wearing boys clothes is not all that bad.”
She looked down at the pile of clothing and saw that the fabric of this simple outfit was much better than anything she had ever worn.
“Hurry in there,” Gai Gong Gong persisted.
She quickly puts the hat on the table and grabs for the rest of the outfit and in n0 time, she was all dressed. As a final touch she goes to the water basin and looks at herself as she donned the hat.
Wing Yi could not believe that the image in the water was her. She made a for a convincing boy. Excited and a bit alarmed, she rushes out.
Gai Gong Gong had his back to her. After hearing the door slam shut, he turns to look over his shoulder. He too was speechless.
“Wow,” he remarked as he gets up. “You look exactly like a boy! I don’t think anyone can tell that you are a girl.”
“Thanks,” Wing Yi said with a smile. “I think.”
“Here, let me help you,” he insisted, adjusting the hat on her head. “There, perfect! Okay, we can go now.”
Once more, Wing Yi gives him a confused look.
“To the kitchen,” he finished.
“I have to get all dressed up to go to the kitchen?” Wing Yi said incredulously.
“Remember that this is the palace,” Gai Gong Gong said, beginning another lecture. “We must always look presentable no matter where we go.”
“Yes, Gai Gong Gong,” Wing Yi said quickly to stop him.
“Alright, you take this tray and I’ll carry the rest,” he said, handing her the tray. “Remember to follow my lead and say as little as possible.”
He entered the brightly lit walkway with Wing Yi close behind.
Wing Yi was beginning to get use to the twists and turns, so in no time they were in the front of the kitchen door. She almost bumped into Gai Gong Gong when he suddenly stopped.
“Sorry,” Wing Yi said, trying to steady the tray.
Once she got a hold of herself, Wing Yi finds herself staring at the largest door she had ever seen. The door was twenty feet long and 12 ft high. The carving on the door was especially standing out with some gilded in what looks like gold.
With her examining the door, Gai Gong Gong goes to open it. It took all his strength to open the kitchen door.
Intense heat radiated out just as he opens the door.
“Come in, hurry,” he beckoned her.
“Coming!” Wing Yi said excitedly, crossing over the threshold.
If she thought the room that Gai Gong Gong lives in was large, this kitchen was the sized of the whole brothel put together. Everything one could possible want; knives in hundreds of different sizes and shape. There was an abundance of food from common to exotic fruits and from dried fish to the most costly bear spleen and deer’s antlers. Seasoning jars lined the entire left wall. There are ten ovens lining the right wall and not to mention more food in the storage room in the back. This was like food heaven.
At this late of the night, there were a few servants attending to the ovens in preparation for the next day.
“Hi there!!” someone shouted from across the room.
He quickly walks over, swaying his hips as he went.
It reminded Wing Yi of Madame Ling back home, and she giggled a bit.
“What are you doing here Gai Gong Gong?” Ceuk asked joyfully.
“Oh, I decided to give my new pupil a tour of the kitchen and in the process bring back the dirty dishes,” Gai Gong
Gong responded coolly.
“I never did get your name,” Ceuk said gleefully, turning his attention on Wing Yi.
“His name is Tieu Wing Tu,” Gai Gong Gong spoke for her. “Tieu Wing Tu, this is Tieu Ceuk Tu.”
“Hi,” Wing Yi said happily.
“Well, hello Tieu Wing Tu,” Ceuk said cordially with a girlish smile. “Welcome to the palace. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask okay?”
“Thanks, I will remember that,” Wing Yi smiles back.
To change the subject, Gai Gong Gong asked him, “So is your mistress hungry again tonight.”
“Unfortunately, yes,” Ceuk said with a sigh, but quickly recover. “Well, I have to hurry and get these pear stuff dumplings to her right away.”
“Oh wait!” Ceuk said suddenly, taking out a dumpling for Wing Yi. “Here you go.”
“Thanks,” Wing Yi said, taking the gift.
The small dumpling in her hands was so perfect and the aroma fulled her nose, as she holds it to her mouth. Wing Yi happily swallows it and smiled.
“Wow! That was so delicious!” Wing Yi exclaimed excitedly.
Seeing her enjoying his dumplings, Ceuk was deeply touched. All the food he made for his mistress always ended up for the dogs. Finally, someone genuinely appreciates his hard work.
“Here, you take these,” he insisted, taking out a plateful of dumplings in various colors.
“Oh, I…” Wing Yi tried to stop him.
“Tieu Wing Tu, just take it,” Gai Gong Gong insisted. “Ceuk wants you to have it.”
“Um…thanks so much,” Wing Yi uttered, as Ceuk hands her the plate.
“Well, I really should be going,” Ceuk remarked with a smile. “Good-night.”
“Tieu Ceuk Tu is really nice, isn’t he?” Wing Yi mumbled, stuffing herself silly with one dumpling after the next.
“Yes, he is very kind maybe a bit talkative, but he is trustworthy,” Gai Gong Gong agreed, sitting on the mahogany chair with a hot tea pot on the table next to it.
“What time is it Gai Gong Gong?” Wing Yi asked, still chewing.
“From the looks of it, I say around ten or so,” he answered. “And for goodness sake don’t talk while you are eating.”
“For a little skinny girl as yourself, I don’t know how you could eat a plateful of dumplings after dinner,” he said in exasperation, seeing the happy grin on her face.
Wing Yi swallowed down the last piece and proceed to pour herself a cup of tea.
“I see you are getting use to the tea now,” Gai Gong Gong inquired.
“It is not so bad,” Wing Yi said, still wincing at the first taste.
Even with a full stomach, Wing Yi springs out of her stool and approached Gai Gong Gong.
“Can we start?” Wing Yi asked eagerly.
“But you just ate?” Gai Gong Gong said in amazement.
“That’s okay,” Wing Yi continued. “I want to learn. They say that the early bird gets the worm.”
“But in your case, it is the early bird gets the dumpling, right?” Gai Gong Gong mocked at her eagerness to eat more than to learn.
“Please…” Wing Yi begged, hands clasped. “Sifu.”
Gai Gong Gong lets out a defeated sigh before rising.
“Are you sure you want to learn?” he carefully reiterated. “Martial arts taking lots of dedication.”
“No problem!” Wing Yi sang out, jumping up and down excitedly.
“Very well,” Gai Gong Gong said in a deflated tone. “Come over here. Stand there.”
He was pointing to the rug in the middle of the room. Wing Yi quickly took her place on the mat, standing in stance with her arms position in the air.
“What stance is that?” Gai Gong Gong asked curiously seeing her as she moves about on the carpet, jumping up and down while swapping at the air.
“The crane stance,” Wing Yi retorted, still pacing about. “I saw someone perform it once in the village square. One person was the crane and the other was a monkey I think. Here, I’ll show you the monkey stance.”
No longer were her hands flapping, they were dangling on the ground. Wing Yi did several tumbles and scratched her neck and armpit. For the finale, she did a double tumbled that caused her to bump her head on one of the stools.
Gai Gong Gong rushed over to see that she okay but just a bit dizzy.
“Are you alright?” he asked nervously.
He helps her to her bed to lie down.
“Wait here while I get a cold rag,” Gai Gong Gong demanded, storming off furiously.
Wing Yi felt bad for causing such a disturbance and making sifu angry. She touched a finger to her forehead, and she could feel it swelling.
He came back quickly with a cold basin of water and applied the rag on her forehead.
“It has just been barely three days, and I am already exhausted,” Gai Gong Gong tried to joke. “I don’t know how Li MaMa managed.”
“I’m sorry sifu,” Wing Yi spoke up in a remorseful tone.
He shakes his head while taking the rag out to examine it.
“Well, that will be enough,” he concluded.
“Sifu, what were you about to teach me before…” Wing Yi voice faded off.
He gave her a long look and sigh, “I was going to teach you how to breathe correctly; being able to balance your chi.”
“Breathing exercise?” Wing Yi continued, knowing that he was no longer angry.
“Yes,” Gai Gong Gong contemplated. “Well, since this has
finally settled you down, I think I should take this opportunity to teach you the breathing exercises.”
Wing Yi’s eyes lighted up, but she remained quiet.
“Alright, sit up straight,” Gai Gong Gong demanded. “Back straight, cross one leg over the other. Then place your hands in your lap.”
Wing Yi did exactly as she was told with much efficiency.
Gai Gong Gong continued, “Close your eyes. Try not to tense you muscles. Alright, begin by breathing in slowly. Count to five before exhaling. Count to five before inhaling. All you have to do is to perform the process over and over until you can breathe in even rhythm without having to think. By doing so, your body will be able to take in the proper amount of air and your lungs will become stronger.”
Wing Yi did exactly that with her eyes close.
“Alright, that will be enough for today,” Gai Gong Gong inquired. “Sifu is getting sleepy.”
Wing Yi keeps her even breathing as she opens her eyes.
“After you master this, then we will talk about teaching
you any martial arts stance,” he said, going to the door.
“Sifu,” Wing Yi called. “Thank you for putting up with me.”
“Get some sleep,” Gai Gong Gong said before closing the door.
Wing Yi smiles and closes her eyes once more. She sat on her bed, practicing her breathing through the night. The candle on the small table eventually flickered a bit before dying out