Amy Tan was born in Oakland, California in 1952, two and a half years after her parents immigrated from China. Her first book, “The Joy Luck Club” (published in 1990) was on the New York Times best seller list for almost a year. The book is a delightful mix of ancient wisdom and modern dilemma. Amy Tan explores the mystery of the mother-daughter bond in a series of personality sketches that span several generations. The following excerpt is one that mothers and fathers everywhere will recognize.
“Do not ride your bicycle around the corner,” the mother told the daughter when she was seven.
“Why not?” protested the girl.
“Because then I cannot see you and you will fall down and cry and I will not hear you.”
“How do you know that I will fall?”, whined the girl.
“It is in a book, The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates, all the bad things that can happen to you outside the protection of this house.”
“I don’t believe you. Let me see the book.”
“It is written in Chinese. You cannot understand it. That is why you must listen to me.”
“What are they, then?” the girl demanded. “Tell me the twenty-six bad things.”
But, the mother sat sitting in silence.
“What twenty-six?” shouted the girl.
The mother did not answer her.
“You cannot tell me because you don’t know! You don’t know anything!”
And the girl ran outside, jumped on her bicycle, and in her hurry to get away, she fell before even reaching the corner.