Niang (Jeanne Prosperi) Quotes in Chinese Cinderella
“But then Mama died giving birth to you. If you had not been born, Mama would still be alive. She died because of you. You are bad luck.”
As we climbed the stairs, Big Brother muttered, “To her, we are not separate people. Here we have become one single unit known as all of you. Seems like this is how it’s going to be from now on.”
In those few moments, we had understood everything. Not only about Niang, but also about all the grown-ups. Now that Nai Nai was dead, there was no doubt about who was in charge.
We began to question Third Brother’s sanity—had he imagined that Niang overheard us?—but he stuck to his story. “Perhaps,” he suggested darkly, “we’re being kept deliberately in a state of uncertainty because that’s what Niang most enjoys. The cat-and-mouse game.”
I was no longer the lonely little girl bullied by her siblings. Instead, I was the female warrior Mulan, who would rescue her aunt and Ye Ye from harm.
I felt quite guilty about my favoritism and couldn’t help blaming myself for not having gotten more worms that each duckling could have its own.
Finally, I sat there with my eyes tightly shut, wishing with all my heart that when I opened them again, I would be Jackie and Jackie would be me.
“It’s because we won the election today. I’m now class president. We worked hard at it—”
Niang interrupted me in the middle of my explanation. “Stop bragging!” she screamed. “Who do you think you are? … You are getting altogether too proud and conceited! No matter what you consider yourself to be, you are nothing without your father. Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!”
That was how [Aunt Reine’s] family treated me throughout the time I spent with them. They made me feel as if I were their third child. For the first time in my life, I did not automatically get the short end of the sick but was given an equal share, just like Victor and Claudine.
Afterward, Ye Ye and I sat by ourselves on the long couch, not saying a word. I looked at my grandfather defeated and resigned with a blanket around his drooping shoulders in the blistering heat, his face contorted with sadness and anguish. A tired old man with no one to turn to, imprisoned by his love for his only son.
“Don’t talk like that! … You mustn’t talk like that! You have your whole life ahead of you. Everything is possible! I’ve tried to tell you over and over that far from being garbage, you are precious and special. Being on top of your class merely confirms this. But you can vanquish the demons only when you yourself are convinced of your own worth.”