Sifu/Ming-Chen Wu/Old Asian Man Quotes in Interior Chinatown
He’d played his role for so long he’d lost himself in it, before some separation that happened gradually over decades and then you waking one day to feel it, some distance that had crept in overnight. Some formal space you could no longer cross.
“I’m working with them now. This could be good.”
“Happy for you,” he says. He looks skeptical. Worried.
Are you doing the right thing? Something about this feels wrong.
But this is Black and White. They let you have a part. You can’t stop now.
You look at your dad. He shifts his eyes away, and you know in that moment that he is disappointed. But he won’t ever say it. You’ll never talk about it again. He’s gone, slipped back into Old Asian Man. He’s not going to make the choice for you. It’s your role to play.
But the one that Wu can never quite get over was the original epithet: Chinaman, the one that seems, in a way, the most harmless, being that in a sense it is literally just a descriptor. China. Man. And yet in that simplicity, in the breadth of its use, it encapsulates so much. This is what you are. Always will be, to me, to us. Not one of us. This other thing.
Your mother weeps, and dies. Weeps and dies. Weeps and doesn’t die. Just weeps. Because now, your father is no longer a person, no longer a human. Just some mystical Eastern force, some Wizened Chinaman. Her husband is gone, Wu is gone, even Young Asian Man is gone. They took him away from her. He is lost now, in his work, in who they made him. Distant. Cold, perfectionist. Inscrutable. No descriptors, anymore, no age or build, just a role, a name, a shell where he used to be. His features taken away and replaced by archetypes, even his face hollowing out.
This is how he became Sifu. This is how she lost her husband. How you lost your dad.
Maybe, if you’re lucky, she’ll teach you. If she can move freely between worlds, why can’t you?