Wizen Old Lady  


At the mention of my grandma, the old woman grew expansive. Her narration was choppy and

confused, like a shower of leaves at the mercy of the wind. She said that my grandma had the 

smallest feet of any woman in the village, and that no other distillery had the staying power of ours.

The thread of her narrative evened out as she talked of the Jiao-Ping highway: "When the highway

was extended this far . . .sorghum only waist-high. . . . Japs conscripted all able-bodied workers 

. . . . Working for the Japs, slacked off, sabotage ... took your family's two big black mules . . . 

built a stone bridge over the Black Water River . . . Arhat, your family's foreman . . .

something fishy between him and your grandma, so everyone said . . . Aiyaya, when your 

grandma was young she sowed plenty of wild oats. . . . Your dad was a capable boy, killed his first

man at fifteen, eight or nine      out of every ten bastard kids turn out bad.... Arhat hamstrung the 

mule.... Japs caught him and skinned him alive.... Japs butchered 

people, shit in their pots and pissed in their basins. I went for water once a year, guess what I 

found in my bucket, a human head with a pigtail attached . . . . "