Monday, January 12, 2009

Lili's Hands

Kelly Tsai

Transcript is below the fold.

Introduction:

For people who don't know what an overseas contract worker is, in the case in Asia right there are certain countries that are doing like blinging like good like economically right.  You are talking about places like Singapore, places like Taiwan, places like Japan.  There is many places there is many historical reasons for this, please get on Wikkipedia or Google and educate yourself. When I say educate, you say yourself, educate (myself) educate (myself) that's actually right you wanna say myself.  You see that lady is smarter than all of us combined so give it up for her.  So certain countries are doing better economically than other places like say Vietnam, the Philippines, Sri Lanka right.  So in the case of Asia there is a lot of young women, men as well, but a lot of time young women go to work as domestic workers usually in different countries and so this piece is called Lili for a young woman who is from the Philippines. Who worked for my Auntie in Thailand and Lili and I became good friends when I was there two years ago.

Lili's hands are small red and cracked.  She uses them to slice the fish from the market, smash garlic with the edge of the cleaver.  To spin the tap for the cold water, to spin the bitter melon and suck it of its dry newspaper.  Lilis hands wiped  down the counter with lightening speed, piles buns soft with heat onto a plate.  Lili's hands dashed sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, into the steaming wok which burns blush onto her cheeks.  Lili's hands cube the tofu, cure the chicken feet, and wipe the shit stains from my aunts toilet.  Lili's hands tug at the end of her t-shirt making jokes in English, Tagalog and Mandarin, pretending not to understand the arguments, pretending not to notice. Lili's hands message my uncles feet cracked from a lifetime of a soldiers walk. She cracks, contorts and twists his soles as he scowls tv watchin, Steven Chow gung foo chop his way over a wall. Lili's hands cradles her cell phone close to her ear to hear the voice of her husband in Iloilo. The one that calls her mama and cracks on air mailed karaoke tapes.  American love songs, American pop songs, Lili's hands rub acetone over her fingernails and keep her fed in Iloilo, Manila, Singapore, Tai Pai, from bitchy house mothers to wicked roommates, her fighting sisters and runaway friends.  Lili's hands know how to work.  Lili's hands ball into tiny fists as she pulls the blanket over her face in the back room on the cot next to the washing machine, 'cause she has a good employer, my aunt.  My aunt who doesn't rape, or beat or stab, or cut her wages.  My aunt who depends on her for her life.  To keep her family together as well as her kitchen.  To make food for people who otherwise wouldn't come.  To give to an old woman who often forgets how to.  Channel, Gucci, plastic surgery, and gold. Lili's hands pray to the Gods in the church, and the wind and the Filipino government, smiling she proclaims I must fight, for so many stories she grips in these hands. So many challenges to the pulse, she knows she is gonna be there when her contract is up with her man, her baby, her motorcycle, her house, her sugar factory. In iloilo the day her hands can finally work for themselves.  


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