Thursday, August 10, 2006

Yuhl Sheem (2)

This is part of an oral history project I did when I was an undergrad. It is written in my mother's voice.

The day that I was born will never be known. My American documents say I was born on October 16, 1956. My mother told me I was born in 1955. I think I was born in 1953 or 1954. All I know is that I came out of my mother’s body soon after the end of the Korean War. We were a poor family. I remember a lot of the time there wasn't enough food so my mother wouldn't eat. I would try to give her food from my rice bowl but she would say she wasn't hungry. My family wasn’t concerned with recording or remembering dates. They had no big hopes or dreams for me; they were concerned with finding food for our next meal.
Even though we were a poor family, all six of the children still celebrated their baek-il, the Korean celebration of a baby's 100th day. It is an extravagant celebration with lots of good food and family. At the baek-il, three items are put in front of the baby: paper money for wealth, a pencil for intelligence, and a piece of string for long life. Whichever the baby grabs is a sign of its future. I am told I grabbed all three.

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