할아버지* (haraboji)

사랑하는 할아버지1
you’re in the gait of
my walk and the length
of my strides, my high-
waisted pants and the
glide of my pen – mom
always mused of this
cross-lingual literary
inheritance. your wizened last
days were my carefree
few, your textured
english was my
odd bemusement:
“조나단2, how are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you!” I’d
chirp, not knowing what
to say or what you’d
been through – the bourgeois
allegations that I’d
known in books,
the wartime diaspora that
you’d become, the stalwart of a
transplanted group, the
pinpricked fingers, the
soaked cotton buds.
할머니3 sang songs
of distant singapore
when the japanese
arrived. what songs
will I sing once I’ve
traversed this life?

*할아버지 – grandfather
1사랑하는 할아버지 – dear grandfather
2조나단 – jo-na-dan
3할머니 – grandmother

Jonathan B. Chan is an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge reading English. Born to a Malaysian father and Korean mother in the United States, Jonathan was raised in Singapore and sees his cultural tapestry manifest in his writing. He has recently been moved by the writing of Marilynne Robinson, Joan Didion, and Shūsaku Endō. His mind is preoccupied with questions of theology, love, and human expression.

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