Friday, December 01, 2006
Another Story Our Mother Told Us
(Left: 1951 photo of our mother with my brother David)
My brother Chun Chew recalls another story ....
Once there was a poor scholar by the name of Lui Man Chui who sold vegetable for a living in Guangzhou. He lived with his childless young wife, in a run-down hut. During the New Year festive season, Lui was in dire financial straits, and was unable to make ends meet. However, he still decided to bring festive cheer to his wife by buying a piece of pork from a certain butcher to celebrate the occasion. Having no money he intended to purchase the piece of pork on credit. The butcher was not around at that time. His assistant took pity on Lui's and allowed him to purchase on credit. So Lui happily went home to surprise his wife with the purchase and the wife did cook up a delicious meat soap dish but without rice to go with.
Meantime, the butcher returned to his stall and found out that his assistant had sold Lui the piece of pork on credit - flew into a terrible rage, scolded his assistant profusely, at the same time marching out to Lui's home. The poor couple were about to consume the soup with the meat, and in came the butcher shouting: "How dare you eat my piece of pork without payment !"
He snatched the piece of pork out of the bowl of soup and hastily rushed out of the hut, but an evil thought struck him - "Hey, wait a minute. I may have retrieved the meat but these two hungry idiots still have soup to drink Really enjoying ha!"
He returned to the hut, marched up to the couple's prayer altar and scooped up some incense ash from the altar incense holder and splashed it into the soup, leaving the poor couple speechless.
Lui was so humiliated that he vowed that should he acquire power one day, he would settle score with this 'sub-human'. Later on, Lui did pass the imperial examination and was promoted to a magistrate in Guangzhou. He returned to his home town with pomp and pageantry, but his wife had already starved to death in the hut - that was why there is a Cantonese saying: "Let your wife starve to death and stench the whole house".
Lui was inflamed with hatred and soon rounded up all the town butchers. He passed a decree that all butchers had to chain one leg to their stall in the course of doing their business, thus making their lives difficult.