Since I was very young, before I even spoke any English, I adored those oversized sunglasses, which were worn by European and American film stars in the movies or fashion magazines. Those large shades, not only were they strongly linked to the Western world; they also represented a privileged lifestyle to me, which, for a young girl from a small city in Taiwan, was sure far far away…
However, at the age of seventeen, my simple; routine world was suddenly about to change.
Not only had my immigration application been given the green light from Australia. My mother, who lived in Perth and was to be my sponsor, had decided to return Taiwan to help me preparing for a soon coming chapter in my life.
Although till then I still knew very little about my mother, besides hearing that she relocated to London after her divorce from my father.., the adults at home didn’t tell me much about her at all. They feared that I would ask questions or get upset, on top of that, they had their own issues to deal with.
In fact, it was through pictures sent by her from London, that made a distant faint image of her became alive and clear.
Among all her photos I viewed, there was this particular one I had the strongest feeling for…
In that picture, she had an one piece blue dress on, sitting with both her feet up on the bonnet of her new car – a mini! On the back of this photo she wrote in Chinese: “這是我的新車!” – “This is my new car!”
What grabbed my attention most, was not only that she had a great smile, and in that picture, she wore a large pair of sunnies.
‘She looked just like an European woman!’ I said to myself and gushed!
This ‘far away’ and ‘very Westernised’ figure – my mother, finally arrived in Taiwan to lend me a helping hand to farewell my Eastern living. At the same time, she also lent me her oversized sunglasses to wear! (Oh perhaps I asked her very nicely?!!!)
The day we departed for Perth, I wore a high neck long sleeved leopard print top and a pair of army green cargo pants.
Fastened up my seat belt in the air craft of Singapore Airline, I looked out the window through my borrowed oversized shades. Somehow I felt much more comfortable and ready in them, to face my unknown future in the Western world.
You may laugh, I can say pretty firmly by now that, my large sunglasses didn’t quite take me to the glamorous world of Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Onassis… However, years later, when I returned to Taipei from Sydney, one day my taxi driver asked me: “Home for a visit from America?”
‘No,’ I smiled. ‘Not America…’
I tilted my large dark sunnies so I could give him an eye contact while we started our chat…
Photo credit: Imi Mir.