I was caught off guard the moment I walked in the door. In six months of being a mother, Sijeh had only been to testing three times, and two had been final black sash tests. She was rarely able to watch the proceedings, because her time was spent trying to keep her daughter from crying. So lately, she’d been opting to just stay home, particularly when testing had few being promoted.
I’ve only had brief interactions with her, since the fall from grace with her husband. They amounted to little more than me grabbing the baby’s finger as she sat in her mother’s lap. But with Sijeh seated at the end of the head table, our interaction was going to be more than passing. Tradition dictated that my seat at the table be next to hers, and I feared having to fake conversation that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t want to have.
I quickly shaped my face muscles into a smile that only I knew was forced. Nevertheless, it did the trick. I was able to make my way to the head table with the proper attitude and body language, and my actual mood followed the lead I’d set with my face.
I no longer have any clue how to think or feel when it comes to Sijeh and Sifu, but that’s so much better than thinking something incorrect and feeling something inappropriate. I’m in their house, effectively, whenever I set foot in the guan, and they can make that world their own in whatever way they choose.
Whatever bad karma might be floating around the place, isn’t going to come from me, I thought, as I broadened my smile and grabbed the baby’s finger as she sat in her mother’s lap.