A highlight from Goddess of Compassion


White unless i was almost directly under them i couldn't read colored words against the background unless there was enough a contrast and and i i can can read read the the i'll i'll signs signs in in the the supermarket supermarket unless unless i i squinted squinted faces. faces. Started Started to to look look the the same same to to me. me. they're they're features features indistinguishable. indistinguishable. I I became became anxious anxious over over my my inability inability to to recognize recognize people people as as they they approach. approach. But But i i learned learned to to use use idiosyncrasies idiosyncrasies of of their their gates gates and and the the particular particular way way their their bodies bodies occupied occupied space. space. Identify Identify them them and and when when that that failed. failed. I I learned learned to to look look down down at at my my feet feet while while i i walked walked to to avoid avoid accidental accidental contact contact with with anyone. anyone. I I recognize recognize eventually eventually as as my my sight. sight. Worsens Worsens am am i i squinting squinting powers powers failed failed me. me. I I developed developed a a new new technique. technique. I I would would push push the the bottom bottom of of my my inward inward and and upward upward to to narrow narrow my my field field of of vision vision until until my my eyes eyes almost almost closed closed but but not not quite. quite. This This technique technique was was more more effective effective than than regular regular squint. squint. And And for for a a time time it it worked. worked. It It was was almost almost like like a a super super sprint sprint locking locking alongside alongside my my mother mother and and father father one one day day in in a a rite rite aid aid pharmacy. pharmacy. I I decided decided to to try try out out my my new new technique technique in in order order to to read read the the signs signs hanging hanging above. above. The The i'll i'll my my father father had had walked walked ahead ahead of of us. us. I I held held onto onto my my mother mother with with my my left left hand hand and and pushed pushed in. in. The The bottom bottom is is with with my my right right using using my my thumb thumb and and index index finger. finger. Suddenly Suddenly my my mother mother space space was was close close to to mine. mine. Her Her eyes eyes wide. wide. Shut Shut down down toward toward me. me. He He lee lee what what are are you you doing. doing. She She whispered whispered harshly. harshly. Oh Oh this. this. I I said said nothing nothing just just trying trying to to be be the the fines. fines. Don't Don't let let your your father father see see you. you. She She said said she she pulled pulled my my hand hand down. down. Force Force it it against against my my sign. sign. Stop Stop pretending pretending you you can't can't seek seek or or you you really really will will be be blind. blind. You You know know how how your your father father feels feels about about that. that. She She glanced glanced nervously nervously toward toward my my father. father. I'm I'm not not pretending. pretending. Mom Mom i i really really can't can't what what is is it. it. My My father father had had started started to to walk walk back back toward toward us. us. Nothing Nothing my my mother mother said said quickly quickly straining straining there there was was something something in in her her eye eye and and we we were were trying trying to to get get it it out. out. I I don't don't know know though though she's she's squeezed. squeezed. My My hand hand almost almost crushing crushing it. it. That's That's lead lead tran. tran. Reading Reading from from her her debut. debut. Memoir Memoir house house of of sticks sticks lease lease is is a a story story of of loyalty loyalty family family tenacity tenacity and and a a secret. secret. She She kept kept for for a a long long time time so so long. long. It It very very nearly nearly destroyed destroyed her. her. I'm I'm dani dani shapiro shapiro and and this this is is family. family. Secrets Secrets secrets secrets that that are are kept kept from from us. us. The The secrets secrets we we keep keep from from others others and and the the secrets secrets we we keep keep from from ourselves. ourselves. What What was was the the landscape landscape of of your your childhood childhood before before you were three years old. And then. After i was born in a small town in southern vietnam in nineteen ninety-three my family and i were able to immigrate to the united states to a program known as the humanitarian operation which helped resettle former prisoners of war here in the states and my father was a pow. He's spent almost ten years in the reeducation camps of vietnam. And you know that was our lucky ticket out and so we came to reach with queens in nineteen ninety-three in the middle of a blizzard no less so needless to say very cold for us of means people and it was really difficult to navigate this foreign country. None of us spoke. Language was only three. And i have three older brothers at the time The oldest of which for just nine years old and so finding a way to make ends meet. It was really difficult but a family friend introduced us to this sort of home. Sweatshop labor and so that's what we did and it required us to borrow a sewing machine from a company and then we would sort of work to pay it off over the years. There are a weekly quota. One thousand thai or two thousand cummerbunds and to deliver it every week. So that was my first job as a toddler which was to to help my family make these ties and cummerbunds and i separated the materials gave them to my father who would then so the ties and then my brothers and i would take it out from underneath a sewing machine and turn it inside out and it was just this little family assembly line. Yeah we did that. All the way up. Until i was twelve. Describe your mother for me. Well my mother. She's a very fiercely independent one and She was sort of the main reason that we were able to keep it together as a family. My father was incredible as well. You know he tried really hard to just get us through the system. We would spend a lot of days up the international rescue committee and he would take down nelson where he needed to take us to get vaccinations for instance to get to go to the food stamp office and to get my brothers enrolled in school whereas my mother you know she was more responsible

Coming up next