With His Absence, My Artist Father Taught Me the Art of Vanishing
My father was missing. How could I put him back in the picture?
Magnum, P.I. TV GuideChoose Your Own Adventure
That peasant boy on his knee in supplication? That’s my brother. The warlord all armored up before him? That’s my dad.
It’s not a good time,Maybe next year.
I was embarrassed.I didn’t want you to see me that way.
Look at all the fun we had. It made us feel close again.
you want him to know them
Choose Your Own Adventure
What happened? Where? I did?
Draw it, Mama.
With any luck, my father will let me fly him to California this summer to be with us. We text each other almost every day, only now I’m sending images as well as words. The other day I texted him a photo of me drawing with my older son. It was taken from the point of view of me behind my page: my actual son blurry in the background, busy with his own sketchbook; the drawing of him sharp in the foreground, rendered in green ink.
Do you like my drawings?
Love your drawings
Bonnie Tsui is the author of the award-winning American Chinatown. She has written about wildfires, Michelin street food, big-wave women surfers, shark fin soup, and China’s dancing grannies for The New York Times, California Sunday, The Atlantic, and Pop-Up Magazine. Her next book, Why We Swim, will be published by Algonquin Books in Spring 2020.
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More in this series
Before I visited the Partition Museum, I had a sense that all the years of self-erasure could be undone if I just heard, watched, read enough. Now I’m beginning to rethink that strategy.
My kin may have erased themselves, but I won’t erase them. Just as I may be their wildest dreams, they are also mine.