Reading response to “The Scent of the Gods”

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It was a rainy morning. Li Yun went to the post box to check if there were any letters as usual. There was a letter for Grandma and some advertising leaflets.

        ‘This is for you, Grandma.’ she said as she handed it to her.

        ‘Thanks,’ Grandma answered.

         Grandma opened it with a small knife and put on her glasses. While she was reading it, the light in her eyes faded, like the dark clouds had covered the Sun, and it started to rain. That was the first time I saw Grandma cry. She stood up from her rattan chair and turned around to not let us see her cry. Obviously, we already had. I was so shocked. In all these years, I had never seen Grandma cry. She was like a robot, spoke without emotions, except when she was angry. Although we couldn’t see her crying, her shoulders were shaking. Li Yun and I both stopped eating our breakfast.

          ‘Oh, My, God. Hey Yun, ask Grandma if we can read the letter,’ I murmured.

            Li Yun took a deep breath, and stuttered, ‘Uhhh… Can, can we read the letter, Grandma?’

            I felt the tension in the room right after she asked. We both knew we did something we should not. None of us dares to talk.

          ‘Can’t you see the time now? Go to school!’ Grandma shouted, after about 30 seconds. My heart pounded. We both grabbed our textbooks and pencil cases and bolted, like two frightened horses.

          We did try to ask Grandma what the letter was about after a few days. However, the result was the same. Our curiosity was stopped by the anger of Grandma.

         I still remember, during the evening of the day after, I was doing homework next to Li Yun.

        Suddenly, she whispered frightenedly, ‘It can’t be. There’s no way…’

Then she hit her head lightly and kept doing her homework.

       ‘What couldn’t be?’ I asked.

       ‘I was just daydreaming.’ She answered and laughed nervously.

        I can tell from Li Yun’s eyes that it was about the letter, and she probably had a guess at what the letter was about. Somehow, I didn’t keep questioning her.

       About a week after, Li Yun and I both saw Grandma tearing the letter into pieces and burnt them into ashes through the window in our room.

        The war ended a few years later. Li Shin didn’t return home. Initially, I thought he was still angry at Grandma. One day he would come back. As I grew up, I knew he would never come back. But still, I didn’t believe in myself. I did not want to find the truth either. It was too hard to face.

        Till today, Li Shin’s face is still lingering in my memory. Grandma has passed away because of her old age. Before her death, she built Li Shin a gravestone and put it next to his father’s. Li Yun and I would go there and ‘visit’ him every year.