Don’t Worry. Take it Easy – Liu Jingyi

If I said my mother was the one who spoke the most every day, I was not joking. On the table, my mother’s mouth never closed: “Anything special for today? Do you get on well with your classmates? Is the homework difficult? What do you have for lunch in the school today?” However, my father always listened to my answers without any words as he chewed the food slowly, whose mouth seemed to be designed only for eating. Yes, he was the one who could say nothing for the whole day.

It seemed that my father was always that kind of silent person since I was a little girl. Sometimes I couldn’t help complaining to my mother, “Mom, don’t you think daddy is a very boring man?” my mother laughed, “Definitely, he is!” she looked at my father’s direction who was watching news with a pocket face. “But you know, most of the time action speaks louder than words.” I turned around with a “what” and looked at my father with a puzzled frown. Well, he was moving the ladder to fix the light in the living room.

I still remember one Sunday morning, my mother had promised to teach me to do my art homework, the papercut, but she had to go out because of a call from her colleague. I pouted and stared at the colorful paper for a long time without moving, just keeping muttering “Mummy is a liar, a liar, a liar…” Then I saw two legs move awkwardly towards the desk and a big hand push a book to the front of me. I raised my head and saw my father scratching his head. “I guess it helps.” He said. I asked, “Do you know how to make it?” “No.” “Have you ever seen others make it?” “No.” “Did you make papercut before?” “No.” I signed, “I miss Mummy now.” I had no choice but opened the book he gave me. Although he couldn’t help, he still sat in the desk and saw how everything was going. I was not that kind of girl who is full of ingenuity. I grasped the pencil but could not draw a straight line. I took the scissor but could not cut a smooth curve. Everything was out of my control. I almost cried. When I looked at instructions on the book again with tears in my eyes, my silent father opened his mouth at that moment, “Don’t worry. Take it easy.” I raised my head, seeing his shape of figure becoming vague in my tears. “Do, not, worry. Take, it, easy.” He repeated, saying every letter slowly and peacefully. I held back my tears, took a deep breath and worked again. From then on that sentence was printed in my brain and his voice sounded every time when I was in anxiety.

Day by day I grew up. I left home and went to university in a different city. My mother loved having facetime with me in her free time. She was even more talkative than before with words flowing from her mouth like water in the river. And I always saw my father leaning against the sofa behind from the leak that my mother’s big face left on the screen. I knew he was listening to our conversation carefully, but he had gotten used to pretending that he was watching TV. I realized there is less and less communication between my father and me, but I just did not know how to start a conversation with him. Maybe in terms of this respect, I inherited the silence from him.

Until one day, the lightbulb in the living room burned out again. My father moved the ladder under the light as usual. He climbed up the ladder step by step carefully. His legs trembled slightly. His hand grazed the ladder to keep balance. As he climbed higher, his legs trembled more obviously. Even if he was on the highest step of the ladder, he still needed to stand on tiptoe to reach the lightbulb. The bulb seemed to be stuck in the socket. Father tried several times but could not take out it. After every try he needed to stop and rest for half of a minute. “Daddy, are you OK? I can help.” I asked. “No problem. You just need to give the new lightbulb to me.” His voice was still as deep and peace as usual, even though I heard his slight wheeze behind the clam tone. He wiped away the sweat on his forehead, took a sip of water and worked again. I held the ladder steady, looked up and saw my father’s legs quivering again. That’s the first moment I strongly realized that my father was getting old as I grew up. He was no longer that strong man in my memory who could climb up the ladder flexibly like a monkey, who could reach the lightbulb easily without tiptoe, who could put in a new bulb in three seconds. Father still could not take out the broken lightbulb after several minutes. His face turned red. His movement was losing patience. He bit his lips in anxiety. And I knew, it’s my turn to say something.

“Daddy, don’t worry. Take it easy!” I said as loudly as I could and saw a smile on that red face. Yes, my dear father, although you are getting old, no need to worry. Because I have grew up. I could take care of myself. And most importantly, I would stand by you as what you did when I was a little girl. So don’t worry. Just take it easy, please.

— About parents

The writing talks about the story between my father and me. I try to demonstrate my father’s silent but strong love, but I am not sure whether the emotion is delivered to readers naturally. One thing that I really struggle with is the sentence “don’t worry. Take it easy.” The original sentence my father said in Chinese is “bu yong ji, man man lai.” It means that no need to rush, just do it step by step. People say this sentence to comfort one who is anxious and would like to finish some agent as well as difficult things quickly. I think the translation of this sentence is very important because it is a clue throughout the whole piece. The present translation “Don’t worry. Take it easy.” can express the meaning but I think it is not emotive enough because the original one is very soft and comforting. And another thing I am thinking about is the ending. In the end I use the second pronoun “you” and express my emotion to my father directly, but I am not sure is it too sudden or awkward for other readers. I prefer that the emotion can flow over from the beginning to the end naturally.