Twenty Six

I used to run away from Nian, that annoying beast never failed to show up year after year. Loathing the formalities of visiting elders, contemptuous of congratulating people on their wealth and prosperity throughout the first month of each year, these actions were pointless and tasteless, as if all previous times were bad days. But that was me many years ago, foolish, young and rebellious. Tradition never goes away; like my family name, the food I ate, I carry them all in my DNA. Custom says after six eleven-years cycle we would come back to this big cat animal. We love tigers as much as we love cats. We imagine them tame and playful and would treat them like our pets. But they are as mysterious and mythical as the wild beast Nian, and in reality we have never met one or the other, face to face. We stitch them together, the Nian and the Tiger, we put them on leash. We live in the same household for three hundred and sixty five days. Till the rabbit comes, down from the moon.