Nana doesn’t look like a forty-year-old woman. She takes
good care of herself. She goes to the gym twice a week. She
swims on Mondays and does step aerobics on Thursdays. She
has a tight tummy and toned thighs. People have asked her
whether she is a bodybuilder. Nana doesn’t answer directly.
She merely puts her hands on her hips, thrusts out her breasts,
and asks, “Do you think I look like one?”
It is common knowledge that if you train as a bodybuilder,
your breasts will shrink. In her line of work, it is insulting not to
have big breasts. She would not allow that to happen to her.
She used to be a C-cup, but now she is a G-cup, and she credits
it to her swimming. She found this out when she went to shop
for a bra. The salesgirl said, “You have been wearing the wrong
size.” She told Nana that she should wear a G-cup bra. This made Nana very happy. She saw five clients that day. She took
very good care of every one of them. She was pleased, so she
wanted all her clients to be pleased too.
She started this line of work when she was thirty-six. In the
beginning, she worked in a breakfast joint. She had to get to
work at the crack of dawn. Then A-de fell off the scaffolding at
the construction site and ended up in the hospital, foul tempered.
He was paralyzed, and could not move. He cursed and cussed
endlessly. Nana was grateful, though. Before he was hurt, he
used to beat her up.
She took care of A-de in the hospital at night. A-de slept
all day and when she arrived in the evenings, he would be full of
energy. He cried, threw tantrums and cursed Nana all through
the night. Nana did not get upset.
Nana had a good temperament. She had been like this
since she was a child. She did not know why. The people in her
family called her a “ninny.” So let it be, thought Nana. This
was by no means a compliment, but since everyone called her a
ninny, she got used to it. And in time, it became a habit with no
particular significance. At home, they called her “Ninny Nana,”
and she responded to this namesake with alacrity. Gradually, it
became nothing but a form of address. That’s what people
She worked during the day. The breakfast joint opened
until noon. By the time the cleaning was done, it would be two
o’clock in the afternoon. She would pick up the children, make
dinner, tuck them into bed, then rush to the hospital to be with
A-de. She stayed with him until five o’clock in the morning
then left for work. A-de often yelled at her, and the nurses on
the night shift would come to stop him because they couldn’t
stand it anymore. But Nana often fell asleep. She slept like a pig; she could sleep through a thunderstorm. This made A-de
very angry. He would start swearing and cursing the moment
she woke up, flinging profane words at her. But since Nana was
exhausted, she would just sink into drowsy oblivion.
One of her clients once said, the reason why she was able to
accept other men with no qualms at all was because A-de had
hypnotized her. He wasn’t joking at all when he made this comment.
He was dead serious when he said that while Nana
watched A-de in the hospital, half-asleep, his ferocious jeers of
“Fuck!” and “Cunt!” served the purpose of hypnotizing Nana.
Nana’s client further elaborated. When A-de was saying these
words, he might not be aware of it, but he subconsciously wanted
his wife to become a prostitute. Nana’s client concluded amicably,
“How else are you going to support yourself and your
This client was a college professor. Nana often saw him on
television, speaking at political talk shows. She didn’t like his
comments. She did not support the political party that he
endorsed. But she did agree with his hypothesis on the hypnosis.
Later, when clients asked her why she started doing this line
of work, she would quote the professor’s name and his hypothesis.
She would say solemnly: I am obeying the wishes of my
husband. This made every single client laugh. Since it pleased
her clients, Nana stuck to this story.
She worked for eight months at the breakfast joint. It was
too exhausting for her. So she started to switch jobs. She
worked regular hours at a Chinese restaurant. Nana wore a
white blouse and tight black skirt as uniform. Every one wore
the same outfit, but the restaurant manager’s eyes fell on Nana,
only Nana. Whenever Nana went into the kitchen to fetch the
dishes, the chef would block the entrance, forcing Nana to hold her breath and try to squeeze through. The chef’s arm would
graze her breasts.
The chef often wrapped up the leftovers for Nana to take
home. Roast duck, hairy crab, and lobster. Sometimes even
abalone. While working at the Chinese restaurant, Nana grew
fair and plump. One day, while in the kitchen, the chef pinched
her left breast through her white shirt when no one was watching.
Since the chef was good to her, Nana didn’t move. Later
the chef summoned her back into the kitchen, and in a dark corner,
he pinched her right breast and grabbed her ass.
That day, after work, the chef told Nana to wait for him.
Nana said she had to go to the hospital. The chef didn’t say anything,
but wore a pained expression on his face. Nana told him
to pick her up at the hospital.
The chef did not seek her out at the hospital after work that
day. But in the middle of the night, her cell phone started to
ring. She was asleep and did not hear the ringing at all. A-de
started to holler and curse. The nurse on duty woke her up.
Nana answered the phone. It was the chef. He said that
there was some business. So Nana told A-de that there was
some business with the chef. A-de hollered. He lay like a tree
stump across his bed. He could only move his head. He yelled,
“Fuck!” His voice reverberated along the tubes connected to his
Nana eventually left. A-de’s curse became a self-fulfilling
prophecy. The chef took Nana to a hotel, and pinched her nipples
through her shirt until they started to ache. She told him to
stop, and took off her shirt. The chef pinched her, slapped her,
and kneaded her like the dough in his kitchen. When it was
over, he gave her a thousand NT dollars.
Later, the restaurant manager sought Nana out to do the same thing. He was more generous, and gave her two thousand.
But since the chef often gave Nana extra food to take home, she
did not feel that he was taking advantage of her.
One day, the two men wanted to see her at the same time.
Nana couldn’t be in two places at once, so she explained her
predicament to the restaurant manager. The restaurant manager
decided to postpone his date with Nana to the next day. But
later he started to introduce other men to Nana. They paid her
two thousand NT dollars each time. It wasn’t until a long time
later, when Nana started to work on her own,. . .