The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates

The Joy Luck Club

“Do not ride your bicycle around the corner,” the mother had told the daughter when she was seven.

“Why not!” protested the girl.

“Because then I cannot see you and you will fall down and cry and I will not hear you.”

“How do you know I’ll fall?” whined the girl.

“It is in a book, The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates, all the bad things that can happen to you outside the protection of this house.”

“I don’t believe you. Let me see the book.”

“It is written in Chinese. You cannot understand it. That is why you must listen to me.”

“What are they, then?” the girl demanded. “Tell me the twenty-six bad things.”

But the mother sat knitting in silence.

“What twenty-six!” shouted the girl.

The mother still did not answer her.

“You can’t tell me anything because you don’t know! You don’t know anything!” And the girl ran outside, jumped on her bicycle, and in her hurry to get away, she fell before she even reached the corner.

— Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

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