When did you last go home?

When did you last go back to your hometown? How much has it changed?

As a 4 year old, back in 1937, my mum was leaving China with her mother from the south of China, a poor area in the Fujian province. The little girl was tagging along with her mum to a tropical new world in South East Asia.

Sail Away — image stamped by my friend, Shileyao

My mum couldn’t remember if she ever said goodbye to her dad. When she turned around for the last time, however, she waved goodbye to her second older brother. This small brother was standing behind the door, in tears, looking pitiful.

That was the last time mum ever saw her little brother, who died a few years after that.

Mum never saw her father again.

It took a few weeks for the rocky boat from south China to dock in Singapore. Soon the war broke out, the Japanese were throwing babies in the air. China turned into a sea of red.

40 years later, in 1979, mum was on her voyage back to China.  She was to meet the young lad she last waved goodbye to, her only elder brother, and his family.

Mum was unable to go back to China for 40 years

Mum got on a ship from Singapore on her own. That was the first time she travelled abroad — and home, to China.

She took with her a bicycle, clothes, medicines, some money, and in particular, a pot of lard.

Mum met her elder brother in a small hotel near the harbour. They were clutching a photograph of each other. “Is it you, my little sister?” Elder brother could not stop howling.

“Did you cry, mum?” I asked.

“Of course I did. I sobbed. My poor brother, he howled like an animal.”

Maps of Fujian Province, China

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31 thoughts on “When did you last go home?

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thank you for your encouragement, Bob. People who lived through that period of history did not make a drama. For my mum, she was simply telling me the story in a matter-of-fact manner.

      Reply
      1. Janet Williams Post author

        Dear Daniela,

        Thank you your sharing your understanding and sentiments. I look forward to more of your posts on Coratia too — I know the thought can be painful, but you’re such a fine writer that you can share your other world with us.

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