Reading old letters from China is similar to listening to people chatting on their mobile phone on the train. You only hear half of the conversation. You may not like the noise, but it is impossible to ignore it. You are slightly annoyed because you do not hear the other half of the conversation. You need to make a mental effort to decipher their conversation.
Letters from China represent half of the conversation in the last century between overseas Chinese migrants with their families in China. Where is another half of the conversation stored? Now, more than 30,000 letters are saved and they are on display in various museums in the Fujian and Guangdong provinces in China. Continue reading →
When the ship from Singapore docked in Shantou, south of China, my mother soon recovered from bouts of sea-sickness, and was taken to a local hotel near the harbour with a hundred of other Chinese passengers sharing the same mission: meeting their long-lost relatives. Continue reading →
My mother returned to her ancestral home in China for the first time after 40 years on a big ship from Singapore in 1979. “I was very dizzy for the whole 7-day journey.” How big was the ship? I wondered. “Oh,” my mother recalled, “it was so big that some pigs were on board too.”
My mother could see from her room on the upper deck some pigs eating their left-over food. Continue reading →
This week, I’ll share with you some letters from China.
My mother left Fujian, the poverty-stricken province in the south of China in the late 30s, and arrived in Singapore a few weeks later, after surviving the turbulent journey of the South China Sea. Continue reading →
My son Ben doesn’t like Lego. I used to be quite upset about it.
I wasn’t the most confident new mother when my son was small. Who was? I learnt from parenting books and middle-class stay-at-home mothers that Lego toys were brilliant, and “all boys love Lego,” so I bought him some Lego bricks with joy and played with him.
Roman Banquet Lego Model: in City Museum, Winchester. Roman Banquet was built with 75,000 Lego pieces.
Apparently building Lego toys would boost a child’s maths skill, improve his spatial awareness, and his understanding of fractions and division. Playing with Lego could also foster a child’s physics and engineering skills. Playing with Lego could develop a child’s fine motor skills, high-level problem solving skills, planning and organising skills. Of course I wanted my son to be a scientist, an accountant, an engineer, a heart surgeon, and the youngest Mensa member ever. (Mensa: The High IQ Society) I wanted my son to play Lego.
I bought my son a Lego set, Lego book and some cute Lego model for Christmas, however, he did not open the Lego set for 3 years. He told me he could not see the point of building Lego toys. He had no passion for Lego.
I do compare parenting. I visited a friend whose lounge was turned into a Legoland. They built sophisticated inverted roller-coaster, with motorised chain lifts and working gates. They also built suspension bridges and Technic jet planes. On one visit, we were warned not to knock over their roller-coaster that had taken them 5 days to build. Continue reading →
I have an unusual habit. At work, whenever I finish using the computer, I would move the mouse from the left, to the right hand side. Most of the time I would remember this left-to-right move. I’m conscious about moving the mouse to the right because I’m aware that most users in the office are right handed.
Sometimes some colleagues would joke about the mouse being in the wrong place. “Janet was sitting there earlier.” We would joke about life being miserable because I forgot to move the mouse to the right, or the horror when they found two mice were placed next to each other, and they grabbed the wrong mouse for their computer. I have wonderful, supportive colleagues and we often joke about trivial matters like this. Continue reading →
I’m left-handed. It was a curse. In the 70s and the 80s, teachers never liked a left-hander, and left-handedness was a defect that any honourable teacher had to correct.
As a young child, I was scorned for writing with my left hand. Teachers cast me the scary look. A cane would rain down on me if I switched to use my left hand. My classmates were spies. They would receive rewards from the teachers if they reported to the teachers whenever they saw me writing with my left hand. Continue reading →
It later dawned on me that I had written about my fear a few years ago. I’ve updated the article and sharing it here with you.
When my son Ben was a very poorly child before he turned 1 year old, I took him to his doctors many times. Various doctors told me he had a cold, a virus infection, a winter bug. Nothing serious. Continue reading →
I’d never realised that my house could be that quiet. Eerily quiet.
This morning I’m officially a woman without her chickens. Two remaining chickens were killed, possibly last night.
I saw feathers scattering around in their chicken run this morning. One dead chicken was under a bush. One was gone. The fox must have taken her for her babies. The fox would come back again for this one, so we decided to leave the dead chicken in the garden for the fox’s collection.
Once I realised I’ve now lost all our chickens — 5 in total, since last summer, I felt a sense of loss. Suddenly the complete silence commanded the house. Continue reading →