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Monday, January 11, 2016

Reminiscent of an Untold Journey

A few months back, I had a family outing with my parents and my youngest brother to Krabi, Thailand. It was a simple trip, but meaningful.

The whole trip was meaningful as I don't spend much time with my parents. What more my youngest brother who is now studying overseas.

Of all the activities we had together, I feel this one was the most meaningful; the island hopping trip.

The boat we booked was rather rickety. But it was helmed by a very experienced boatman.
A boat similar to the one we rode on. 

Our boatman. A fun-loving man of the sea.

A very eventful trip, with the bouncy sea and bad weather. But what overwhelmed me was this view.
Evening in Krabi

As I took this photo, my mind wandered back in time. To a time when my late grandfather and his brothers took to the seas of Nanyang to a land faraway.

I do not know when did he undertook his journey or why he undertook the long perilous journey. I never got to ask him those questions as by the time I came to age, he has grown too old. And probably I was too afraid to ask him too.

What I know I had gathered from my late grandmother.

Grandma told us (I don't recall who else was with me, which of my siblings or cousins) that my family in China came from a long line of teachers in Guangdong. How true, I'm not sure as I don't read Chinese. But I know of a family tree book being kept at my uncle. There's a photo of my ancestors' tomb in China.

Incidentally, many in my family ended up in the teaching profession. My parents were teachers. My sister is a teacher. And so is my wife.

When he left China for Sarawak, he left behind his first wife and first son. He brought his eldest daughter with him to this new land.

A few days after he left China, one of his brothers was killed in a fight. What happened, we would never know.

As he came by the sea, this view that I took reminded me of him, and his journey. Until today, I do not know what he had went through when he journeyed to Sarawak.

What was his feeling, leaving his homeland and family? 

How long was the journey? 

Did he thought of permanently staying in Sarawak, or did he had wanted to return to China one day? 

Till today, none of these questions can be answered.

What I do know is that he held strongly to the Chinese taboo of flipping a fish before finishing the flesh from one side of the fish. Probably something he picked up on the journey from China.

He took a new wife here in Sarawak. And it was from this marriage that my father was born to. My grandmother came from a family of cook. She was from Bau, Kuching. That much I know of my grandmother, the family matriarch.

At times, when I went to Muzium Sarawak and look at the photos of Bau gold mine workers who were largely Chinese Hakka, I imagined I am looking at the photo of probably my ancestors.

Probably, the root planted by grandfather with my grandmother in Sarawak was too deep. Too deep that he became a citizen of this nation.

Mum did told us that late grandfather did went back to China twice. In fact, two of his siblings went back and died there during the midst of Cultural Revolution, I believe.
His eldest son, the one from his first wife did came to Malaysia a few times. At least twice when he was still alive and once after he had passed on. I only recalled he looked very much like grandfather. He told us of China, but nothing that I can recall of. Probably, the root in my heart had been planted too deep in this country I am calling my home now.

Yes, true my ancestors were from China. The culture I practised came from China. The lyrical language I speak with my family has its root in China. But I am a Malaysian.
And I hope that the roots that I will be planting here, will go deeper into the ground. And I care not of the question of my colour and creed. For what I have done for my country is far more important than answering your question of my roots.

Flag of my heart

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