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Tag: family

Writing Studio

In this room, in almost the exact same spot where my desk now sits in this photo, lies my earliest childhood memory. I was in kindergarten, around four or five years old, sitting in the wardrobe, wearing a dress I did not want to wear. I remember the soft, warm colour of morning filtering through the curtains, my sister still sleeping in the next bed.

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Aunty Doris


She died alone at night. One by one she had watched the lights go out around her, including her husband Tony a few years earlier. At home, she had always found something or other about him annoying, but in their final years at the old folks home, his presence became a surprising source of comfort.

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A story about the cultural revolution

The Bund, view from Pudong
The Bund, view from Pudong

My cousin in Shanghai was two years old when his mother, an architect, was taken away by the Red Guards, a student-led paramilitary movement, during the Cultural Revolution. All he remembers is his mother suddenly disappearing; his father, a doctor, had also gone missing days earlier. For what felt like an eternal darkness, he and his elder brother, who would have been five or six around that time, were left alone in their flat. He doesn’t remember how they survived those days. Maybe neighbours came by and brought food. Maybe an extended relative checked in on them. After what felt like forever, his mother returned, but she was a completely different woman.

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Mahjulah Singapura

Sometime in my youth it became cool to make fun of the military displays, tacky costumes and cheesy mass dance performances at Singapore’s annual National Day Parade. As a working single National Day became a welcome day of rest, perfect timing for a short getaway.

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Tiananmen and my father 天安门与我父亲

My first memories of Tiananmen were formed in London: I was six, it was June, 1989, we were in a small hotel room, and it was my first family vacation. My father was in London for work, we had tagged along. I climbed a tree for the first time at a family friend’s orchard; I was so shocked to discover apples and oranges grew on trees. Then: one morning, my father watching the news. His face, creased with worry. I crawled out of bed and peeked at the television:

People. There were so many people on the screen they filled it completely. Flags, banners, people shouting, people angry. My father, his face creased with worry.

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On Prophecies

Do you believe in fortune tellers? I’m feeling a little low after a flurry of rejections, so I’m just going to talk to myself here.

Once upon a time, around the time I was born, my mom saw a fortune teller in Hong Kong.

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