Sunday, February 22, 2009

Grandmother's Story

My Grandma brought me up during my childhood and Teo Chew was the first language I spoke growing up. She was an incredibly resilient and strong lady, single-handedly bringing up 9 children. It is just amazing how at 83 years old this year, she is still feistily making her way around Singapore with public transport.

After WWII, Grandma was a young girl surviving on the ruins the Japanese left behind. Everyday, she would nibble on tapioca grown in the garden for sustanence. Eventually, someone from Singapore came over to her town in search of suitable wives for men who had migrated from that particular hometown.

Apparently, Grandpa was from quite an affluent family in Singapore who has several pig farms. Grandma liked what she saw on the photograph and subsequently embarked on a 7-day boat ride to the foreign land of Singapore.

She told me of the immense seasickness she suffered on the boat. Even after reaching land, she had to be quarantined for 2 days before she could see her potential husband. The saddest thing, she shared, was that she did not return to China or saw her mum until 30 years later.

(30 years! I am not even 30 years old!)

Grandma gave birth to my mum when she was 20 years old. After bearing 3 kids, my Grandpa suffered from cholera and passed away, leaving her to fend for her 3 children - the youngest being 6 months old. She has held various jobs from servants to wealthy caucasian families to school bus driver.

Years later, she remarried and gave birth to 5 more children, even adopting one because she felt sorry for the latter. My step-grandfather left her and she had to once again, take care of all her children.

Hearing her story humbles me. My Grandma - woah.


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