Recently, I was rocked by a wonderful and startling revelation from my dad about his grandmother. My great grandmother was a herbalist and a travelling physician. From his tone, I could tell my dad admired her. She had “ben shi”, ability, talent. She could do stuff.
Yet, my grandmother, my great grandmother’s daughter, wasn’t that forthcoming. She let out her stories in weak spools. She didn’t talk about things that made her sad. According to my dad, she quarreled with her mother who forbade her to leave for Nanyang (the Chinese term for Southeast Asia). My grandmother left for Singapore soon after that. Imagine the wounds still unhealed, the words left unsaid, unvoiced. My grandmother passed away last year. [Read more…]