The internet and faster and cheaper flying have made keeping up with one’s kith and kin a lot easier than when I was a teenager.
So, this past Chinese New Year saw the return of my aunt (who has lived in China for most of her life) for another visit: the second time since my father passed away in 2001.
Also back was cousin Peter who brought along all but one of his family from London, enroute to Australia where another son lives. Peter has been a regular twice or thrice yearly visitor for some time now, altho there had been a period in his life when coming back to Singapore to visit was quite far from his priority list.
Be4 hitting Singapore, my paternal aunt had spent a whole month Down Under in Sydney with two of her daughters who had moved there a little be4 Tiananmen, an annual routine she has established once they had settled down and had families.
She used to stop-over in Singapore when my father was still alive but had found these visits a little stressful, on herself as well as on those who looked after her.
In a way, I sympathise. Her various nieces and nephews host her in their homes, mine included but as noted in an earlier post, being a guest in someone else’s home is never all sweetness and light.
This is especially when she rediscovered us only after China began opening up, in the late 1970s, so there was always a gap of strangeness and shyness. It was so even with her only brother, my father and his wives, who all knew her be4 she went to China amidst the fervor of youth and 1949.
As for her brother’s children — ie me and my siblings — there was the addition of linguistic and cultural differences. Aunt speaks mainly Putonghua with a smattering of Hokkein and English. She also remained typically PLA, for whom both she and her husband worked till their retirement.
As for Peter, he is typical of my generation. We are more adaptable and more global in outlook. Thanks to our English education at a time when the stress was wholly on English, with little distractions, our standard of English is closer to the universal standard than that achieved by most of the kids being taught English today.
Thus Peter found little problem in settling down in England after getting his qualifications there.
Yet as he grew older and his family grew up — he now has one grand-daughter and he’s hanging on to her in the pix below– it is back to Singapore, or at least this part of the world he looks to, often.
Guess you can take a Singapore-born out of Singapore but you can never take Singapore out of a Singapore-born!