Family History Write Up
"Happy New Year!" "恭喜发财！" greetings rang out from inside the HDB when my parents and I stepped in. It was New Year's Eve and my family have once again gathered together in the small but cosy 3 room HDB flat belonging to my grandmother. I smiled as warm, welcoming good wishes were exchanged between the adults while I called out their names politely. After the adults went to their chatter and gossip of work, children and other families, I sneaked to where my cousins were playing Jenga, a building game of physical and mental skill.
As I saw one of my cousins, Sim Raye, trying to figure out which block could be taken out first, a tinge of sadness and compassion for her rose up in me. She was handicap in a way that she has bone structure that inhibits her growth physically and impacts her brain and bone developments. That is why even though she was born on 15th February 1999 in Singapore and while I was born on 4th January 2002 she was still much shorter then me. I also heard that she is now enrolled in a school for people with intellectual disability. However, we still always have a lot of fun with her whenever we meet. Her younger sister and older brother, Sim Zann born on 14th February 2001 and Sim Jun born on the 15th August 1997, both takes over their father, Sim Chee Siong's basketball skills. Although he was not tall, not tan, but he was an outstanding player when he was younger and is an excellent basketball coach in the Secondary school Sim Zann is in. Sim Jun is also an exceptionally good player in the school team in ITE for electrical engineering course.
Their father was born in Singapore on 7th February 1965 and is married to my father's elder sister, Chan Sook Fun, who was born on the 11th June 1965 and works in KK hospital as a radiologist. However, when she was just two years old, she was playing with a needle without her mother realising that the dangerous object was in her hands. Before anyone found out, she had accidentally poked her eye with the sharp needle, causing her eyes to be blinded and swollen almost immediately. Unfortunately, she did cry, thus, when her mother found out and brought her to the hospital, it was too late. Her right eye would be blinded for the rest of her life. Despite this ordeal, she remained as a cheerful, bright and optimistic person.
"Come and eat dinner everyone!" a familiar friendly voice called out to us from the kitchen. It was my grandma, Mary Lee. We could all see her small and petite frame running around the kitchen to prepare a scrumptious reunion dinner. Though she was aged 81, born on 1st October 1934 in Singapore and her husband, Chan Ken Hong born on 6th December 1931 in Singapore died on October 2006, leaving her a widow, she was still an energetic and lively person who liked to mend clothings and cook for us till now.
As we crammed onto the small dining table, my father's elder brother began gesticulating animatedly about a recent wushu performance he joined. When I was young, he used to show me so many videos of himself doing wushu that I always thought he was a wushu professional until lately, when my father explained that wushu was just his passion and he really was an IT manager, born on 18th November 1962 in Singapore. All of us laughed as he narrated the performance to us while his wife, Serene Chan, born in Singapore on 7th June 1964, working as account payable, added in humorous bits and pieces of ti while teasing her husband.
"Ahh!" I cried out and squirmed in my seat as my other cousin, Adeline Chan, born in Singapore on 13th May 1987, tickled me mischievously. Giving her a fake glare, I attempted to tickle her back, but to no avail. She works as a recruiter, aged 28, but she still manages to socialize very well with me and my cousins despite our age gap.
After we finished dinner, my mother asked me, "Have u completed your long weekend's homework?" My mother, Lee Wen Wen, is a housewife and was born on 2nd April 1971 in Taiwan. I explained that I only had one composition left. My father was born on 22nd November 1967 in Singapore and works as Vice President of a semiconductor company and as a sole breadwinner of the family.
As adults were preparing lou hei, my cousins and I seated myself comfortably on the sofa to watch the television when my phone rang. Rushing over to pick it up, I saw that it was a Skype call from my maternal cousin, Natalie Lee, from New York. I grinned to myself as we wished each other Happy Chinese New Year and she talked about the University she is studying in. Oh all the cousins, I feel the most attached to her due to the fact that she is exactly 7 years older than me. She was born on 4th January 1995 in United States while I was born on 4th January 2002 in Taiwan. However, she has to do a lot of part time jobs and earn money for herself as her mother, Tao Ni Ni, born on 14 December 1968 in Taiwan, left her and her father, Andy Lee, born on 6th March 1967 in Taiwan, who likes to gamble, when she was just born. Nevertheless, she was very caring for me and would come to Singapore to visit me.
Soon, I said a quick goodbye to Cousin Natalie and rushed to lou hei. "Nian nian you yu" Uncle Dereo, Keon tried to say. He is a Caucasian, born on 13 September 1967 in Belgium and is an engineer. He is married to my father's younger, Chan Sook Yuan, born on 23 March 1973. Since she works in the travel agency, she loves to travel with her husband around the world and would often come back with load of photos of the beautiful scenery to share with us.
As some of the adults and my grandmother was discussing the time to meet my mother reminded me to call my maternal grandmother, Lee Huang Shu Mei, born on 6th May 1948 in Taiwan, who lives alone now in Taiwan since her husband, Lee Kuo Shi, born on 24th January 1938 passed away on 1998, a happy Chinese New Year.
Just then I overheard the adults talking about how my great grandfather came to Singapore from a village in Guang Dong Province in China by boat in the late 1920s with his wife and 2 children, which includes my grandfather, as he was the second eldest, when he was only 40. At that time, there were many China Migrants coming to Singapore as they thought that they could make more money and live in a better environment compared to China then, since Singapore used to be colonized by the British. Subsequently, 6 other children were born in Singapore. Fortunately, he learnt the trade of making clothes and became a tailor to support the family, instead of doing more laborious jobs like being a coolie at the harbour, transporting and carrying sacks and bags of goods. Later on, when my grandfather was only primary 5, he decided to be a car mechanic to earn more money for his other siblings to study.
As I sat in the car later on, I felt that this was indeed a very enriching and interesting Chinese New Year!