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The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

‘The old man first vis­ited our house when I was five, in 1933. At that time, I had only two broth­ers to worry about. Kiam and Jung were then 10 and seven years old. Sekky was not yet born, though he was on his way. Grand­mother, or Poh-Poh, was go­ing reg­u­larly to our fam­ily Tong As­so­ci­a­tion Tem­ple on Pen­der Street to pray for a boy. Decades later, our neigh­bour Mrs Lim said that I kept in­sist­ing on an­other girl to bal­ance things, but Step­mother told me that th­ese things were in the hands of the gods. Step­mother was a young woman when she came to Canada, barely 20 and a dozen years younger than Fa­ther. She came with no ed­u­ca­tion, with a vil­lage di­alect as poor as she was. Girls were of­ten left to fend for them­selves in the streets, so she was lucky to have any fam­ily in­ter­ested in her fate. Though my face was round like Fa­ther’s, I had her eyes and del­i­cate mouth, her high fore­head but not her high cheek­bones.’

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