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Today, January 23, 2013 is an important day for me because on this day our family arrived in Canada and this year’s anniversary is more significant it reaches the 40th years mark.
I still remember the excitement of my first time being on a plane the long flight from to Hong Kong to Canada. During our long flight mother broke down because she has left her mother behind, perhaps she knew then we would never seen her again
For weeks I had been thinking about today. As I had done before I would paint a painting to commemorate this special occasion:
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Beijing China to visit my friend Michael whom he was working there.. One day, after my visit the Forbidden City and I came across an unusual named “The Working People’s Cultural Palace” (It used to be the ancestral temple for emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to offer sacrifices to their ancestors.).
I was all alone at this former imperial temple and standing in front of the lotus pond looking at the reflection of the marble bridge in the water. It took me back to my Chinese history class back in Hong Kong.
One day, instead of teaching the ancient history as he was purpose to, our teacher announces, “In 30 years Hong Kong will be return back to China!
It was 1967 and at the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution although we were children but we had heard from our parents the stories of our relatives, what they had suffered during that time back in China As children born in Hong Kong under the British rule we thought we were different from the Chinese from the mainland. Knowing how our parents had to left their homes and families in China to start their lives all over again in Hong Kong and to think of one day we will back under the mainland China just stuck terror in me. I was thinking to myself, 30 years I would be so old and I Hope I won’t be in Hong Kong then.
However, forty years is a long time and many things had changed since then and my understanding of China changed as well. This year, is the first time my father no longer to be with us to mark the anniversary. The house we been living in the past 35 years is all quite, all my sisters, brother had moved out long ago and had their own families. I became closer to my mother. After my father passed away, we travel to China together for three weeks; we went to the Great Wall.
Our parents came from southern China so we were the only ones ever travel to the north and the capital city.
Looking back, the only one thing remain the same was my passion to make art. I don’t remember a single day gone by I did not spent some time to create art.
Today, I see how much Canada has change and how much China has changed and wonder where would be my future home would be?
Beautiful thoughts, Alfred........thank you for sharing...you are always so thoughtful about life and art, and so talented......you would be the top artist in China too......but I'm so glad we have you here, as inspiration, and so full of hope. Change is inevitable......hope it is always for the better, for you especially. Congratulations on this anniversary.
I have seen you make wonderful things, so complex to look at, out of a paper cup, you will always be able to turn things into something enjoyable and interesting, whether that be art or a place you may end up living in, you take what comes, and see it for what it is and then make it your own, unselfishly, you are like a magician. The painting is a beautiful commemoration of your life and your family's life going back generations, they would have all looked at waterlilies, i suppose, so it's a good symbol too. Your parents were so lucky having such a devoted and caring/sensitive son. God bless you in all you do! :))
Hello everyone, Thank you so much for your warm and touching comments. Sorry, I didn’t respond earlier, I went to bed early last night.
I am glad to share my thought of this important day with my fellow artists. I always think being an artist we do have the special gift to see things different than the others.
I feel so fortunate to live in a peaceful country like Canada.Thinking back I think how brave my parents were to come to a country they knew little and not able to speak the language in order to make a better life and future for their children. I am forever grateful to them!
Mary, you are so right about global world. My parents used to get letters from relatives from China and it woulds took weeks to arrived. Now they all have cell phones and they call instead of writing letters. Our world is getting smaller.
Thank you Alfred for such beautifully expressed thoughts on the changes going on in your life since migrating to Canada.
I have long believed there is one thing, regardless of culture, or ideology, or ethnic group, that is common in the human race: It is the love of family, the desire for a better life, an aspiration to dreams and pursuit of happiness common to all of us.
You could not have affirmed that concept any better, with your opening topic.
What a beautiful painting, and touching story. It made me think about a couple of books I read a few months ago by Lisa See, Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy. Her story is about different places, but she was able to convey what it must have been like for Chinese immigration into a Western country, and all the struggle and hardships. In the 2nd book they go back to China during the Cultural Revolution. Everyone's stories are unique, and her story may not be anything like yours, but she has a way to make the reader really feel the struggles that her characters went through. .
Elizabeth,Both of my parents left China for over 60 years and they had no desire to visit. Many oversea Chinese are like them because their memories of their homeland are filled with hardships and heartbreaks. They lost most of their family member because of the wars and the famines later It look much convening to got my mother travel with me to China last year. However she did not want to visit her ancestral home.. I think it could be too painful for her.
Thanks, Ann I know about Liza See's books there are many outstanding ones from writers in both Canada and the us. I will look for her books. Even in China today, the ones lived through the cultural revolution would not talk about their experience..