• November

    I’m a CBC.

    I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. I understand some Cantonese and practice some of my cultural traditions, but I am far removed. I am what you call a CBC (Chinese Born Canadian).

    I went to high school in Scarborough and then University at Western. I’ve dated Black and White boys and steer clear of Asians. I’m not racist, but I’ve never been attracted to Asian men.


    My Uncle invited me to visit Hong Kong on my way to Thailand. I agreed. This is my first trip to Hong Kong, the birthplace of my parents.

    My parents rarely speak about their childhoods and their life growing up in Hong Kong. I’ve gathered bits and pieces but not enough to paint a vivid picture. Prior to this trip, I’ve never had an interest in visiting HK for 2 reasons:

    1. I am embarrassed to not know my mother tongue
    2. I don’t know many of my relatives living in HK and feel no ties

    Today, I visited the old neighborhood where my parents grew up (Kowloon, HK). We drove around the city while my Uncle pointed out hospitals, snooker clubs, apartments and houses where my parents grew up in. He told me funny stories of their mischievous teenage years, including drag racing in the streets.

    Magnolia Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

    The picture starts to unfold

    My mom’s current life and past life are completely different. I remember her telling me about the servants and drivers who would take care of her. She had a chauffeur who would take her to school and back everyday. She grew up sheltered in a large home even with a garden, which was very rare for Kowloon. She studied ballet as a child, yet she didn’t know how to “play”.

    She told me about a time in University where she asked a friend to teach her how to jump!

    Actually, the fact that she went to University at all was very rare. Women of that time didn’t need to get higher education and were expected to be housewives. But my mom was unique and was able to somehow plan for her future.

    A sketch of how I picture my mom getting taken to school by her chauffeur

    A sketch of how I picture my mom getting taken to school by her chauffeur

    When my grandfather was ill he sold most of his investments and after his death there wasn’t much left. My mom has worked hard for what we have. She worked a desk job all her life and raised 3 children with my dad (I’m the 3rd child, aka “Mui”). She does the housecleaning and cooking for, on average, 8 mouths. My house is a busy place and she holds it all together.

    My mom is my inspiration and she doesn’t know it. She knows I love her but I rarely appreciate the incredible woman she is.

    My mom had been accurately compared to “bamboo”: flexible and easy to bend, but will never break.
    However she has also been told she is like “pickled vegetables”: well preserved.

    For anyone who has the honor of knowing my mom she is the sweetest, kindest, most generous, and humble person I know. At a staggering 4’ 11” she is a giant in my eyes. I’m the luckiest daughter and am happy that I had the chance to visit the place where she was born. As the famous quote goes,

    “You have to know where you’ve come from to know where you’re going”
    (I think Will Smith said or could be Shelina Janmohamed).


    I LOVE YOU MOM. Thank you.

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