At a CNY dinner at my parents’ place. My dad was telling stories about the past and my cousin Alvin decided to take notes. I think it started by how my dad would go clean our grandparents graveyard. It became a family history thing and threatens to become a Peranakan play since Alvin is involved in theatre… There were the stories about pre-war Empress Place, Geylang Bahru, Spohia Road. My dad described the indulgent lifetstyle of my grandfather and some granduncles. There were the cabaret girls, servants, opium smokin, gambling, civil service, raleigh bicycles, 2nd wives.
Then of course there was the japanese war and how my aunties were kept hidden in another person’s house. I shot about 2 hours worth of handphone video recording the story telling. Another uncle and aunt were there to add nuggets of stories of their own. Running around were the little children and there were 4 generations in that house. So the atmosphere was quite conducive to try to extend that beyond the 4. We even took down the photographs of my late grandparents from the wall. This was the first time we actually knew our grandparent’s names.
Soon a family tree took shape and there was mention of a Hakka blood line and I joked that “sekali” we are all hakka… the dangers of digging up the past! There was also questions like why the peranakans enjoyed cantonese opera.. My dad said that the housekeepers were usually cantonese speaking so most peranakans could understand cantonese, my uncle said the women were usually very pretty.. I tend to believe the latter. Alvin and Lina tried to get most of the names but these were beyond my dad even and he said we needed to go back to the graveyards… And he only knew how to navigate there using a tree (the forked branched in particular) as a landmark.
As I type this a 77 mb 3gp format video is being sent to my cousin through yousendit. It would be nice to see all my dead relatives come to live in a peranakan play…