Wednesday, June 14, 2006
A few years ago I decided to write my father's life story. Throughout my life I have heard spits and spats of his growing up at the dinner table. It wasn't till a few years ago as I looked at him, a man approaching 80 and still with such physical, intellectual and spiritual vigor that I realized when he leaves this earth, he takes with him these stories. Unless I take up the gauntlet and document these stories for posterity, they are going to be lost forever. I will be too busy doing other things that I, too, who was told these stories, would forget. Even if no one else in the world wants to know of this man, I should memorialize these stories for the next generation and the generations to follow. Were his stories unique? My mother lived in the same village and just a few years younger never has such stories of survival to tell. My father's siblings does not have the s\same stories either. They were unique stories of immense struggle for mere survival. A life of being the only surviving son in a Chinese culture where sons are supposed to be worshipped but wasn't the case in my father's life. It was a life of extreme poverty combined with tremendous abuse on the part of my paternal grandfather and the cherry on the top was WWII with a Japanese invasion and occupation, culminating in the landing and occupation of Allied Forces after the defeat of the Japanese. All these contributed to the hardships in my father's adolescent years, seen by very few in the history of mankind. It reeks of Frank McCourt's tales in "Angela's Ashes". It was shared suffering in Frank McCourt's life. In my father's case, he bore the brunt and the full force of the pain and struggle. Unless we read of survival stories and I don't mean the television series on "Survival", we will continue to sleepwalk through life. We will continue to live a very shallow existence. We will continue to be bored and be boring.There has been lots of holocaust stories and there should be. We must not forget. We must not be complacent. While WWII raged on in Europe, there was another war in the Asian front-the spread of Japanese Imperialism. They had a rhetoric, not unlike the Nazis. In fact, the Japanese Imperialists and the Nazis were collaborators. Here's to my father.