Relationship: Im/migrant

I will never forget that day about a decade ago. My father was sitting in front of me across the mahogany table in the dining room after dinner. “Mama told me that Anhui is my birth of origin on our hokou,” I said. “Why, daddy? We’ve never lived there.” Hukou is China’s resident permit that ties access to social services to one’s hometown. Holding a cigarette in his hand, he told that during the Land Reform in the 50’s, my grandma left home when her father, the genteel of a town in Zhejiang, was sent to death in jail. She sought asylum with a distant relative in Shanghai where she washed dishes in restaurants and soldered tin in factories. There she met my grandpa, a local family of former industrialists. While both bearing the infamous name ‘enemy of the public,’ she was sent down to the country with my father, a little boy at the time, while my grandpa worked as a janitor in Shanghai for ten years. Soon after the Cultural Revolution, my grandfather immigrated to the U.S. and my grandma stayed, raising her only child. Six years ago, I moved abroad to America for study. Whenever I felt entrapped like a caged bird in this foreign country, I thought about how my grandparents held on to their faiths in the honor of working with their own hands even when they found themselves condemned to the bottom of the social ladder over night. I also thought about how I checked my tears from running down the moment when I learned about the story of my family’s migration.

Year: 2006

– Shu

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant