Keeper of Memories

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

Eight and a half by eleven inches, black cover with bold white text, weighing as much as two textbooks, was a book called 中华五千年 (China in Five Thousand Years). It compiled five thousand years’ worth of Chinese history and culture that are not taught in depth in schools. Only government officials had access to this book. My father’s uncle was the highest county official at the time, so my father had the chance to read this special text. Friends and relatives of officials were able to read it, but the book was not allowed outside where it was stored. My father always loved to read and his favorite subject in school was history, and because of the nature of its content, this book immediately captured his attention. He really wanted to bring this book with him when he emigrated, but he knew it would not be possible. It was not something he could buy or take with him; it was meant to be a part of the government’s repertoire and was also way too heavy to carry around. Although he was unable to bring his favorite book, my father continued to read in America. He worked as a truck driver in Chinatown, and would spend his salary on books imported from Taiwan. They provided comfort and a sense of familiarity for him in this new country. A fragment of his life experiences, and immense love for Chinese history and culture is kept alive through his memory of the book.

Place(s): China
Year: 1990

– Shelly Zou

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant