Old Chinese Chest

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
My Grandmother's Chinese Chest
My Grandmother's Chinese Chest

During the late 1940s at the end of the Chinese Communist Revolution, my grandmother had to take refuge in Hong Kong, China once the nationalists were defeated. She used to live a prosperous life in Canton, but after the war, she and her family had to take all her belongings with them, including an old Chinese chest that my great-grandmother kept. In 1959, she got married in Hong Kong and received her mother’s Chinese chest as a wedding gift. It was a beautiful chest made of out wood that acted as a repellent to moths, and would have deep hand-carved drawings of Chinese seaports. After she married, she migrated to Canada with her mother’s chest, hoping to have a better future, since she lost her home after the Communist Revolution. Her life there, however, was very difficult; she was not used to the Canadian culture, and couldn’t speak a word of English. She had to raise 5 children all by herself while my grandpa had to work, and she would always have problems with the landlord, either because of overdue rent or the noise the kids used to make. Nonetheless, whenever she looks at her chest, she uses the Chinese chest as a memory to motivate herself to find and make a better living. In fact, she was eventually able to migrate to New York City and buy a small home for her family, finally finding a comfortable place to stay.

Place(s): Hong Kong
Year: 1959

– Yusuf

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