Debris of Memory

In1995, a sudden splash of glasses disturb a quiet peaceful night. The whole house was filled with shouting and anger. Then hysterical crying from a woman reached a little girl’s ear. She wake up from bed, and opened the door slightly. She saw a wide back of a man. He was shouting at the woman. Then sound of slapping followed. The girl shivered in shock. The man noticed the girl and dragged her out of the room. He made her stand still. Then the fight continued. The girl’s crying is swallowed up by the shouting and slapping. The next morning, bright sunshine shone into the girl’s room. The house was so quiet, everything was like a dream. She got up, didn’t find her mom and then went to school. The whole day in school, she felt exhausted. When she went back home, she saw her mom. She looked pale and sad. “Are you alright?” the girl asked. The woman nodded, hiding her tears. The girl felt something burning in her chest, hatred stirred up. “I hate him.”, “But he is your Dad. Everything will be fine.” That night, the girl made a promised to herself “I have to be strong; I need to become strong to protect my mom……”

On a storming night in 2003, 1st of January, the girl was packing up luggage with her mom, since she was going overseas to study. She was excited, but anxious as the same time. It’s her first trip overseas. Her mom was reminding her how to get along with the homestay, where the school was, try to mingle with the local students, find a part-time job if possible, how to use the new lunch box…… But suddenly, her mom suddenly felt dizzy and short of breath. She slowly moved to the bed, and started trembling. Her Dad called Ambulance. The girl was staring at her mom and didn’t know what to do. Her Dad lay her Mom down on the bed, asked the girl to look after her mom, and dashed out for medicine and sphygmomanometer. Clock ticked second by second. The girl stood beside the bed, shocked. Her hands are cold. She cannot move her feet at all. She kept asking herself “Mom, what can I do to help you feel better?” Her mom looked at her, trying to hold still, so she wouldn’t scare the poor girl. But as time pass by, her breath got shallower, her body went into convulsions. The girl felt so useless. She didn’t know how the night was ended, but she heard ambulance sirens, she saw a lot of people ran in and out, she was left alone in the apartment……

She reached Australia, a strange country to her. Everyone spoke a different language, and many more languages, everyone greeting in a different manner. She didn’t know how to talk to others, how to make friends. She thought she would be living in an Australian family; chatting with their kids; learning how to cut steak using fork and knife. Unfortunately, the homestay family is a single mom with a five-year old son. The homestay mother had six overseas students living at her place, she hardly have time to do all the cook, washing, and shopping. The students took turn to cook, wash and shop. The amount of food was limited, meat wasn’t allow in the house, the amount of fruit the students can have is one tenth the potion the son has in the fruits bowl. She often felt hungry at night. She drank some milk to fill the hunger at night. But she was blamed to drink too much milk. Her heart went cold and filled with fears. But she kept telling herself that she needs to be strong and optimistic with life.

A year passed after a year, she grew up and she became stronger. She went to university and chose to do the most challenging course she thought at the time, computer engineering combined with biomedical engineering. She learned about maths, physics, programming, health, diseases, and artificial organs. She made friends in uni, joined various student organisations, and she learned how to help others. She studied hard and did numerous part-time jobs, from waitress to cashier, from restaurant to super market, from IT support to data entry, from tutor to developer. She graduated in 2009 and found her first professional job. She rang her mom and proudly told her mom that she had succeeded and she could protect her. She told her mom how she felt about her dad when she was little. Her mom was surprised that she remembered so much. Her mom told her that her dad had improved a lot all these years that she had been away, they both loved her a lot and put a lot of effort working to support her expensive tuition fee. From the way her mom describe her dad, she can feel that even though she complained her dad a lot, her mom still love her dad deeply in her heart. She suddenly felt emptiness in her chest. All these years of hard working to protect her mom was unnecessary. She felt she lost her goal.

It’s not hard for the reader to guess who the girl is. Yes it’s me. Dad and Mom came to Sydney to visit me. Dad cooked a lot of nice food including the famous food from my hometown Doupi (豆皮). I never saw how he carefully made breakfast, how much love he put into each dish. There are a lot of life lessons I learned. One of the big lesson I learnt was everything is dynamic, people do change, learn to be optimistic, learn to forgive.

By Jojo Wang

3 comments on “Debris of Memory

  1. It must have been difficult for you to put this together, thank you for sharing 🙂 I have never had a very close relationship with my father either, and it is only in recent years that I have truly begun to appreciate the difficulties and sacrifices he has had to make for me.

    It is tricky to mend bridges on either side, but I am glad it has happened before it was too late 😀

  2. Thanks for the reply. It felt more traumatic when little. Adults’s arguments often sounded more scaring for young kids then for adult. As we grow older and see more things, we start to understand more and accept more. Especially when seeing parents getting older, little arguments are not important anymore. Their health is the most important thing.

    • Wow, thank you for telling your story. The experience isn’t one that I have shared but I can emphasise with your sentiments.

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