Except for a short period in her childhood, I believe that mother hadn't led a happy life. I was then curious about myself that in all these years, I had never asked,
'Mother, are you happy?'
I was sorry for not having given enough care for my mother.
In the early 1980's, I was studying in the United States and had written quite a lot of letters to her. And she did the same thing. In 1982, I returned to Hong Kong and had lived with her for 10 years. Then I immigrated to the US with my wife Eleina in the summer of 1992. Mother died at the end of that year and didn't get to read the last letter I sent her. Mother was borne the fifteenth and smallest child into a rich family. She was therefore cosseted by my grandparents. But the good time was short. Power struggles to control the family fortune and the Sino-
[Note that Hong Kong fell on Christmas day 1941. Portugal, like Sweden and other countries at the time, declared neutrality and therefore remained unmolested by Germany, Italy, and Japan. Places like Macau became enclaves of espionage and intelligence activities. Later in 1943, Portugal let Allies use its air and naval bases but Japan was already too occupied in other war zones to bother with Macau.]
Being helpless in a chaotic world, my mother took another route to escape from the Japanese occupation. A little earlier, my mother lost her married sister to a lethal disease. She was then led by her newly widowed brother-
This route was later proven difficult and dangerous. City by city, Chinese territories were lost to the Japanese military and my mother had to abscond without a break. Bandits were all around. Survival was harsh even for a man in those days but my mother was just a young and fragile female. She had no choice but to follow her brother-
Japan finally surrendered in August 1945. My mother followed her brother-
The following depicts several dangerous situations my mother had faced in the war
Narrow escape from a bridge
The Japanese military launched the Pacific War in 1941 (almost four years after the start of the Second World War and the Sino-
[Note that the Japanese permitted mass outflow of the local population at the beginning for fear of a food shortage and there were indeed widespread starvation and possibly cannibalism in the following years.]
My father's eldest son was an anti-
This was a very dangerous journey. Everybody had to walk on foot and stayed in the wild without any camping gear. It was exhausting but it was much better than the horrible acts bandits and Japanese did to people. My father was once interrogated by a Japanese soldier at a checkpoint and almost beaten to death. Fortunately, a translator working for the Japanese, who was a fellow clansman, came to the help. Those people working for the Japanese were often called traitors but this time such a 'traitor' saved my father. My father also knew woodworks. He had inserted hidden layers in the portable cabinet that the family carried and therefore avoided multiple counts of robbery. My father was in a convoy led by Mr. Po Leung and headed to the north. One day, the convoy arrived at a riverbank and was about to prepare to cross the bridge. At that moment, there was a rumble coming from the distant horizon. Everyone turned nervous and uneasy. The rumble turned louder and louder and the crowd started to jumble and fear spread. People could now see a black dot in the far away sky but getting closer and bigger quickly. Suddenly someone shouted loudly and desperately, ‘Planes, Japanese planes. Run, run for your lives.’ People were like having been touched by the same curse and started running in all directions. But, because the bridge was so close, many just did not give it any thought and ran towards the bridge. Some hastened to hide beneath the bridge thinking they had found shelter there. My father was heading towards the bridge too, but suddenly there was a blink of inspiration in his mind. He was pretty much sure that the plane was coming to bomb the bridge. There was no time for him to explain. Without hesitation, he picked up the hands of his son and his sister-
Blind in a falling city
My mother arrived at the suburban of Ping Shek (坪石). After a short while, she started to feel something wrong with her eyes. Lacking medical treatment and medicine, her condition turned worse quickly. At the same time, the Japanese military was pushing forward for the City of Ping Shek. With her eyesight deteriorating day by day, mother's feeling was exactly like an ant on a hot pan. Finally, she had no option, but to try some native herbs. Those herbal prescription was used externally on the eye and quickly made my mother almost blind. While everyone was packing up again to flee to farther heartland, mother understood that she was really a burden to her brother-
One day, someone told mother that there was a very famous Indian eye doctor in the city. His medical expertise was well known and he was passionate to every patient and made no difference to rich and poor. But the informer was just worried whether this good doctor had already left the city to get away from the coming Japanese. Mother's eye was not seeing anything and felt more painful day by day. She was determined to go to the city to gamble for her luck. Almost everyone of the convoy rejected her idea for many reasons. The most critical one was that the approach of the Japanese military was very inminent and the city government would retreat without making a fight. Then, the good doctor could have fled away by now. Lastly, if the doctor was there, he just would not be so legendart to cure her severe condition in several days. To my mother, all these arguments were not valid, the only concern was whether someone could bring her to the city becasue she was blind. Finally, there was a guy who would take mother to the city while he was fleeing to another place, but he plainly said he wouldn't wait for a moment and bring her back.
Mother just took the offer without hesitation. Befroe she left, she said to her brother-
After a hard and risky trip, Mother finally arrived in the city and the helping guy was good to find a lodge for her. It was fortunate that the city was peaceful than what the rumors had depicted. They also found the doctor, who was really packing up everything to be ready to leave the city any moment. The good doctor was graceful enough to examine her eyes carefully and he made two injections into her eyes. He told my mother that if the medicine could releave her the pain by next morning, he knew he was on the right track and he would be able to heal her ailment. Otherwise, she would have no hope at all. Mother turned back to the lodge and all she could do was to make wishes to the supreme Budda. After midnight, she really had less pain in both eyes.
Next mroning, the Indian doctor again examined her eyes and congrulated for the positive response, but he said that it would not be easy to heal in several days. He was only able to treat her as far as the city could be safe. Everything had to be in God's hands. A few days later, it was certain that the Japanese military was closing by and the doctor had to leave. He was kind enough to give Mother several bottles of eye drops to continue the treatment. He said she would get back a major portion of her vision if no complication would happen. At that moment, she could already see a sketch of the environment and find a way back to the rural area where her convoy had stayed, but everyone had left......