FILM DIARIES// 台山 Taishan 20162/01/2017 08:02:00 AM
Immediately we are greeted by her neighbours. They are warm and welcoming and loud. They keep asking my mother if she remembers them from her childhood and slowly but surely, names begin to surface as the buzz of excitement billows over. More and more people arrive and soon we are being whisked away, handed presents and shown around like old friends, because we are.
My mom, while being pulled toward her house by a few elder ladies, turns to tell us of this one particular spot in an alleyway where she and her siblings used to sit and play. As we walk further into this world we get a glimpse into people's houses. Their messes, their furniture, their food. Everything seems stuck in a different time minus a few bits and bobs. But the language feels like home. Taishanese is a Chinese dialect, and in this small town, there is an accent that I've grown up with. Listening to my parents and my grandparents speak it has made my ears open to the sounds. I can decipher most but everyone is speaking all at once and it is chaos of the happiest kind.
The rest of the house is hollow. No one lives here anymore but the neighbours will come every once in a while to make sure nothing is out of place. The only visitors it receives are other members of my family who have visited. They are few and far between. But today is different. Today it seems as if everyone in the village has come to see what all the hullabaloo is about. Someone has returned. There are questions to be asked about the other the other side of the world. People want to know how my grandparents are doing. "Is the family well?" "Will they come visit soon?" "Do you remember me?" "You look just like your mother."
I feel like the daughter of a celebrity. I wonder if my mother feels the same.
My parents have come so far in the endless pursuit of a better life for their children, as their parents, and their parents before them. With age and experience I feel the gap of understanding closing between us. I know where they come from now, I know where I come from, and I am grounded.
My mother's neighbour's houses and the alleyway that my mother hung out in during her childhood
Neighbours in our home
A shy village girl sitting in the doorway that connects the living room to the backyard
The most adventurous two year old
An old vanity with a slightly warped mirror in the only room that housed what was left of the furniture
Gathering the courage to look at me without hiding behind her mother
Potentially the oldest woman in the village, taking a casual stroll
Chopping firewood for the stove