As I am recalling my journey, I am tracing my steps from the beginning of my life. I count every step as a blessing. Even though at the time it happened, it seems to be something undesirable, yet it turned out to be a blessing. They were blessings in disguise.
My parents got married when my father was sixteen years old and my mother was fifteen. They were married in Canton, China then moved and lived in Hong Kong after they got married. They maintained their living by managing a small grocery store. My mother started having babies. Her first child didn’t make it. The second child who is my elder sister survived.
The Empire of Japan wanted to dominate Asia and was at war with China since 1937. The WWII broke out in September 1939 that involved the vast majority of the world’s countries. Life during the first few years of war was difficult. Hong Kong was a British colony before and after WWII. On December 8, (Asian time zone), Japan launched an attack on Pearl Harbor and invaded Hong Kong. Great Britain surrendered Hong Kong to Japan on December 25, 1941, on a day that the people in Hong Kong called Black Christmas. Japan occupied Hong Kong from December 25, 1941, to August 15, 1945.
My father and mother had no choice but moved back to China. They maintained a living by keeping a small farm. My sister Jan was ten years old at that time. She had a share of the family responsibility by taking care of a pig of 500 pounds. My mother had four more miscarriages from the subsequent pregnancies under the hardship or lack of proper care during the wartime.
On August 15, 1945, the VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, Japanese left Hong Kong. My mother was pregnant with me during the last year of WWII. I was born three months after the VJ Day. I was the only child among all the siblings born in China. 100 days after I was born, my family wanted to move back to Hong Kong. There was no transportation in operation yet. My parents, my older sister, and my grandmother left China for Hong Kong. Grandmother carried me on her back, went on foot, following the railroad track for more than forty-seven miles to go back to Hong Kong.
After Japan was defeated, they retreated from Hong Kong. British Empire resumed their occupancy of Hong Kong and started rebuilding their colony. Docks were busy as shipments of goods came from other countries to supply the needs of local people. People who left Hong Kong started to return without promising of jobs. The British government gave out rice and flour to the families who were qualified.
When my parents went back to Hong Kong, they got a place shared with three other families. It was on the third floor of a long flat on the Western side of Hong Kong Island. They shared a quarter of the flat. The owner of the flat also owned the flat of the adjacent building. He had a stream of customers who came for opium consumption.
My older sister worked quite far away, so she roomed with another co-worker close to work. I was about seven years old, but I had assumed the responsibilities of the oldest child in the family.