Under Another’s Roof 寄人籬下

Mary Hui 1966My mother was an orphan who lived under her relatives’ roof and suffered their charity.  I think I know how it was for her, because when I returned to my ‘real’ family, I never felt I belonged.

Mum was last and seventh child of parents who died young.  Her siblings were separated and went to whoever would take them in.  Mum was made a servant to her cousins; she received no schooling but learnt how to read over their shoulders, between fetching tea and standing in attendance.  They had tutors to the house.

Years later I met one of those cousins; an ‘Aunt’ who told me that they don’t have people who speak so coarsely in their family.  She hated hearing my mother swear.  Mum on the other hand had no other family so she continued to pay her respects, bringing us to her Uncle’s mansion every Chinese New Year.  They showed her small favours and enjoyed her kowtow; ever the poor relation.

As the second daughter of a second wife, I had few expectations in life.  I had to be grateful that I was not smothered in ashes of burnt incense or drowned and thrown into the sea. I was on the verge of starvation after my new father became a heroin addict and they had to give me back to my family.

I was not made a maid but being beating or abused by older siblings was what life has allowed.  An unwanted child cannot expect welcome.  My older sister tried to worm her way into the hearts of the alpha males of the household, my father and his eldest son.  She would punch me down if I dare to rise in my proofing.  My other half brothers treated me differently to their ‘real’ sisters; I never knew whether they did it out of revenge for their dead mum or simply because they could.

The best thing that happened to me in my life was to be sent away to boarding school in Australia.

About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
This entry was posted in Memoir and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Under Another’s Roof 寄人籬下

  1. The stories you share are only familiar to me through books I’ve read and perhaps movies I’ve seen. Your words, somehow, bring these atrocities to life for me and strengthen my desires hope and pray for a better world. You are stronger, perhaps, than even you know. It is easily understood that we all have things in our lives that could have destroyed us but for the grace and mercy of God we are still here… fighting, praying, living and simply being. Bless you in your continued strides to live a beautiful life in a not so always beautiful world. Please continue to share your life stories with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t like what you’ve written, but I like the way you do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cynthia says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Mary. I remember you saying in one of your posts that your father’s attitude towards women strengthened you determination to become independent. Seems like you’ve had a lot of adversity along the way. Strikes me that you are unstoppable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mattb325 says:

    The words in these posts are a real eye-opener. It’s a window into things I would never otherwise get to see or understand.

    Liked by 2 people

Have your say here:

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s