Working Girls

>> Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Every family has their own secrets, mine is not that different. Aside that my aunt had told me in private that I am not the only child that I thought I was, there are juicier stories. One of the more interesting stories concerns my grandma. In fact, if she writes down her life stories and send it to the publishers, she can possibly get a book deal out of it.

Growing up, I was amazed of how many relatives I have. I always thought that it is just because we are Chinese. My grandma has more than 10 people that she called "sister". It was nice for me though, because come Chinese New Years I would have a lot of elders to go visit and earned some cold, hard cash through the custom "red envelopes". You can't expect much from these old folks, but sometimes their married children would give me some envelopes too, it usually add up to a pretty nice sum, given if I have the patience to visit each and everyone of them. Later on though, I found out that these people are really not my grandma's sisters, but they are her "blood sisters". Actually not even, they just happened to "work" together at one point in their lives.

According to my grandma, she used to live in Vietnam when she was young. I always thought how interesting to be able to find Chinese in every part of the world. My friend who works for the UNICEF went to a small village in South Africa once and to her surprise she found a Chinese restaurant there. I travelled to watertown, NY once, a small town that is small in population deserted after the one main factory in the town has closed down due to the obscurity of the location and there's a Chinese Restaurant. We Chinese do that, we go to the strangest part of the world and open restaurants. So anyway, her parents used to have a big house in Vietnam and they used to be rich, at least comparing to the locals. And then world war II hits and she migrates back to Hong Kong met her husband and gave birth to seven children and turned into the grandma that I now know.

But the interesting part is, somewhere down the line I think she worked as an escort. Not the sex kind, no, no, god forbid. But in the old days, rich folks can go to these clubs to drink and there would be girls chatting with them and entertaining them. I found that out because she kept pictures of herself in those days, they were balck and white pictures, but her lips were colored in bright red. She looked very pretty and glamarous. I still wonder how the war turned her family from being rich to a situation where she needs to work in those places. It must have been tough for her. But then from my uncles and aunts, I heard that she met my grand-dad who was rich at that time and did not take care of her childrens, my aunts and uncles were raised by servants. So all the people she calls sisters were all "working girls", I suppose. Fascinating, eh?

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