“You are like a bull in a china shop, Alice!”
My mother was always yelling at me and scolding me for my
clumsiness. Vases, dinner plates, photo frames; I was forever
breaking something by accident. But the day I broke my mother’s
treasured jade jewellery box was an entirely different matter. This
was no accident. I wanted to punish her in the harshest way possible.
Melbourne, 15th of April 2012
The Year of the Dragon
My family came to Australia 20 years ago, fleeing Beijing after
Tiananmen Square. My parents and sister left with nothing but a few
possessions, their reminders of home.
And here I am, scolded by my mother for breaking her precious
jade jewellery box. It was the only thing she bought with her from
China. My mum has humiliated me and I hate her. She’s mean to me
just because I was an unplanned child. Dad ran off because of me.
Mum hates me because I shouldn’t exist. There was never supposed
to be me. I was never supposed to be here.
I had invited some friends over for a party and we had had a
pretty good time. We had a great time turning the music up really
loud and dancing but Mum came home. She took in the scene and
didn’t say anything. She just grabbed me and slapped me across the
cheek. I couldn’t help but let a tear slip out the corner of my eye. She
yelled out to everyone in broken English: “Get out of house! Go
away! Out! Nobody allowed here! Now!” I was so embarrassed.
Everyone got up and left. I saw people muttering to themselves. I
just stood there, feeling the pain in my cheek gradually dim to
I wanted to leave with them. I watched them all file out the door,
looking at the walls of my house covered in pictures of China and
scripts of Chinese writing. For the first time, I noticed how truly
Asian I was and I hated it.
I hated her. I hated my sister.
They were always in the clever Chinese world, speaking a language
I only barely understood. I was a child born in Australia and was
treated differently in this house. I didn’t belong here amongst the
cheongsams, lanterns and lucky bamboo. I longed for a big backyard,
a cricket pitch and a barbecue.
Time to Write