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“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.

The Jade

Jewellery Box

Haini Jiang

Time to Write


Finalist and

Honourable Mention