IN 1990, WHILE dark clouds still hung over Tiananmen, I packed up my life in Beijing and landed in Melbourne with my northern Chinese face and Chinese brain. Twenty years later my face is still Chinese but my Chinese brain has somehow shrunk. This new land, which greeted me with its warm blue sky, then tested me with the cold reality of survival and loneliness, has somehow crept inside me and taken over at least half my mind.
Although my passport has long shown that I am Australian, it has taken me much longer to get used to my new identity. Who am I? Why am I here? Where is home? For years these questions have haunted me, a ghostly echo in my head. It must be the curse for all adult migrants – a life torn between past and present, old homeland and new; between two lands, two cultures, two peoples. So much so that in 1999 I uprooted my life again, escaped Melbourne and returned to China, my ‘real’ home, only to find myself facing the reality of yet another cultural shock, and an even more acute identity crisis.
Already a subscriber? Sign in here