Last May, we visited our ancestral home in Hainan, China. This was my first visit there. Dad had fallen sick and decided not to follow us at the last minute. It was unfortunate as he was looking forward to seeing his sister and relatives in Hainan.

Upon reaching Haikou Airport, we were greeted by my cousin and nephew. We went straight to our ancestral village. My cousin told us that they had moved out from the house and now rent a smaller place in town.

The journey to the village was comfortable. But about an hour later, the road became narrow and bumpy. Then, we arrived at a secluded place. I saw small wild animals pass in a blur as the van literally barrelled through thick bush. Thirty minutes later, we reached the village.

Scores of curious people came out from their houses to see us. We alighted from the van and walked to our ancestral home.

"Van. Van. They’re here. They’re here," we heard someone shouting from the backyard.

"Where’s the little guy? We must have reached Fantasy Island," I joked with my wife.

"My dad left Hainan with grandfather at the age of nine and spent the remaining 71 years in Malaysia. He remembers everything in our village. The small pond that he used to catch fish in to what his grandparents did during festive seasons. He has very fond memories of his family, house and village.

As we walked towards the house, a grey-haired old lady stood outside and waved at us. I could easily recognise my aunt as she has my grandmother’s face. My grandmother passed away 30 years ago. My mum went to greet her and introduced me to her.

I was amazed at the structure of the house. It was very old and looked exactly like the house my grandfather built (in Malaysia). The door, rooms, especially the arrangement of chairs and table reminded me of my grandfather and the old days. He passed away 25 years ago.

The morning before we left Hainan, my aunt told my mum, "This is the key to the house. I’m already 85. I don’t know whether I will see all of you again," as tears rolled down her cheeks.

July that year, dad passed away. We regretted that we didn’t visit Hainan with him earlier. I do wish to return to Hainan again to find out more about my ancestors.

SOURCE: The Star
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