Ah Kong’s House (Grandfather’s House) – childhood visits to my paternal grandfather’s house and Penang’s idyllic rural life in the 1970’s.
Not all childhood memories are happy. Some are a mixed bag of sadness, delight, and other things that should not be in the same place, and yet they are. My grandfather’s house (or Ah Kong as we called him, 阿公) and memories of him occupy such a space in my mind. My parents, especially Mom had a very troubled relationship with her in-laws. For a while, Dad did not allow us to come into contact with Ah Kong. Until I was 9, I only knew my maternal extended family and they all lived in George Town. Ah Kong lived alone in a village house far away from the city.
Visiting Ah Kong’s House
We started visiting Ah Kong’s House on a regular basis after my paternal grandmother passed away in 1973. It was a culture shock for me. Unlike the English-educated Peranakan relatives I was used to, Ah Kong and my paternal aunts and uncle were Sinkeh (or new arrivals from China) who spoke only Hokkien and Mandarin. Most of the time, my brother and I would accompany Dad to Ah Kong’s House. Mom would rather be at her sisters’ places. The latter option was really not that much better for her, but I guess blood is thicker than water.