By | 1 February 2021

Chinese people have a concept of ‘face’
somewhere between reputation and fancy airs
and just as invisible and omnipresent

Growing up in Australia
I struggled with the faces to put on
the invisible prison of expectation
and differences in values as simple as respect
it wasn’t earned, it came with being older
and you had to abide by rules that came from your elders
even the one forbidding ice cream during your period
It would be easier to commit murder
than to get permission for a sleepover
It was easy to commit manslaughter
because everything that caused your parents’ heartbreak
would kill them, they would die
from the shame

So I tried to blend in
I begged my mother for a lunch that didn’t smell
studied hard and didn’t fool around
knowing the gossip from aunties in the streets
would come back home like a boomerang
After a certain age, you’re told don’t ever date boys
yet they want a grandson to spoil
Boys are better, they carry the family line
Asian boys are preferred partners
it’s okay to marry a white boy
but don’t ever admit to liking brown or black boys
Remember to wear sunscreen
because you wouldn’t want to be brown
You might be mistaken for a domestic helper
I was raised by one when I was a baby
I had a second mother
in a place that I don’t name
you never talk about it
because your coworkers told you
it’s weird

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