Given that the Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Festival, is just around the corner, it's fitting that I finally got my hands on an old photo of my paternal grandfather Lim Chong Lay and grandmother Tan Im Neo. (Thanks for bringing it all the way from Australia, Mum! ) I think it's their wedding photo taken just after the war - she's dressed in a sarong and lace kebabya with beaded slippers. I have one of her three-pin kerosang brooches, but not sure if she's wearing them in this shot.
I only learnt about this festival when I went to visit my husband's family in Darwin. He's from a large Chinese family with a history in Australia that goes back to the around 1880. I sometimes joke that I married him as a research topic for an Australian-Chinese history project! Cleaning the family graves helped me to learn more about his family history and their roots in Longreach, Darwin and Brisbane.
My grandparents passed away when I was a teenager, and I didn't really get the chance to know them. There was also a language problem. My grandmother, who I remember more, spoke mainly Baba Malay. So sadly I couldn't really communicate with her on the few times I did meet her. I do love the sound of Malay and hope to study it.
I'm keen to also learn more about my grandfather side. My great-grandfather, Lim Nee Yam, was from Swatow in Fukkien province (I've got 三都 written down in my notes for some reason) and ran a 'tongkang' sea transport business. He had little boats that helped to discharge cargo from larger ships berthed alongside the Singapore river. He also owned houses in Club Street, Geylang and Kembangan. I've still so much to research!
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