Born into this World

Born into this world,
Where lines segregated land
Somehow, among these lines,
I lost my place in this world,
My home was cut into two –
Half in aotearoa,
Half in China.
Chinese words used to be the cushion I fall back on
When English became too much.
But the longer I spent in Aotearoa,
Chinese morphed from a comfortable pillow,
To a foreign, dusty object sitting on a shelf,
Rusting away with time.
I had not realise that English had become my cushion
Until my first reflex to answering my parents
Was a “what” in english.
Walking around the house in barefoot,
Speaking English to my sister,
Choosing to eat at cafes instead of Chinese restaurants,
My own culture is slipping away from me with time…
… almost…
Except when my culture unravels
away from me into strings,
It never really unties entirely,
Because my parents ingrained
And tied the complicity of the Chinese culture
into my identity like a Chinese knot,
Tight but unbreakable.
My mum’s homely Chinese cooking every night
On the table after I come home from school,
That fragrance that takes me back to China,
And my dad calls in Cantonese “sek fan la”.
“Dinner’s ready”.

Erica Hu
Diocesan School for Girls