Lives in the Letters 僑批中的華僑故事
The Teochew Letters inscribe the lives of Teochew families kept apart by economic realities in a bygone past. The stories within disclose the affections of children for their parents, the longing between couples living apart and the emotional support that lent strength to siblings.A selection of three stories are presented here to provide insights into the lives of a group of people separated far from their families.
僑批不僅是記載潮州華僑的歷史證物, 信中的內容也述說當年華僑在外與家鄉親人的故事, 如子女對父母的問候, 夫妻間的掛念, 兄弟姐妹間的照顧扶持。本部分選取三則典型故事, 每一段都真摯動人, 形象地再現當年遊子在外的情景。
Buying and selling of children in China was not uncommon. As long as both parties could agree on a price, a child’s destiny could easily be changed with the seal of a contractual paper prepared by a middleman. The practice became illegal after the PRC was founded, when severe punishment were enforced against even for parents forced to sell their own sons in desperation. 在舊中國,買賣兒童是見怪不怪之事,只要價格談妥,雙方願意,在媒人的撮合、見證下"一手交貨、一手交錢",孩子的歸屬就定格在一紙合約上。新中國成立後,政府對買賣兒童進行嚴厲打擊,就算出賣親生兒子,也應受到法律的追究、嚴懲。
This return letter was sent in late 1949 by a woman in Chao’an to her elder brother-in-law in Siam. The writer was in despair, having not heard from her husband since he left overseas many years back. Despite having received a remittance of 200,000 dollars from her brother-in-law, the actual person whom the woman wanted to communicate her inner most feelings was unmistakable. 回批寫於民國三十八年冬,即1949年底。此回批是一位在家守候丈夫多年而未得丈夫一批一信的弱女子,向丈夫之兄謝某控訴丈夫無情的批信。
She wrote: "Since you left for Siam, you have not sent a letter home for several years. Fortunately your elder brother has been sending us money, for otherwise we would have starved. 女子在信中向丈夫抱怨:"自從你去了暹羅,已經幾年沒有寄信回家,幸虧得到你哥哥寄錢救濟,我們才不至於挨餓。"