Eulogy to Elder Brother

Dear Brother, Han Leung:

Today, I shall finally bury you, my beloved brother – 28 years after the fact. A long time indeed. I bury you for my mother – your mother, my father – your father, and me. Your death, apart from us in Hong Kong, shattered the survivors. In a very real sense, we – each of us – died too, but we did not jointly and publicly mourn the untimely passing of our blood and flesh. Each in our own way coped as we could, unfortunately to the detriment of the family unit and ourselves. Our mother – heart-stricken to mental distress, our father – perhaps with utmost tragedy bore in visceral silence the agony, and I – I coped by erasing you from memory as if you never existed. What else could I do, my parents never acknowledged to me your death, your suicide. And no one else, my relatives, ever mentioned you, or perhaps I would block/deny or not hear their sounds. Both mother and father carried the burden of unexhausted grief to their own deaths. Your burial plot was but a dead letter. With parental love, they mourned privately. This is not enough.

So today, A-gao, I bury your for all of us – and especially for me. I loved you, cherished you.

What life experiences were shared, as a separated sojourning family trying to survive as many other Zhong-quo yen, testify to the anguish of exclusion. Perhaps, in time I shall be able to recall and fruitfully assimilate the bond of our short time together in China and Hong Kong. I know deep inside it was as Chinese brothers should be: you carrying me on your shoulders, acting as a surrogate father, and protector of family. Perhaps, in time your death will become a positive and nurturing event transforming death into the gift of life. It is too late for mother and father, but not for me. I still have time.

In succession, Providence sent me Joy to help manage mother’s death, Judy to help manage father’s death, and now, Cindy to help manage your death. Those here today are my brothers and family. They come to witness your burial on behalf of mother, father, and myself. So, till our souls touch again, goodbye.

Your little brother, Ah-Choy

Commentary by Producer/Director Jennie F. Lew

This is the full text of the letter written by Charles Wong to his brother Han Leung. As presented in the documentary SEPARATE LIVES, BROKEN DREAMS, Charles Wong does not remember his elder brother until his memory is jogged by a photograph tucked in his deceased father's leather suitcase. Growing up, Charles never heard his mother or father mention Han Leung, or talk about their journey from China through Hong Kong to arrive in America during the Chinese Exclusion era.

Charles writes this letter to his "lost" brother, after the discovery of his family's repressed past, as an expression of both loss and reconciliation. This letter is reprinted in its entirety with the permission of Charles Wong.

Reprinted with Permission from Charles Wong.