Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chris' Family Tracing Their Roots

My son Chris and his family arrived here from California on Wednesday 9th July 2014 for a month’s holidays. The next day I was taken aback when he told me that they wanted to visit Chew Joo Chiat’s grave. I was lost for words. It was my joyous moment that my son had shown interest in his roots.
We arranged to visit Bukit Brown Cemetery on Saturday 12 July 2014. I visited the site many times and was quite confident of finding my great grandfather’s grave easily. I remembered a ‘No Entry’ sign board and a foot path beside it. When we arrived at the site I noticed the scenery there was different compared to before. Previously the foot path was narrow, wet and soggy, and both sides of the path were covered with trees and thick foliage (picture 1). That day the foot-path was dry and well-trodden. There was less foliage and a few graves at the sides of the foot-path were visible (picture 2). Chew Joo Chiat’s grave, a double tomb up the slope could not be seen from below.  

                                                picture 1

picture 2

I was disorientated by the change of scenery and had problem finding the grave. We walked to and fro the foot-path a number of times plus climbing up a few slopes. I was very sure of the ‘No Entry’ signboard and the foot-path beside it. Fortunately I remembered an additional clue. Along the foot-path on the left hand side was a tree trunk with a patch of red paint. My great grandfather’s grave was directly opposite it on the right hand side. We found the tree with the red paint (picture 3). The girls were tired and waited at the foot path. I and Chris walked up the slope directly opposite the tree. Within a minute we saw Chew Joo Chiat’s double tomb. We could not find it earlier because we were facing the wrong side of the grave. Furthermore, the tomb was completely covered with vegetation except for the front tombstones. 

picture 3

Chris announced the good news to the girls and led them to the site.

picture 4, 5 & 6

All of us were very happy and smiling. Chris said “mission accomplished”. We took a few pictures standing beside Chew Joo Chiat’s  tomb (picture 7 & 8). It was our momentous hour discovering and getting connected  to our roots as the 4th, 5th and 6th generations.

                                          picture 7 & 8

Picture (9) shows the double tomb. The tomb on the left belongs to Chew Joo Chiat’s second wife Tan Quan Neo who was a Peranakan. For some reason she was not buried in the tomb reserved for her.     Instead, I found her grave at another location quite a distance away from the double tomb.

                                             picture 9

2 comments:

artisficial said...

Hi Philip, this is a really interesting blog. We are organising an art event in Joo Chiat next year, and wondering if perhaps we can meet up with you to find out more about the area.

Philip Chew 周炳镜 said...

I cannot answer you without knowing the details such date and venue.