Over Eight Decades of Memories Abridge in Ink

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The recent Lunar New Year was exceptionally vibrant at Mr. Zhan's residence. With seven children, thirteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, his home was a lively gathering of four generations. This is the family legacy that Mr Zhan has built over a lifetime.

Bitterness is a word that frequently comes to Mr Zhan's mind when he reflects on the first half of his life. Born in 1940 in Semporna, a small town in Malaysia, he lost his father at the age of seven and his mother two years later. He had to rely on his already adult third sister. During high school, he worked in a relative's restaurant to earn his living expenses and tuition fees. He was willing to do any task, from the front desk to kitchen work. After getting married, Mr Zhan worked in a trading company, dealing with accounting and financial affairs, often working up to 14 hours a day. In 1981, Mr Zhan started a timber business by chance. He would go to the factory to supervise work before 4 am and return home late at night to rest. He dedicated himself to various intense jobs for over a decade because he bore the responsibility of his family. Hard work and endurance became his guiding principles.

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In 1983, Mr Zhan welcomed the birth of his youngest son. Faced with the growing needs of seven children, Mr Zhan led his family to relocate to Perth. Mr Zhan's heart remained tethered to his cultural roots in a foreign land. He still maintains the habit of reading classical literature and often practices calligraphy, expressing his feelings through the movement of the brush. However, this cultural connection gradually faded after he set foot on Australian soil. Mr Zhan admits that the distance from Chinese culture in his soul is the most regrettable part of his daily life. This situation finally changed two years ago. Mr Zhan started his journey at Chung Wah Community Care (CWCC). Here, he re-established his connection with traditional Chinese culture for the first time. He brought his proud Four Treasures of the Study set, shared laughter with friends and volunteers, and wrote calligraphy.

Now in his twilight years, hobbies have become one of Mr. Zhan's biggest spiritual supports. Calligraphy, qigong, singing, and dancing always make him talkative. Mr Zhan no longer indulges in his hobbies at the Balcatta Community Hub. After lunch, he picks up the microphone, stands in front of friends at the hub, and sings his favourite song, "The Clown":

"How much training and how many tears

Does it take to stand here?

The pain of failure, the encouragement of success

Who knows, this is the accumulation of how many years."

The song ends, and all the past bitterness and sweetness are left unsaid; for the future, Mr Zhan admits that life is no longer that hard as long as he can come to the community hub. Chung Wah Community Care (CWCC) has become a place where he can reconnect with Chinese culture. It has brought a sense of belonging to the souls of countless Chinese living overseas, like Mr Zhan.

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