Singapore: Bing Han’s migration trip (2)
Every wave rams Bing Han’s homesickness deeper into his belly. The boat moves in every direction, except the one back home.
Arriving on the busy docks of Singapore, Bing Han is relieved to find Tik Tjoe. Surrounded by strange-looking people talking strange-sounding languages, he follows Tik Tjoe to an inn which, just like the one in Amoy, is also called the Zhangzhou Inn. Tik Tjoe knows everyone there, and everyone appears to speak Bing Han’s Zhangzhou dialect.
Tik Tjoe & the Tian Yi Private Postal Exchange
Tik Tjoe comes from the village next to Bing Han’s and their families have been close for generations. Tik Tjoe works for the Tian Yi Private Postal Exchange, which functions as a ‘one-stop-shop’ emigration agency with branches all across southeast Asia. Tik Tjoe explains to Bing Han that in addition to the travel arrangements, he will also be organizing the transfers of money and letters that Bing Han is expected to send back home.
Home. Bing Han asks why they have to go so far from home. Tik Tjoe responds that he knows people with sugar plantations in Semarang who are in need of labor, and will pay decent money to the workers as well as the Postal Exchange for recruiting them. Because their families have been friends for so long, Tik Tjoe has agreed to lend Bing Han’s family the considerable money required for the journey’s advance payment.
Tik Tjoe keeps talking, but Bing Han only hears one word that keeps ringing in his mind: ‘home’.
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