It is coming up on the 64th year since my parents, sister and I landed in Naples with $50 in our pockets and one suitcase each. As depicted in my novel Journey from Shanghai, we had nowhere to go and no one to call for help.
My father was dying of his heart attacks, which occurred every few days, and as we stood there on the dock I wonder, at age 18, what would become of us. It was being proved that exile from Shanghai was only the beginning of the life trials being foisted on us.
I believe the Syrian refugees currently landing in Italy via their precarious routes are being taken to the same camp we were, a facility in Catania, Sicily, that their fates and livelihood were just as uncertain as were ours. And would they reflect, years later, that they had improved the conditions of their existence? At least they were not being bombed and shelled and starved. Otherwise, with no language and some without skills life for them continues to be one of hardship and uncertainty.
I can relate to them on that count.