Sophia Isu 19/15/16/9/1 – 9/19/22

Sophia Portrait


Sophia Isu 3

Sophia 5

Sophia Isu 1

Sophia 4

Chinese Marking
For 8 years I didn’t know her name, i always referred to her as “mama”

One day she saw me walk pass camera in hand, she called me over and asked me quietly to take a Piksa (Photograph) of her for her bubus (grandchildren). As I looked thru the eye piece I realized how old she was, all the wrinkles magnified by the camera lens. There were tattoos on her skin which to the naked eye looked like a child had scribbled all over. Many years ago these tattoos would have stood out against her brown skin, how they have faded away with time.
There were numbers tattooed on her arm which i later worked out stood for the order of letters in the English alphabet, 19/15/16/9/19/19/21 spelt Sophia Isu. An interesting Japanese/Chinese symbol caught my eye; my mind started racing, trying to figure out how on earth she could have been branded with such a symbol, was it from world war 2 which she spoke fondly of, struggling at times to remember her experience, maybe a love affair during that time? I thought out loud. She then burst into laughter her eyes wet with tears as she told me of how she used to work for a half caste china man named Morris Kimwa Ling, who used to own a trade store. Working in that trade store one day she came across the symbol on a tin fish can, different and unique to her eyes she decided to brand herself with it.

I wonder how many more stories Sophia has of the old days or “taim blo bipo” as she refered to it. Sadly tho most of those memories just like her tattoos, will fade away in time.


5 thoughts on “Sophia Isu 19/15/16/9/1 – 9/19/22

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