Please Give a Call to Yeye is a web-based audio documentary that explores the intergenerational relationship between my paternal grandfather - Yeye - and me. Despite being closely involved in raising my brothers and I, we never seemed to fully understand our grandparents beyond their familiar and warm roles. Decades ago, our grandparents faced the tumultuous sociopolitical and economic realities of a regime-changed China. They experienced the turbulent shocks of Chairman Mao and his party’s radical policies that disrupted and defined life for Chinese citizens in that era.
Through a series of phone calls, my brothers and I embark on a journey to uncover and understand my grandfather’s complex relationship with China. In the difficult process, we find ourselves far more removed than initially expected.
We find ourselves separated by physical distance due to Yeye living in Toronto, sundered by what in Chinese is called a 代沟, or “generational chasm,” and torn between our understanding of history through education, and the oft-opposing experiences described by Yeye.
Through sensitivities fogged and obstructed by time, scrambles to find meaning lost in translation, and the dissection of countless visceral portraits of hardship, the piece struggles to sow two understandings together. To find common ground in space disconnected by forces beyond our grasp, to locate where seemingly parallel lines—intersect.