In-depth research and studies on the development of Chinese identity in Malaya is only a small part of the bigger puzzle, of how exactly the worship of Datuk Gong is the way it is today. Fieldwork under extreme conditions, interviews with strangers, knocking on doors, digging through almost ancient photographs and documents are all part of the lengthy, exhausting process of piecing together that puzzle with the faint hope of finding answers to questions no one else is asking.
There are rare moments when you stumble upon a particular piece that you’ve been hunting for for years and all of a sudden everything makes sense. Your heart flutters and the brain zeroes in on analyzing that bit of information a million times per second, convincing yourself that your eyes are not playing tricks. You can barely contain the excitement within you and the desire to share that joy of discovery aches. That is until you realise no one else shares the enthusiasm and the journey is essentially a lonely one.