She showed me a photo of my grandfather in Sumatra as a child, his parents on either side. Dressed in white, a tropical plant in an ornate silver box and a wooden shuttered house behind. My great-grandmother, as though she is somehow already taking leave from the family history, looks without expression at the camera. She wears a thick, dark necklace and holds a paper fan. My grandmother pointed to the necklace in the photo, "I have that necklace somewhere," she said. "Maybe one day it will be yours."
In the photo my great-grandmother wears a white, drapey dress of lace, a wide black sash around the breadth of her rib cage. My grandfather looks about five years old, dressed in a sailor suit with woollen socks pulled up. My great-grandfather wears a white suit, his face is calm, his chest broad and a watch chain disappears into his pocket.