The Hidden Seduction – Part VI-1 – Ou Yang and Simone Wei

Posted by & filed under Personal.

Part VI-1 – Ou Yang and Simone Wei

 

Ou Yang was not a person who would just take anyone. She would neither take black men nor any other men who were said to be good in bed. She would only consider men who would fall right into her precise mould. She was almost sure that she would not divorce until she found this man.

With all her prejudices and funny generalisations, Ou Yang fixed her next goal for a western white man. Ou Yang was not at all stupid. She did have a feasible way of gathering information like most Chinese do without feeling shy. She tried to make friends with girls who were dating western men and those who seemed to be quite successful and happy.

Among the few of her girlfriends, she would hang out, whenever she had time,  with a Chinese woman whom she met when purchasing their house. This woman was their real estate agent who found their cottage in Lachine.

Her name was Simone, a name given by a Canadian Teacher back in China for the convenience of pronunciation, as the majority of English speaking people are said to have been the least versatile in speaking other languages but their own, which is also true for Chinese. Her Chinese family name was Wei. Simone is not an English name, but rather a French one. It was given to her because her teacher Dana Mullen herself liked very well the philosopher, Christian Mystic and social activist Simone Weil. So she was given this name without an L at the end. It fit just perfectly.

In Ou Yang’s eyes, Simone was some one whom she not only wanted to get information from, but also something else as well.  She was in search of a moral support.  Even there were quite some Chinese women dating Western men, Ou Yang knew well what it meant in the eyes of the other Chinese! She wanted to feel alright to date western men. Her short love affaire with the French young man Marius Gallant years back had long faded and she had no idea now what to do at her age. It seemed that she just needed some man except her husband rather than she wanted to fall in love. She simply became unfamiliar with love affaires…

Ou Yang chose Simone because Simone had an air of surety, freedom and also owned some kind of power that she needed.  Simone spoke very well English and was familiar with the history, cultures and customs of western countries in general, for the reason that she was an English and American Language and literature major at University. Her Quebecois French was fluent and decent with years of working among Quebecois colleagues in Quebecois companies. Ou Yang herself spoke English and French. So she reckoned that communication would not be an issue when dating.

Simone immigrated to Montreal in the year two thousand. Among all some what different Chinese immigrants, even among people in general, Simone belonged to a different species. She was Chinese while not quite thinking, speaking and behaving like one;  if we reckoned that she was not Chinese, then what country did she belong to? She had a Chinese face, but her facial expressions and body languages were not Chinese. Many Canadians thought she was born in Montreal, or second generation of immigrants, or she was a Philippine, Japanese or Vietnamese.  We were short of categories of people and countries to fit her in. But the only thing we were sure about her was that, if we lost her, no one else could replace her in this world.

She was a pleasant person who always showed an obvious but non-intruding  nor imposing presence. She had this child-like genuine and constant curiosity towards the world, societies and human-beings, yet on the other hand, she maintained a certain proper respect and gene. She was seldom curious on other people’s private businesses nor was she interested in manipulating people to do things for her, nor in imposing her point of views on others.

There was this glaze in her eyes and smile on her face that connected her heart to the people around. This glaze with her attractive smile would create an affinity. She seemed well loved by her neighbours, colleagues, and friends, for the reason that they felt energised and happy to be with her. These were also the reasons that Ou Yang liked her. She seemed a woman who lived each of her days as the last one of her life.

Simone was very active in life doing almost all sports we could name: Tennis, Table Tennis, Swimming, Badminton, Skating and Skiing! She didn’t just do it, she did them well. Another worth mentioning thing was that she was passionate about dancing.

We were not talking about the dances to the graceful slow sappy Chinese depressing love music and songs, but to that energetic, interesting and fun Salsa, sensual and  sexy Bachata and other latin American music. She was thought to look like an Latina and especially when she was dancing. She had such a charm when dancing that her movements with her special attitude radiated energy right into our blood and made dance all the more irresistible, even to the most awkward person in the world.

We would doubt that there was anything that she would not be curious of and not want to learn and make it good. That was her spirit of a gymnast trained between 7-14 years of age.

A very weird thing about Simone was that it seemed she did not know worries nor did she understand the miseries and difficulties of life. Maybe she did not have any, because she was believed by Ou Yang to have a good and “easy” career and a “super easy” life. Most importantly, Ou Yang assumed that all good stuff Simone enjoyed was because of the nice Canadian Quebecer Victor Point whom Simone was dating. Everything about Simone just appeared smooth and effortless.  Ou Yang was sure that if she herself had the money and the man , she also would be easy and happy. Ou Yang definitely thought that Simone was lucky. Simone had the hot profession and had found her man who was there as the Harbour sheltering her from storms of life. A harbour has been the goal for all women especially Chinese women who have not been lucky.

Obviously, Simone became Ou Yang’s private life listener and dance mentor. We didn’t know why Simone had a special and deep empathy for Ou Yang. She knew that Ou Yang was in desperate need of some one who would listen to her to get rid of her frustrations, and also of encouragement and information about western men, here to be precise: Quebecois men.

Simone seemed to be about thirty five years old in body. She measured one meter fifty-seven centre meters and weighed fifty kilos. The constant seven years of gymnastic training helped keep her skin healthy and shape beautifully muscular. It was hard to categorize her as a beauty, but easy to say that she was lively and charming, thus indeed beautiful. Her mind was a mystery. She could seem naive and trusting like a kid, at the same time, old and complex as two thousand years! Was it because she came from an old miserable country, so old and miserable that people had lost track of what happiness was? It might be true that miseries make people old in heart and might give some wisdom.  As Victor Hugo said: “ Those who do not weep, do not see”. Nevertheless, we did not really know her age.

She let Ou Yang hang out with her and listened to her incessant ranting, hoping that from time to time, there might be a chance that Ou Yang stopped her own rough voice and listened to her cool and pragmatic ideas, and sometimes to some “strange things” she might say.  Like all other people in the world, Simone was also prejudiced, but in the ways of a pragmatic fighter and doomed winner. She was patient and loving enough to show Ou Yang a quite different world which might be just the same world, wishing that Ou Yang would use her well and suck all she needed for her well-being.

To Be Continued…

 

 

*Dana Mullen, a real name of a real person. She was the author’s post graduate thesis tutor. A Canadian woman who might be in her sixties-seventies now. The use of her name is in memory of her help to the American literature studies of the author back in 1985-1987. The author had never have any news of her since she left China.

The Hidden Seduction-Part V-1 – The Power of Words

Posted by & filed under Personal.

 

With Gisèle

Part V-1 – The Power of Words

Besides the shock, Elizabeth’s divorce affected Ou Yang in other ways. It allowed her to feel less guilty of wanting to step out of her marriage. Guilt does not only belong to Christians, or any other religion, even though it has worked through the ages and could still work in a constructive way; it belongs to any culture that wants to manipulate its people.

Ou Yang now felt better about what she should do next. She did not utter a word about divorce, because Ge Wen was leaving for Vancouver soon and she needed to take advantage of his absence. This secretive plot did not mean that she wanted to continue working on her failed marriage, but that she wanted to see her chances with other men. Ideally, she wanted to find someone else before she made her intentions clear.  Should she fail to find such a man, she could just go on pretending nothing had happened and forget about divorcing, since it was something her whole family in China and all of her Chinese friends in Canada strongly opposed.

One thing was for sure: she did not want to date another Chinese man. Even if she had wanted to choose again from her own race, there were not many for her to choose from. The “good” Chinese men stayed married, and the single ones must have had something “wrong” with them if they were still single when they reached 40. Chinese men feel the same way about Chinese women. If women were still single after age 35, people tended to regard them as old, ugly and rigid spinsters. The fact that Ou Yang was over 40, and “aiyo, with a son!” would definitely have eliminated her from the running for the “better” divorcées or the rich older Chinese men who had always had a sea of much younger girls ready to cling to their “merits,” especially in China. The richer ones could always obtain younger “arm-candies” very easily, not necessarily virgins, but with their particular “sexy” girlish giggles and high pitched sweet tones, and definitely without the burden of children.

Ou Yang was not completely disillusioned with marriage, which meant that she was smart enough to see her husband as an individual Chinese man who did not satisfy her needs, and that she still could expect something different from other men, men of other races from whom she had heard nice words and seen nice smiles and good deeds.

She had heard from her friends that lavalife.com was a good site to meet single men, but she could not wait for Ge Wen’s departure to establish a profile to see if there were men out there who could fit into her criteria. The discrimination involved in Ou Yang’s selection of men was truly amazing.

She received a few messages on the first day she published her profile. She clicked on them and saw that some had pictures, and some did not. Dating through a website was quite a novelty for her, and she knew most people would regard it as somewhat bizarre; they were still used to traditional ways of meeting and dating. But Ou Yang had no time, nor did she have a large circle of friends. It wasn’t easy to get to know people face to face, or to befriend colleagues who had worked together for years, and it was hard to imagine the results of meeting men on line, especially western men with their different thoughts and habits. The internet dating thing could be full of fun for doubtful Chinese women who didn’t have the faintest idea of who they might run into.

Without a doubt Ou Yang, like other Chinese women, had illusions about Western men, the cause of which mainly derived from contrasts and abrupt generalization.

Chinese culture praises the merit of being subtle, yet, at the same time, we seem to not have enough words to express our wishes and feelings. Do we not have enough? Or maybe we do, but are too shy to use them, or are unsure about our feelings. Maybe we have doubts about using them. In a word, our ability to express is tied up, with some horrible reasons hidden behind it.

The Chinese language is losing some of its charm on its way to modernization from traditional Chinese, as China has been losing the charm of the great advanced dynasties like Tang and Song, while other parts of the world have gained different, faster ways of thinking with the help of science and technology. Language always follows the fate of the country, and the Chinese language enjoys no exception of this rule.   It would be difficult to see the subtle but important effect of language in the development of a country. Even though the complex structures of Chinese words are extremely beautiful, its complexity tangles the country’s development. The simplification of the Chinese language, like the translated vernacular version of Martin Luther’s Bible, is Epoch-making. Both language revolutions made the “heavenly” books accessible to ordinary people, and thus made reading and learning possible for their society.

Language is a tool for culture, politics, and many other social aspects. Han Yu (Chinese) became Zhong Wen with the new socialist China (Zhong Guo means “country in the middle,” so Zhong Wen is the language of the country of the middle).  Zhong Wen has gained the vocabularies of communism and socialism after being gradually simplified, and has added many special terms, like the expression “Socialism With Chinese Characteristics” after Deng Xiao Ping visited the South in 1992. Deng Xiao Ping might have saved China from any more words of the leftist socialism represented by Mr. Jiang Ze Ming, and he might have wanted China to develop and enlarge its vocabulary in a modern sense, but the June 4th “event” in Tian An Men Square put doubts into the minds of the Chinese people about the ability of Mr. Deng and his successors to continue the modernization of the Chinese language.

Language should really be more a tool for communication and dating! When Chinese meet, we say: “Have you eaten?” Westerners instead would say: “How are you?”  When we chat, we ask: “How much you make?” Westerners would rather figure it out through other pertinent information during the conversation. When Chinese lovers meet, men with no money or social status feel ashamed, and therefore keep silent. They stay cool by being mute- at least “silence is gold,” otherwise they would have nothing left! The richer ones show off their flats and cars, and the women would ask: “how many flats do you have?” If they like the men, they girlishly say “Tao Yan! (disgusting).”  Ou Yang was not conscious of this issue, and was not thinking about what she should say.

In life, as it is impossible to avoid subtleties, it is hard to maintain respect and love without subtle languages. Modern Chinese are caught between the clichés and dead subtleties of an ancient language and the abrupt assertions of their immature minds and limited vocabularies to express the most basic concepts. The day China restrained its people’s freedom of speech, their minds started to become lazy, and eventually stopped functioning. When the mind stops thinking, language dies.  Language is like a muscle; if it does not get practice, it will wither. We can then imagine how Chinese men and women talk to each other when in love, and when the courtship period has passed.

We Chinese only thought that we lagged behind in economics, and that we had no money. We had no idea about many things that seemed unimportant, including the stagnant situation of our once wonderful language. Western people possess subtler expressions that help grow fine feelings between each other and lend grace to its painful but constantly groundbreaking history. Their language and literature developed, and their vocabulary increased. Free thoughts provided the space for them to grow nice feelings, and words provoked by thinking are there to express the subtleties.

Indeed, Ou Yang had been attracted by the politeness and respect behind the expression:”Would you like to…?” of Marius, and freshly shocked by the concept of appreciation and affirmation in his phrase: ” It is a great pleasure for me be with you!”.  On the contrary, the simple statement of “I am sorry, my dear” would take maybe a hundred years for any Chinese to break into saying, especially for parents and authorities to do so in any circumstances. It is very rare that Chinese say to each other: “I trust you!”, because they observed and learned in the society and concluded that trust is not good while money is the immortal truth that could bring happiness and security.

Language also affects relationships. The relationship between Chinese, especially between family members or a couple, has been taken for granted for so long that it has become unbearably tasteless. Kisses are retained for lovers, hugs are kept for parents and their young children, and handshakes are reserved for business relations. And so there is nothing left for parents and adult children, friends, brothers, and sisters, except for “Great Expectations;” we can almost forget those whom we know, who are of no use to us, and we can totally forget about strangers on the street. People in need, those who are missing limbs or are injured, who beg for food, a young girl of 13 who “sings” on the streets to pay for her tuition…the Chinese have absolutely nothing for them, not even the warmth of a glance, because there are just too many of these unfortunate souls and our kindness is bleakly shy for the scarcity of words and reluctancy of smiles that cost us nothing to utter and shine , and maybe cost nothing to take, but would make a difference if we believe that they have the meanings we intend.

Elizabeth, a pious Christian, and her well-informed and educated husband Jonas Larson had shown Ou Yang the niceties of Western values and behaviors, which Ou Yang had mistaken for Western reality in general. Bearing in mind that Ou Yang had only ever left the old city of Xi’An, China to spend about eight years in Quebec, in her eyes Europeans, Americans, Canadians, and Quebecers were more or less the same. The differences between people boiled down to family upbringing, profession, and level of education. Particular local history with its events that happened in different times were not taken into consideration when she encountered a new society, and especially when she was not equipped with the intelligence to understand. Nevertheless, Elizabeth and Jonas had planted a vague hope in Ou Yang’s mind a long time ago, with their polite, respectful, colorful, and joyful languages and their abundant wonderful words, along with the niceness, subtleties and sincerity of their connotations.

That is the power of words, the foremost of all wonders, which makes us fall in love with and trust the world we create with, the adjusted balance of which might take time and pain to discover, and which might never be found.

To be continued…

The Hidden Seductions – Part IV- 2 – The Hidden Missions!

Posted by & filed under Personal.

images-2

Part IV- 2 – The Hidden Missions!

 

The USA financial crisis arrived in 2008. It is surprising that a nation who strongly believes in their God and his Son Jesus did not succeed in preventing men from restraining from his nature of greed,  if their national effort of 450 years had been in vain in certain aspects! It is shocking that the most advanced minded American “scientists in finance” would encourage and push its people to the edge of dungeon and leave themselves with the danger of having their wealth without base. “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” so said John F. Kennedy.

Maybe it so happened on purpose to give Americans a big blow in their faces to wake them up to HIS teaching.Stephen Colbert said: “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”  We wonder if Americans can be great again! Maybe it is still great for trying to hold the big Noah’s Arc by giving up fights over the question if the Rich should pay more taxes and the poor are worth being helped. There arrives a time when “love” should again get involved, and the doubt about the reason for  “love” would be as ridiculous as it be highly insensible at this moment.

The “Financial Crisis” found its roots in the deregulation on many financial policies, inducing a misleading of real estate market value increase, encouraging non-qualifying borrowers to high debt-ratio loans with over and illegal transactions of insured mortgages between mortgage insurance companies, and eventually resulting in 25% of mortgage default.  The direct but hidden side-effect of “out-sourcing” jobs for more profit and tax-saving schemes starting in the 80s to Japan, then to Taiwan, and in the 90s, to China and other asian countries in a large scale had served as the bait for its caught-up situation.

When they turned to its reserve, they found out that only debt was there from decades of borrowing and tax-cuts for the rich started back from Reagan’s time. Ten years of expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan further endebted the great nation up to 14 trillions , leaving USA  an advanced country like grass without roots and river without source. Greed is a nature for both the rich, and the poor, only with the poor suffering much more the consequences. USA  is set again on a mission that is not new in its history.

When USA sneezes, Canada will soon get a cold.   Though the impact of the “Crisis” was not as fast and brutal,  since Canadians had been more careful about deregulation on banking policies and the Canadian Social Security and Medical Structures had been serving as an important safety net, it did slow down the economy! The unemployment rate raised a little. Staff from other countries-immigrants or new comers to the companies were believed to be the first “scape-goats”.

Ge Wen believed that he would be the first one to lose his job if the company would start laying off people. He had not been feeling comfortable with his boss, “a woman” made it even so,  and he basically had no contact with his colleagues.

“What to say to them?” He would protest against his wife when she said that he should maintain a good and closer relationship with them.

He was lonely. Everyday, he found his legs heavy leaving the threshold of his cottage and very light and happy leaving for it at the end of a day’s work. At least, he would have time for his son or cooking, or scroll on internet for news from China, or following heated discussions on issues concerning China, or reading the typical Chinese way of binary judgements… Home was his only place of comfort!

Ge Wen wanted to change company a few times, but at that special time of crisis, for the sake of the obligations to pay the mortgage and fund his son’s extra learnings, he stayed. He dragged, rather put that way. He would do the minimum just enough to keep his job. He would reluctantly say “Hello” to his colleagues when there was no way to avoid and he would definitely do everything not to see his boss.

Ou Yang was slowly seeing her husband sinking into some place that she could barely prevent him from falling. For her, it was not acceptable to fail. She thought if she could do it, then why couldn’t he? Theoretically she seemed not wrong.

Another thing from her husband’s failing away was something that Ou Yang could hardly make any effort for. His sexual desire diminished and gradually he stopped making love to her.  This situation had been dragging on for more than 6  months!

“Should we go see a doc…?” Even before the question was finished, Ge Wen got angry and yelled with reddened face:

“Don’t be ridiculous!”

Quickly after, he disappeared up to their room! Their room had some how become “his” room. It became permanently HIS after a few times of trying to be together . Ou Yang slowly got the feeling that chasing her husband for sex would be as in vain as seducing a dead cat! Ou Yang had been squeezing herself with her son ever since.

Women always could find some one to vent their frustration,  but it seemed men would or could not. Maybe it was because that men had been taught to be tougher and women were allowed to cry. Men would very seldom utter to people about their problems, especially sexual ones. They seemed more bottled up on this subject especially. They either shut up or did something already. Men had been proven not to be willing to divorce for insufficiency or lack of sex, while women had been said not to be capable of dealing with this issue like men. Was it easier for  men to have mistresses than women having lovers?

Ou Yang was born a person with high energy and with a higher libido as well. It was harder for her not to look at those good looking “foreign”guys when they passed by, not easy to resist their flirtation and obvious seduction! The seductive language accompanied with the hot look and hallucinating cologne became even more irresistible.  From time to time,  it would snap her into a kind of dark pleasure for a moment, though short and unreal as it was, yet it sometimes eased her hopeless yearning and temporarily satisfied her hunger under no reserve.

Sometimes, she found herself lost in a corner of the office not knowing what she was there for! She found it unbearable to watch those hot love making scenes and she had to walk away or pretend to have something else to do. Yet she was intensely drawn to those posters of lovers kissing or terrible scenes of pure erotic body movements when she went to a movie by herself!  Those implications of sex often tortured her in her imagination and left her at the edge of reaching an orgasm, seemingly a feelable one.

At the same time, she would unclearly feel that she was a low-class cheap woman by being so much in need of gentle cuddles and wild screams with her men. She felt guilty. A mother, with a 7 years old son, could have such a burning desire and addicted sexual hallucinations.  She felt very sad and lonely walking alone in this world full of sexy men, but  she could not have a bit of comfort or pleasure. Sometimes, she felt that the inner she would give up everything for things she was entitled to as a simple being! But she could not, she could not cry, neither could she leave! She just could not abandon everything and everyone, and she had run out of words for desperation and wreath.   Not more desperate than her husband, she was bending down lower with much biological pressure and complication.

Among the chaos of her life, Elizabeth was arriving! Even it would be in a few months time, it was at least something for her to expect for, something she could be sure of its authenticity . That Irish American woman, with her loving husband and 4 children all very healthy and lovely,  had been her idol for the past 15 years! That was a family Ou Yang had wanted。That was her deep dream,  her wish in desperation, and her steel Anchor that would fix the little lost and floating boat of hers in the exhausting fight with her husband, son, her work and with herself.

OU Yang impatiently counted the weeks on her calendar for her missionary to arrive.

She was unconsciously waiting to be saved, as her 2nd brother-in-law had been waiting back in China more than 10 years ago. Elizabeth and her husband Jonas Larson gave him a simple baptisation by dipping his whole body into their “luxurious” bath tube in their Guest House. They asked him to hold tight his nose, slowly laid his body into the water, then brought him up dripping like a duck. They were singing prayers during the procedure. Her brother-in-law said God was the salvation that he had been waiting for!

That was a secret! No one else knew except four of them; it was the secret mission of Elizabeth and Jonas Larson. Brother-in-law had been a communist party member since 18 years of age and had always been working for the government without annual holidays or even a blink of an eye. He was not holding a small position. A communist party member, a government official being baptized as a Christian in the 90s in China was indeed unimaginable . His baptization had been a hidden fact from the communist party and a deadly secret, the disclosure of which would definitely lead to his complete removal from the party and  cost him his Iron Rice Bowl.

Back then, Ou Yang was not feeling comfortable of accepting it as her brother-in-law did! She was a serious girl always. How could one be baptized without even reading the “Holy Bible”? She did not understand why her brother-in-law said those surprising words about God being his salvation. Was he abandoning his Party? Chairman Mao was not his salvation any more? But, she felt that her brother-in-law some what changed. To what, she could not describe. Maybe two salvations were better than one?!

For Ge Wen, it was an absolute taboo as he had been taught that religions were poisonous snakes and deadly diseases.  We were atheists and materialists. We did not believe in anyone else, nor in anything else.

But, this time, when Elizabeth would be here, she thought she might have some serious matters to discuss with her and might even accept to be baptized as a Christian, thus she could be saved with the help of the “almighty” Elizabeth. She could not wait for the day when she would arrive! She was dreaming that all troubles be removed and she become happy and light!

 

To Be Continued…

 

The Hidden Seduction – Part IV – 4 – A Butterfly With Broken Wings!

Posted by & filed under Personal.

Hong Kong Hai Bo

 

My nails are bleeding, my lip is too,

Keep in words I shouldn’t say to you,

Tie a letter to a balloon and let it fly,

Where it bursts let the words die

It’s not who you love, it’s how you care,

It’s not waiting for tomorrow, it’s finding beauty right there,

Beyond repair

Take a trip down memory lane,

I know it feels different but it feels the same

… …

Beyond Repair by LauraBHH

 

Part IV – 4 – A Butterfly With Broken Wings

 

Winter had not quite gone yet. There was still some dirty snow mixed with sand on the street corners. The cleared centerlines of the streets were laced with stains of the whitish-yellow industrial salt used for melting the ice.

Ge Wen lost his job at the end of March.

“Oh, well, I never really liked that job anyway!”  He said to console himself, but it was true; he had never liked the work beyond the fact that he needed the revenue.

Losing his job was a good opportunity to think about moving. Living in Vancouver had always been Ge Wen’s wish, and now he had a real chance to make it happen.

“I am looking for a job in Vancouver,” he told Ou Yang calmly one evening after their routine fight over Sonny’s piano lessons.

Sonny had wanted to play with his friend Yannick from a few doors down instead of practicing the piano, to which Ge Wen agreed but not Ou Yang. Ge Wen mentioned Vancouver more as a test to himself than as a threat to his wife. After countless times of being questioned and scolded, he had lost the courage to pick up any fight for anything. He also said that to end the argument, but it was indeed true that he wanted to leave Montreal. He wanted to find a different air, and live in a place where he could remember his homeland with less mountains and shorter distance to hallucinate over; he was even ready to leave without his son, and definitely without his buzz-killing wife draining all the little fun out of his pathetic life.

Ou Yang was obviously tired of arguing too. She was tired of all her responsibilities, at work and at home. She was terribly “fatiguée” of having to be at the forefront of everything, from the smallest things like grocery shopping, to bigger issues, such as planning family vacations. It was almost always only her who watched over Sonny and his piano practices and other activities. At least she felt so.

She had nothing but her little life in her head. Although she did go out dancing with some friends once in a blue moon, she could not just dance and have fun. She kept talking about her situation, her duties, her husband, her son, and even how unprofessional her boss could be, over the loud music, as if her friend could hear her. It was probably not important whether her friend could hear her or not, she just needed to talk it out. The loudness of the music gave her voice an excellent excuse to be even more unpleasantly coarse, and the light-heartedness of the salsa music made easy her improper and unkind judgments.

And yet, usually, she would feel guilty for her two hours of freedom and pleasure, and would put even more responsibilities and duties on her shoulders afterwards. She also unknowingly pushed her husband harder in washing away her own guilt. Worst of all, she leaned on her son and spoiled him in a very sweet but horrifyingly strange way.

It was horrifying to see that her high expectation for her son,  her inherited insecurity about everything, her impossible-to-fill void, her stale relationship and dried-up marriage with her husband; it was all about to land on the shoulders of her innocent son. She was completely and unconsciously dumping an unknown burden onto a 7 year-old child, under the glorious guise of “love”. Sonny was like a little piece of straw his mother would cling to when she felt like she was sinking into an endless ocean.

“If you want to go, you can just go! No one keeps you here.”

Ou Yang replied with no emotion, thinking that it might be a good thing for him to leave, at least for some time.

What about Sonny? Who would Sonny stay with? Well, when we are in fights, no matter how hot or cold, and we corner ourselves with no solution but frustration, we do not care about the impact or the details involved. It’s like being caught in a closed environment with smoke choking the air out of your lungs and blurring your already limited view.

For Ou Yang and Ge Wen, the only way left was to get out no matter what. Things had gone beyond fights or repair.

Ou Yang vaguely remembered herself following her mother to Hong Kong in 1985, when she had just turned 14. Her mother re-married to a man from Hong Kong after her father died of lung cancer in 1981. It was a good marriage, with the effort of many good-hearted people, But her mother had married this man too soon, according to her sisters, too soon because Ou Yang was not yet old enough to be on her own.  With the promise of her mother’s new husband, whom Ou Yang called Uncle Sam and who was 10 years older than her mother, the whole family agreed that Ou Yang should followe her mother.

But her mother’s good marriage quickly turned bad, because Ou Yang’s new stepfather did not agree with her mother’s way of treating her daughter. In his opinion, Ou Yang’s mother spoiled her by agreeing to everything she wanted. She remembered the day when she wrote with her fingers in the dust on Sam’s brand-new Benz. He told her that doing so would scratch the paint and that it would be very costly to repair the whole side. Ou Yang’s mother went mad, as if Sam had criticized her directly. She thought that the adoptive dad didn’t have the heart of a real father, and that criticizing her daughter was malicious to herself.

They stayed in Hong Kong with Sam for only three years. Ou Yang’s mother had no job. She felt that she was under a stranger’s roof and trapped within by his tall fences. She had given up her primary teacher’s job in Xi’An, with the hope thather rich Hong Kong husband could provide them with a good life, and a better future for her daughter, but she never felt at in Hong Kong, never felt the “unconditional love” for her daughter from Sam. It seemed to Ou Yang’s mother that she had traded herself for things that did not meet her expectations at all.

And so they came back to Xi’An. During her time away in Hong Kong, Ou Yang had learned a kind of superiority over her mainland classmates because she bathed in the sea, dressed in foreign styles, and spoke much better English. She spoke it even better than her clumsy mainland English teachers in high school who had never even been toGuang Zhou, a vanguard city for China during the years of historical transformation, with Hong Kong right at its back, a strong and direct influence for commerce and even fashion in Guang Zhou.

Now, it was Ge Wen who wanted to leave. Ou Yang would never let her son go, simply because she did not want her son to follow his father and later end up living with a strange woman who might treat her son even worse than Sam had treated her.

While she was feeling helpless, entwined by her past and present, Ou Yang saw her husband sinking further into the abyss of despair. Nonetheless, she was wise enough not to mention the shrinkage of their pockets too often. Ten months of unemployment insurance had paid him a bit less than sixty percent of his salary, and with the impact of taxes and insurance, Provincial and Federal Child Support, the actual situation was not that much different from before.

Everyone has inertia, and since most Chinese city men have the incredible ability to put up with humiliation of all kinds from their frustrated and seemingly impossible to please wives, a passive change of situation like Ge Wen’s unemployment became a faint lead for a “solution.” This change, unfortunate as it may have seemed, brought a kind of excitement to both. They knew that, somehow, a solution was on its way, and no matter what it turned out to be, it may not make them feel happy, but it would at least let both of them breathe.

Elizabeth was not coming to Montreal, so she and Ou Yang traded e-mails and talked on the phone. What Ou Yang eventually discovered about Elizabeth, horrified her:

Elizabeth had divorced!

It was a typical example of how happy news can turn sour, so sour that you have a snap moment of not knowing what you are thinking or feeling, the acidity causing a few seconds of brain freeze, like when you eat ice-cream too fast!  That was big news, a completely absurd, unexpected piece, the possibility of which had never been previewed in Ou Yang’s mind. It could not be true, not possible, unimaginable!

She lay in bed for countless sleepless nights figuring out for herself how it had happened and how it could happen to a goddess-like woman such as Elizabeth herself. To her, divorce seemed like a disease in the world, a plague among the atheists or anti-gods, dismay for merit-seeking conventions, and a grand disappointment for the stubborn wishes of high-school sweethearts seeking the Happily Ever After.

Ou Yang could not and would not accept that it had happened to her best friend. She just could not see how her idol had gone down the same path as the easy atheists. Elizabeth’s merits had been Ou Yang’s inspiration for life, her land was Ou Yang’s dream land and her family was the lovely reality that Ou Yang would wake up to from her own. And yet now, in Ou Yang’s mind, the divorce resembled Elizabeth’s departure from all her merits, and was turning Ou Yang’s reality into a horrible nightmare and her dreams into ashes!

 

“La Chinita” and the Gracious “Meritocracy”

Posted by & filed under Personal.

When I was listening to a piece of Salsa music on Youtube called  La “Chinita” by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico last night, a piece that my Salsa teacher David Zepeda played when he taught me dancing, my eyes scanned something that was surprisingly unexpected to see, especially on Youtube. The title was even in Chinese: “快乐的女战士-万泉河水” (The Happy Women SoldiersThe Water of the Wan Quan River). I scrolled up and down and found a whole bunch of videos of ballet episodes of this huge one of a kind – one of the 8 model plays of the Cultural Revolution, the one and the only 7 others that were established as revolutionary and modern operas by Jiang Qing-the one and the only “Chinita”, serving as the allowed thus the only spiritual nourishment for a whole nation during the 10 years of this Revolution, the ever gracious ballet: The Red Detachment of Women(红色娘子军, pinyinHóngsè Niángzǐjūn). 

I was so intrigued and drawn to it that I wasted no time clicking it open. Oh, my goodness! It was the video of the Vienna Orchestra Symphony playing, from this Chinese historically significant and classical repertoire, two merry pieces: “The Happy Women Soldiers and The Water of Wan Quan River” in” The Red Detachment of Women”, one of the very unforgettable revolutionary kind. The performance took place in the worldly honoured Vienna National Concert Hall with a must-be Chinese conductor who might be born at the end or even after the revolution, with all those Austrian or worldly musicians.

The music starts with the pluck on the harp strings.  A few notes of the special pentatonic accord of harp strings set the story in the Red Army Camp on the quiet and peaceful bank of Wan Quan River. Its “ding dong” sounds display the Wan Quan River jumping joyfully and the sunshine rays flicker from the gentle ripples. One oboe softly catches what is left by the strings and extends the scenery with tall graceful coconut trees. The relaxed and prudent soothing sound of the oboe brings our heart deep into a land of unrevealed happiness and far into a place where the river flows away.

The other oboe continues and the harp player travels in-between the asperation of the oboe players. The sweet, deep, relaxing oboe sound best depicts the Hainan villages in the coconut forests,twilight tranquility and hidden joy yet to arrive… Silently a young girl in semi-army dress comes into view looking at the river afar; another came in, twisting her cotton towel full of sweat after a day’s work with the peasants.

Then the flute sends out squirrel-like quick running notes that introduce the start of a naughty play of the third girl who pours some water over the head of one girl. The double basses in their low, heavy and seemingly dark yet whimsically played fast notes lie the base and contrast for the other flute which joins in, blowing their notes to its highest to let us feel the chill of the “Clean clean Wan Quan River Water”-  the Hainan folk song that has become the core theme music of this Ballet symphony.

Who says that music is just sounds? It has a life, a genuine one that represents all lives, in different time, eras, different political systems, countries, sad lives, complicated ones and trouble-woven unsolvable ones…bloody ones, pleasant, joyful and inspiring ones like those lives of las Chinitas ( women) displayed by the extremely happy music of the Red Detachment.

Now the two oboes side by side lead your pulse to follow the two girls who are chasing the naughty water-splashing girl in escape. The flute is  the wicked girl! Listen, listen, she is dodging the chase and the revenge, she glides and she hides behind the third girl. The girls’ play goes on for 35 seconds in a merrily but progressively cautious atmosphere of oboes and flutes, under the monotonous accompaniment of simple chords in the double basses and bassoons until the violin tutti and French horns push their joyful play to its summit.

Now the four cellos, the forever graceful of all instruments stretch their legs and lengthen their necks lying comfortably in their players arms as if they were lying in the arms of their lovers! Their chests were full of easy and healing emotions that were gently brought out by every inch of the bows’s movements; in between the constantly oozing pleasure of the cellos’ legato, we hear now and then the oboes – two girls, and especially the flute – the wild girl, together with the jolly staccato of the violin tutti. The flute enjoys its solo while the wicked girl leads her sisters playing tricks with their old army cook.

As the oboes and flutes slow and quiet down, we know that they are talking about the strategy of how to get his water buckets off his shoulder. Then there is wild running of his old legs chasing after his stolen buckets in hurried trumpets blows , while the bassoon talks with a low and stern voice saying: “stop,  the girls! Give me back my buckets!’ yet the old cook mumbles his grudges only to his superior commander in chief.

The bass like bassoons wake up the quiet-down evening in its accelerating pace with its fatherly chesty-throaty yet sweet and calming voice to a baby girl as if she was sleeping with her ear next to his chest.  The flute then becomes the symbol of joy and happiness. With legato of violins, with solo of the key instrument oboe, again, there sounds the folk song of Hainan: “Wan Quan River Water”, its ultimate beauty and grace revealed! Its complete ideal concept of Chinese merits and harmony are triumphed with the French horns and trumpets like that in the French national anthem: “La Marseillaise”.

This graceful pentatonic “Wan Quan River” threw me completely into my first public dance experience outside school. I knew a little bit of the “Happy Women Soldiers” movements, just a little bit, because it was my older troupe members who rehearsed this episode. On  July 1st, 1970, as an 8 years old girl, I was too young to play one of the women soldiers. Yet when I was sitting on a little army stool watching our own show put up for the 7659 Railroad Army who was celebrating the accomplishment of the railroad , my father came and told me that I needed to replace one of the five girls, who sprained her ankle. Oh, my! I had no time to hesitate and was grabbed away from my stool, put on the army costumes. With nothing in its place, I found myself on the stage together with four other girls of about 13-15. Obviously, I could not have been naughtier and messier than the girls in the play, better call me the 5th ugly Tchaikovsky’s little wicked swan, nevertheless, the soldiers might never have known the difference between me being properly wicked or decently trying to be weirdly proper.

Only by reading Wikipedia, I now know that this ballet was performed for US President Richard Nixon on his visit to China in February 1972 under the personal direction of Zhou Enlai. I wonder how President Nixon felt about this piece of typical Chinese pentatonic music yet composed in the western mechanism and danced in light grey ballet shoes and army uniforms. Would he feel a little bizare as well as amazed that music is universal without boundaries? How smart was our savvy En Lai who used the charm of music to knock down the prejudice of capitalism towards socialism, or simply how smart he had been to have directed Nixon’s attention and favour to the basics of human beings.

Among Chopin’s works, there is this Etude Opus 10 No.5. It was composed on the piano’s black notes which form a pentatonic scale. Even though it has nothing to do with Chinese music, it does sound Chinese. Why is this pentatonic scale so special that Chinese fundamentally favour it? Isn’t this “The Red Detachment” the best example of this pentatonic scale music? What else grace and beauty need to express themselves than using this scale? What kind of harmony and merits it brings to the heart and soul of Chinese in this simple mainly five-notes scale?

Just read an article on Alberto Forchielli’s blog about a Montrealer Canadian professor  China as a Meritocracy. What is he talking about? I need time to think about what he said on Chinese political system and its base – this merit, grace, harmony preaching Confucius. For a huge feudalist and socialist country which has been almost proven impossible to go democratic, Prof. Daniel A. Bell obviously doubts about what democracy will bring to it anyway. Democracy, dictatorship, or this evolved meritocracy from dictatorship, or this future ideal “cracy” for China or for any other country,  the core is a question of what this country is working for and how it is working out.

I do know one thing about humans: each one is flawed for another, and even for ourselves. Will the theory based on trusting human nature, its conditional merits and good behaviours work out well on a larger than the pentatonic scale? Will a country which should represent the benefit of the majority be fine provided the powers be given to the utopian merits of the elite? I do enjoy greatly the pentatonic music of China, especially these two pieces that I take great time praising and listened to over 15 times by now, and I do hope Professor Mark can help compose some other beautiful, graceful and merit-reflecting pentatonic orchestra symphony with his western heritage! Maybe after all these years of living in China with his Chinese wife and in-laws, Mark is seeing Chinese as a nation of having only black keys?!