Secret Love In Sketches|速写暗恋

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Photo Credit: MOOOOE Studio

Photo Credit: MOOOOE Studio

 

Sometimes, the inner drive is like the magic of the stage. My brain bloated badly. Once I returned to Shanghai from a family trip, I longed to take part in a sketch activity. It opened up slowly around the Secret Love, and felt like emptying yourself.

有时,内心的驱使如舞台的魔力。脑胀的厉害,一回上海便赶脚参加了一次围绕暗恋慢慢敞开的速写活动,放空自我。

 

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Drawing by Inja, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Inja, 2019.8.17

 

An old story began.

在此,也特别分享一段遥远的故事。

 

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Drawing by Kaka, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Kaka, 2019.8.17

 

My Grade Three primary school teacher Mr Hu was a fresh meat from a neighbouring town. He came as a volunteer to teach us in 1999. No one knew I was precocious. After all, it was only the third grade of primary school! But when it came to the end of the school year, Mr Hu had to leave. I cried.

小学三年级的班主任是从县城来到我们草坑村支教的小鲜肉。没有人晓得我比较早熟。毕竟才小学三年级! 但是小学三年级期末结束后,那位老师要离开了。我哭了。

 

Drawing by Charles Tsunashima, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Charles Tsunashima, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Nianci, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Nianci, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Yantong, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Yantong, 2019.8.17

 

On the morning when he said goodbye, he slowly crossed a stone bridge. I just stared at his back. Tears flooded my face.

离开的那一天,他缓缓走过老家的一座石桥,挥手向我告白,我两眼直直的望着他,挥一挥右手,微微颤抖。两行眼泪止不住的掉落。

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Drawing by Jonghan Kim, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Jonghan Kim, 2019.8.17

 

When all the classmates had left, he turned his head with a smile that broke my heart, waving his hand for me to go home.

他回头一笑,示意我该回家了,因为别的同学都走光了。

 

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Drawing by Maria Amelia Odetti, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Maria Amelia Odetti, 2019.8.17

 

I smiled back, one hand covering my mouth and the other waving goodbye. He moved on, and never looked back. I watched him disappear into the distance.

我也笑了,捂着嘴,没说什么,继续望着他的背影,直至消失不见。

 

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Drawing by Daryl Star Bates, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Daryl Star Bates, 2019.8.17

 

I didn’t know what secret love was, but it was the feeling of not willing to give up and not willing to accept. I knew I might never see him again.

当时不懂什么叫暗恋,但就是那种不舍和无法割舍的感觉,明白那张迷人的脸可能再也没机会看到了。

 

Drawing by Anna, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Anna, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Heather Cai, 2019.8.17

Drawing by Heather Cai, 2019.8.17

 

Now, it feels funny. Who can fathom the poetic picture between man and woman?

现在想想,觉得挺好笑。人与人之间的诗情画意,谁能捉摸透呢?

 

Photo of Daryl sketching, credit: Heather Cai, 2019.8.17

Photo of Daryl sketching, credit: Heather Cai, 2019.8.17

 

Click here to enjoy the complete story of Secret Love.

 

MOOOOE Studio hosts Life Drawing on Saturdays, organized by Inja.

Time: 3-6pm     Add: 2F, Building 20A, 2577Longhua Rd, Shanghai.

 

About Heather Cai:

 

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently living in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

 

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!

 

 

捕获

 

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Secret Love

--- A quartz stone I picked on the way walking from Xiadang Middle School to my home village 19 years ago. Photo taken in Shanghai, 2019.7.22

— A quartz stone I picked on the way walking from Xiadang Middle School to my home village 19 years ago. Photo taken in Shanghai, 2019.7.22

 

You and I have been younger. We were almost as unpolished as this quartz stone. Our heart was little and vulnerable. When we saw a dragonfly, it wasn’t just a dragonfly. It was the whole fascinating world around the dragonfly. And when we saw a face that fascinated us, we might dream about it every night. The charming eyes. The fluffy voice. The sweet smile. All these would melt the ice in the dark. We wouldn’t feel pain when that person punished us. We would feel the joy of some strange connection. We would admire that person’s jokes or even bullshit. When we looked into the eyes, we would blush like a mystery.

 

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--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

At thirteen, I had this tender feeling for my Grade Three primary school teacher Mr Hu. He came as a volunteer from a neighboring town to teach us in 1999. Actually, each school year, there would be one or two volunteers like Mr Hu. The school was dirt-built, black-tiled and really old. There were no blackboards or white chalk, but wooden boards and charcoal. There were no windows in the classroom, but only a square hole. And there was no place to eat, but the families in turn would provide fresh food and firewood for the teachers.

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

However, the playground was paradise. We would often skip and play the Chicks and Eagle game. Sometimes Mr Hu would play the Eagle. It was then I discovered that he was not as bookish as I had thought. His usually slow movements could be sharp, his usually toneless voice could be wild, his usually shy smile could be bold, and his usually calm eyes could be sparkling. Such a contrast just ignited my curiosity and attracted me like a magnet. When he caught me as the Chick and grabbed my arms with excitement, I couldn’t move or talk. My heart was racing, my face burning, and my eyes were afraid to meet his. When he let go of my arms, I wished he could hold me for longer. His existence had possessed my whole attention, and class time was not long enough to appreciate him.

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

One noon, after school, I couldn’t help but stay longer to watch him cooking through the square hole that gave a view of the kitchen. He was clumsily peeling a potato. I laughed. Those smooth fingers were probably more suitable for holding books. By the time I had to leave, it felt the more I saw him the more impossible for me not to see him.  

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

Until one afternoon in the middle of the second term, something new happened. A pig squealed like hell during our break. It was dragged along the playground by a mother and a daughter. The daughter Miao had the most beautiful smile in our class. When she smiled, her eyes smiled too. And that afternoon, her laughter resounded through the Fungshui forest beside our school with the screams of the pig. Everyone was laughing, except me. I was staring at Mr Hu. He was smiling and sometimes laughing too. His hand was holding his chin, his face was blushing, and his eyes were gazing at Miao with the same admiration as when I secretly watched him peeling potatoes. That moment, my world turned blue. I didn’t know there was such a word “jealousy”, but I envied Miao. From then on, although I frequently raised my hand in class, Mr Hu would still call Miao. Gradually I lost courage, and cried at night.

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

The pain accumulated till the end of the school year. On the morning when he said goodbye, he slowly crossed a stone bridge. When all the classmates had left, he turned his head with a smile that broke my heart, waving his hand for me to go home. I smiled back, one hand covering my mouth and the other waving goodbye. He moved on and never looked back. I watched him disappear into the distance. Tears flooded my face. I knew I might never see him again.

 

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Was it secret love? What was the most nostalgic story from your school life? Have you ever had hopeless love for someone even if you knew that person would never love you back? What if you could meet your secret love again?

 

--- Spring Picnic in Grade Three primary school (1999). Total sixteen students, six from a nearby village. My young brother and I were in the same class till Grade Two in middle school. And I did meet Mr Hu again when I graduated from high school in 2006. That was anoher story.

— Spring Picnic in Grade Three primary school (1999). Total sixteen students, six from a nearby village. My young brother and I were in the same class till Grade Two in middle school. And I did meet Mr Hu again when I graduated from high school in 2006. That was anoher story.

 

About Heather Cai:

 

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently living in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!


Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

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Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club Drives Me Crazy

--- My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

— My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

 

When I was little, the only time the parents could talk to their children was when they returned home from the rice fields. But at the table, we were not allowed to talk. And away from the table, the parents would be busy farming. They slept early and got up very early. All the year round, there was always something to occupy their hands and their minds. Therefore, we hardly had a conversation. Our home dialect was mostly built around a very basic daily life. And our emotional dialogue was through eyes or in silence, not words. Still I can only speak half the language, and cannot communicate well with my family. So you know I was never much of a talker.

 

--- My auntie's dishes in my home village, 2015.12 | 老家婶婶的拿手菜

— My auntie’s dishes in my home village, 2015.12 | 老家婶婶的拿手菜

 

Luckily I could play with words in my diaries and talk to my imaginary friends. But this didn’t help me build communication skills with real people in real situations. There would always be a barrier or a gap. Even four or five years ago, an English friend told me on the street, “Hey! I can’t hear you if you talk with your back to me.”

 

--- My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

— My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

 

I know it was a sign of my inferiority. My weakness. Until tonight, I’m going to share with you how SH Leadership TMC has made me confident and drives me crazy. It’s the people, the people and the people.

 

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— My very first time in Shanghai Leadership TMC, 2018.8 | 首次接触上海头马

 

Most of my life I was discouraged from speaking – like one interviewer who interrupted my self-introduction, saying that I was too short to be a teacher. But when I first stood on this stage, it wasn’t that scary. In fact, I felt welcomed to be recognized with nice people, including that night’s Sharing Master Steve.

 

--- My very first time on the stage, 2018.8 | 首次站上海头马演讲台上

— My very first time on the stage, 2018.8 | 首次站上海头马演讲台上

 

After joining several times, I observed that there are many great people in this club. Not only speakers and leaders but also guests. I decided to become a member so that I would have more chances to learn. My positive-change intention then was just to make one proper speech, as simple as that. And I did my icebreaker speech Transformations. It was poetic as the most handsome president Brian evaluated, but it was disconnected from the audiences as I made no eye contact at all. This was assured by Michelle Wu, who evaluated my second speech Aftertaste and told me, “Novel language is all about liberating the soul of the author, while public speaking is about making an instant connection with different souls.”

 

--- The evaluator, Brian Pippard, Shanghai, 2019.1 | 点评人Brian Pippard

— The evaluator, Brian Pippard, Shanghai, 2019.1 | 点评人Brian Pippard

--- The evaluator, Michelle Wu, Shanghai, 2019.2 | 点评人Michelle Wu

— The evaluator, Michelle Wu, Shanghai, 2019.2 | 点评人Michelle Wu

 

That was really useful to me, and I took all the feedback seriously. As Suhail once suggested, “Your speech is too much like a speech. Your mind is framed by the concept of speech. You should jump out of the box, and talk to the audience instead of yourself.”

 

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--- My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

— My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

 

Believe me, it was hard. But I tried hard too. And what Alvin emphasized about the purpose of a speech opened a window for me. I had only grasped half the meaning of a speech. What is speech? Speech is the communication or expression of thoughts and ideas in spoken words. I knew expressing my feelings on the stage is just like talking to my imaginary friends in a diary. But how about communicating ideas or interacting with you?

 

--- My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

— My home village, Fujian, 2015.12 | 家乡福建

 

This is something I wanted to learn. And later, I understood that it’s not just about a speech, not just about me. It’s about me becoming one of you, one of us. We are not only guests in this room or members of this community, but also real people who would influence or empower the others. I never thought I would connect with you in this way. But you know what? This enthusiasm or motivation of mine is not originally mine. It is yours. You make me crazy. Thank you to all the leaders of this club, and to all of you lovely people. Thank you all for driving me crazy.

 

About Heather Cai:

 

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently living in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!


Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片

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This Happened When Mike Reported a Traffic Accident to the Police

When I told the story of my car accident here, there were different voices. Needless to say, making a report to the police is the most favorable. But sometimes what you know about the legal system or the Chinese society is not the same as you would have believed. And this happened to my friend Mike:

 

捕获

— Xi’an, Shanxi, 2013.7 | 陕西西安

 

Hello. I’m Mike, an educator and a manager of educators in China for the past 6+ years. It’s been a rewarding experience, one that has allowed me to learn much about Chinese culture, particularly the national language Mandarin. Chi kui is a Mandarin phrase that means “to eat a loss.” And Chi ya ba kui, literally means “to eat a mute person’s loss,” or to suffer losses or grievances in silence. I found myself with a new appreciation for this phrase recently, when as a cyclist I was involved in a traffic accident in which the other party ran a red light and collided with me, giving me a concussion and a shoulder injury—and I wound up having to pay him. If this sounds unbelievable or insane to you, then you can imagine how I feel.

 

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—Credit: Google | 图片来自:谷歌

 

For the past 3.5 years, I have been living and working in Kunshan, a city just outside of Shanghai, China. Last October, I rode a shared bike to work as usual. When I approached a green light at an intersection, I saw several jaywalkers crossing from the left side of the road to the right side of the road. Just as I was about to pass safely in front of them, one of the jaywalkers broke into a run, charging into my left side. His head slammed into my left shoulder and knocked me over, hard. My right shoulder slammed into the pavement hardest. My right hip also hit hard, and my head (despite not hitting the ground) was jolted badly enough to leave me with a mild concussion. Amidst shock and adrenaline, I didn’t take note of any pain or injury. The person who tackled me, an older fellow, was sitting on the pavement looking bewildered. In frustration, I yelled at him for his carelessness before getting back on my bike.

 

--- Shenzhen, Guangdong, 2016 | 广东深圳

— Shenzhen, Guangdong, 2016 | 广东深圳

 

Upon arriving, I mentioned the situation to coworkers. My bosses advised me that I must report the accident. We went to the police station. The older fellow had already made a report and had gone to the hospital for a thorough examination. It was later determined that he had broken a bone in his thumb, and this broken bone would require surgery to repair.

 

--- Xi'an, Shanxi, 2013.7 | 陕西西安

— Xi’an, Shanxi, 2013.7 | 陕西西安

 

Fortunately, the police were able to obtain video footage of the accident from traffic cameras. This footage confirmed that the accident occurred exactly as I remembered—he was jaywalking, he unexpectedly started running (to catch a bus), and he slammed into me. Unfortunately for me, none of this matters—the legal system favors him. He is older, I am younger. He is a pedestrian, I had a vehicle (even if only a bicycle). His injuries required expensive medical care, mine required time and rest. He is uninsured and has no income, I am apparently rich (or at least that’s the perception of foreigners). His financial damages included the cost of his surgery, his other medical costs, estimated future medical costs, and wages lost from his part-time job. The portion of these damages which I ultimately had to pay amounted to 23,000 RMB, roughly $3300 USD.

 

--- Xi'an, Shanxi, 2013.7 | 陕西西安

— Xi’an, Shanxi, 2013.7 | 陕西西安

 

The whole episode felt like a descent into madness. My side of the story mostly fell on deaf ears. I was eventually advised to stop telling it. What if I just stayed quiet, humble, and contrite (although there was nothing to be contrite about)?

 

--- Shenzhen, Guangdong, 2016 | 广东深圳

— Shenzhen, Guangdong, 2016 | 广东深圳

 

Now that it’s over, I am sharing my story to boost awareness among expats. In any case, if some good comes out of this, one way or another, I’ll feel better about the whole situation. Perhaps I’ll ultimately have to chi kui, to eat the loss. I can live with that. But I don’t want to chi ya ba kui, to suffer the loss in silence. Nor should anyone. If you agree, please share.

 

quote-it-often-requires-more-courage-to-suffer-in-silence-than-to-rebel-more-courage-not-to-booker-t-washington-53-20-96

—Credit: Google | 图片来自:谷歌

--- Xi'an, Shanxi, 2013.7 | 陕西西安

— Xi’an, Shanxi, 2013.7 | 陕西西安

 

Mike’s story made me wonder, why do the innocent suffer?
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— Shenzhen, Guangdong, 2016 | 广东深圳

 

About Heather Cai:

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently living in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

 

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!

 

Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

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When You Are Hit by a Car, and You Are Fine

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

If you are hit by a car, then normally you would not be fine, but would know what to do, right? However, if you are hit by a car, and you are fine, what would you do?

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

This question might confuse everybody. Let me tell you a fresh story, my story.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

One ordinary morning in April this year, I was hit by a car. It happened at a pedestrian crossing with no traffic lights in Jiangsu Road. I’ve crossed this two-way road for nearly five-hundred days since I moved to Shanghai. It was during the week but after the peak. And the traffic was not busy. As usual, I was enjoying some music with earphones plugged in and following a guy in the front. It was just another morning on my way to work.

 

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Then, all of a sudden, a car just missed the guy and drove straight at me. Scared, I slightly turned away and raised my right hand sending out a signal: “Stop!” But the driver didn’t stop. It first hit my right hip and made me lose balance. I fell towards the car. My right arm was pressing on the hood and my left hand holding my phone tight in the air. The speed was not enough to make me fly, but fast enough to lift me up. My feet were dragged along till the end of the zebra line. Finally, the car stopped. I fell onto the ground and rolled once. It happened too fast. But my subconscious was in slow motion, almost like a dream. There were no sounds, no colors, no pain, nothing. I couldn’t remember how I got up. The moment I started hearing sounds and seeing colors, I found my phone was missing. It took me several minutes to find it behind one of the front wheels. When I found my white earphones were stained black, I began to feel angry. All the while, the driver wearing glasses, remained in his comfortable seat. Thinking about this and realizing that I was supposed to be in a hurry, I couldn’t help shouting at the nerdy driver.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

“I was walking right after the guy. How could you just drive straight at me?”

 

“Sorry, I didn’t see you.” He didn’t even look at me. Or was he ashamed to look at me?

 

“Are you blind?”

 

“Sorry…” He said indifferently. I became more angry.

 

“Bullshit! You hit me!”

 

“Sorry…” He repeated it, throwing me a glance with the same indifference.

 

“Aren’t you going to say something?” My anger almost exploded.

 

“Sorry…” He turned into a stone, and the car horns were blowing behind him.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

I was too shocked to think further and too speechless to stay longer. In the end, I gave him a middle finger and left.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

By the time I entered the metro station, my mind spun. How could I forget to take a picture of his car number? Idiot! I should report him. But what would I do if I did? Would I like to deal with the police? Would it be worth reporting him?

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

All day long, I was looped by questions. I didn’t feel any pain until the water ran over my body in a shower. There were bruises on my knees, my palms and my hip. And my left little finger couldn’t move. But this didn’t worry me. I actually laughed. Because my family’s newest superstition says that my luck would turn in 2019.   

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

Now, two months have passed. The only thing that still bothers me is my little finger. I often play with it, in a way like one long-bearded philosopher would touch his beard. And meantime I would wonder: If you were me, what would you do? Would you report him right there? Or would you walk away feeling shocked and lucky?

 

About the Author:

 

Heather in Sri Lanka, Mar 2015.

Heather in Sri Lanka, Mar 2015.

 

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently living in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

 


Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

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Reflections on a WeChat Moment

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The Wechat Moment | Crow’s Solo Exhibition in Shanghai M50 Art Zone, 2019.4.22

 

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Me & Crow | Photograph: Shan He, 2019.4.22

 

This speech, inspired by a WeChat Moment I posted recently. Here it is. What do you see? And what do you think of this Moment? Particularly this photo – me & Crow standing on the black feathers in front of his paintings that I like. Doesn’t it look normal to you? Yeah, pretty much. Right?

 

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Exhibition Poster, courtesy ART OF CROW

 

But to my family, it is not normal at all. The instant my mum saw this post in the morning she sent me tons of voice messages. “Don’t take a picture with a guy that ‘big’.” “Don’t share in public any man who is not your boyfriend.” “Don’t let a foreigner take advantage of your body.” “Don’t smile like you are having an affair with him.”

 

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Crow’s Solo Exhibition, 2019.4.22

 

Oh, isn’t my mum lovely? I adored her sense of humour. She is illiterate, she can only read pictures. If you were me hearing that, how would you react? If it was your mum telling you that, what would you say? Would you think it is absurd? Would you feel it is funny? 

I did.

 

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Crow’s Solo Exhibition, 2019.4.22

 

But… but when my old sister called me in the evening and said the same thing, I was shocked. She is half illiterate, as she didn’t have a chance to finish primary school. Undoubtedly she cannot read any English. Imagine her mood when she was asking me these questions – “Why did you take a picture with a guy that old?” “How could you post such a Moment?” “Don’t you think it’s too ugly to be graceful?” “Isn’t it bad for you to find a good husband?” “Do you know the others might take him as your real boyfriend?”

 

What? Wait, wait, wait…

 

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Crow’s Solo Exhibition, 2019.4.22

 

All of a sudden, I realized how much I’ve embarrassed my family and what they were worrying about was true. Probably having lived in a big city for a long time, I almost forgot what happened in a tiny village. Who would have thought the small thing in a remote corner can affect your current life in a busy center? Especially a surprising rumor that I didn’t give a damn about?

 

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Crow’s Solo Exhibition, 2019.4.22

 

In December 2013, I returned to my home village with my English editor Mike. He wanted to see where I grew up and was keen on taking his children to visit some dying villages on the edge of China. Before they came in the summer of 2014, I took Mike to my birthplace – the first man ever. 

 

捕获

The smoking house, my home in Fujian Province, 2014.8

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Mike, Kat, Chris & Craig in my home village, Fujian, 2014.8

 

If later no one had spread the rumor that Mike was my boyfriend, with my ignorance and innocence, I could have never understood the fact that when a girl brings a man back to the village, the man must be her husband-to-be. And if my family didn’t remind me of such a fact behind the rumor, I probably wouldn’t be talking about this shit right now. It feels like a shame that was filmed for someone from an alien planet yet my family have been bearing it for me in silence.

 

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Details, courtesy ART OF CROW

 

Strangely, wherever I go, that part of my world with those who live under the sky as big as the mouth of a well, never stops haunting me at night.

 

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Details, courtesy ART OF CROW

 

And the strangest thing is, now I seem to be consciously aware of not taking a picture with a guy who is not my boyfriend. Can you believe that? I can’t even believe myself. A WeChat Moment begins to miraculously influence a rebellious leftover woman. Is it the power of something almost skeptical or my love for my family? Frankly, I don’t know.

 

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Photograph: courtesy Shan He, 2019.4.22

 

Do your family tell you what you should do and what you shouldn’t? Have they criticized anything about your lifestyle? Or are you free to do anything?

 


 

 – Art of Crow –

捕获

Artistic credo: “You can also paint a song”

 

Crow is a  German painter, rock musician, and performance artist. His paintings and installations are as energetic and passionate as his rock songs, inspired by the natural elements earth, air, fire, and water, and by a wild and free spirit.As the founder, vocalist and songwriter of the Heavy Metal band Medusa`s Child (1999-present), Crow toured through Europe and Asia, and his artwork was exhibited in China, Japan, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, and the USA. Alternating between microphone and brush, Crow follows his artistic credo – “You can also paint a song.“

 


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现代人 The Modern People

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—听老家村里唯一一位活了将近百岁的裹脚老奶奶“唠叨” (照片拍摄:Mike, 福建槽坑村,2014.8 | Fujian) A nearly 100-year-old and the only woman Yu with bound-feet in my home village.

 

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—西方周游过世界的Mike 与东方从未离过村的裹脚老奶奶之间的对话。 (照片拍摄:Heather, 福建槽坑村,2014.8 | Fujian) A conversation between the western Mike, who has travelled all over the world, and the eastern Yu, who has never left the village.

 

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—一双裹脚鞋,摄于美国作家Amanda的深圳公寓,2014 | Writer Amanda’s, Shenzhen

 

请问谁没有听过老一輩的人說,我們那個年代有多苦多苦,現在的人應該懂得知足?

 

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—摄于福建寿宁,2014.8 | Shouning Town, Fujian Province

 

時代在突飞猛进,为什么还没有一项科技可以完全消除人类的烦恼呢?

 

捕获

—摄于广东深圳,2014.11 | Shenzhen, Guangdong

 

物欲持续横流,钢筋水泥下人心不乏孤独,请问现在的人都在焦虑什么呢?有人会忧国忧民吗?有人感到怀才不遇吗?有人买不到好房好车吗?有人找不到真爱吗?有人认为工作压力太大工作收入太少吗?有人害怕世界末日资源能源快要耗竭吗?有人怀疑社会不公平生活毫无乐趣吗?有人觉得自己太少受关注吗?有人叹息这人生没有目标没有成就感吗?

 

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—摄于福建寿宁,2014.8 | Shouning Town, Fujian Province

 

既然人类如此焦虑,那我们跟上时代的步伐了吗?还是跟着时代的机器一个轮子一个齿子的滚着?那我们还算是现代人吗?

 

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—摄于福建老家,2013.12 | My home village, Fujian Province

 

维基百科生物学上有提到,現代人類是在約20萬年前的東非大裂谷演化成形的。我很好奇,这20万年到底积淀了人类多少的智慧与烦恼呢?我也很好奇,这20万年过去了,现代人是不是比古代人更聪明呢?请问有谁能够认为自己是铁铮铮的现代人呢?有谁能够站出来称自己是现代社会主义的接班人呢?又有谁能够考虑人类的生存条件而当一名真正的现代人呢?

 

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—摄于广东深圳荔枝公园,2014.6 | Litchi Park, Shenzhen

 

半年前,带着这些令人抓狂的问题,我写下了这一篇日记:
彼时的我在生命的长河正顺流醉入声势磅礴的瀑布之中。这纵然一跃是蜕变,也是解开一个千缠百绕的扭结。那扭结缠绕的松紧是人和环境的摩擦与交融。因为一次偶然的机缘,加入大都会后,更觉得环境是自己的血肉之躯,而人就是多巴胺。

 

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—摄于福建老家房顶,2013.12 | The rooftop of my home dirt house, Fujian Province

 

在上海一个缘故也没有,却决然选择做保险,就是想要在不可能中创造一种可能!
好比如当初笃定自己一个人死了就死了,不可能会有“杂念”。但自从落地这个大魔都后,发现越是迷恋一座城市,越是向往一种新生活,对求生的欲望就越强,从而危机感便油然而生, 成为了可能。
正是如此,我开始领悟从不可能到可能只要一个想法或观念的转变,开始反思自己过去对保险的无视,开始追问为什么国人都不大爱投保,开始明白为什么国家近年重视保险教育了,也开始相信保险其实能解决社会很多问题。想想,要是人人都有了保障,这个社会不就更安定更和谐了吗?有了保障,还会焦头烂额可怜兮兮的搞轻松筹吗?有了保障,还会怕一个人病塌一个家吗?有了保障,还担心要是顶梁柱倒下了剩下家人该怎么办吗?有了保障,面对风险还会手足无措吗?

 

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—摄于广东深圳荔枝公园,2014.6 | Litchi Park, Shenzhen

 

我很喜欢这份工作!它不仅充满爱与责任,让我学到很多东西,认识很多有趣的人,还能在极限中挑战和突破自己,做一些不喜欢做的事情却可以带来意外的惊喜。

 

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—摄于福建老家,2013.12 | Inside my home dirt house in Caokeng Village, Fujian Province

 

假如参加活动是一艘帆船要启航了,那认识人就是乘风破浪。这是一次冒险的旅行。旅行的目的就是大胆地传播爱,传播福音,传播正能量。请记住,船长不是倭寇,也不是加勒比海盗,而是一个敬畏生命、连只蚂蚁都舍不得踩的小女人。她的名字叫蔡太莲!

 

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—摄于福建老家,2013.12 | My home village, Fujian Province

 

很坦诚的说,历经一个蜕变的过程犹如在一个黑暗的瓶颈里奋力求生。此时此刻,我特别感谢并珍惜跟我见面的人!

 

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—福建老家:最左边那栋土房,2013.12 | My home – the left house, Fujian Province

 

记得胡适先生有说过:“保险的意义只是今天做明天的准备;生时做死时的准备;父母做儿女的准备;儿女幼时做儿女长大的准备。今天预备明天,这是真稳健;生时预备死时,这是真豁达;父母预备儿女,这是真慈爱。能做到这三步的人,才能算作是现代人。”

 

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—摄于广东深圳荔枝公园,2014.6 | Litchi Park, Shenzhen

 

敢问我们究竟有多少人堪称自己是“现代人”呢?

 

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Mindset

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Note: This is my third speech in Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

 

Does it ever occur to you that your keys are in your hand but you cannot find them? Why is that? Why does it often occur to me? Perhaps my mind was traveling, my memory terrible, my habits awful. But I never realized this could be a problem, my problem, until after the smart Michelle Wu told me, “Novel language is all about liberating the soul of the author, while public speaking is about making an instant connection with different souls.” 

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

This immediately helped put my bizarre thoughts together – my soul seems to linger in the past, my spirit seems to thrive in the future, yet my body seems to float in the present. I wondered hard how to connect my soul in the past with different souls in the present. Her words made me think about the way of my thinking, my habitual attitude, my beliefs about myself, and my most basic qualities. Her words also made me think of a high school roommate who just wouldn’t talk to me till our graduation day when I finally couldn’t help asking her why. Guess what she said? “I don’t talk to you, because you are a girl, but you look like a boy, you talk like a boy, you act like a boy and you seem to play only with boys.”

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Oh, believe me, that confused me a lot. Since then, I would consciously ask myself: Who am I? What am I? Why am I like this? The only thing I’m certain is that I just want to write more, I can’t really care about what’s around me.

 

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—Me in Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Then one evening during the Gossip Dinner after the Chinese Contest, the noble Suhail gently commented that my speech The Modern People was too deep, and the funny Alvin thought I must have prepared the speech for long time. That moment, my mind was enlightened. Firstly, I wrapped up the ideas on Monday, wrote the speech on Tuesday and delivered it on Wednesday. What made Alvin think that way? Secondly, why is the world I see different from the world others see? What on earth makes such a difference? 

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Then I recalled the reason why I joined Toastmasters. Like many of you, I really want to make a proper speech. Each time when standing on the stage, I imagined it was a party like the party in The Great Gatsby and you were my guests who could be writers, editors, publishers, journalists, artists or my dear friends who know me the best. I’m sorry if I have imagined too far. But thanks to the most handsome Brian, the sensual Paul, the courageous Damir and all those who have shown me something great on the stage, I came to the conclusion that our brains work very differently. But how differently?

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

It is fascinating to ask, “Which position would you like to place your mind and which direction would you like to see?”

It is even more fascinating to know that all this wondering is just mindset.

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

What is mindset?

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

It is a way of thinking, an attitude, an opinion, or your beliefs.

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

Now think about your intelligence, talents and personality. Who believes that you have a certain amount of brain and talent and nothing can change that? Please raise your left hand. Congratulations! You have a fixed mindset. And who believes that your brain and talent can be developed through dedication and hard work? Please raise your right hand. More congratulations! You have a growth mindset.

For those who didn’t raise any hand, I have more questions for you. Have you ever judged yourself and others like: “I’m a loser.” “ I’m a better person than they are.” “I’m a bad husband.” “My partner is selfish.”? Or would you ask yourself: What can I learn from this? How can I improve? How can I help my partner do this better?

 

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—Hongkong, 2014.1, 摄于香港

 

You don’t need to tell me the answer. This is a story we tell ourselves. But how to change the story with a growth mindset? How would you improve your speech without changing your style?

 

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大学城 | A Square Well In College

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—All my early Chinese writings are buried in this notebook, including a Chinese novel without a “happy” ending and this prose written on November 30th, 2008. 

—所有早期汉语作品都埋在这里了,今天挖出来分享一下08年汶川大地震发生后,个人对时间、生命和梦想的萌萌领悟。

 

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—海南琼台师范大学(旧校区),摄于2011年5月 

—No camera, no smart phone, no pics to share before 2010. This photo of my campus in Hainan Island was taken in May 2011. 

 

穿过一片田地,沿着一条公路,渐渐地,宽阔的道路,耸起的高楼,闲散的人流,就在这片黄土山坡上的大学城中,一一映入眼帘。

不论何时何地,我都喜欢凝望大学城的天空。很多时候,它是那么的澄澈,明净;湛蓝湛蓝的,飘着几朵雪白的云。看着看着,感觉好像在某个起风的冬日,喝下一口热乎乎的薄荷茶,清清的,爽爽的,叫人心旷神怡,从头到脚都是新的。

 

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—Photo taken in Haikou, May 2011 | 图片摄于海口,2011.5

 

但是,它也有黯然失色的时候。只是,它不像那些城市污染的天空,那般浑浊。没有太阳出现的天空,是灰色的,阴暗的,寂寞的,无奈的;犹如蒙上了一层神秘的黑面纱,时不时地露出一缕神色不定的日光。

有好几个黄昏,大学城的天空异常美丽壮观,仿佛海平线上的夕阳,火红火红的一片,斜照在宿舍楼的某个高处。我定定地望着它,那扣人心弦的一幕,好似盛开在丛林中一朵艳丽夺目的山茶花。

恍过神来,和朋友一起出去散散步,吹吹风,大学城的夜景一样迷人。尤其是那条“美食街”:人们买的买,卖的卖,摆的摆,逛的逛;拥挤的过道只容得下一个人,繁忙的景象一到这个时候,几乎都不曾休闲过。同学们三三两两,成群结队的,蜂拥而至。一波走了,另一波又来了。只有我这双呆滞的目光停留在来来往往的人群中,总想摸索点什么。

 

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—Photo taken in Sanya, May 2011 | 图片摄于三亚,2011.5

 

渐渐地,天要更衣了。披上一层时而明朗,时而朦胧,时而暗淡的月光。笼罩在人来人往的人流中,拖出一条条忽长忽短、若隐若现的影子。我总觉得,人好小,影子好长,好模糊,甚至怀疑那地上的影子到底是不是自己的。

我很不确定。一个人踱着细碎的脚步漫不经心地朝宿舍的方向走去。

大学城的宿舍,像一个古色古香的四合院。你看着对面的人,对面的人也在看着你;无劲,无聊;闭塞的氛围,只有一个小门口可以出去透透气,一个四围的天窗可以看看天。怎么,就像是坐井观天?

 

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—Photo taken in Sanya, May 2011 | 图片摄于三亚,2011.5

 

夜渐渐深了,人却静不下来。从前,一楼地男生有个专门的乐队,其中一个男生挽着一部吉他,深情地哼着一道道青春挽歌,流出一丝丝校园纯情,夹杂着一抹抹绵绵哀伤,隔如一层淡淡的红豆香。

汶川大地震发生后的一个夜晚,大伙手捧一根根蜡烛,烛光一晃一晃的,像是一盆水在阳光的照耀下,反射在墙壁上,形成一道触目惊心的光和影。生命的脆弱,在光和影的荡漾中不断跳跃,挣扎。一旦将毛巾轻轻地放入水中,缓缓地浸湿,那个跳动的影子便渐渐地消失,渐渐地不见了。留给人的只有一抹忧伤的记忆。心也慢慢地往下沉,深入生命的漩涡。但我们都知道,祈祷完了,还得记得祝福明天。

 

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—Photo taken in Sanya, May 2011 | 图片摄于三亚,2011.5

 

夜很深很深,人也很静很静的时候,只有不眠的昆虫在鸣叫,偶尔有情侣在调情。但更多的是,野性的呼唤!人心惶惶的我,总会在噩梦中被惊醒。

天刚破晓,回荡在大学城的上空,几乎每天都是同样的几个调。而我每次都会在这样的背景音乐中,心揪得好痛好痛。不管那音乐的调调是喜是悲,节奏是快是慢,我的心都是悬着的。躺,躺不下;坐,坐不住;傻傻的,发着呆;时间,就这样在一阵冥想中悄悄地流逝了。于是,我再也不敢躺,不敢坐,不去发呆,也不愿去想。洗刷完之后,粗粗的整理一下书本,就匆匆地往食堂奔去了。

那是头一回,我在冥冥之中感到时间的仓促,生命的短暂。我想,是时候该做点该做的事了。

 

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—Photo taken in Sanya, May 2011 | 图片摄于三亚,2011.5

 

在这片蓝蓝的天空下,在这个小小的大学城中,我曾深深地感触到人情的冷漠和疏远,世俗的讥讽,官僚的腐败,思想的堕落,人性的腐化。未来等待我的是残酷的面试,“由衷”的失业。我一直在想,在苦苦地思想着,到底要干什么好。到底要往哪去放飞我的梦想?

 

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—Photo taken on the ship back to Shenzhen, May 2011 | 图片摄于回深圳的轮船上,2011.5

 

庆幸的是,身边还有位知心朋友,可以倾诉倾诉。虽然,我们的思想大不相同,甚至相反,但不冲突。她让我在茫茫之中大彻大悟:要做就做一个“思想着”的人,而不是一个单纯的“冥想者”。


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Aftertaste


“I read what seduces me, I write what perverts me. “

– Heather Cai –


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–Tian’anmen Building (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

“The Chinese people have stood up!” These words were announced to the world by Chairman Mao on October 1st 1949 from Tian’anmen Square in the heart of Beijing. For that reason, exactly 66 years later, after writing my first English novel, I made a solo trip to the capital city. Standing on the grand Tian’anmen Building where Mao had stood, I wanted to feel the glorious moment with the thunderous applause. But there was no sense of glory, nor trace of history. The buzzing of the tourist commerce sickened me. My imagination was bombed. I was disappointed.

 

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–Inside the Tian’anmen Building (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

Instead of standing a long time on the grand Tian’anmen Building, I went down-to-earth leafing from one hutong to another. And in one of the many hutongs near Lemma Temple, I met Lysanne Thibodeau, a Canadian filmmaker. She came with a fancy camera and a bright smile asking me for directions to a place, which I was just looking for on my map.

 

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–We met outside this place (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

Delighted by such a coincidence, I wondered: have you ever had such a beautiful moment in your life with a strange person from a strange country in a strange city that you could never forget?  

 

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–What brings us together? (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

I couldn’t say that I had a crush on Lysanne, but her appearance gave me the impression of some romance. The afternoon sun seemed to have taken a shine to us in the endless blue.

 

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–It felt like the nacreous cloud that day (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

With much joy and talk, we headed to 798 Art Zone for a couple of wonderful hours. Till our legs were tired and our throats dry, we shared a taxi to enjoy a cheering drink at a pub in Houhai Park. It was during their Happy Hours, and time slipped through our fingers delicately. Listening to the mixed music, we looked around, talked about casual things and started making jokes. The coolness of the beer refreshed our minds, and Lysanne’s face blushed. She said the alcohol made her burn. I laughed. She laughed.

 

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 –Lysanne and Heather in Houhai Park (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

When the drinks were finished, our stomachs rumbled. We chose a seafood restaurant in a dark lane. All the loud music now sounded distantly behind us. Sitting in a cozy corner with a view of some layered roofs outside, we ordered three dishes very quickly and began to share ideas about what we had seen that day. Both of us were overwhelmed with gratitude as we discussed some possibilities of what it would’ve been like if we never met. Gradually, we talked more openly, and our conversations deepened to the very marrow of our personal life. Lysanne made a video of me, which later she asked for my permission to use for a documentary.

 

 

–The Seafood Restaurant (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

By nine-thirty, we finished our dinner and were both dying for a piss. The only toilet available was somewhere along the dark lane. We hurried there, and found it had no light, no door, but only two holes. One of them was occupied by a girl, who was playing on her phone like a statue. She must be reading something fascinating. The screen almost touched her big nose, and her small eyes were hidden by her neat fringe. The light played a beautiful pattern on the concrete ceiling. The stillness of the rough surface condensed her motionless face – a gorgeous scene that we wished to capture. But we couldn’t help laughing, and we just couldn’t stop laughing. With a muffled voice, Lysanne kindly let me pee first. Eyeing each other and at the “statue”, we laughed even louder. A strange chemistry was flowing in our blood, then steaming to the air. It was a stimulation of some excitement.

 

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–The stimulating lights in Houhai Park (Beijing, 2015.10)

 

The chemistry climaxed when we ran out of the toilet, with the striking image of the girl remaining as she was when we first saw her. We terribly felt like sharing a cigarette. But neither of us wanted a whole pack, nor a cheap brand. We started looking for one from some passers-by with smart outfits but failed. We then walked back to a cigarette store that was opposite the pub we had been in earlier. I asked the young owner: “Hey Boss! May I borrow a good cigarette from you?” Throwing us a suspicious glance but without uttering a word, to our amazement, he handed me a Marlboro cigarette and helped light it. After taking a long drag, I gave it to Lysanne. She sucked more slowly and more deeply, blowing two clouds of smoke out of her nostrils. In turns, we finished the delicious cigarette, only with more laughter. The night felt light and pleasant. We said goodbye with the aftertaste of a strangely lasting day.

 

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