After reading Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng, I began to show more interest in the political maelstrom of China during the 20th century. Currently I am reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang.
Though these were books that I've read 10 years ago, it feels different re-reading them now. It helps me understand why the Chinese people behave they way they do today. Both books describe the violent struggles between the Kuomintang and the Communists, and the vicious cycle of purges and policies orchestrated by Chairman Mao that kept the citizens living in misery and fear.
In Wild Swans, Jung Chang's father was a high-ranking officer slavishly devoted to revolution. In 1949, while he drove 1000 miles in a jeep during a long and arduous journey to Yibin, his sick and pregnant wife walked alongside due to her rank. Despite suffering excruciating pains one night, she was denied the use of the vehicle because her husband thought it would be unfair to grant his wife special privileges. She was later found lying in a pool of blood. When he discovered that she had a miscarriage, he promised to be more attentive to her needs.
Their relationship reminds me of my parents. While my father takes good care of the family's needs, he doesn't seem to be attentive towards my mother. Until now, I still hear her lamenting that he cares more for his workers than he does for her. It is simply not his style to pander to his wife's whims or to utter words of kindness to her. I can't help but feel sorry for her, now that she is ill and needs more words of comfort than anything else.
Women are not that difficult to please. Most of us are already self-sacrificing, all we ask for is to be spoken nicely to and to feel cherished. Unfortunately this is something which many of our local men cannot deliver.
During a brief relationship with a caucasian man soon after my divorce, I discovered first-hand what it felt to hear words of encouragement and endearment from a man. While the relationship was not meant to be, I still thank him for motivating me to achieve my goals. If not for him, I might not have found the courage to start my life over in a brand new industry. He was almost like my personal coach.
Until now, whenever I feel down and out, I still hear these words "You go girl! Atta girl! You can do it! You're so beautiful. You're smart. Step up to the plate, you must up the ante!" ringing in my ears after almost a decade.