Mind-Dancing the Loneliness of Freedom: The Life-dance-story of “Sanmao”1943-1991

Introduction to he Collected Works, 2007 ed. Jia Ping’ao”

“Life is filled with hardships. (but we live on and endure) When it is over and the soul’s lamp gone out (one reflects) how can this happen so suddenly? … be over so soon?
Sanmao was not a woman blessed with beauty – was tall in an ungainly way, wore her hair long, uncut, went about with book and pen, wandering all across the earth – yes with her strength of youth, but also burdened by its loneliness. Her appeal to the youth of China – it can’t be overstated. For many years now one hears people still talking about her – myself included, as reader of her works and a devoted one. The artist lives by suasion, by osmosis. How I admire this true artist, Sanmao, she still sways.. ”

The Boy I Loved

I’d like to tell you this day a love story. About a boy who lived only till 30, but during than span who was my lover for 13 years. That boy was my husband.

His Spanish name was Jose, but I gave him a Chinese name “Hexi”. I chose the Chinese because it was easy to write. If any of you (my Chinese) friends knew him, you would agree that it would have been better to use the characters 和 (peaceful) and 曦 (morning rays) – because that’s the way he was. But he said: this “xi” (morning rays) letter is too hard to write, he couldn’t learn it, so instead I just thought up a name that came easiest in Chinese letters, Hexi.

When we first met he was not yet 17. It was on Xmas Eve (in Madrid): I was at a friend’s house. He had just dropped in to wish Merry Xmas to a couple of my Chinese friends.

There is a custom in Spain: upon the passing of Midnight on Xmas eve, for neighbors to pay visits to all living next to them, upstairs and down, to wish “Felicidads”s and “Paz”s – it reminded me a little of how we bid each other the best for the new year in China.  

I remember him scrambling down from upstairs to bid us…

But what an eager, handsome boy.

It was the first time I saw him, and it felt like an electric shock, a jolt; my mind asked, “how could there be such an eager, handsome boy on this planet? If someday I could be wife to him, how proud I could be, and how there would be contentment” – that was my first impression.

As time went by, I went more and more to hang out at my friend’s parador/pension, which was right next to where he lived. Beyond the hostel was a great big yard, where we used to hit baseballs or have snowball fights when it had snowed, but sometimes we just goofed off visiting the flea market. Never a centavo in our pockets.

Sometimes the stalls were open from 9 in the AM until 4 when the market closed: if we were were lucky enough we might be able to find a goosefeather.

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