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

(He) “Can perhaps I be the one standing up here and watch YOU go? . “No, no, no: it’s me up here watching you fade away ==- please please listen and don’t try to come back – I can’t go round with you any more”

I was of course in terror that he would come back to confine (hem) me in – so I added: “You can’t possess me: from now on I’m going to be seeing a boy I met in my classe(s); no more dating for us.”

But even as I spoke I felt myself getting tense: I was so afraid that I was wounding a boy in his first experience of love – first love makes one so fragile.

He said: OK , I can’t come back to smother you; but you have to stop treating me like a little boy. During these several weeks we’ve been seeing each other you’ve always made me out as a child. So when you say: “Don’t try to own me”, my thought is always, “if it is my owning you that must end, then so it will end, unless you decide otherwise”

The talk stopped: it was already late. He stood up and began to move away first slowly then faster, at the run. Running, then looking back at me then running then… “Echo, Farewell, Echo Farewell”.

As I stood watching a light snow began to fall, as night came on there was more snow. As he ran off down the hill he waved that chapeau of his, still now and then turning to look back, I stood there watching his shape dissolve into the dark and the flurries of snow. It was all I could do to keep myself from from calling out “Jose come back”. But I didn’t.

(Each time since then, when I saw the scene in Dream of the Red Chamber where Baoyu is leaving home, I can’t help thinking back to how that (not yet) 18 year old Jose had looked vanishing into the dark, while over and over calling “Echo, farewell, Echo Farewell”. )

After he went away that night he never again came looking for me. I began dating another student, someone from my class, my age. We would run into him on the street every now and then; but one day we bumped into each other, and he looked at us, stopping. He following the Spanish custom of holding my hands and kissing both of my cheeks, and asking “How have you been”?

I’d said: “Jose, how ARE you – this is my boyfriend XXX”, and then Jose would would shake hands with him.

“He’s grown a beard, and had gotten taller…”

This was the last I saw of him for 6 years. My program in Spain was finished. It was time to go back to Taiwan.


But then one day back in Taiwan a Spanish girlfriend showed up. “Do you still remember Jose’? Of course”. “Well he’s changed: has a beard, taller. “ “Really?”

“I have a letter here from him for you and also a photo he wanted to to?..” Surprised: “Of course I do”. Wny did it just come out like that? I realized he had never been out of my thoughts. But my visitor continued: “He said that if you’d already forgotten him please not to give you the letter or show you the photo..”

I answered: “You must understand clearly: I’ve never forgotten him, just that he was too much younger, and too straight. — I didn’t want to hurt him, that’s all. “

When I took the letter into my hands, a photo dropped out: there he was with a beard, but wearing SCUBA gear, a boy with a fish he had just speared. The words tumbled out “That’s how Poseidon must have looked ..”

I opened the letter. “So many years have gone by, you’ve probably forgotten all about Jose. But listen, I must tell this secret: That night on the hill, when it snowed, I was 18, and you told me not to come back – do you know that that boy spent the whole night in tears on his pillow, and thought only of suicide … so many years, but you remember, we talked of waiting six years…”.

That’s the sort of letter it was, maudlin, and I didn’t write back. I put the letter aside, then told our mutual friend: “Please tell him I’ve gotten his letter, and give him my best”.

A half year or so , later, it was my turn to have my feelings badly hurt, then to leave Taiwan and return to Spain.

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