Symphony No. 9 ~ Beethoven
我作为唯一的English as a second language 的客人，也不能拂了主人的美意，就只能赶鸭子上架，在参加聚会前的几小时，匆匆翻译了一篇我已经写就的作文，是一个至1949年后，我家六十多年的故事。（今年刚开博不久，我已经把中文篇发在我的博客里，《一个美国洋娃娃的故事-大妹回家》，只是中英文两篇略有不同，英文篇就贴在下面，如您有兴趣看中文篇，请查看我的博客，谢谢！）
当我读完我作文的最后一句，一屋子的人鸦雀无声。我心里纳闷，老美听懂了我这中国口音的英文了吗？来美近三十年了，在公司上班时，英文交流基本没出过什么大问题。然而这种语言上的不自信，常还会悄然而至，防不胜防。突然， to my big surprise ，大家热烈地鼓起掌来，还有几位泪光闪闪。
老美朋友们的反应之强烈和激动是我出乎意料之外的，一位资深摄影评论家对我说，我的故事深深地触动了她的内心，说着泪珠就滚落了下来。一位专利律师(A patent lawyer)过来给我一个大大的拥抱， 说她简直不能想象我家那十年里，家人被迫四散分离的悲哀。还有一位化学系的教授说要让他的俩双胞胎儿子也读读我的故事，要他们懂得珍惜现在所拥有的自由和幸福，还要学学我揣着五十美金到美国追梦打拼的精神。一位石油业工程师很是吃惊地说他称得上博览群书，竟然不知道中国那十年真正所发生的事情。 还有一两位坚持要我投稿到星期六88.7FM， The Moth (a program,一个由作者本人朗读自己所写作的真实故事）。
有位退休中学老师问我是从中国哪里来的，我说是从南京来的。好几位老美朋友马上说他们读过《The Rape of Nanking》by Iris Chang (这里特别为这位用她自己的年轻生命，来还原历史残酷真相的华裔女作家点上纪念心香）， 还说如果没有读过这本书，他们真不知道日本侵略军在中国所犯下的，罄竹难书的滔天罪行。所以说真实文学的能量是巨大的，还有用心笔写成的文字（即使只有初中水平）也是可以打动人心，得到共鸣的，即使是用as a second language的英文与不同文化，不同语言的读者或听众交流。。（这里特别感谢网友高斯曼和风清fq的启发和鼓励）。
《Long Long Journey 》
Enya - Long Long Journey (Lyrics)
I believe Music is the gift from God. It is said, that music has no time barrier, no land barrier and no language barrier. Music is universal, meanwhile it is so personal, that the same music or songs can move and touch people’s heart in such different, delicate and unique ways. That is why I had the urge to tell my little story right after I listened to Irish singer Enya’s song ”Long, Long Journey”.
Damei, an American doll, was brought back to China by my mom from USA at the end of 1940s. Damei, in Chinese means elder sister. Damei’s Chinese pronunciation is the same as winter plum flower, which is one of Chinese peoples' favorite flowers, blossoming in late winter and early spring. For years, many Chinese girls were named as Mei since their parents wished that their little daughters could be like winter plum flower to survive strongly and blossom happily from hardships as cold and bare winters. Meanwhile, this word has the same pronunciation for “Rose” in Chinese, the beautiful American national flower and also many American girls were named as Rose since their parents believed that their dear daughters would grow up beautifully and prosperously just as morning new roses opened in sunshine days.
About 70 years ago, from Shanghai, China, my dad exchanged Chinese money for 15 dollars and sent it to my mom in USA (they were poor students and almost had nothing then) just before my mom finished her study in Vanderbilt University, Tennessee and was ready to go home to China. My dad asked my mom to buy a gift from my dad for herself as a souvenir for her unforgettable experience in USA. So my mom picked Damei in a department store in Nashville.
Before I took Damei back to my home in Texas. Damei always sat on a pile of clothes in my mom’s bedroom closet. If you opened the door of the closet, you could see Dame’s bright green eyes, brown curly hair with two little braids made by my older sister when she was a kid.
My mom said that when my older sister was just born, she was put with Damei side by side; Damei’s head was a little bigger than my older sister’s was. Also I remembered an old picture that my older sister was about one year old, sitting with Damei, she was pushing Damei away very hard with a frowning little face. On the picture, mom wrote “Dislike Damei?” I guessed my older sister was suddenly recalling and unhappy about the fact that Damei’s head size had beaten hers when she was just born (please see the picture below).
I still remembered during my childhood, my mom sometimes talked to us “Why you girls grew up so quickly, looked at Damei, she was always little and not naughty at all.”
Flying over mountains and crossing ocean, my mom took Damei home from America to China. It was a long, long journey and it took around two weeks for my mom and Damei to sail on a boat and at last they landed at the port of Shanghai. Since then, Damei became a member of my family. She saw my mom and my dad get married and saw my sister and me being born. When we were children, we took a lot of pictures with Damei, on which we smiled our big smiles and laughed happily. Damei saw me go to elementary school and my older sister got admitted into a very prestigious middle school in Nanjing.
Then in 1966, the disaster began。Mao, the communist party leader then，began the Cultural Revolution, and my parents were persecuted and put into separate labor camps simply because they were college educated and taken as political opponents of the regime. My sister and I were kicked out of Junior high and sent to the countryside to labor in the fields without enough food or basic necessities. We shared the same fate with millions of other Chinese youths with similar family backgrounds to ours. During the ten years of the Cultural Revolution, schools were closed, there were no books (except one, Mao’s red book), no music, no laughter, only tears, persecution and suffering. Damei was the only one left in the home. She was bravely sitting on a pile of clothes in my mom’s bedroom closet. She was waiting patiently for her family members come home one by one gradually - we finally all came home by 1976. I bet Damei was very happy to see we all survived that horrible 10 years’ catastrophes and had eventually come back home. After the Cultural Revolution, we started a new life again, everyone worked hard, trying to catch up with the 10 years’ tremendous losses. I worked in an electronical parts assembly line during daytime and went to school to learn English and other high school courses during night. I eventually earned a college degree later. My mom devoted her heart and all of her efforts to revive Chinese nursing education field and she worked hard until she retired at 79 years of age.
At the beginning of the 80s, my mom was invited to Boston by her American nursing colleagues to learn and introduce more modern nursing technology and concepts to China. I knew Damei definitely wanted to go back to America with mom to see her homeland again after she left so long ago, but Damei knew her duties, she just faithfully sat on a pile of clothes in my mom’s bedroom closet to accompany my dad while we were all out of the house, busy with our working and studying. During the Cultural Revolution, my dad was badly tortured mentally and physically and lost his health. He was bedridden for 9 years before he lost his battle in 1985. Anyway, my dad did live to the time when he could listen to his favorite classic music as he wished without being fearful of getting into any trouble (any western music was forbidden during that ten years) and the classic music lifted my dad’s spirit and took his imagination to those beautiful lands, mountains and rivers where my dad was too sick to go. Damei told me that my dad listened to the 10 world’s most famous violin concertos and Beethoven’s 9 symphonies day by day while he lay on bed by himself with only Damei present.
Since I was a child. I always wondered what kind of American homeland Damei came from. Even during those cold, hungry and exhausting labor days in that poor village, my imagination about America always warmed my heart and brought me some hope and strength to get through my intolerable hardships. When Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger visited China in early 70s, my parents came back home from labor camps for a short visit, my sister and I came home to see them. My family had a secret celebration, my parents and Damei sang together “America the Beautiful” very quietly almost like whispers, scaring others might hear and report us to the red guards. I could never forget that night, their faces were lit up and their eyes were shining with hope while they sang.
America The Beautiful with Lyrics
At the end of 1980s, with 50 dollars in my pocket and Damei’s words “if you can dream it, you can do it”, like my mom, I was flying over mountains and crossing oceans to go to America for a higher education and my American dream. At the beginning, in order to survive, I worked at all kinds of low paying jobs (waitress, baby sitter, housekeeper, and laundress). I tried to save each penny for my school, for a long time, I only ate 0.29/lb. Chicken legs, the cheapest food in the grocery store until one day I really had enough of chicken and even tasted the chicken poo smell from my food.
While I was striving for realizing my American dream, Damei was quietly and patiently sitting on a pile of clothes in my mom’s bedroom closet to keep company with my mom every day and night, waiting for my monthly overseas letters or the very few phone calls (international phone call was very expensive then) to tell mom her daughter was doing fine in America. Damei told me how happy my mom was after I eventually got my master degree in Accounting with a 3.95 GPA and how proud she was after I passed my Texas CPA license exam. After I brought AE home to meet my mom , Damei secretly passed on my mom’s opinion and advice that AE was a very kind and honest man, I must treasure his love and must not bully him in any way.
My mom passed away peacefully at home when she was 91 years old. I knew Damei must be sad and cry for a long, long time. Damei eventually stopped crying and told me that my parents were happy together in heaven forever now. However, Damei was still sitting on a pile of clothes in my mom’s bedroom closet, waiting for me, the far-away daughter come home to go to the green mountain where my parent’s ashes spread out and paid them a daughter’s final love and respect.
Just before I was about to fly back to Texas after my last visit to my hometown in Nanjing, Damei decided to say a Goodbye to her Chinese family and friends and fly back to Texas with me, back to her home land after she left it so many years ago.
After taking such a long, long journey to China, then back to America, Damei at last settled in our home in Texas. During one of our visits to Bill (AE’s father) in Dallas, we took Damei to see him. Bill was an old brave American marine guy and a tough vice president in a big electronical company during his career. By the way, Bill was also from Tennessee and had graduated from Vanderbilt, and so was Damei’s “Lao xiang” (hometown next-door neighbor in Chinese). After I told Bill about Damei’s story, Bill was silent for a while. I thought he might take a nap when I was telling the story, but to AE’s and my surprise, we saw a drop of transparent tear slowly flowing down Bill’s weather-beaten cheek, eventually, he sighed softly and said “ it was really a touching story”.
这是我的一位在大学教小提琴的英国教授朋友（她的名字叫玫瑰）读了我《Long Long Journey》后，寄给我的谢卡。