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Little Tomodachi (ともだち)

Little Tomodachi (ともだち)

05
Fev20

"If you believe it, it will come true. If you don´t, it won´t"

Niel Tomodachi

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The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran

"...traditional Chinese rules for women, such as that Chinese girls didn´t belong on the family tree, weren´t allowed to choose who they married, and weren´t even allowed to receive an education in most families. Now I often think this might be one of the reasons that, like many young Chinese women of my generation, I devoted almost my whole life to the Revolution and new China."

..................

"The idea that the man has to chase the woman is truly ingrained in Chinese culture - a heavenly principale. In the past, men and women who went against this would be driven out of their family homes, sometimes even sentenced to death. This is recorded in the annuals of Chinese history, and is a common motif in classical chinese literature."

.................

"Dafu said that although people who had lived for generations is the fields might not read or write so well, they had other life skills. Men learned the ways of the earth from their fathers, women learned from their mothers how to run a house, from one generation to the next.

In times of suffering - be it natural or man-made-these peasants take confort in their belief in the earth, the sky, feng shui and the spirits. That´s why, at the beginnig of every lunar year, people offer tributs to the spirits, showing how honest and sincere they are, beging them to bring health and prosperity to their families. Although they remain living in poverty year after year, sometimes even having their families rippied apart and left destitute by the chaos of war, they attribute their suffering to their own errors. They never blame the spirits.

 That´s just the way we Chinese live. When it came to our generation, the spirits were the Communist Party - we believed in them unconditionally. But young people nowadays, thay have no faith. Don´t get me wrong, they want to have something to believe in; they scour the earth in search of something to believe in. But they always come up short because faith does not live inside their hearts. It´s like the old saying goes: "If you believe it, it will come true. If you don´t, it wont´t.""

 

05
Fev20

"My Dear Friend"

Niel Tomodachi

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The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran

"The morning after I was born, my father found on his breakfast tray a sheet of beautiful writing paper. As return gift, my mother had written out the poem "My Dear Friend" by Wang Shen:

 

The red candlight in the dead of night, 

I awake from my drunken slumber with a heavy heart,

The song I sang for you as we parted is now but an echo,

And you are far far away.

 

All hope is lost, scattered like the clouds,

I lean on the railing and stare into the distance,

An easterly wind blows the tears from my face.

 

The crab apple tree is withering,

The swallows are flying back to their nest,

As the weary dusk descends on my court yard.

 

29
Jan20

"The Winding Road"

Niel Tomodachi

Meandering_Stream_at_Lan-ting_Yamamoto_Jakurin_Han

The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran

"It's from a collection of eighteen poems called "The Winding Road", wich my mother used to read to me so often they are all practically imprinted on my brain:

 

I present to you, dear friend, a golden globet of vintage wine,

An engraved zither set in jade, a feathered veil of dazzling rainbow silk,

And a silk blanket adorned with colourful flowers.

 

But as winter draws near, and the light begins to fade,

As you shed your beauty, as you shed your youth,

I wish my dear friend could hear, not echoes from the past,

But the beat of his song.

 

Do you not hear music in the wind?

 

28
Jan20

"Three Obediences and Four Virtues"

Niel Tomodachi

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The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran

"These were a set of moral principales that dictated how a woman should act, began in ancient times and continuing right through until 1949. Confucian in origin, they set the moral standart both for how women were required to act and how men must choose their wives.

The Three Obediences dictated that a woman must obey her father as a daughter, her husband as a wife and her son as a widow. The Four Virtues were feminine morality, physical charm, propriety in speech and efficiency in housework.

These "life principales" allowed no space for women to be themselves or have control of their own lives and needs. I always believed that love, true love between Chinese women and men pre-dating my parent's generation might have only have existed in art, in those beautiful paintings, statues and works of fiction. They could only "talk love", and never display their feelings physically, educated as they were according to the Three Obediences and Four Virtues"

...............

"Sometimes, I really want to ask the young people of today what's so interesting about their love lives. To me, modern relationships just seem like a series of glorified trade-offs, as if people see love as a means to gain the upper hand in some way. I cant't make sense of it anyhow; I thought the human race was supposed to have advanced."

 

25
Jan20

"True Love?"

Niel Tomodachi

images.jpg

The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran

"Divorce as we undestand it today is a product of modern chinese society. Up until the overthrow of the feudal imperial system in 1911, a man could disown his wife, but a woman had absolutely no right to end her marriage. Then, with the violent upheavals and political turmoil of the twentieth century, divorce (and remarriage) came to be regarded as a way of climbing the political ladder to a better life. No one would admite that the reason for their divorce was to escape from a loveless and unnatural marriage. "

"It was not until the 1980s that chinese people were truly able to decide freely about marriage, to make up their minds and look for the kind of family that they really wanted. From that point on, the word " divorce" finally became a topic which people talked about openly. Some young chinese are even trying to persuade parents who married for political reasons to divorce and find the true love that was denied them in their youth. But what these children can't understand is that it is too late for many of those tired and weather-beaten souls."

 

24
Jan20

"Talking love?"

Niel Tomodachi

images.jpg

The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran

"Heaven will never grow old, nor will my love for you.

Our hearts are like fishing nets,

tied together by thousand threads"

....

""Talking love?" you have this saying in English?

In English, we say "dating" or "making love", not "talking love". But there are no laws to language - only what we express and what we understand. What's so especial about "talking love" in chinese?"

....

The past century has seen more upheavel than any other time in the 5.000 - year - old history of chinese civilisation. The ways in which people show love for each other have also changed in the face of war and cultural development. 

....

At home that evening, I started to look into the chinese term "talking love", and how its meaning has changed over time.

In a culture that traditionally forbade physical contact between men and women, "talking love" is a modern term, defined in the chinese dictionary as follows: "talking love" is a type of social activity. It is the process of cultivating love or interacting on the basis of love. It is mainly an exchange between two parties. Generaly, if the exchange is successful, you will marry, live together and rise the next generation. The moral requirements for "talking love" are as follows: First, respect human equality; second, consciously assume responsability for it; third, love each other with humility."

This impersonal chinese definition left me with a cold, empty feeling. The foundation of "talking love" is romance and the feelings it generates are invigorating, so how could this official annotation reduce it to something so completely void of emotion?

.....

The traumas that chinese people have lived through over the past few generations have been caged in their memories. To get them to talk about what they have witnessed, one must find a way to help them open those cages."

 

15
Jan20

Book: “The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China” by Xinran

Niel Tomodachi

Este foi mais um livro que me foi oferecido no Natal pelo meu Amor! E que começo hoje a ler...

Xinran é uma das minhas escritoras preferidas, tem alguns livros traduzidos para português, mas tem outros, como este que ainda não têm tradução. Mas como não gosto de esperar muito para que isso aconteça, leio a versão em inglês!

Sobre a Obra:

At the start of the twentieth century in China, the Hans were married in an elaborate ceremony before they were even born. While their future was arranged by their families, this couple had much to be grateful for. Not only did they come from similar backgrounds – and as such were recognized as a good match – they also had a shared passion in their deep love of ancient Chinese poetry. They went on to have nine children and chose colours portrayed in some of their favourite poems as nicknames for them – Red, Cyan, Orange, Yellow, Green, Ginger, Violet, Blue and Rainbow. Fate, and the sweep of twentieth century history would later divide these children into three groups: three went to America or Hong Kong to protect the family line from the communists; three were married to revolutionaries having come of age as China turned red; while three suffered tragic early deaths.

With her trademark wisdom and warmth, Xinran describes the lives and loves of this extraordinary family over four generations. What emerges is not only a moving, beautifully-written and engaging story of four people and their lives, but a crucial portrait of social change in China. Xinran begins with the magic and tragedy of one young couples wedding night in 1950, and goes on to tell personal experiences of loss, grief and hardship through China’s extraordinary century. In doing so she tells a bigger story – how traditional Chinese values have been slowly eroded by the tide of modernity and how their outlooks on love, and the choices they’ve made in life, have been all been affected by the great upheavals of Chinese history.

A spell-binding and magical narrative, this is the story of modern China through the people who lived through it, and the story of their love and loss.

Sobre o Autor:

Xinran é jornalista, radialista e escritora chinesa. Nasceu em Pequim em 1958 e trabalhou em Nanquim até 1997, quando se mudou para Londres com o filho. É a autora de diversos livros entre os quais “As Boas Mulheres da China”, onde, através das histórias de várias mulheres que entrevistou ao longo de sua carreira, traça um panorama sobre a condição feminina da China revolucionária e as suas consequências na China actual. Xinran tem tudo para se impor no universo literário mundial como uma das mais sensíveis e competentes escritoras do século XXI. Os seus livros falam sobretudo de mulheres, partindo do caso chinês para o mundo colhendo cada vez mais a atenção dos leitores.

 

07
Dez19

Book: “Mulheres da China”

Niel Tomodachi

Sobre a Obra:

Entre 1989 e 1997, a jornalista Xinran entrevistou mulheres de diferentes idades e condições sociais, a fim de compreender a condição feminina na China moderna. Seu programa de rádio, ‘Palavras na brisa noturna’, discutia questões sobre as quais poucos ousavam falar, como vida íntima, violência familiar, opressão e homossexualismo. De forma cautelosa e paciente, Xinran colheu inúmeros relatos de mulheres em que predomina a memória da humilhação e do abandono – casamentos forçados, estupros, desilusões amorosas, miséria e preconceito. Nos relatos do livro, a autora possibilita a essas vozes antes silenciadas revelar provações, medos, esperança e uma capacidade de resistência que as permitiu se reerguer e sonhar em meio ao sofrimento extremo.

Nesta primeira obra impressionante, Xinran revela as muitas formas como foi obrigada a contornar o sistema e dá voz a todas as mulheres chinesas, independentemente do seu estrato social. Este é um livro que começa onde «Cisnes Selvagens» de Jung Chang terminou: a vida das mulheres chinesas depois de Mao.

 

07
Dez19

Book: “O Sol Cai no Tibete”

Niel Tomodachi

Sobre a Obra:

Uma verdadeira história de amor, desencontro, lealdade e sobrevivência nas montanhas do Tibete da autora internacionalmente conhecida pelo magnífico relato Mulheres da China. Uma extraordinária versão do Tibete visto pelos olhos de uma mulher chinesa de uma coragem inesquecível, chocante, reveladora e bela. Um retrato único de uma mulher e de um país varridos pelo destino. No início dos anos 60, circulou pela China a notícia de que um soldado chinês fora brutalmente devorado pelos abutres num ritual tibetano. Xinran era então uma menina pequena, a história fascinou-a e aterrou-a. Trinta anos mais tarde, encontrou uma mulher chinesa que lhe contou os factos verídicos que deram origem à lenda. O nome dessa mulher era Shu Wen, e passara toda a sua vida vagueando nas montanhas do Tibete.

 

06
Dez19

Book: “Miss chopsticks”

Niel Tomodachi

Sobre a Obra: 

Xinran takes her readers to the heart of modern Chinese society in this delightful and absorbing tale of three peasant girls getting to grips with life in the big city.

The Li sisters don’t have much education, but one thing has been drummed into them: their mother is a failure because she hasn’t managed to produce a son, and they themselves only merit a number as a name. Women, their father tells them, are like chopsticks: utilitarian and easily broken. Men, on the other hand, are the strong rafters that hold up the roof of a house.

Yet when circumstances lead the sisters to seek work in distant Nanjing, the shocking new urban environment opens their eyes. While Three contributes to the success of a small restaurant, Five and Six learn new talents at a health spa and a bookshop/tearoom. And when the money they earn starts arriving back at the village, their father is forced to recognize that daughters are not so dispensable after all.

As the Li sisters discover Nanjing, so do we: its past, its customs and culture, and its future as a place where people can change their lives.

 

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“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ― Anne Frank

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2023 Reading Challenge

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