Selected Modern Chinese Essays: I Love…

◎ Zhang Xiaofeng

I love the winter sun spreading out behind the morning haze. I love the pervading calm and peace of the moment as well as the light and warmth quietly brought by the sun.

I love to saunter in the spring breeze on a narrow mountain path bedecked with strawberries growing graciously like delicate red lanterns. I love to look up at treetops to watch tiny buds with their tender yellowish green tinged with an artless pink.

I love the long days of summer. I love to sit by myself on a hillside balcony on a windy summer afternoon, watching rice rippling in the valley and sending forth its aroma. When the splendid evening clouds are gone, gentle stars will take their places in the sky one after another.

I love to watch the pretty but forlorn Chinese silvergrass, of a dreary white, growing against the autumn wind all over the hills—on the slopes, by the waterside.

I love dreams, in which I enjoy seeing strange things. I always dream of myself flying in the air and jumping over small hillocks and rivers. I dreamed of a chestnut steed tossing its glossy mane in the wind. I dreamed of a boundless sea of lotus flowers flaunting their faint fragrance and pink colour from afar. The most unforgettable dream I have ever had is about myself watching the sunrise in front of a mountain, which, originally emerald, looked bizarre by taking on a purple colour under the rising sun of the early dawn. In real life, I love mountains too.

I love level and glossy rice fields with seedlings growing so tightly together that they resemble as many hairy blankets, tempting me to lie down on them.

I love flowers of all kinds. I love slender chrysanthemums, exuberant roses, untarnished lilies and leisurely jasmine. I also love unknown little wild flowers tucked away in remote mountains. I quite believe that they have been endowed with equal dignity and honour by the Creator.

I love another kind of flower—the smile on a human face. One freezing morning, when I, walking down an alley, was greeted with a smile and“Good morning!”by a thin lady living in a house opposite to mine, I suddenly felt that the world was so warm and my gloved fingers were no longer numb with cold. Once, I was delighted to meet some middle school girls with bobbed hair at a bus station. I loved to see their beautiful, clean and broad foreheads, and their lively, limpid eyes.

I love to read letters. I love to hear from my brothers and sisters. Their naive and simple sentences make me recall tearfully my old home in the south—a small town aflame with the red flowers of flame trees. I’ll never forget how one summer a tree leaf sent by my husband from a remote high mountain made me feel at once happy and refreshed on the sultry day.

I love, in particular, letters from my readers. It always gives me extraordinary thrill to read their letters. I may have wised up some people to something in this world.

I also love reading books, especially at night. I cherish a deep love for thread-bound Chinese books yellowed with age. They show me our most brilliant traditions as well as a kind of classical beauty. While the rise and fall of a nation and the vicissitudes of life are all vanity, the wisdom contained in books is everlasting.

I love to have friends. I love to pay them a surprise visit. I love to knock at a friend’s wet door on a rainy day. When he or she comes out hurriedly to meet me, I feel as if the rain had suddenly stopped and the sun were shining bright.

I also love to sit by a window to wait for my husband to come back. I can always distinguish his footfall among those of many pedestrians before our home. On hearing someone who quickens his steps the moment he enters the lane and walks with heavy rapid strides, I’m sure it’s my husband. I love to hear him turning his key in the lock. I love to hear him calling out my name gaspingly as soon as he steps across our threshold.

I love to live a relaxed and leisurely life. I don’t like a tight schedule. I don’t like an elaborately arranged program. I love many objects of no practical use. I love to leaf through an old photo album. I love small ornaments like ear-rings, necklaces and brooches. I love to have enough time for meditation. I love to enjoy myself sitting in the drawing room after supper. I love to listen to a concerto while holding a small fine-china teapot to warm my hands. At a moment like this, I seem to taste of the leisureliness of idyllic life.

I also love to go cycling to church side by side with my husband on an early Sunday morning. Riding against the sun’s golden rays, I feel as if I were gliding along not on a bike, but in a motorboat, braving the wind and waves.

I love life. And I’m very glad that my heart is overflowing with so much happiness.