12 December 2018 by Roy Preece
I love this passage from Dear Su Yen. It says so much about the lives and attitudes of real people and how courageous Su Yen was to come to England, where she has achieved so much since . . .
“In those days I never imagined that one day I might leave not just my hometown, but my island home of Taiwan, perhaps forever; but it came to be the only solution I could see when I could find no other way for my life to go . . . . But then I became the biggest fool and joke in the world when all of a sudden I waived everything and chose to be nothing in a strange country.
‘I would never allow you to go away from this country. I’m sure you should be back soon once I cut off your economic sources.’ This was the reply from my father. He tried all sorts of methods to stop me going anywhere after that; he even persuaded my relatives, colleagues and friends to convince me to give up my decision and to start a normal job for a living.
‘Su Yen, you tell a big lie to us. How can we believe that your father would ignore you and leave you to raise money on your own with so much difficulty? He loves you so much since you were a child. And, there is no point for him to do this because he is rich enough to support you to study anywhere. You should be honest and shouldn’t hurt your father using this terrible lie.’
‘Study abroad? What a funny idea of hers! Even her father told everyone that he doesn’t agree with this silly plan. Let us wait and see what she can do without any support.’
‘Su Yen, I’m telling you about the duty of children. This first thing children should do is to listen to their parents because parents are never wrong. A daughter like you who doesn’t obey your parents and makes your parents worry so about you: you’re not a good daughter to go so strongly against the meaning of fealty for your family.’
‘It’s good to have a dream; but, be practical; I don’t think you can survive in another country because you don’t speak English.’
‘You’re just so unrealistic and insensitive, and consider yourself always right! Who do you think you are? It is fated that you cannot go anywhere. Dreamer! You think you’re the dreamer; we are all dreamers, but we need to wake up in the morning because we have to work hard to fill our bellies. Let your dream stay in the night; and please learn to see the truth when the sun wakes you up every morning.’
‘Are you too bored, or perhaps life is too happy for you here? You can always do your Master’s degree here and get a good job here. Come on, you have a quite decent life here. Why do you try to make trouble to yourself and to your families?’
Am I a troublemaker? I didn’t understand who the troublemakers were in this sense. Many of them gave their self-confessed good advice on what I should do for myself, or for someone else. I did wonder if they could truly understand the reason behind my decision.
There are always untold stories well hidden in words. Words often can be useful for people to know each other, but sometimes words can make disasters when people have different understandings in mind. That’s reality. What a simple yet complex word ‘reality’ is, involving not only the things we can touch or feel physically but also humanity which widely includes such emotional feelings as jealousy, envy, like, dislike, love, hatred, painfulness or happiness. When people treat each other with any of these feelings they may cause judgements to become distorted. Sometimes one goes through a hell where people only focus on how easily they can control or how much they can get from other people rather than purely caring about how good, how professional or how qualified these people really are; or on who they are.
‘What do you want? What do you really want on earth?’ Would they give me whatever I want if I answer this question?
‘I want to find out who I am with my dream.’ I answered in silence.”
(Dear Su Yen, page 134)