Xinran Blog

Archive for the ‘Cultural Revolution’ Category

Less than 30 hours ago I was in the hot Beijing summer and now here I am in the cold New Zealand winter. It seems like no big time difference, but my body is confused by the seasons and I couldn’t sleep.

‘Don’t blame the weather!’ A voice shouted to me, in fact, I’ve never been able to sleep a whole night with nice dreams, ever!

My nightmares started in my childhood when the Cultural Revolution took place and I became a ‘black child’ (you can get some details from my book The Good Women of China). Some dreams I have are very frightening – people beating me with thick sticks and bricks as they did in my childhood; some are very scary – an invisible man comes to my bed in the cold moon light, an event that happened to me when I was only 11 years old; some are a struggle - I am exhaustedly climbing to the top of a bloody well; some are very sad - I am dying and my son Panpan is a baby in my arms. I am crying, thinking who will bring him up and how can this tiny life be saved from war and starvation…

I can control myself in the daytime, but I can’t do this when I am dreaming.

I used to think that reading and education might erase these dreams from my brain, but 39 years of reading and studying many different things has never replaced the nightmares. I have to make my body very tired and go to bed late at night; so that I won’t be woken up by the nightmares at 2 or 3am.

Many young Chinese don’t understand why older generations always mention the ‘old days’ as if old people have nothing to talk about. I think the older Chinese are visited over again by their dreams, which are full of their painful past…

We still aren’t civilised enough to allow everyone to open up and offer their own opinions in the waking world. Therefore many of us tell our true stories only through our dreams.

Today, 6th Sep 2008, I gave my first talk to the Christchurch Book Fair. Over 500 hundred people came to listen to me and queued for signed books. I am very touched by the number of book readers in this tiny, quiet city. A German mother and daughter were both in tears and thanked me, for I said ‘we should all be honest and try to understand the past, no matter whether it was good or bad, the past is our roots…’ The daughter said, no-one in her family had told her what had happened to her grand-parents during World War Two. Her mother replied to her for me, ‘Because it is too difficult to be honest about the family past when looking to your future…’

How can we be honest and face our past? After all we all want it…

Bang-bang mang! Jiu-Ming! (Help, please! Help!)