How to Whisper Graceful Sweet-Nothings
Istill remember my college days as clear as a bell, a friend of mine fell in love with a girl in my class. Over winter vacation the two lovebirds that lived far from each other, though deeply love-sick, were unable to meet. Overnight, a heavy snow enshrouded the whole world. At that moment, my friend’s mind was occupied by only one idea—that is, to take a picture and send it to the girl with a caption, “Snow is falling. It’s so beautiful.”
You will understand one day when you feel an urge to share such a feeling with someone.
A similar example can be found
in Eileen Chang’ s novel— Love in a Fallen City, in which the moonlight was a matchmaker.
After a prolonged illicit love affair, Bai Liusu and Fan Liuyuan were still not on the same wavelength. What ultimately determined their relationship was the conversation they had about the moon that went something like this… … Trembling with fear, she picked up the receiver and laid it on the bed sheet. But the night was so still that even from a distance she could hear Liuyuan’s perfectly calm voice saying, “Can you see the moon from your window?”
She didn't know why, but she suddenly began sobbing. The moon was big and blurred, appearing silvery with a slightly greenish tint through her thick tears. “Outside of my window,” said Liuyuan, “there is a flowering vine that blocks half the view. Maybe it’s a rose. Or maybe not.”
He didn’t say anything more, yet didn’t hang up. After a long while, Liusu began to wonder if he had dozed off, but finally heard a soft click and the phone went dead.
Liuyuan finally went into Liusu’s room at his second visit to Hong Kong where he could see the moon.
…“I always wanted to see the moon from your window. You can see it much better from this vantage point than from my chamber.” said Liuyuan.
So he had phoned her that night— it wasn’t a dream. He did love her.
Though the love between Liusu and Liuyuan wasn’t the kind with wholehearted devotion that makes lovers die for one another, but, Liuyuan’s affection for Liusu was undeniably true.
Love can be very simple—when you see the light of the gibbous moon, you can’t help but want to share it with someone. Compared with the direct expression of “I love you,” delicate and understated words of romance are far more touching.
I read a short passage long ago from what was presumably an anonymous Japanese novel, which left a deep impression on me. Searching through my memory, I’ll try to recount it as follows.
…“Mr. Shuji is the most kindhearted and generous man I’ve ever met. When talking with others about my friends, I won’t speak of the one who suffered from an inflamed gall bladder[I feel that using the medical name, cholecystitis may
（摘自《喜剧世界》 2017 年第2期）
interrupt the flow here, so I changed it to the colloquial name.], neither will I mention the one who became a monk, but I’ll tell them about Mr. Shuji.” said Tsuki.
“What would you say about me? Would you say that I fell in love with Miss Tsuki, yet you feign ignorance?” replied Shuji.
When I read this paragraph, I had a feeling that Miss Tsuku’s heart must have just melted. Soft yet powerful and with a wry wit, Mr. Shuji’s words are not only touching, but significant, and his words can make one’s heart “skip a beat.”
Honeyed words are not the exclusive property of men, and Eileen Chang was highly skilled at the art. In her novel Little Reunion,
there is an exceptionally sweet bit of phraseology, “The pattering of the rain makes me feel like I live near a babbling brook. I’d rather it rain every day so I may think it is the rain that stops you from coming.”
Little Reunion is an autobiographical work by Eileen Chang, and the above sentence describes exactly how she felt when she was waiting for Hu
Lancheng. Her prose is melancholy but not morose, and softly poignant; making you feel like when a cat curls up around your neck and lays there purring in soft contentment, it strikes right at softest part of your heart. Instead of pointing an accusatory finger when someone stands you up, you may instead say something like “I’ve missed you” or “I waited for you until my feet got blisters,” her manner of expression adds just that perfect shade of tenderness and delicate enchantment.
The literary community sees Hu Lancheng as a “Third-rate man whose compositions were first-rate.” Yet he truly understood a woman’s heart and had a knack for words of love. When he met Eileen Chang for the first time, the two had great chemistry. As he took his leave, Eileen walked him out, and suddenly he said, “You look so tall. How can you be so tall?”
The words seem to be out of the blue, which stunned Eileen for a second, and then she chuckled.
Although the two were newly acquainted with each other, the seemingly abruptness of the words revealed his “ulterior motive” towards Eileen. Otherwise, why would he feel distressed about her height? What he really meant was – “You are a little too tall for my taste.” But his way of expression was far superior.
If you want to use sweet-nothings exquisitely and gracefully, euphemism is the key. After reading between the lines, those strong feelings, sugarcoated in elegantly crafted speech, will leave you with an endlessly sweet aftertaste. Hu Lancheng most definitely had the art of the refined flirt down pat, which could make a smart and sensitive woman like Eileen Chang actually lower herself to the very ground; that said, her heart was still joyful, so from where her kowtowed head tapped the ground, a flower of radiance bloomed in its place.
(From Comedy World, February 2017)
Note: 1.Eileen Chang
(Sep. 30, 1920 – Sep. 8, 1995) was one of the most influential modern Chinese woman writers. She is noted for her fiction writings that deal with the romantic tensions between men and women, and was considered by some scholars to be among the best Chinese literature of the period.
(Feb. 28, 1906 – Jul. 25, 1981) was a Chinese writer and editor. He was married to the novelist Eileen Chang from 1943 to 1947. During Anti-Japanese War, he collaborated with the Japanese, serving briefly in the Propaganda Ministry of the puppet regime in China headed by Wang Jingwei in the early 1940s. These actions have caused many Chinese to regard him as a traitor, and led to intense controversy regarding the value of his works.
● A scene in Chinese TV series Love in a Fallen City 电视剧《倾城之恋》剧照
● Little Reunion (left) and Love in a Fallen City (right) by Eileen Chang 张爱玲小说《小团圆》（左）《倾城之恋》（右）