The Moon Is Not Rounder Else­where


Special Focus - - Contents - Zeng Kai曾锴

I’ve lived in Spain for around four or five years, and truth be told, the Christ­mas here is very quiet and not how I thought it would be. On De­cem­ber 25, al­most ev­ery house is shut up, which forms a stark con­trast to the New Year’s cel­e­bra­tion a week later.

Some peo­ple say that western­ers are born in­de­pen­dent and nei­ther value their fam­ily nor give it a high pri­or­ity in their lives.

Just a few days ago, I came across a mid­dle-aged man at the bus sta­tion in front of my house. The man was stand­ing there, look­ing around in the chill wind. Af­ter a while, a young lady came run­ning from the other side of the street, and the old man was hailed with a most en­thu­si­as­tic shout of “Papá” and a big bear hug from her in front of ev­ery­one. And then, the lady took the man by the hand, and both of them got in her car and left hap­pily.

At that mo­ment, it sud­denly oc­curred to me that, ever since I reached man­hood, I’ve never ad­dressed my dad that way in pub­lic.

When I vis­ited El Es­co­rial, I was im­pressed by the cen­tury- old elab­o­rate draw­ing of Spain’s Royal Fam­ily Tree hang­ing on the wall, from which ev­ery sin­gle lin­eage of the royal clan could be traced back to hun­dreds of years ago. How­ever, in China, many hec­tic ur­ban dwellers seem to have for­got­ten the names of their an­ces­tors that are older than three gen­er­a­tions. In Spain, it is com­mon to see hand­some young dads wear­ing a knap­sack stuffed with milk bot­tles on their back, pulling a pram, and car­ry­ing their babies in the front, all while shop­ping with their wives in the street. But in China, most babies seem to be looked af­ter by their moms, grand­par­ents, or nan­nies.

It seems that Euro­peans have a unique way of ex­press­ing when it comes to fam­ily val­ues. I n t h e i r mi n d s , f e s t i v a l s f o r fam­i­lies should never be turned into a pub­lic car­ni­val. If com­ing home is to ful­fill your fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­ity, then com­ing home on Christ­mas is to ful­fill the re­spon­si­bil­ity in the name of faith. When we com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple, ev­ery­thing we do is mun­dane, but when we com­mu­ni­cate with God, ev­ery­thing we do is more like a rit­ual.

Be­fore this Christ­mas, our dean had al­ready sched­uled to go back to her res­i­dence in the north to visit her chil­dren, my tu­tor had al­ready set up a beautiful Christ­mas tree at home, and the su­per­mar­kets were shut early. With fire­places burning cheer­fully in ev­ery house, the fam­ily mem­bers, who are nor­mally busy with their own af­fairs most of the time, are now sit­ting around the

din­ing table, pray­ing earnestly and de­voutly in praise of Je­sus Christ, and pass­ing mer­ci­ful bless­ings to ev­ery­one around them.

Fes­ti­vals are not only a tra­di­tion, a cus­tom, a be­lief, and a spir­i­tual sup­port for us, but also a hol­i­day and a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity. Un­like the peace­ful and quiet Christ­mas in the West, the Christ­mas in the East is rather bois­ter­ous and lively. It is worth con­tem­plat­ing why lots of Chi­nese peo­ple put on such airs in cel­e­brat­ing western fes­ti­vals, im­i­tat­ing western­ers to pray and ex­change gifts and so on, with­out even un­der­stand­ing whether an ap­ple rep­re­sents peace or de­sire or who Catholics and Chris­tians wor­ship, God or Je­sus Christ.

Yet, the cus­toms of our Spring Fes­ti­val and many other tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals, with a his­tory of thou­sands of years, are sel­dom im­i­tated or much ap­pre­ci­ated by young peo­ple in the West. Could it be said that for­eign cus­toms are trendy and ours are out of fash­ion?

I re­mem­ber that a few years ago, I went to Ha­vana to in­ter­view a film ex­pert who was over 70 for my dis­ser­ta­tion. He lived in a cramped and sim­ply fur­nished house. Af­ter rum­mag­ing for some time, he took out a col­or­ful iron box stuffed with all sorts of Chi­nese tea.

I was a lit­tle sur­prised by it, as Ha­vana was a coun­try un­der sanc­tions for sev­eral decades and in ur­gent need of food and some­times even wa­ter and toi­let pa­per. “This is Keemun black tea. This is Tie Guanyin (oo­long tea). This is Bilu­ochun ( green tea). This is Pu’er (black tea)…” The old man in­tro­duced them to me as if talk­ing about his fam­ily trea­sures. And then, he, full of pride, be­gan to boil wa­ter and make tea for me.

Through the lin­ger­ing va­por in the room, I saw that the old man squinted his eyes and took a sip of his tea. Then he ex­haled a puff of warm air, and said to me hap­pily, “I love the tea from your coun­try. When I drink Pu’er, I can con­jure up images of the horse­drawn car­a­vans mov­ing through clouds and mist on the An­cient Tea Horse Road, with horse bells ring­ing along the way. When I drink Tie Guanyin, I can con­jure up images of pe­tite young ladies

from the coast­land of Fu­jian, wear­ing tie-dyed head­cloths and big bam­boo hats, work­ing in the field…”

Although he never had a chance to visit China, and I don’t know how much ef­fort he spent in col­lect­ing those teas or where he got them, ev­ery­thing he said about the home­town of a tea was so vivid that I felt like I was ac­tu­ally there.

Per­haps, dis­tance cre­ates beauty as well as misun­der­stand­ing. When we get closer, we’ll find that, the moon is not rounder else­where.

( From StayHun­gry,Stay

Fool­ish , Guang­ming Daily Press. Trans­la­tion: Zhu Yaguang)

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