Daughter of the Sea
Taiwan’s Wandering Writer Coming Home
In her Vicissitudes of Life, Taiwan’s most famous ‘vagrant writer’ Sanmao described the ‘homeland’ she had only seen in dreams as “the veins in a leaf”. “The nostalgia is so soft and fragile that I am too scared to lay my finger on it,” she wrote.
Her cravings for “roots”, somewhat unfulfilled, also blossomed into a lovely piece titled ‘Nostalgia’, in which the author retrieved her memories about the sweetest days in her stormy life. In her subconscious, the three copper bells put into her hands by a friend as a memento on the day Sanmao started her self-exile were like a handful of clay from her elusive ‘roots’. The bells had since been on the keychain of her heart, forever haunting her.
“They’d play gently to a light breeze, sending liquid ringing into my heart, like a timely drizzle swaying off the baked earth. It is a sound I had never heard in my life, and it rinses away all the pent-up depressions in me.”
The wandering writer was born as “the daughter of the sea”, with an unsullied heart yearning for a distant place where life may not be perfect but was pure and real.
The coastal city of Dinghai seems to be the logical ‘home’ for the writer to return to. For Sanmao, the sound of the waves washing against the rocks was like the