Jiang Yan was a colleague of mine when I was a college student in the United States. She is thin and tall with long soft hair that resembles a waterfall on her shoulders. She has two shallow dimples when she smiles. Her eyes are bright and pretty. She looks very innocent and lovely.
We began to know each other at a spring field trip organised by the overseas Chinese students in our college.
The weather was very nice that day. She wore a light pink dress. Her beautiful long hair was held in place by a pale pink silk ribbon. Her beautiful and hearty laughter made us feel like we were brushed by a spring breeze. Jiang Yan struck me as an honest and straightforward woman. Everyone at the picnic enjoyed chatting with her. Perhaps there is a predestined relationship between us. We soon became good friends.
In our spare time, we sometimes went to the beach for a walk and chased the tide with loud and happy laughter. Sometimes we went hiking in the mountains. We stood at the peak of the mountains and looked at the busy city beneath us, realising the insignificance of the world that we live in. We also went to bookstores where we revelled in the ocean of books while enjoying the classical music played there. We talked about everything. Once, when we talked about the economic development of China, she sighed softly and said, “Many people in our country pursue and enjoy a materialistic life. They seem to be devoid of a spiritual life. I find such a life empty and meaningless.” I added, “Many young people accepted foreign culture without judging whether it is good or bad.”
Jiang Yan studied very hard. She treated other people fairly and respectfully. I admired her very much because of this. One semester, we both took the same English literature course. Our professor was an arrogant woman of German descent who was cold and cynical. Many students were afraid of her and kept a distance from her. Once Jiang Yan answered a question wrong in her class, and the professor mocked Jiang Yan using caustic language. After the class, I felt bad for Jiang Yan and denounced the professor’s uncharitable behaviour. Jiang Yan smiled and said that there was some truth in what the professor had said. Jiang Yan felt that she was often careless and she should thank the professor for pointing out her shortcomings so that she could improve. Her words were simple but sincere, which I still remember vividly in my heart to this date. Once, another car hit her car’s rear bumper but the driver didn’t even offer an apology. Moreover, the driver found a lot of lame excuses for his mistake with a bad and sly attitude. Yan smiled and said, “Please be careful next time. You may go now.” The driver’s face turned red in shame and he fled quickly. Yan liked to paint and she especially liked painting lotus flowers. She often said that we people should learn from the lotus flower to keep ourselves clean and pure above the dirty mud.
Yan and I were both born in the 1980’s. We grew up being educated to be patriotic towards China in a manner that a mother spoiling her child. We were taught to believe that we could catch up and exceed America in ten years [if we obeyed the Chinese Communist government’s orders and policies without questions,] but in our hearts we hoped that, in exchange, our Motherland would one day have flexible and open policies in the future so that everyone could finally live and work in peace and contentment. This kind of “no questions asked” patriotism was deeply planted in our minds. When it comes to patriotism, most Chinese people today believe that it means no one should say a bad word about China, that no one is allowed to expose scandalous news to the rest of the world [as it would be considered as treacherous to China,] and that no opinions that differ from the Chinese Communist government’s mouthpiece media are allowed. It strikes me as ironic that we are living in the United States, but we have more channels to learn what is “really” happening in our Motherland than when we live in China. Jiang Yan loves China dearly, but she is capable of remaining wise and reasonable while being patriotic. She once commented, “China has an excellent culture and tradition. I think being a noble person is a way of expressing my patriotism because my speech and behaviour represent the image of China.” I thought to myself, “If everyone speaks and acts nobly, won’t China naturally earn the good reputation of being a noble country without having to teach its people that being patriotic is equal to overlooking China’s flaws?”
Jiang Yan loves her mother very much. Her mother has a huge influence on her. According to her description, her mother was an outstanding middle school teacher. After her mother started practising Falun Gong two years ago, all of her terminal illnesses disappeared. She also started to consider other people first in everything and she lived a happy, meaningful life. One Sunday afternoon, Jiang Yan was excited to tell me that she would go back to see her mother in two days. Less than half a month later, she came back from China. I was shocked when I saw her. She had lost substantial weight and her eyes were swollen, showing signs of crying and distress. She held her tears and told me what had happened. Her mother, who had become a good moral person since practising Falun Gong, had been illegally sentenced to prison for practising Falun Gong. Moreover, her mother had been tortured in jail. Jiang Yan had been astonished when she entered her home after getting off the flight. Their home had been ransacked by the police, every last penny had been looted by the police. Even the picture of her mother and her taken right before Yan went abroad for study was torn in pieces and scattered on the floor. Their house had been confiscated by the Chinese government. I was filled with rage and worry for those Falun Gong practitioners incarcerated by the Chinese government. In the June 4 Student Movement in 1989, the Chinese Communist government massacred the participating college students and Beijing residents at the Tiananmen Square when the whole world was watching. Who knows what kinds of brutal torture the Chinese government would subject Falun Gong practitioners to when they were imprisoned in the Chinese prisons, hidden and isolated from the world? The tragedy that had befallen Jiang Yan’s mother shattered many students in our college. Some expressed their sympathy, some were shocked, and some glowed with rage.
Jiang Yan told me seriously, “In China, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were illegally arrested, sent to forced labour camps and tortured brutally. A lot of them have already been tortured to death. Falun Gong taught people to be truthful, compassionate and tolerant at all times. The Chinese government should not persecute these good people. I went to the jail to visit my mother. She looked terrible but tried to be brave and strong.” She paused and then said, “Good people will ultimately be rewarded with good and bad people will ultimately be met with bad. No matter how hostile the Chinese government is towards Falun Gong practitioners, I believe that hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners will persevere in their belief in the truth they have found in Falun Gong.” My respect towards Jiang Yan grew. I felt that Jiang Yan and her mother would somehow be united one day.
On a morning about six months after that conversation, I received an email from Jiang Yan. She invited me to watch a community parade. It was a sunny day. I saw Jiang Yan in the Falun Gong group. She wore a dress in the Tang dynasty style and looked very beautiful. The Falun Gong group stood out from all the other parade groups. It was not only because they were the only Chinese group in the western community’s parade, but also because their group had a very unique look. They had a giant banner in very eye-catching gold colour that caught and reflected the sunlight beautifully. On the giant gold banners were the words “Falun Dafa” and “Truthfulness, Compassion Forbearance” (the three cultivation principles of Falun Gong) in both English and Chinese. Female Falun Gong practitioners wore beautiful traditional Chinese dresses and kind smiles. Then they danced like fairies descending from heaven in their beautiful costumes. Jiang Yan and several other ladies wore splendid Tang Dynasty dresses. They looked peaceful and their dance was smooth and elegant. Their performance illustrated the divine spirit of the Great Tang Dynasty of China. About thirty vigorous-looking Falun Gong practitioners formed a traditional Chinese waist drum team, shattering the sky with their powerful drums. The Falun Gong parade team was very organised and the performance touched everyone’s heart. Falun Dafa asks its practitioners to be truthful, compassionate and forbearing. The large number of people practising Falun Gong is enough to make Jiang Zemin jealous. Now that I have seen so many Falun Gong practitioners in the parade, I finally realise that the sheer popularity of and respect towards Falun Gong was the actual reason why Jiang Zemin decided to launch a persecution of unprecedented scale against Falun Gong practitioners.
Jiang Yan’s pretty and peaceful smile, as well as her feminine but unwavering dance movements, were deeply branded in my mind. Jiang Yan is walking with hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners worldwide on their journey to pursue and validate the truth. Their path may be full of hardships and obstacles, but I believe that they will be met with honour and glory at the end of the journey.
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