"Each of Them a Branch -and My Branch Missing": On Peking University's 120th Anniversary
This year marks the 120th anniversary of Peking University, where I graduated. It is also the 30th anniversary for all alumni who entered Peking University in 1984 and graduated in 1988. I happen to belong to this "batch".
I knew a big "coming back and celebrating" event was in planning long ago, and every one was invited.
However, I cannot go back because the persecution of Falun Gong is still going on in China, as I am a Falun Gong practitioner.
Several days ago, an alumnus posted a group photo of five of my roommates in Peking University on Facebook and wrote such a post:
"Five beautiful roommate ladies from the Geochemistry faculty of Peking University reunited at this important moment. However, it is a pity that one lady is missing. And she herself knows whom I refer to. "
I knew he referred to me, and I was very grateful that he posted the photo of my beautiful roommate on the Facebook for me to see-I hadn't seen them for decades since we graduated.
In his post, the alumnus also quoted a line from a very famous poem by a poet called Wang Wei in Tang Dynasty; and the poem goes like this:
On the Mountain Holiday Thinking of my Brothers in Shandong
All alone in a foreign land,
I am twice as homesick on this day.
When brothers carry dogwood up the mountain,
Each of them a branch -- and my branch missing.
(—— Translated by Witter Bynner)
This poem is perhaps one of the most famous ones about people who wander in "a foreign land" missing their families.
And today for Falun Gong practitioners, and many other dissidents, who are driven out of their homeland because of the persecution in China, this poem from more than 1000 years ago sounds more heart-wrenching.
However, I know I must be brave and overcome this kind of sadness and sourness in my heart to keep on fighting for the day when all of us can return to China safely and with dignity.
And I somehow recalled a poem by my good friend Yuan Xi, a poet from White Cloud Poetry Society. I felt that this poem expressed very well what's in my heart and mind, so I used it as a reply to my alumnus who quoted Wang Wei's poem:
My Thoughts in Early Winter
Wandering through foreign lands
Half of my lifetime has passed
Wherever I go
In this human world
I build another cottage as I cultivate myself
My dream of returning
As strong as in the beginning
Carrying me over thousands of rivers and mountains.
Don't tell me how wonderful and colorful this world is!
I only care about traveling freely
To rivers and lakes
Amidst mist and evening glow
Yet alas! For what reasons do I sometimes hesitate?
A faint sadness swells in my chest
As I vaguely remember
My real home in the heavens
Hidden beyond the white clouds.
And by the way, the poem was translated into English by me.
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