David and I enjoy having walks together. If the weather is nice enough, we would walk to Panera Bread or Starbucks to have breakfast, or stroll around a nearby pond after dinner. As we walk, we talk about this and that, whatever comes to our minds at the moment. Some of our discussions were so weird and meaningless that we imagine the NSA people would roll their eyes if they had been listening in.
That said, these ‘walk talks’ generated lots of great ideas as well, such as the topic for a new book to write. David already has a long list of books waiting to be written, this one is for me. We even decided on a tentative title “China Interrupted”.
Our discussion started with my telling him about my mother’s family – my grandparents and their five children. My mother is the eldest and she got into college in the mid 60s. Then the cultural revolution began and lasted for ten years, during which the universities/schools were all shut down. As a result, the next three children – my three uncles – had no chance of getting college education. And when the cultural revolution ended in 1976, it was just in time for my aunt – the youngest of the five – to go to college. This sounds like the opposite of the Chinese tradition, where boys/men are expected to prosper in a household. My family story was not unique – it was only one of the millions of stories where a whole generation’s destiny was altered by history.
David thinks the book would be fascinating to the American audience, and resonate with the Chinese readers. I like the idea of writing down family stories. I mentioned this to my mom during a phone conversation, and she immediately started telling me stories. I should talk to each of my uncles and aunt, to get their perspectives. It would also be interesting to compare their lives with my generation – how we grew up, the opportunities we had, the one child policy, etc.
The plan is to start writing short stories on this blog, and organize them into a book later. I just started a new category, and plan to write one post every week. I am getting excited!
By the way, the photo below is a building in Shanghai’s Yu Garden, not my family home. 🙂