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Imi was born and raised in Europe, Hungary. After finishing his school years, he moved to Canada to search for a better life. He lived in Toronto for 13 years and currently resides in Vancouver. He is a romantic at heart with a strong desire to always do the right thing. He would like to give hope to the Chinese and Asian ladies with his story and send a message that love eventually finds everybody.
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Yan's Story: Fire in Her Eyes 砚儿的故事:她眼睛里的那团火 - Part 2    

By Imi
3689 Views | 13 Comments | 1/27/2016 10:56:11 AM

The sudden noise that came from the small room was barely audible and didn't raise any alarm. It was only a dull, wood-on-wood thud. Lian only looked up for a moment and continued her work in the kitchen. Only Yan's scream a couple of seconds later made her jump in fear.


In two strides, she reached the room and looked inside. A horrific scene stared back at her. Her voice broke into a harsh cry of agony. Her legs gave out, and she dropped to her knees only a few feet away from her daughter. Lian was momentarily paralyzed by the dreadful scene.


Her daughter lay next to the fireplace. The skin on the left side of her face was burned and wrinkled into a red mass. Yan's grandmother, Lian's mother-in-law, was nowhere in sight. The chair that Yan was supposed to hold onto to keep herself balanced had fallen over and caught fire. Yan had fallen with it. Her eyebrows were missing. Her mouth was moving like she was a fish out of water, and it looked like her tongue was burned, too–no sound was coming out. She looked as if she were gasping for air, but in fact, her lungs were full of air. It was the shock that had made her mute after her first scream. At that moment, her small lungs were filling up with cries and screams that would turn into a preternaturally dark sound of anguish. Then, Yan cried out. She cried with ear-grinding terror. She screamed in horror, and with that ear-piercing shrill, Lian finally came out of her shock-triggered immobility and rushed towards her daughter.


A few seconds later, Lian's stomach rolled helplessly with the stench of her daughter's burned skin as she tried to lift her up. Chu, Yan's father, came in from the kitchen to check what all those screams were about. He only fleetingly assessed the situation from the doorway, and then turned and sat back down at the dining table and continued eating. Lian closed her eyes and let her anger sink to the bottom of her already sick stomach. She realized: she and her daughter were left alone. Yan wasn't the pride of her husband. She was a mere daughter of a poor Chinese peasant, a peasant whose pride–his son–was sitting outside with him, eating his freshly made dinner.


After a couple of interminable minutes, Lian somehow found herself on the street, holding Yan in her arms. It felt like they had been spat out of a dark tunnel of dire events and arrived inside a bad dream. People were looking at them. A few of them tried to talk to Lian, but she didn't hear anything. She felt a surge of unreality. Her legs felt heavy, and she saw them move at a snail-like pace. Time slowed down, and half an hour seemed like an eternity. She was running on a dusty road halfway to the closest doctor to their village. Yan cried and screamed without stopping even for a moment. The water that Lian tried to pour occasionally on her daughter's face to ease the pain was useless. The skin looked even redder, and blisters started to develop fast. Lian touched one of the bigger ones by accident, and it broke, trickling pus down to her arm. It took her another half an hour to reach the doctor, and by then, she was exhausted.


At the hospital, the waiting room was filled up with Yan's heart-wrenching cries. The doctor tried to clean her burnt and dead skin. When he was done, Yan was left without eyebrows; half of her nose was missing and a big chunk of her tongue, as well. The doctor applied a thick layer of antibiotic cream and covered the wounds with bandages. That was all he could do.


The cries didn't stop, and they didn't stop all night when they were back home. In the dark, an infinite loneliness encompassed Lian with her weeping daughter in her arms. She felt all alone and desperate, and her eyes welled up with helplessness. She cried for attention; she cried for help while her husband in the other room slept safe and sound, insensitive to his wife's anguish and his daughter's pain.


The next day, the doctor removed the bandages. They were stuck on the wounds, and they came off with a layer of skin and blisters. Yan screamed in agony. Lian shouted in anger. There were tears of insanity ran down her face, but she was powerless; she couldn't ease her daughter's pain; she couldn't stop the nightmare.


On the way home from the hospital, someone recommended that she seek the help of a man who lived in the mountains.


"He knows many useful herbs," the woman said to Lian.


Lian walked the two hours to the mountains with Yan still crying in her arms. When she found him, the old man, without any hesitation, collected and smashed the necessary herbs together, applied them to the wound, and then… Silence. It was a silence of hope and relief. Yan stopped crying.


Over time, her eyebrows, nose, and tongue all grew back. The skin on her face healed completely. However, the wounds she had inside needed more time to recover. Her father's negligent behavior and the children's constant taunts at school made her an unhappy and introverted child. Every now and then, Yan really wished that she had been born a boy, but she was born a girl. She was a survivor of an unfortunate fire and a victim of despicable discrimination.


I was tired but couldn't sleep. I propped up on the bed and tried to read something on my iPhone. After a few minutes, I realized my brain wasn't fit enough to put any meaning to the words. The 16-hour difference between North America and China was still making a mess of my biological clock and intellect four days after my arrival in China. I stared at the ceiling, in the dark, in desperation, wishing for a few hours of sleep before morning. However, the ceiling didn't grant my wishes. It just stared back down at me with the derisive grin of a big crack.


At that point, I completely gave up on sleep that night. It was almost dawn, anyway, and I started to think of Yan's story instead. It was a story that I knew, one day, I would put into ink. I looked at her reflectively, sleeping peacefully next to me. Yan eventually became a beautiful, confident woman. Thirty-three years after the accident, she grew into an active, self-reliant young lady, one who always spoke her mind–the virtues of a real Chinese woman.


I gently touched the still visible scars on her neck with my fingers. She stirred, stretched sleepily like a cat, and woke. Just when she finally brought my face into focus in the gloom, I saw the fire flare up in her eyes, and then she closed them again coyly with a stifled smile. I kissed her softly, then more hungrily, passionately. All of a sudden, I didn't feel tired at all anymore. There were flames burning inside us that rapidly became a raging inferno. An inferno that no one could ever extinguish but us.





























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#2016-01-27 10:55:20 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Imi, Yan's story is incredibly touching, and the Father's lack of compassion or even caring is maddening to the point of wishing he could have experienced the same pain or worse than his daughter was suffering.

However, while I am sure such Father's were relatively common place in rural China, especially some 30 years ago, by no means do I believe they were the norm. I am quite sure that most Chinese peasant males loved their daughters and would not have stood by and so carelessly and ignored the pain of their daughter, as Yan's father did. There are such fathers in all cultures, and I don't think this behaviour is any more or less common in China than anywhere else. There are certainly cultures in the world today where females suffer far more cultural angst than in China.

In fact, in modern China, I see more and more signs of daughters becoming the favourites, or at least as beloved as sons. This is especially so in the larger cities and among the more educated, but I think to some degree it is becoming more common even in rural China.

Just the same, Yan's suffering was hard to bear as a reader, so I'm sure it was incredibly painful to you as a lover. Of course it is hard for most of us to remotely imagine how much pain Yan suffered during her formative years, and it says worlds about her character that she survived and seems today to be capable of loving normally, and of possessing great strength and courage.

Thanks for sharing this with us and please pass our thanks and our best wishes to Yan.

#2016-01-27 12:10:26 by AnnaLH @AnnaLH

读part1时就已经猜想到yan应该就是lim的现任女友。读完part2时突然就莫名地胸闷〜〜为其时yan父的冷漠,yan母的焦虑与无助,更有幼小的yan那难奈的疼痛〜〜然而,yan又是幸运的,遇到了好心人,得到了偏方的医治。更欣喜的是相信yan已然出落成了美丽的女子--外貌不见,但行云流水般的译文应该就自她手,内秀可见一斑。@lim, 好好珍惜yan,给她满满的爱,成为她可以永憩可倚的安全港湾。@yan,把握好自己的幸福,狠狠地稳稳幸福下去

#2016-01-27 12:40:27 by anonymous14486 @anonymous14486

In the poor countrysides, it is very common that the peasants will make lots of babies, every peasants family may have 4-5 kids, the countryside life is boring, and it is very low cost to make lots of babies, for them, it is a good business, to raise kids, in their idea, just is to give a bowl of rice soup to raise them, when the kids are small, let them play by themselves, when they are older, they can start to help the family, do the farm works, or take care of their little sisters and brothers, so for those peasants, it is very easy to raise babies, while they didn't ask the babies if they want to go into this world to suffer, in China, there is a bad tradition, to raise kids is to rely the kids in the future, so the peasants think in this way, more babies, then better chance to get a rich successful kid in the future, they would think i have so many kids, at least one of them will be rich in the future, gambling mind, while they never think what did they offer to their kids in their childhood, did they give them enough love, caring and education?
In the TV news here in Guangdong, when there was sad news that some kids were hurt by accidents, almost 100% the parents are from countrysides, they went to big cities to earn a living and due to their careless, their kids suffered, it was very painful each time when I saw such news, kids are innocent and fragile, they can't choose who to be their parents, why let them go into this world to suffer when they are so young? at their age, they should be always happy, and enjoy the play time and love from parents

I think for those foreign people who always stay in the modern cities, they would think China is a good place to live, if they stay in small towns or if they got the chances to see the vast countrysides, then they would understand China is still a very poor country.

#2016-01-27 22:17:24 by Imi5922 @Imi5922

Thanks, John for your comments.

Yes, you're right. This kind of negligence from a parent or parents part can be found in every culture. I don't need to go far to come up with examples. There are people in the world who should never have become parents at all. My father was one of them.

Yan, unfortunately, felt the inside scars of this accident into her twenties. She thinks she's cured completely, but in my opinion, she is not. I could have made the story longer and told a longer version of our relationship, but I have no contact with her anymore. Although you will be able to read the reason, in my upcoming blogs here and there, why we're not together any longer.

Yan was my first girlfriend after Lily. You could read about her in my two-part series "It's very easy to misunderstand each other in a cross-cultural relationship," where I called her Jasmine. The last thing I know about her is that she found a better man than me here on CLM, and she's very much in love. She deserves to be happy and hopefully this gentleman could heal her scars entirely.

#2016-01-28 08:08:21 by Macchap @Macchap

Such a moving story.
Happy to know she's doing fine.
Best of luck to both of you, you fortunate fellow.

#2016-01-29 09:47:36 by Imi5922 @Imi5922


Thank you for your comments and feed back on living in the rural areas in China.


Thank you! I may have confused you. I wrote this story a year ago. Since then, Yan (Jasmine) and I had broken up. You may have the chance to read about the reason why in my future long series.
Sorry for the confusion!

#2016-01-29 21:14:22 by Anniehow @Anniehow

Imi, It is an interesting story which can only be written with someone with in depth contact with Chinese culture and which some of our members can relate to.
The traditional boy focus mentality might appear weird to many people yet it is kind of common in the countryside. I personally know a man who have 7 daughters for the hope of getting a son. Finally he gave up, accepting his fate. In all other cultures I have been exposed to, it sounds bizarre. It has a lot to do with our traditional cultural values and long agricultural society history. Farmers, with no social welfare and their income at the mercy of climate, rely on sons to take care of them when they get old. Traditional values dictate that daughters are outsiders. They marry and become a member of their husband's family and their name won't even appear on the family tree record. Daughters visit their parents some time, give financial support sometimes but they do not have the obligations to take care of aging parents.

Now the situation is different in China. There are not many upsides about birth control policy but I think the biggest one is it pushes the Chinese to accept girls are equal to boys. Less people are obsessed with boys, especially in big cities. With the new generation of only child relying on their parents for financial support, the situation seems to be reversed sometimes.

#2016-01-31 01:27:57 by Imi5922 @Imi5922


Thank you for your remarks.

Yes, you're right, China is definitely different now than thirty years ago. However, I hope China is never going to lose its uniqueness and good traditions in this fast-changing world. When I was in China, it reminded me of my childhood. It reminded me when life was much simpler. When people didn't need a lot in their lives, and they could still be happy. I hope China will never be on the level, though (I don't mean financially), where the West is right now, where people discuss what style of pants dogs should have -- the one that only covers the forelegs and part of the back or the one that covers all four legs.

In thirty years stretch, even people can change. Yan had even gotten distant from her mother later on and had interestingly gotten closer to her father. She didn't have an easy childhood, and it, unfortunately, had an effect on her entire life. Childhood scars are like birthmarks. I had seen many things that I wasn't supposed to see as a child. They followed me way into my adulthood, but at least, right now with a more mature head, I can deal with my inner struggles better. Some people, like Yan, can't do that. They solve their problems by hurting others because that was what they had learned from their parents when they were children. I'm glad she's happy and doing much better now.

#2016-01-31 08:47:08 by brisbaneboy @brisbaneboy

Hi Imi, glad to know everything turned out ok for Yan. I also was mistaken in thinking Yan was your current girlfriend. You have me curious now to go back and read your past blog about her. Your writing is very good and easy to follow I think for people who might have English as a second language.

#2016-01-31 09:41:00 by Macchap @Macchap

"I've made an ass of myself" was the first thing that came to my mind after I had read your response to John's comment. There's no "Delete" or "Edit" button to delete or edit my comment.
Yes, it would have been helpful if you had told when it had happened.

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