Chinese Essays

At yesterday’s Bishan Senior Citizen’s Book Club meet, the discussion centered around reactions to social phenomenon. As an introduction, the facilitator highlighted recent newspaper reports such as the recent price increase of beverages (coffee and tea), the addiction of a 70-year-old man to ‘fishing’ at an arcade (spending S$30,000 in seven years), and the last movie screening at a seedy 30-year-old cinema in Chinatown.

An enthusiastic exchange of thoughts and opinions was carried on to the three articles/essays for the day’s discussion:

  • Ba Jin’s Hurt was written in 1941, when Kuomingtan was in power (before the unification of China). The setting was that of a war zone, yet the central characters were three children (two fat and well-fed and one who was skinny and probably an orphan). Ba Jin wanted to convey the message that children born at the same time and same place could easily suffer different fates due to their different status (rich or poor) in society;
  • The essay by Zhang Xiao Feng, Debt, showed that she was honest and God-fearing. She may have been more privileged than others (here, taxi drivers) but she never wanted to take advantage of them and regretted her mistake in hopping into the wrong taxi while the ‘original’ one was waiting for her when she made a pit-stop to run an errand;
  • The final essay, We Still Believe by Yan Kun Yang, tells of the need to give children dreams and hopes, even if sometimes white lies must be told (eg the existence of Santa Claus). This is because three things are needed to ensure happiness: dreams and hopes, kindness, and innocence of thought.

I enjoy the sessions at this Book Club because the information gleaned are not only food for our mind but also make us more aware of the events happening around us, giving us a broader perspective and increase our confidence in sharing our thoughts and views with others.

 

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