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(2007-04-13 21:37:59)



I heard a lot about Narcissus, or the Chinese sacred lily (ShuiXian), since I was a kid of eight or nine.


Back in my kidhood music was kind of luxury in my isolated mountain village and one of my neighbors, who had got some relative in the town who had passed a used recorder onto him, wired a thundering loudspeaker to this recorder and proudly and loudly, played some out-of-date tapes regularly, 3 times a day, and 3 hours each time. The loudspeaker spoke into every single ear in the village.


Strange enough, the seemingly disturbing and annoying proud behavior of this neighbor was never complained. To account for this, I attribute two reasons. One, the villagers were not sophisticated enough to envy or hate someone who showed off; two, some sound was better than silence in the mountains.


But it was actually endless repetition of the very limited number of tapes and as time went on, the repetition became a village routine; the sound was now part of the village life. People may heard the music but they were not listening, kind of background.


Among the most repeated ones was a Hongkong opera tape named ShuiXian(Narcissus) which tells about a heart-breaking love story between a young man from a rich family and a poor singer girl. They were, as many love tragedies, forced apart after the girl got pregnant and the girl (named ShuiXian) died of childbirth.


I loved the music in the opera, simple but passionate and loving. So many times was it repeated that I could recite every word and hum all the songs in the opera----because I was listening to it all the time with the villagers, be it the time for school or working in the fields.


I turned out to be a devotee of the opera and naturally, the name Narcissus represents beauty for me ever since.


However, Narcissus remained to me nothing but a name and some emotional imagination. I never seen, or noticed, or being introduced to, a real Narcissus. The childhood Narcissus carved deep into my heart, but the trivial in life carved me deeper. Narcissus was now nothing more than a memory.


23 years later.


I was walking on Guoding RD in Shanghai one cold January morning and I heard a middle-aged woman yelling, “ShuiXianHua”, “ShuiXianHua”… I did not remember the look of the woman, nor what she said to me, nor the price of the flower, nor how my heart trembled with the already budding Narcissus. The tender sprouts spoke of life and hope for spring and beauty.


I have to admit that I am not a good gardener. But I tried to be. I read some books about flower and focused on Narcissus. I carefully set it on the inside of my glass window for enough sunshine and to avoid losing too much water. I watered it everyday and watched the sprouts grow. I checked it before I went out and could not help smiling at it before going to bed.


I did not know how long time it takes a Narcissus to bloom, nor I know what the flowers would look like. White, maybe. I have never seen one and I was waiting to satisfy my eyes.


Before I left Shanghai for a journey I put it into a large enough vase to make sure the water would not dry up. Narcissus lives on water, anyway. I was away for a month. I worried about it in that month and wondered.


I rushed to my Narcissus before I landed my luggage upon returning. The water was not up, the leaves were still green, but I saw some yellow instead of white. My Narcissus, during my absence, had bloomed, and withered, without an audience. My Narcissus had given the most glorious moment of its life to loneliness and silence. My Narcissus grew and grew but when it bloomed with pride, I was away.


Now I still do not know what a blooming Narcissus looks like.


I stood at the window, sighing deep, sighing long.









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