Sunday, February 10, 2013

Junior - Dating the Wrong Boys

Dating was not encouraged in college even though there were no regulations about this. One astonishing event involved a girl in our class. She came from a small town in my province and was the youngest girl in our class. Boys in our class said that she was a classic Chinese beauty. We used to call her Lin Mei Mei which was Lin Daiyu (林黛玉). Things started in English class. Just for English, the college set up one so-called fast class and collected all the top English students to form one class regardless of their majors. This girl and I were two of those chosen from our class because of our high-test scores. We were not at the top of the fast class even though we were top in our own class. In our fast class, there was an older boy, we called him “big old brother” because he was older and in his thirty’s. He was one of the top students in the class and was always willing to help people. One night after class (we usually had class at night to fit it into everyone’s schedules), we talked with him. By chance, this girl and he realized that they had a common ancestor who came from the same province in northern China. Even though he was married and having a child in the same town where our university was, after that, he treated this girl very well and invited her to his house for dinner on the weekend. His wife was also very nice to her, treating her as a little sister far from home.
     Before we knew it, one day, this man’s wife came to college looking for the girl. They had a serious fight that shocked the whole college. His wife used all the bad words you could find. I guess my classmate had an affair with the big brother, and the big brother was ready to divorce his wife. However, at that time, divorce required that both sides agree. His wife refused to sign the papers. Then a long political and philosophical consultation began involving the person in charge of student affairs called a political guide who usually was a party member. She started to talk to the girl several hours at a time. We don’t know what she said. We only heard the political guide complain that she talked with her, heart to heart, woman to woman, trying to talk her out of the biggest mistake that she could ever make. For hours and hours, she didn’t even say a word. At the end of each session, the only thing she said was “are you done?” then walked away. For her in our dorm, she just came back to sleep. She became very quiet and avoided talking with anyone. Compared to how she was before, she used to like talking, laughing, and singing, she became a different person.
      Every now and then, the big brother’s wife would come to our dorm and say how she sacrificed herself to help her husband go to college by doing everything inside and out, and working full time. We gave her varied advice. “For me, I always told her, this kind of man is not worth your sacrifice. If I were you, I would divorce him instead.” She wanted to stop her husband so he could not marry her.
      I guess the school did everything that it could to stop her and him. Finally, they notified her parents at home. They came to school right away and tried to do the same thing, but nothing helped. Finally, they decided to threaten her with cutting off all financial help and relationship with her. We all tried to stop her parents, “you are pushing her to him by doing that” but they did. Her parents even took most of her personal belongings and signed a paper in school that her daughter didn’t need any financial and material help from the school.
        From then on, they started a very hard life. The big brother’s parents also objected and disapproved of the relationship. But they moved their secret life into public. They didn’t care that they walked like a couple anymore. He was supporting her with his limited savings from his work before he came to college. His company continued to pay his full salary while he studied so he could go back to the company after graduation. He still had to support his daughter. Her lifestyle became very simple. She couldn’t buy anything. She ate the cheapest food in the dining hall. Especially when we went out for our fieldwork, we noticed that the big brother sent her a letter with a stamped envelope. We were impressed to say that they might actually belong to each other. They broke up after college. He went back to his wife and daughter. She married a veterinarian and had a son; however, sadly, she died a few years later from cancer.
      Another event also involved a girl in our department, the other class of our year 1978. She came from the capital city that I came from. Others called us “big city girls.” She was madly in love with a boy in the orchard department. The problem was that her parents informed the college that they didn’t want their daughter seeing any boys in school. If so, they were to be told immediately. Therefore, the college political guide did what she had to do and told her parents. We were told that her mother was a very powerful woman. She didn’t show up at school right away like the others did. But through letters to her daughter and her daughter’s close friends, she threatened to cut off her financial support and mother/daughter relationship. One day, the girl just couldn’t take it any more. She took a lot of sleeping pills and left her boyfriend a note. Fortunately, her boyfriend found the note right away, hurried to her dorm bed, and rushed her to the hospital in time to save her. This action of course brought her mother to college right away. She was forced to agree with whatever her daughter wished. For her, she simply didn’t want her daughter to marry someone without a name or high occupation or high power. She didn’t even like her boyfriend’s small town accent. They did have a few months of marriage after our graduation, where she was sent back to the capital where she came from. But, the boy was sent back to his small town. She invited a few others and me to celebrate without her parents around. They had problems shortly after their marriage and divorced a year later. But her mother told everyone that they never got married. A few years later, she married another man and moved to Australia.