Written and Published by Han Institute, August 1, 2013

One Thread Heaven, Chapter One


I long had a dream to visit my father's hometown, Nanyang, though I didn't know how to achieve it. Henan Province is called China Proper, as it is in the center of China. It is also called Middle China, Hua Zhong. Nanyang is at the origin of the Huai River and it is remote like a distant star.

As my father was a Nationalist and his hometown is now ruled by Communists, there is animosity there, although we are all Chinese.

One day, together with our local Henan Province Association's President and elder leaders, I went to visit a Nanyang general's home in Cupertino, California. He told us his life story that he left Nanyang when he was 17 and never had the chance to go back again. My father left his hometown at about the same young age. They were recruited by the Nationalist government to fight against the Japanese invasion. My father was lucky enough to be too young to fight at the onset of the war, in 1937. In the August 1937 Shanghai defense war, 90% of the soldiers from Henan didn't survive. But he had to fight at the end of the 8 year war of resistance. He witnessed atrocities and told us many gruesome stories.

"Japanese didn't treat Chinese as humans, they cut them up like chickens and ducks."

"I was squatting in the sorghum fields, while the Japanese were firing into the fields all around with their machine guns."

The Monkey King is the god of the Huai River and hero of ancient folklore.

China proper men deeply worship the monkey king for his cleverness and his magic power. My father loved acrobats, like a monkey wielding his 𹿰 golden cudgel and unyielding to the invaders.

As nationalist soldiers fended off the Japanese invaders, we honor the local deity.

I saw the Monkey King altar in the general's home and pointed out to Mark. It is always expedient in giving out ideas to give impressions about Chinese culture. Later, they can make a reference. Perhaps through the blessing of monkey king, I was able to achieve my dream to return to my father's hometown in inner China shortly after I bowed in front of the monkey king altar.

Though I didn't request to see the monkey king's secret ground, but surprisingly I was taken to the location by the tour guide. From the web site, I discovered that there are 3 airport locations in China that have flights to Nanyang. My father told me he would take a train. But with limited time, we simply couldn't take too many risks. So we asked my niece's help and she arranged the direct airplane flight to Nanyang and a tour guide for us while we visited her in Shenzhen in the South of China.


After the Autumn moon festival, we were ready to fly to inner China Proper from the southern sea coast. We flew from Guangzhou's Baiyun White Cloud Airport to my Dad's hometown, Nanyang. It was a pretty efficient little plane and we arrived very orderly and safely.

My niece's friend being the tour guide as his own tour business welcomed us. I was euphoric to be there. Boxwoods lined the courtyard. Myrtle cape flowers gave some color.

The ancient city name Wan ' had been engraved into the floor and shined with wax. Wan is the abbreviation for Nanyang. Although the airport was not modern, it was very clean and neat.

We arrived earlier than expected at the airport. We strolled a little while, then, a young college-age man showed up and apologized because we were waiting for him.

It was quite foggy, shrouded in white air.

The tour guide James took us from the airport to the hotel. On the way to the hotel we ran into a thick fog and he told us, "Fog is rare here. Only when a noble person arrives, there is auspicious fog". I translated to Mark who is a computer scientist dealing with weather.

From the air, Mark's first impression of Henan is that there is good green fertile farm land as far as the eye can see, like Michigan in America, so he understood then that Henan and China Proper is what has made China a rich country through most of history. This is different from the way Henan is usually portrayed, as backward, with famine and disease and bandits.

We had so much good food in the hotel. One wonders if the famine ever indeed happened here.

In the evening, we were taken to view the city wall. Barely, we could see the old dignified construct and how the moat was flowing along the wall. It was desolate and in need of repair. Bicyclists were riding in the water puddles through the old city gate.

I was disappointed to see that there were no Han white jade or ancient stone tablets. They were all about Communist labor workers number one, very juvenile writing fonts.

Despite everything, I was looking for something better, hoping that the next day, I would be led to see something wonderful.

Once, my father painted a candle radiating with dim light and he said, Despite it is lit up so faintly, it exerts all the power it has. Yes, that depicts his own life's experiences. One Thread Heaven in his heart, to keep on surviving. A dim hope is all he could find in the dark world, but he hung onto it. He was born in a war-torn era and answered the call to fight against the militaristic invading Japanese. Leaving home as a young man, he was not able to return because of the occupation by Communists, though he always longed to return to see his parents.

After my father passed away, I dreamt that he was still alive, and I carried his post-heart surgery frail body on my back, running in Shuinan military airport's fields in Taichung to catch a plane. It was howling with a northern wind and the moon was dark and the wind was high. Now he finally could return to his home.

In Nanyang the first time, I fell into a deep sleep and in a blurry dream, I thought of a man with a blue robe standing by the Han White Jade inscribed calligraphy to welcome me. I think that was my grandfather.


To be continued

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