Last week we dealt with a failed one. Today, it is about a woman who succeeded because she took a harmful decision.
The Chinese journalist and author Xue Xinran (born 1958 in Beijing, China) tells us in The Good Women of China – Hidden Voices of the destinies of Chinese women. Short before her first manuscript was published she came into a perilous situation:
At nine o’clock on 3 November 1999, I was on my way home from teaching an evening class at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. As I walked out of Stanford Brook tube station into the dark autumnal night, I heard a rushing sound behind me. I had no time to react before someone hit me hard on the head and pushed me to the ground. Instinctively, I tightened my grip on my handbag, which contained the only copy of a manuscript I had just finished writing. But my assailant wasn’t deterred.
‘Give me your bag,’ he shouted again and again.
I struggled with a strength I had not known I possessed. In the darkness, I could not see a face. I was aware only that I was fighting a pair of strong yet invisible hands. I tried to protect myself and, at the same time, kick with my feet at where I thought his groin might be. He kicked back and I felt sharp bursts of pain in my back and legs, and the salty taste of blood in my mouth.
Passers-by started running towards us, shouting. Soon the man was surrounded by an angry crowd. When I staggered to my feet, I saw that he was over six feet tall.
Later, the police asked me why I had risked my life fighting for a bag.
Trembling and in pain, I explained, ‘It had my book in it.’
‘A book?’ a policeman exclaimed. ‘Is a book more important than your life?’
Of course, life is more important than a book. But in so many ways my book was my life. It was my testimony to the lives of Chinese women, the result of many years’ work as a journalist. I knew I had been foolish: if I had lost the manuscript, I could have tried to recreate it. However, I wasn’t sure that I could put myself through the extremes of feeling provoked by writing the book again. Reliving the stories of the women I had met had been painful, and it had been harder still to order my memories and find language adequate to express them. In fighting for that bag, I was defending my feelings, and the feelings of Chinese women. The book was the result of so many things which, once lost, could never be found again. When you walk into your memories, you are opening a door to the past; the road within has many branches, and the route is different every time.
Xinran saved the stories of many Chinese Women and risked her life for it – if the crowd hadn’t intervened, she could have lost it definitely thereby.
The refugees who reach us during these days decided what is so important for them to risk their life for it – or they have seen what they or their neighbours have lost.
What would be so important for us that we would risk our own life?
Who with so many news and facebook-posts about refugees and the Syria crisis gets disorientated, to those I recommend this video.
Radio programmes especially for refugees you can get here (in German, English and Arab).
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