留白

On this the intersection of two special dates… 留白 leaving white

留白

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熊天平: 火柴天堂 Xiong Tian Ping: Matches Heaven

火柴天堂

走在寒冷下雪的夜空
卖着火柴温饱我的梦
一步步冰冻一步步寂寞
人情寒冷冰冻我的手

一包火柴燃烧我的心
寒冷夜里挡不住前行
风刺我的脸雪割我的口
拖着脚步还能走多久

有谁来买我的火柴
有谁将一根根希望全部点燃
有谁来买我的孤单
有谁来实现我想家的呼唤

每次点燃火柴微微光芒
看到希望看到梦想
看见天上的妈妈说话
她说你要勇敢你要坚强
不要害怕不要慌张
让你从此不必再流浪

每次点燃火柴微微光芒
看到希望看到梦想
看见天上的妈妈说话
她说你要勇敢你要坚强
不要害怕不要慌张
让你从此不必再流浪

妈妈牵着你的手回家
睡在温暖花开的天堂
天堂
天堂……

Matches Heaven

Walking under the cold snowing night sky
Selling matches to warm+nourish my dream
Frozen step after step – lonely step after step
The frostiness of man freezes my hands

A box of matches ignites my heart
The cold night cannot hold back advancing steps
Wind stings my face – frost cuts my mouth
Dragging my feet how long more can I walk

Who will come and buy my matches
Who will light up all of my dreams stick by stick
Who will come and buy my loneliness
Who will come and realize my refrains and dreams of home

Every time a match is lit – in its feeble glow
I see hope I see dreams
I see mother up in heaven speaking
She says “You must be brave you must be strong
Don’t be afraid don’t panic
So you’ll never have to wander ever again”

Every time a match is lit – in its feeble glow
I see hope I see dreams
I see mother up in heaven speaking
She says “You must be brave you must be strong
Don’t be afraid don’t panic
So you’ll never have to wander ever again”

Mama will hold your hand and lead you home
To sleep in the warm and blossoms-filled heaven
Heaven
Heaven……

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Childhood reveries (Part I): WHO AM I

I have always had weird and funny thoughts. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had strange ideas and notions running in my head, had so many questions bursting out of me and was never satisfied with the answers given, vexing and taxing even the most patient of souls around me at that time. I learnt later to keep most of my wondering and questioning to myself…it’s just easier that way.

A little mind game I used to play involves some kinesthetic as well as mental exertion for tricking (or is it focusing?) both the body and the mind (it probably grew out of too many lazy mornings of sleeping in and refusing to get out of bed):
Lie flopped out on your back on the bed with your head hanging off the edge and with your legs and feet propped up against the wall, so that blood flows down and engorges your brain. Then, start thinking of a word or a name (like the name of a dreaded teacher or of that pretty girl with pigtails from the other class), and just focus on that word, picturing it in your mind, having it loom larger and larger until it fully encompasses YOU…

If done ‘right’, something strange and perhaps a little magical will happen. There will be this weird sense of Dissociation with the word you were focusing on: that word, which had seemed so familiar and ordinary just moments ago, now feels strange and unfamiliar, a little too ‘bulky’ and ‘clunky’, like a new word or concept you are just learning about for the first time and still rolling around at the tip of your tongue, feeling your way around it…
And most strangely, whatever associated feelings and anxieties you had attached to that word (like the intense dread and foreboding of attending a certain teacher’s class, or the even stranger feelings and curious heart-thumping when thinking of that pig-tailed girl from the next class, especially when she’s wearing little furry mongolian hats) will have disappeared, replaced by a cool and mildly perturbing sense of peace and oneness…

Voilà!,
and so as a kid, I had discovered a much faster and cleaner way to get to that desired state of centred-ness (and buzz!), and all without the use of LSD, psychedelics, hours and hours of shikantaza sitting in zazen, or holding contorted yogic postures and chanting OM…

Many times I would play my little mind-game and focus on my own name and self, and soon reach that strange slightly disoriented state of dissociation, perhaps a little high and buzzed, but also wonderfully mellow and ’rounded’.
[I can’t really describe the feelings in that state; basically everything feels right, nothing is out of place, there are no ‘sharp edges’. Only an encompassing sense of mild contentment, a feeling of being centered and at peace. Like looking at a yellow-brown sepia-toned old photograph from a better time and place.
Thus: yellow mellow and ’rounded’.
]

When I am in that state, that dissociated from Self state, it can be be quite liberating. I used to call it, the WHO AM I state, and I rather enjoyed entering that state, not least for the incredible focus and clarity of mind which it allowed me to have. Like a placid lake with nary a ripple on the surface, there were no distractions and wayward thoughts when I am in my WHO AM I state, and it allowed me tremendous focus towards solving problems, sorting through binomial-branching scenarios or just pushing new ideas to their limits.

But of course, when naturally I began focusing on myself, my name (or worse, names of my loved ones), it can lead to some pretty scary results. To have a kid self-hypnotize into feeling dissociated from himself, to wander around in a discombobulated daze, and to say the strangest things and ask the strangest questions…it can freak some people out.

Many times when I am in that state, I would question the perception of self, the perception of others, just Who am I?, do ‘I’ really exist, how do I know I or you truly exist and if we exist, are we really what we seem to ourselves, to each other? Might there not be an unseen veil or scales covering our eyes and causing us to see what we appear to be seeing, but not the actual reality?
[Of course, I later found out I was not alone in asking these questions. These are age-old questions which have occupied Man from the beginning, and which at various times have been mused upon and very eloquently asked by distinct individuals across the breadth of humankind: by the ancient Indians at the very beginning of their civilization, by Chuang Tzu when he was dreaming of butterflies, and of course by Descartes when trying to outwit the Evil Daemon in his Theory of Other Minds.
]

And among the few people unfortunate enough to be faced with my childhood questionings and rhetorical wonderings, Mum definitely bore the heaviest brunt. When I was young, I spent a lot time with Mum learning a host of different things: the intricacies of water-colour painting (how to mix and blend colours and avoid always ending up with dirty-brown!, and especially the importance of 留白/leaving white space in chinese water-colours); learning chinese and chinese literature, especially from some of her favourite literary works both classical and modern; or simply just listening to Mum’s rather extensive music collection together.

I remember many lazy yellow-brown afternoons, usually over tea-time, we would be having painting sessions, or reading dreamy passages from 紅樓夢/A Dream of Red Mansions, while playing songs from our then sleek and state-of-the-art Yamaha turntable and player.

And many times when concentrating on my painting and colours, or intently reading and gradually getting in-between-the-lines, a little schism will appear and I will simply slip through to enter into that still and dissociated state of mind.

Slowly, with all my latent musings and wonderings welling up and fomenting just beneath the surface, I will stop my painting and reading, look up and ask Mum: WHO AM I
Many times rather then questioning, I would just launch into a stream of wonderings, musing aloud to Mum all the ideas and thoughts I have been developing in my head, not really expecting a response from her, but probably just feeling safe and secure enough in her presence to let it all out.

I remember she would just smile and calmly let me go on, and wait for me to finish. But sometimes I would be a little more ‘possessed’, and seem to carry on indefinitely, or even seem to be getting a little agitated and insistent with my self-questioning. At these moments, Mum always knew what to do to calm me down and bring me back. Rather than speak out, she would simply pick up her tea-spoon, and gently tap it against her tea-cup:
Deng-dengdeng-deng-deng-DENG in that familiar melody of 酒矸倘賣嘸 which we shared.

At once, I would stop my wondering and wandering, smile up at Mum and go back to my painting or reading, and continue eating my ‘little gem’ icing biscuits.

little_gem_icing_biscuits

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One of the scariest thing I did with my WHO AM I mind-game was to focus on Mum’s name, or rather my relationship with her. It was disconcerting to find that I was able to focus myself into ‘dissociating’ from the one most important person in my life; that somehow, I could focus/trick/meditate into uncleaving myself into the third person and look at my Self and its relationships dispassionately. I remember going up to Mum and asking her, why is she my mother and not someone else. I remember looking out of the window and pointing to a lady standing at the balcony of the house next door and asking, why isn’t she my mother instead? Why am I here in this body, looking out of this pair of eyes at that woman in the balcony, and not there in her body, looking out of her eyes from her balcony at me instead?

Mum laughed, tousled my hair and told me to quit eating so much biscuits or I’ll spoil my dinner. But years later, she revealed that actually she had been really worried for me when I was young and had even discussed with my father about taking me to see a child psychiatrist.

I guess I was really a strange kid…

Parallel Lines, by Kings of Convenience

Previous thoughts of childhood reveries, the boundaries between One and Other, mind(-bending) games, and also of a longtime influence — an artist and his perspectives, geometric paradoxes and warped lines…led me to think of this song.

Parallel Lines, from Kings of Convenience.

Kings of Convenience – Parallel Lines:

Parallel Lines

What’s the immaterial substance
that envelopes two,
that one perceives as hunger
and the other as food.
I wake in tangled covers,
to a sash of snow,
you dream in a cartoon garden,
I could never know.
Innocent imitation,
of how it could be,
if when the music ended,
you did not retreat.
In my imagination,
you are cast in gold,
your image a compensation for me to hold.
Parallel lines, move so fast,
toward the same point,
infinity is as near as it is far.
Parallel lines, move so fast,
toward the same point,
infinity is as near as it is far.

“…through laborious centuries…”

Anti-Japan protests sweep China

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/17/world/asia/china-japan-islands-dispute/index.html

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How long will such trouble continue to flare up? How long will it take before these old ghosts can finally be laid to rest?

As Tagore had declared with insight then, perhaps only “…through laborious centuries…”:

I speak with utter sorrow for your people; your letter has hurt me to the depths of my being. I know that one day the disillusionment of your people will be complete, and through laborious centuries they will have to clear the debris of their civilisation wrought to ruin by their own warlords run amok. They will realise that the aggressive war on China is insignificant as compared to the destruction of the inner spirit of chivalry of Japan which is proceeding with a ferocious severity.

[…]

You do not realise that you are glorifying your neighbour at your own cost. But these are considerations on another plane: the sorrow remains that Japan, in the words of Madame Chiang Kai-shek which you must have read in the Spectator, is creating so many ghosts. Ghosts of immemorial works of Chinese art, of irreplaceable Chinese institutions, of great peace-loving communities drugged, tortured, and destroyed. “Who will lay the ghosts [to rest]?” she asks.

–Rabindranath Tagore, to Noguchi Yonejiro regarding the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s

https://dustysojourner.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/through-the-distorted-lens-of-the-western-imagination-2/#comment-276

酒矸倘賣嘸 The soundless cry of the mute rag-and-bone man

Mum loved watching movies, especially the Taiwanese 爱情文艺片 (transliteration: love and culture films) of the 60s and 70s. Even by the time after I came along, her enthusiasm flagged not a bit; I remember many excursions to the movie theaters with Mum and Dad, with me perched on her lap, munching and holding my favourite kacang-puteh (peanuts in a paper cone) in hand. This was the time before twelve-dollar Jumbo Combos of popcorn nachos and soda.

the_friendly_kacang-puteh_man _a_fixture_in_movie_theaters_no_more

Taiwanese 爱情文艺片 (love-culture films) usually feature tall and debonair leading men with thick mullets in their 70’s bell-bottoms, and beautiful willowy leading ladies with their soft long tresses; and with both reciting and exchanging their lines in very proper, formal chinese that is reminiscent of classical poetry, or singing and serenading each other with love songs while effortlessly playing a variety of musical instruments — as befitting the ‘文艺-culture’ in its namesake after all.

But this particular 1983 film I have in mind and shown below, was not a typical Taiwanese love feature. The film 《搭错车》(Official English title: Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing?, but the chinese title really translates as: Boarding the wrong train, meaning, Taking the wrong path) was made:

…amidst rejuvenated native Taiwanese sentimentalities and the gradual liberalisation of Taiwanese cultural and linguistic behaviour from the strangle hold of Taiwanese mainland-Chinese (origin) dominated authoritarian government…

–Wiki

No dashing handsome male leads for beautiful fragile damsels to swoon over in this movie. In fact, the leading actor in the film is the man whom I remember the pan-Asia chinese media declared as the 第一丑男/ugliest leading man in the chinese film industry, the veteran Taiwanese actor, Sun Yue 孙越.

Sun Yue’s large bulbous nose and craggy hangdog features, together with his impeccable acting skills, was perfect for the character of 哑叔-Uncle Mute, the mute army veteran and rag-and-bone man struggling to make a living and survive in one of the many 眷村 (poor rundown ‘army’ villages housing retired KMT/Nationalist army vets and their families) dotted all over Taiwan.

孙越_Sun_Yue_bulbous_nose_craggy_face

哑叔_Uncle_Mute _the_rag_and_bone_man_and_his_empty_wine_bottles

And the film plot is not an especially clever or uncommon one:
哑叔-Uncle Mute, the rag-and-bone man struggling and living almost day-to-day, hand-to-mouth, but with very simple needs and wants, is content with his simple pleasures — a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of coarse rice wine, the warmth of the bed he shares with his lady companion.
One day, amongst the trash and empty wine bottles he collects to make a living with, 哑叔-Uncle Mute finds a two-month old baby girl, abandoned and crying out for warmth and a home. And from that moment, 哑叔-Uncle Mute’s life is forever changed: he now has something and someone to live for, to hope for…
哑叔-Uncle Mute gives up his drinking, instead of wine he now buys milk powder for his new-found baby daughter; he gives up his lady companion and his desultory dissipative life and worked harder than he had ever before to provide for the new center and lady of his life.
As a mute, Uncle Mute cannot shout out the familiar melodious cry and refrain that the local rag-and-bone men will use to announce their presence and request: 酒矸倘賣嘸 Any Empty Wine Bottles To Sell? Instead, Uncle Mute blows an old army bugle from his days as an army bugler and military band trumpeter, in the familiar melody of 酒矸倘賣嘸, so that anyone who hears his bugle sounds will know it is Uncle Mute coming round to collect empty wine bottles.
And as his precious little baby girl grows up, Uncle Mute frets over not being able to speak to her communicate with her, beyond the coarse guttural sounds that his throat is only capable of making. But one mode of expression which is crystal clear between them, and belongs uniquely to the father and daughter pair, is the simple 酒矸倘賣嘸 melody, especially when Uncle Mute tinkles and taps it out with a chopstick against an empty wine bottle: Deng-dengdeng-deng-deng-DENG.
The baby girl, Ah Mei, grows up into a bright and pretty young lady, and unlike her adoptive mute father, she is blessed with a wonderful voice and a talent for singing. But soon, the young lady grows restless and chafes at being stuck in the boondocks, and wishes for nothing more than to board and take the first train out of this small and poor village to take to the stage and live her dreams under the big bright city lights.
She is soon scouted and groomed to become the next big star and singing sensation. For various and heartbreaking reasons, she is then forced to deny and shun her father, as well as her relations with the poor village she grew up in.
The film moves into its final stage; Ah Mei, now a famous singer and international star, triumphantly opening her concert on the largest stage in the country. But midway through, an interruption and bad news: 哑叔-Uncle Mute had collapsed while watching her on TV and is now lying on his death-bed. Ah Mei dashes off the stage still in her concert costume and rushes to see 哑叔-Uncle Mute…but its too late. Broken heart, tears, regret, shame… Had Ah Mei really boarded the wrong train, and chosen the wayward path?
She returns to the stage, this time shrouded in stylized funereal sackcloth, and sings a different song, one embedded with the familiar melody and refrain that once had given her life, given her hope, given her love…singing it with the utmost of thanksgiving, and the deepest of mournful regret. An 哀悼曲-funereal song.

酒矸倘賣嘸 Any Empty Wine Bottles To Sell:

酒矸倘賣嘸

酒矸倘賣嘸 酒矸倘賣嘸
酒矸倘賣嘸 酒矸倘賣嘸

多麼熟悉的聲音 陪我多少年風和雨
從來不需要想起 永遠也不會忘記
沒有天那有地  沒有地那有家
沒有家那有你  沒有你那有我

假如你不曾養育我 給我溫暖的生活
假如你不曾保護我 我的命運將會是什麼
是你撫養我長大  陪我說第一句話
是你給我一個家  讓我與你共同擁有它

雖然你不能開口說一句話
卻更能明白人世間的黑白與真假
雖然你不會表達你的真情  卻付出了熱忱的生命
遠處傳來你多麼熟悉的聲音 讓我想起你多麼慈祥的心靈
什麼時候你再回到我身邊  讓我再和你一起唱

酒矸倘賣嘸…

Any Empty Wine Bottles To Sell

Do you have wine bottles to sell
Do you have wine bottles to sell
Do you have wine bottles to sell
Do you have wine bottles to sell

What a familiar sound that is
It’s been with me day in and day out
I never needed to think about it
It’s something I can never forget

Without heaven, where would earth be?
Without earth, where would home be?
Without home, where would you be?
Without you, where would I be?

Without you to raise me
To give me warmth and life
Without you to protect me
What would my fate be?

It was you who raised me
Accompanied me when I said my first words
It was you who gave me a home
To share with you, together

Though you cannot open your mouth and speak a single word
But you know the world and its black and white, real and fraudulent
Though you cannot express how you feel
Yet you have given of your precious life
From afar comes your very familiar sound
Reminding me of your very loving soul
When will you return to my side
And let us sing together again:

Do you have wine bottles to sell…

The very dramatic last part of the film with two very different songs; and with the climatic performance of the ending theme song:

搭錯車 9/9 Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing?

And the opening credits of the film, with 哑叔-Uncle Mute’s bugle, and the wall of glass he built out of empty green and transparent glass bottles (memories flooding back…):
搭錯車 1/9 Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing?

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What a tearjerker. And what strange and powerful things are memories…
Even after all these years, just hearing that sad little tune and refrain 酒矸倘賣嘸…, and I am a six year old again, sitting on my mother’s lap and bawling together with her, crying our eyes out for 哑叔-Uncle Mute up there on the big screen. 他好可怜喔 He’s so poor thing…

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I heard this song a few evenings ago, while out walking along the park and beach. It was the evening the haze returned with a vengeance, but I desperately needed my walk and ‘airing’ that day and so ventured forth regardless. As I walked, I could see in the distance sitting at a pavilion the familiar figure of an old man, another frequent visitor and walker in this park. I have seen him several times before, this old man, who would walk leisurely about while carrying of all things, an old cassette-tape player, and playing tapes of very old mandarin songs. No solitary enjoying of songs from an ipod or smartphone packed with a thousand songs for this old man; he apparently prefers to share his favourite tunes with all and sundry, playing old songs from the 70s, 60s, even 50s from his tape player, occasionally popping in a fresh tape from a bag he carries in his other hand. Very old school… I like.

I have not seen this old man in a while, was beginning to fear the worst, so it was good seeing him again that evening, at least he’s still out and about. On previous occasions, I had stopped and chatted with him about his songs, and even asked for a few songs I remembered listening from my mother’s collection as a child. I think he was a bit tickled at this youngish man talking with him about old singers and old songs…
But this time, the haze was really uncomfortable, so I wanted to just smile nod and be on my way.

As I approached him though, the soft tune and refrain coming from his player caught my ear, faintly familiar… 酒矸倘賣嘸, and I stopped dead in my tracks. At once, memories came pouring through… Flashbacks of scenes both real and from the screen, plaintive singing from sad songs mixing with Mum’s soft voice laughing, talking, soothing…

I couldn’t react and gird myself in time, and embarrassingly the floodgates opened…

催泪歌 Songs that make you tear

Everyone has one or two or a few songs which when you hear them, tug at the heartstrings, playing a melancholic chord that causes an involuntary sob to rise and catch in the chest, the eyes to well up, and strange unbeholden tears to stream down despite your best efforts to fight and resist the embarrassing but irrepressible emotional tide…

Over the years, I have realized that no matter how deliriously gay and happy a mood I may be in, or how deep and peaceful an equanimity state I may had centered myself into, there are some songs which I only need to hear a few strands of notes of and which will at once plunge me into a melancholic but not entirely unwelcomed abyss and release forth the floodgates…

Here is a song by one of my favourite female singers of mainstream Mandarin music from the 90s. 萬芳 Wan Fang, apart from having one of the better vocals and range at that time, probably had the most expressive and emotive voice among her peers. In this 2008 video, 萬芳 Wan Fang is singing a song she first recorded fifteen years ago in 1993. In this relatively recent mini-concert she held as part of her comeback tour, though the years may have left their marks on her, they seem to have also imparted a beautiful 沧桑 edge and echo to her voice that only time and experience can do. She may be in her forties now and despite what detractors once said of her looks, 萬芳 Wan Fang will always be beautiful to me.

萬芳 – 新不了情 Wan Fang – A Love That Never Ends (2008):

新不了情

心若倦了 淚也乾了
這份深情 難捨難了
曾經擁有 天荒地老
已不見你 暮暮與朝朝

這一份情 永遠難了
願來生還能 再度擁抱
愛一個人 如何廝守到老
怎樣面對一切 我不知道

回憶過去 痛苦的相思忘不了
為何你還來 撥動我心跳

愛你怎麼能了 今夜的你應該明膫
緣難了 情難了

A Love That Never Ends

When the heart has tired, the tears too will run dry
This deep love, is difficult to give up difficult to end
Once we possesed, eternal ever after
But I’ve not seen you now, for days and seasons

This one love, shall forever be impossible to end
May we in our next lives, embrace it once more
To love someone, and to cherish this love till old
How to face all this, I am at a loss

Remembering the past, the lingering nostalgia of the hurt and pain cannot be forgotten
Why do you still come, stirring up my heartbeat

How can I stop loving you, you should understand this tonight (by now),
Destiny never ends, love never ends

And here is the same song sung by Wan Fang from 1993. This music video is from the 1993 Hong Kong movie of the same name, 新不了情 A Love That Never Ends.
(The 1993 movie itself is a remake of a 1970 classic of the same name)
This movie is so sad…and so good.

新不了情 A Love That Never Ends MV (1993):

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Another piece of music that is immediately arresting within its first few notes, truly has a ‘beat that my heart skipped’: the Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto composed in 1959. While this orchestra composition is already not that new, some of the melodies within the composition are actually based in part on 地方/local operatic arts that have been passed down and performed for hundreds of years, and of course all inspired by that old and beautiful Chinese folktale, 梁祝/Butterfly Lovers.

Here is what I said previously on this most wistfully sad song:
https://dustysojourner.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/the-pisa-test-rote-learning-vs-心肝皮肺肾heart-mind-body/

Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto 1st Part:

Simply beautiful.
I believe the first two minutes of this first part, from the light ethereal flute opening, to the wistful oboe transition, into the much anticipated and achingly sad and beautiful violin solo, is probably the most recognizable of all Chinese music for all Chinese people anywhere for some generations now. Many a stoic Chinaman who may not know the story, will get teary-eyed upon hearing the familiar tune.
[But I still prefer the versions with an erhu or guzheng solo]

And even the modern theme song used in the 1994 movie 梁祝/Butterfly Lovers, which also sampled part of the tune of the orchestra, is similarly moving, with very exquisite lyrics accompanying as well:

[song starts 3:50]

梁祝

無言到面前 與君分杯水
清中有濃意 流出心底醉

不論冤或緣 莫說蝴蝶夢
還你此生此世 今世前世
雙雙飛過萬世千山去

Butterfly Lovers

Coming before you without a word, to share a cup of water
Within this lightness (the plain water) there are thick strong feelings, intoxicatingly filling and overflowing the heart

No matter it be a tragic misfortune or a perfect destiny, what more fleeting ethereal butterfly dreams
To give back to you this life in this lifetime, and for all our previous lifetimes
May we as a pair of butterflies fly across the thousand mountains and ten thousand lifetimes together

And to repeat myself:
“And of the many dramatized versions of the 梁祝/Butterfly Lovers story in recent decades, the above 1994 film version by the mercurial-Mercutio maverick genius director, Tsui Hark, is my favourite.
Tsui Hark’s film version, while ostensibly a romantic-comedy, does full justice to the tragedy that is at the heart of the story. And with his breath-taking scenery and cinematography, beautiful sets and costumes, and a wonderfully arranged adaptation of the musical score, he hits all the right notes; especially with a few precious scenes and moments which for me, are amongst the most tragic and heart-breaking evocations in cinematic art.
This 1994 film and faithful retelling of an age-old tale defined the themes of love, tyranny, loss and commitment, for an entire generation.”

That is, my generation, while coming of age in the 1990s.

[Sigh.
Need to give a little sigh for the 玉女/dream goddess of my teen years: Charlie Yeung/楊采妮. The film director/producer Tsui Hark made a casting coup when he casted the 19 year old Charlie Yeung as the female lead, Zhu Yingtai in the 1994 film. And of course, he scored another stunning coup by reuniting and casting her in his 2005 film 七劍, when the now older but still so lovely Charlie Yeung made a brave comeback after her shock retirement at the age of 23.

Sigh…Choi-nei !
]

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In more recent years, when I first heard the Ryukyuan/Okinawan singer Rimi Natsukawa sing the song Nada Sōsō/Spilling Large Tears, the soft but very intense native style she sang in, the beautiful melody composed by the Okinawan band BEGIN, the use of the traditional Sanshin 3-string instrument, and most especially, the painfully tender and plaintive lyrics written by Ryoko Moriyama… I was reduced to a weeping mess.

Nada Sōsō 淚光閃閃:

Even now, I cannot bring myself to translate the song lyrics.
Too painful, too cutting, too close and personal…

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The songs above span for about the last twenty years, marking the different stages of my life when the songs intersected with moments and events which made them especially meaningful. They largely marked the years during and after my coming of age, where naturally the more memorable and obviously painful events in life would seem to occur…

But I did not realize that there is a song, from much earlier in my childhood, which I had almost forgotten, but which holds the key to many half-buried tender memories. I heard this song again last evening, in a most inexplicable setting, and it left me reeling as half-forgotten memories began to burst forth, transporting me back to times, places, feelings from over a quarter of a century ago. And left me making an embarrassing spectacle of myself in a very public place…