Today is Pearl S. Buck’s birthday. I didn’t notice it until I saw a notification on my facebook. I wrote some lines to the fan page to show my love and my respect to her. But when I went to sleep some minutes ago, I suddenly recalled some important things between her and me. I was deeply touched, like somebody just filled my heart with a cup of hot milk and making it beat faster. And I couldn’t help it. I have to wake up to write something down or else it would slip through my fingers like so many times before. Feelings and emotions are even more fragile than a spider string. Just one invisible touch of the wind can blow it away and it would disappear forever. Impossible to re-create.
I read the first Pearl Buck’s short story when I was a teenager who was struggling with herself everyday to find a good way of living. Her story was collected in a book named “The Nobel-laureates’ writings”. I still remembered this feeling: peaceful, quiet and elegant just like the floating mysterious incense fragrance from my great grandparents’ incense burner. The story was translated into Vietnamese and until now, what a shame, I haven’t found its original version. I guess this story was too trivial comparing to her several great masterpieces. But the first touch is always the deepest touch. I love this story for its simplicity and its fragility, for all the beautiful pictures it naturally and magically sent to my mind. From that moment on, I had a certain viewpoint about how a beautiful woman should be which still lingered in my mind with some alterations as the result of time and of my exposure to the world and its reflections (mostly its reflections, to be honest). Pearl Buck opened my eyes and showed me all the old yet precious lifestyle of my ancestors that I hadn’t fully aware of. But most important of all, she gave me comfort and a guideline when I found nothing in my old poor village and my country to be proud of. At that time, I faced Western people everyday and I tasted all the bitterness of being looked down on. Maybe they were not that rude, it was me and my inferior complexity that made the situation seem to be that terrible. But the truth was that I felt small, so small. I felt like it was not fair at all to be born in such a village, such a country. My country was poor itself, but even people from the city visiting my village treated me like trash. How pathetic! How can a 15-year-old girl feel good about herself, about her origin when all she received was disrespect? But luckily Pearl Buck just elegantly showed up and pulled me out of the ocean. She made me realize that all the old and rusty stuffs that I once wanted to deny had a permanent value. It was precious gemstone hiding in the middle of a normal rock, it was like the leather in Andersen story with its whisper: The paint could fade away but the leather remains forever! I was born there and I just belong to that place till the last day of my life. And all the old and unchanged lifestyle has an indescribable beauty, a beauty that has a power to help you overcome all the boundaries that separated you from your previous generations. It was when you thought you had lost yourself that you were found and saved! And only that simple!
Millions thanks to Pearl S. Buck for changing my viewpoint in such a way that I couldn’t recognize without some serious looking-back moments. To me, you are like water … Powerful yet so elegant and mysterious!