Posts Tagged ‘waiting

23
Feb
10

Favorite passage from “Waiting”

The moon was glistening on the willow and maple crowns; beetles and grasshoppers were chirring madly. The leaves and branches, heavy with dew, bent down slightly, while the grass on both sides of the road looked spiky and thick in the coppery light of the street lamps. A toad was croaking like a broken horn from a distant ditch partly filled with foamy water. Lin felt weak and aged; he was unsure whether he cared for the twins and whether he would be able to love them devotedly. Watching their covered faces, somehow he began to imagine trading places with them, having his life start afresh. If only he himself had been carried by someone like this now; then he would have led his life differently. Perhaps he would never have had a family.

Ha Jin, “Waiting”

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23
Feb
10

Can I not have both?

His heart began aching. It dawned on him that he had never loved a woman wholeheartedly and that he had always been the loved one. This must have been the reason why he knew so little about love and women. In other words, emotionally he hadn’t grown up. His instinct and ability to love passionately had withered away before they had had an opportunity to blossom. If only he had fallen in love soulfully just once in his life, even though it might have broken his heart, paralyzed his mind, made him live in a daze, bathed his face in tears, and drowned him in despair!

His mind shifted from holidays to love, which perplexed him more because he had never spent a day with a woman he loved wholeheartedly—no, there had not been such a woman in his life and that emotion had been alien to him. Yet one thing he was certain about now: between love and peace of mind he would choose the latter. He would prefer a peaceful home. What was better than a place where you could sit down comfortably, read a book, and have a good meal and an unbroken sleep?

Ha Jin, “Waiting”

23
Feb
10

Time is not a guarantee of love

He thought a while, then managed to answer, I think so. We waited eighteen years for each other, didn’t we? Doesn’t such a long time prove we love each other?

No, time may prove nothing. Actually you never loved her. You just had a crush on her, which you didn’t get a chance to outgrow or to develop into love.

What? A crush! He was taken aback and paused in his tracks. His sinuses became congested.

Yes, you mistook your crush for love. You didn’t know what love was like. In fact you waited eighteen years just for the sake of waiting. You could have waited that long for another woman too, couldn’t you?

Let me tell you what really happened, the voice said. All those years you waited torpidly, like a sleepwalker, pulled and pushed about by others’ opinions, by external pressure, by your illusions, by the official rules you internalized. You were misled by your own frustration and passivity, believing that what you were not allowed to have was what your heart was destined to embrace.

Ha Jin, “Waiting”

23
Feb
10

Knowledge chills your blood

In his heart, he was eager to go through the letters, though he didn’t show his eagerness. Never had he seen a love letter except in novels; never had he written one himself. Now he could see a real love letter.

Yet having read all the letters, he felt a doubt rising in his mind. What troubled him was that the desperation Mai Dong had described was entirely alien to him. Never had he experienced that kind of intense emotion for a woman; never had he written a sentence charged with that kind of love. Whenever he wrote to Manna, he would address her as “Comrade Manna,” or jokingly as “My Old Lady.” Maybe I’ve read too much, he reasoned, or maybe I’m too rational, better educated. I’m a scientist by training—knowledge chills your blood.

Ha Jin, “Waiting”




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