From the Past to the Present

2013-3-24 fshell

    If the seemingly well-educated lady with a pair of thick eyeglasses hadn’t told my grandfather that I was surely a chemistry genius (in her class), I definitely wouldn’t have been stupid enough to major in chemistry and graduated summa cum laude. As time passed, I occasionally wondered why Ms. Aisinjuelo, my middle school chemistry teacher had such a compliment on me? Finally, I concluded the following possibilities: Maybe it was the first time she taught a chemistry class. However, I tended to believe my grandfather definitely misunderstood her. Without any doubt, it is easy for a non-Chinese speaking person like my grandfather often mixes up the word “mediocrity” (庸才 yongcai) with “genius” (天才 tiancai).

    Anyhow, my Mongolian grandfather was happy for several months and even years because of Ms. A’s compliment. Thereafter, whenever he ran into his friends or neighbors, he would unconsciously tell them that “according to the best teacher in town, my granddaughter was a genius in chemistry.” From that day on, I was totally doomed just like the Chinese expression “riding a tiger” – which means not so easily to get out. This impacted me negatively, and it almost ruined my future or even life. Ladies and gentlemen, please do a good deed a day by not to easily compliment a grandchild in front of his/her grandparent.

    More or less influenced by my mother, I used to love literature. I was brought up to read Russian classics and masterpieces of writings in the May Fourth Movement Period. At that time, I always asked myself what occupation would be better than being a writer. Writers do not need to brave cold or hot weather to go to work every day. I dreamt of making a living by just “playing” around words creatively and imaginarily at home. One score and a few years later, I am unable to express my thoughts in either Chinese or English (This blog is one of the proofs). However, sometimes I think I can write beautifully, especially when drafting my personal e-mails in a multiple-language mode -- the combination of perfect broken English, Chinese and Mongolian.

    During my first year in middle school, somehow, I fell in love with mathematics. Oh, I remember, I was strongly influenced by an article about the famous mathematician, Mr. Chen Jingrun, who proved every sufficiently large even number, can be written as the sum of a prime and a semiprime. I made up my mind and decided to major in math after I finished reading the article. That year, my math grade improved tremendously. I thought one day I would be able to solve the Goldbach's Conjecture, and my name would appear on headlines of every single newspaper in the world. Then all my hard work would be worthy. One quarter of a century later, sometimes I can’t even help my son’s fifth-grade math homework. How ironically it is!

    Then two years later, a new history teacher transferred to my school, and his name is Mr. Lin (林老师) 。 His classes were always full of interest. Moreover, the phrase of my essay "What is history? Take a look at who is in power." was highly praised in the class by him. So that year, I decided to become a history teacher. Since 8th grade I like to read history books. I still like to google reading materials about history online. 25 years later, I dare not to watch any Chinese or Hong Kong custom TV series because they always contradict the facts of history. Recently, some of my friends are crazy about the most popular Chinese so-called historical TV series, "The Legendary of Zhen Huan (“后宫甄嬛传") which is about one of the most famous Manchurian Queens of the Qing Dynasty. After just watched two or three episodes during my last winter vacation in Wisconsin, I could easily sum up this 80- chapter long TV series into one word, “preposterous” or “rubbish”. On the other hand, if I hadn’t read a lot about history in the past, I would have liked most my friends who enjoyed the show and would have had a common topic during our gatherings. I would consider this wasn’t my fault but Mr. Lin’s.

    During my high school years, intoxicated by Marxism-Leninism, I wanted to be a philosopher. “I think therefore I am.” I started to study idealism and materialism (somehow instead of socialism and communism). I even wrote several essays about why people needed to be more materialistic if they wanted to be Marxist followers, and those essays were published in the school’s newspapers (I need to mention that my best friend, Jianjun Jun was the editor). I was a “pious” socialist follower, so I was a pure atheist when I was young. However, now I am sort of idealistic and tend to pay attention to my daily horoscope and zodiac fortune; moreover, I love online divination.

    It is worthy to mention about how I make a living now. After graduating from college, coincidentally, I have been working in the accounting field for non-profit. What a waste of my chemistry degree and summa cum laude for nothing! However, terms like hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, neon and the other elements on the periodic table have firmly “camped” in my mind. Furthermore, even most of the element valences linger forever. I have tried very hard to kick them out from my memory, but it was too late. In daily life how often I can use this "boring" and “useless” stuff? I just learned an useful English medical term yesterday afternoon but couldn’t even recall it this morning. This is either an early sign of Alzheimer's disease, or I might have Dalai Lama VI Complex Syndrome-- Mr. Tsangyang Gyatso once wrote “I am meditating. I need to focus on thinking of Gods. Nevertheless, the smiling face of my lover whom I try to forget appears in my mind spontaneously. Where are the Gods?”

    Once young, you and I also had dreams too. But as time flew by, we all seem like a bird that has been caged too long to remember the desire to fly.

--Dedicated to my respected Chemistry teacher, Ms. Aisinjuelo Suti. Please let me quote from my favorite writer, Lu Xun, “Dear kind Mother Earth, may her soul ever rest peacefully in your arms?" (The last paragraph from “Ah Chang and the Stories of Mountains and Seas” -- “仁厚黑暗的地母呵,愿在你怀里永安她的魂灵。")


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