Dinner with Mr. He

20 Apr

Last weekend we went to dinner with a former colleague of Li’s – the driver of his former boss, Mr. He.  I had never met him and was curious because Li had always said he was a very wise man.

It was a fascinating dinner – his father had fought with Chiang Kai Shek in Jiangsu province and then had moved to Shanghai where Mr. He was born in 1953.   He was unlucky enough to be sent to the countryside with millions of other Shanghai youth and spent 8 years of hard labor in Hebei province in the far north of China.

After coming back to Shanghai in the late 1970s he met his wife and they had a son.  He now lives in the Hongkou district in Shanghai where he is a grandfather and still drives part time for my husband’s former company.   What a story!

He was a wise man, not prone to excess – he wouldn’t eat too much dinner and talked about his experience in a matter of fact way.   He was old enough to be my father and without meaning to I started making comparisons between the two and the luck of one to be born in the US and one in China.

From there I shifted to myself and how lucky I am to be able to make choices – to decide where I live and what I do.  Freedom is sweet.

I am glad we met.  Once I got home I had many more questions than answers.  If you were there, what would you have asked?

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2 Responses to “Dinner with Mr. He”

  1. Naomi Baltuck April 21, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    What a fascinating experience, and a very thoughtful post. I used to feel that way when I would get together with my adopted Grandmother Vi, an Upper Skagit elder who was tron from her family as a little girl and forced to go to “Indian School.”

    • gkm2011 April 21, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      It can be very difficult to relate, but important to try. When I lived in Spain the mother of my host mother was a orphan and I heard many stories about growing up with the nuns and hunger there as well. The world can be a tough place.

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