Parlez Vous Française?
Last weekend our little family did a road trip to charming old Montreal. Different from previous trips, this one is for a charity event. Papa Bear is the guest speaker at the 8th Annual Award Gala for young Chinese Canadians sponsored by the Jiuding Club. Attendees include the former minister of immigration and environment of Quebec, Executive officer of Banque Nationale, Consular General of China, etc.
A chance to make a fool out of myself in front of 500 elite, classy, businessmen and business women? Of course I dived in head first.
They introduced me four times during the course of the evening in Chinese, English and French. And just to be sure everyone knows who I am, they even screened a promotional video of one of my earlier films “Red Thread – The Chinese Canadian Adoption Story”. Then it was my turn to speak. Wolfing down my roast beef dinner and wiping my mouth on the way up and praying to the god of public speaking that I don’t have any spinach stuck to my canines, I walked up to the stage.
” Bon soir, Les madames et monsieurs. Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to be here with you tonight. I am extremely honoured. I made the film Red Thread a couple of years ago. In order to prepare for tonight’s event I reviewed my film. This time it feels different because my wife and I became new parents last year. We have a beautiful baby girl who turned nine months yesterday.”
Applause went up in the room.
“As a new parent watching the film it gave me new insights. I cannot imagine the extreme heart ache for the young mothers who had to give up their babies. So tonight I want you to help me. Please join me in a trip down imagination lane.”
The room grows very quiet. The spot light is blinding. I feel a bit too warm.
“Imagine you are a new mother. You’ve just given birth to your preciously beautiful little girl. You feel happy, exhausted, afraid and sad. You are sad because you know that she is leaving you. Because of Social, political and family pressure you have to give your baby away. How would you feel one month, one week or one day before that fateful day?
When you breastfeed her for the very last time, would you squeeze a bit harder because you know she will not be drinking her mother’s milk any longer? When you play with her on the floor do you hope she will remember your face when you are gone? When you rock her to sleep for the last time do you want to just sway with her until the end of time?
As the young Chinese mother you would have to pick a sunny and calm day. You would dress her up in all the special clothes you made for her and bundle her up warmly. You would leave your village for the town before the sun comes up and arrive at the police station in the dark so no one sees you. You would put her in a cardboard box with a full bottle of milk. Just in case she is hungry when she wakes up. Then you would lay her down gently on the doorsteps. “
You could hear a pin drop in the room. All eyes and ears are on me.
“Now comes the hardest part. You would have to back away and go hide behind a building or a bush. Waiting to make sure your precious package is being picked up. When someone find her and take her inside you would have to muffle your cry and swallow your tears. You would have to turn and walk away. Walk away forever. Forever is such a long time to feel hurt and broken.
I hate this idea of hurting forever so I made this film Red Thread give the Chinese mothers some comfort, closure and reassurance. I want to show them what happens afterwards. Using the magic of filmmaking I wanted to tell the mothers that their beautiful babies DO grow up. They may struggle, they may cry, they may stumble and become discouraged but they get up, rise up and they keep going. Eventually they grow up to become beautiful, productive young women of our society. I want to tell their Chinese mothers “Fang Xin Ba!” Release your heart’s worries. Do not be concerned for your girls, they are well, they are healthy and happy. Most importantly, they are loved, on the other side of the world. My dream is that one day my film will reach all the mothers and fathers who had to give away their flesh and blood.”
At this point I can see a few audience dabbing the corners of their eyes. I continue.
“That is my personal dream. Tonight we are all here to continue that dream. Three of the scholarship recipients are Chinese orphans adopted by Canadian families. The next chapter of their stories is being written tonight. Thanks to the Jiuding Club and their generous sponsors we are giving the young people the spark and fuel so they can go fly like the floating lanterns in my film. They fly higher and higher above the night sky to give us illumination, inspiration and beauty. With so many lanterns above us, our world will surely become a little bit brighter day by day.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fellow-dreammakers. Hold on to your hopes and dreams tightly like a newborn baby. For they are the only things worthwhile in this lifetime and they are the only things you will remember in the end. Thank you very much.”
I put my hands together and take a bow, Chinese style. Applause goes up. I let the glorious feeling wash over me. 500 souls are cheering me on. They are saying: ” We are with you Zen! Bravo!” What a feeling to be connected to so many wonderful spirits. What a privilege to be shown The Way. What a time to be alive!
Merci et au revoir Montreal! Je me souvien!
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If you would like to receive a copy of my film “Red Thread – A Chinese Canadian Adoption story” Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org