a laotong relationship is made by choice...when we first looked in each other's eyes in the palanquin I felt something special pass between us--like a spark to start a fire or a seed to grow rice. But a single spark is not enough to warm a room nor is a single seed enough to grow a fruitful crop. Deep love--true-heart love--must grow.
I am still learning about love. I thought I understood it--not just mother love, but the love for one's parents, for one's husband, and for one's laotong. I've experienced the other types of love--pity love, respectful love and gratitude love. But looking at our secret fan with its messages written between Snow Flower and me over many years, I see that I didn't value the most important love--deep-heart love.
I've come to believe that part of lovesickness comes from this conflict between control and desire. In love we have no control. Our hearts and minds are tormented, teased, enticed and delighted by the overwhelming strength of emotions that make us try to forget the real world.
Mama used to tell us a story about a cicada sitting high in a tree. It chirps and drinks in dew, oblivious to the praying mantis behind it. The mantis arches up its front leg to stab the cicada, but it doesn't know an oriole perches behind it. The bird stretches out its neck to snap up the mantis for a midday meal, but its unaware of the boy who's come into the garden with a net. Three creatures—the cicada, the mantis and the oriole—all coveted gains without being aware of the greater and inescapable danger that was coming.
All women on earth-- and men, too for that matter-- hope for the kind of love that transforms us, raises us up out of the everyday, & gives us the courage to survive our little deaths: the heartache of unfulfilled dreams, of career and personal disappointments, of broken love affairs.
We hug, but there are no tears. For every awful thing that's been said and done, she is my sister. Parents die, daughters grow up and marry out, but sisters are for life. She is the only person left in the world who shares my memories of our childhood, our parents, our Shanghai, our struggles, our sorrows, and, yes, even our moments of happiness and triumph. My sister is the one person who truly knows me, as I know her. The last thing May says to me is 'When our hair is white, we'll still have our sister love.