MARIA


MARIA

 

I met Maria once again on Monday evening. Maria is one of my Internet friends. She is quite an interesting character. Her life story is worth learning about.

 

The first time I encountered her online, Maria was somewhere in Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province. She was a teacher of English, working at a private middle school. She spoke decent English. Because both of us work in schools, we compared notes on teaching, students and family matters. She was kind and honest. When I was talking, she paid me a lot of compliments, saying I spoke Standard English.

 

As time went by, I learned more about Maria. Before she went to work in Shenzhen, she was in Shanghai. She and one of her female friends ran a restaurant in the big town. It was hard work, she said. Running a restaurant involved a lot of planning and physical work.

 

I was curious about why such a good speaker of English as Maria should have run a restaurant. Did her restaurant serve foreigners in Shanghai?

 

Not really. Well, there is a long story behind the restaurant. Maria used to have a happy family. Her husband was kind of a boss of a large business. Some years ago, the man had an extramarital affair and ended up divorcing Maria and getting remarried to his lover.

 

What did Maria comment on her husband? “He is a good man,” Maria said. She said that actually her husband had been kind to her. She respected him very much. It was clear that Maria had been supportive of the man’s career. The man had been successful in running his business. Unluckily a love affair broke up the couple. Maria was forgiving, saying that her man had been misguided.

 

I reckoned Maria had been a teacher of English early on in her life. After her divorce, she maintained herself by running the restaurant in Shanghai. She led an independent life. She did not rely on her ex for a living.

 

Then she was relocated to Shenzhen, a prosperous town in Guangdong Province, South China. She found a teaching position at a private middle school there. It was obvious that she was doing a good job, for she told me her boss treated her and other teachers very well. One evening, I noticed she was tutoring one of her students in her room.

 

She turned up occasionally. All the above was learned when I was chatting with her. Because she was cordial and warm, I made a mental note of her life story when our conversation was going on.

 

On Monday evening (July 28th, 2008), she surfaced again. She said that in the past few months great changes had happened to her. She remarried. Probably next January she will emigrate to the United States. I was surprised.

 

This is what things have been. She has an epal from the United States. They have been friends for a long time. The American man loves her though he is older than Maria. Maria told me the man is 10 years older but he looks very young.

 

Earlier this year, the American came over to China and they got married probably in Shenzhen. The man works at a post office somewhere in the States. Their marriage will enable Maria to move to the USA and settle down there with her new family someday. It’s clear that Maria is happy with the man and that their love is genuine.

 

I wish Maria good luck in America. I asked her to come over and chat with pals in the community when she is settled in the States. She said OK. Life in a new culture is not easy and it takes a lot of adaptation. May Maria beat the challenges and be happy over the seas.

 

Maria’s life story is a sample of present-day China. Her story reflects some trends which are running in Chinese society. The society has become more mobile and people are moving around the country and even abroad. Maria’s roots are in Northeast China. She is a North-easterner. Then she spent some years in Shanghai. Her third dwelling was in Shenzhen, Guangdong. The next stop on her life journey is somewhere in the United States of America.

 

Divorces are more common than before. When I was a child, divorces were a rarity. Then a social stigma was attached to divorces. A divorce was something to be ashamed of. A higher divorce rate means the Chinese people have more choices in their life and therefore greater happiness. Dysfunctional families break up and new families are formed. In my community some teacher couples get divorced and start a new marriage. Most people around are not startled by their divorces or their new families. Divorces have finally become part of mainstream Chinese culture and are accepted by the Chinese nation, which was under the influence of feudalism for tens of centuries in history.

 

Still I will close up the blog entry by saying, “Good luck, Maria.”

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