MU XIANG MEI: I often dream that I’m still in primary school. For example, I’m going to school in the morning and on my way there, I see many places where people are playing cards and having fun. I’m walking on my own and I think, it’s much more fun outside than in the classroom. School was always a little boring. So I spend the whole way to school playing around. I see some children with a skipping-rope, others are playing feather ball kicking. I stop for a while and join them. I just want to play.
Sometimes I’m late and when I arrive at the school building, all the others are already in the classroom. Sometimes I run all the way to school, but it’s far away and I can’t get there in time no matter how fast I run. On the way, I always see adults who are just playing around, they don’t go to school, so I think, I won’t go to school, either.
When I enter the classroom, I see everybody’s doing their homework. Sometimes I dream that we have an exam, Chinese or mathematics. I don’t know anything, I’m thinking as hard as I can but I don’t know how to answer the exam questions. Sometimes I do know the answers but I cannot write a single character on the page, I forgot how to write. Those dreams are funny.
These things always show up in my dreams. I guess it’s because of the pressures of life. I’m unemployed, I lost my job. People who are married, like me, we have to feed our families, we have to support our children at school. So my own childhood is always present in my mind, and it shows up in my dreams.
There isn’t much to say about my life, it’s quite ordinary, without major events. Back in my days, school was much more relaxed than it is today. Much less pressure. We had less class, the expectations weren’t so high, there was less competition. When I graduated from high school, I started working in a factory. At first it was a state-owned factory, so as workers we didn’t have much pressure, we just did our job. Later I was laid off. Then I sold clothes for some time and worked for other people. But I like to have my freedom, I don’t like there to be someone above me, so I opened this small shop. Besides making business, I also have to take care of my family. My son is in middle school, he comes home for lunch every day. I’m not unhappy about my life, it’s what I’ve chosen for myself.