Mo Yan in Granta:
I have to admit that, though I did not make it public, I was personally opposed to my Aunty’s marriage plans. My father, my brothers and their wives shared my feelings. It simply wasn’t a good match in our view. Ever since we were small we’d looked forward to seeing Aunty find a husband. Her relationship with Wang Xiaoti had brought immense glory to the family, only to end ingloriously. Yang Lin was next, and while not nearly the ideal match that Wang would have provided, he was, after all, an official, which made him a passable candidate for marriage. Hell, she could have married Qin He, who was obsessed with her, and be better off than with Hao Dashou . . . we were by then assuming she’d wind up an old maid, and had made appropriate plans. We’d even discussed who would be her caregiver when she reached old age. But then, with no prior indication, she’d married Hao Dashou. Little Lion and I were living in Beijing then, and when we heard the news, we could hardly believe our ears. Once the preposterous reality set in, we were overcome by sadness.
Years later, Aunty starred in a TV program titled ‘Moon Child,’ which was supposed to be about the sculptor Hao Dashou, though the camera was always on her, talking and gesturing as she welcomed journalists into Hao’s yard and gave them a guided tour of his workshop and the storeroom where he kept all his clay figurines, while he sat quietly at his workbench, eyes glazed over and a blank look on his face, like a dreamy old horse. Did all master artists turn into dreamy old horses once they became famous? I wondered. The name Hao Dashou resounded in my ears, though I’d only met him a few times. After seeing him late on the night my nephew Xianquan hosted a dinner to celebrate his acceptance as a pilot, years passed before I saw him again, and this time it was on TV. His hair and beard had turned white, but his complexion was ruddy as ever; composed and serene, he was a nearly transcendent figure. It was during that program that we learned why Aunty had married Hao Dashou.