Going for a Date
She was born in a wealthy family. Having an overprotective father, she was not allowed to choose her own boyfriend, and was advised that she should always ask her mother how to judge a man. In that way, she would find a husband as loyal and responsible as her father. She wondered based on what her mother judged a man. Wasn’t her parents’ marriage arranged by a match-maker? But she was afraid to challenge her father. She was also afraid to refuse to meet men that her father introduced her to.
Longing for freedom, she also craved true love.
It really happened. In a friend’s gathering, she met a nice-looking man with perfect build and great humor. His remarks always made everyone laugh out loud. And she, with her lovely smile and natural elegance, attracted his attention immediately.
He asked her name and phone number, and she maintained contact with him without her father’s approval. She knew very well that she was in love.
In a breezy afternoon, they were to meet in a park. She arrived earlier since it was their first date. She was excited and expectant. She opened her makeup basket with a mirror to put on lipstick again. She wanted her beauty to be seen in the best manner.
Checking herself in the mirror, she rubbed her lips and closed the basket satisfyingly. Then she lifted her eyes to look afar, and unexpectedly she saw her father and a strange woman chat and laugh, walking toward her hand in hand.
Walking on The Street
As suppressive and outdated ideas were left behind, outfits of Taiwanese women reflected the change of cultural trends. Traditional qipaos of the East or classic dresses from the West, all stimulate people’s imagination. During the difficult time, everyday life could be enjoyable. Despite the sea changes over different eras, every woman pursues beauty and enjoys shopping. Setting a date, dressing up for the best, they went out with friends. Each step they took on the street, they triumphed. Walking and chatting to one another, their ears nevertheless captured all the noises of the surroundings with their eyes browsing all the products displayed on the windows. They entered many stores, looking around for clothes in fabric stores and lingering in fashion shops. If they were tired, they bought mung bean cakes from a bakery or enjoyed their favorite snacks at food stalls.
I suppose walking on the streets was the best time of a day for women at that time.
This day, in the wind, filtered sunlight spread over the scene, like special lighting for the stage of your life stories. Rejecting the traditional roles imposed on women, the best leading actresses shine for the splendid event. Even the grand building in the background is dimmed by your glow. You are the focal point. Even children are stunned by your glamor.
The moment the camera shutters click, the time, polished in the long stream of shadows, stops for you. The charming curly hair, and the curvy bodies wrapped in qipao, as well as the slightly upward mouth corners, betray the beauty and melancholy behind your profiles.Your figures suggest the awakening consciousness from a murky dream. Gender awareness is burgeoning. In the patriarchal world, you are eager to manifest your break-up with the outdated era.
A Modern Woman
It is evident that you are a modern woman in your time.
You have beautiful facial features, perfect make-up, permed hair bangs and crescent moon eyebrows. Your ethereal eyes and bright red lips have outlined your high nose. You remind us of the stars in the early Taiwanese movie posters.
In April, when the flowers blooming, you wear a fashionable sleeveless dress and a pair of open toe high heel sandals. Carefully styling yourself, you go out in high spirit. Knowingly or not, your charming image is captured by a camera.
The ups and downs of life during the eventful era did not deprive you of your youth. It is made eternal in the photograph I am gazing at.
Your tilted face is remarkably like an old picture from my mother’s youth. I found it in the drawer of an antique dressing table after she died about three years ago. In the picture she still had two braids on each side; she must have been younger than you at that time. My mother was born in a poor village in Kinmen. She had been through the 823 Artillery Battle and grew up in poverty. The most luxurious item she had in her youth was the hardly affordable product Peh Chao Lin Facial Cream. Nevertheless, she had blissful moments in her life when she went to town with her friends and secretly had their pictures taken in a photography studio. It was the only photo of her youth.
In retrospect, the emergence of photography has not only rewritten humans’ perspectives but also influenced literary writing. Photos can be more than just a window that reflects reality but, at the same time, a space that houses creativity and imagination. Books, a symbol of humans’ thoughts and civilization, started showcasing a new relationship between images and texts, while perspectives of cameras also appeared in works of literature. A Gentle Breeze invites five contemporary writers to step into the viewing of images and the practice of exhibition from the perspective of literature. As texts and images complement each other, the abstract understanding of reading metamorphosizes into sensuous intuition. This process turns both viewing and reading into a unique experience and demonstrates possibilities of dialogue between the history of photography and its connection to memory. Texts, photography, and writing spark the existential meaning of symbiosis, guiding the reading of images towards changing aesthetics. This exhibition section can thus be interpreted as a resonance between photography and literature, revealing the subtlety of human nature and the true meaning of life through the act of writing.
Chang Tzu-Hui’s ancestors were from Hui County of the Gansu Province, and she was born in Lucuo Village, Jinsha Township, Kinmen. Chang Tzu-Hui moved to Taipei in 2002. She worked as a reporter for the Environmental Information Center, and chief editor of CONDE Magazine. Currently she is the editor-in-chief of the Kinmen Literature. She is also an independent writer.
Chang Tzu-Hui won the second prize of the Wu Island Literature Award, and her essay was the honorary mention. Her short stories had been included in the Taipei Chinese PEN Quarterly and Anthology of Contemporary Kinman Writers.
She published her novel I Hide My Sorrow in Laughter in 2009. Her collection of short stories After the Landmine Exploded in 2016 were awarded grants from the National Culture and Arts Foundation.