Maybe it’s because its finally spring here in Hong Kong or just because I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, but I pulled Flowers in Full Bloom from my bookshelf. It was one of my favorite childhood books and one of the few I saved (along with The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam).
The drawings by Lin Wan-tsui are beautiful and it was those brightly- colored images that stuck with me more than the words. Published in Peking in 1966, it is a snapshot in time. Lines, written by Huang Ching-yun, include: “I am mending the net for our commune”, “The teachers and commune members all smile and praise me”, “We did not mind the hard work at planting time” and “We will make them into flour to send to our soldier uncles”.
I’m not sure why I was so drawn to this particular book. Perhaps it was that the experiences portrayed were so different from my own that it had the ability to transport me on an adventure to another place and time.
My copy is now worn and slightly crumpled. The cover is held together by tape. There are watermarks throughout. Together they attest to how much it was loved. Flowers in Full Bloom has somehow made its way from China to the United States, where I grew up, and back again.