Jia Li’s Song in the Night/ A Children’s Story

Jiang Wenli

Once upon a time in a small village near the Tolo Harbour in China there lived a very small girl. Her mother Chan named the little girl Jia Li which means “Beautiful”. Chan named Jia Li a name which meant the same thing her name meant. As soon as Jia Li’s hair began to grow Chan nurtured it with precious oils from the white camellia. She would gather the seeds and grind them mixing them with oils. Each day she would put a few drops into Jia Li’s hair to make it shine. Jia Li had the fairest skin in the land and her eyes were as dark as the darkest night.

Chan visited the markets as often as possible to purchase some of the most beautiful silk fabrics for Jia Li to wear. Chan would never again be able to give life to a child so she was going to make Jia Li into one of the most desired women in Hong Kong. The white camellia nut oil could be purchased but it was very expensive and Chan liked to use it on her skin as well as upon Jia Li’s skin. She also used coconut oil when the white camellia nut oil was unavailable.

Chan had learned from her mother to drink green tea and white tea to keep her skin pure. She made seaweed a regular in her diet to keep her body healthy as well. Her mother had taught her and she was now teaching Jia Li.

Kim Lo was Jia Li’s father. He had acquired the land in Tia Po town from his father and grandfather. The house was not the most beautiful but it had kept them all well for many years. Kim had planted many flowers around the quaint dwelling so Jia Li’s eyes would behold lovely things as she grew. Jia Li loved to dress up and put on some of her mothers special fragrances. She made it very easy for people to turn their heads to get a good look when she happened to pass them on their way to Tolo Harbour.

Now there were two things Chan had really impressed upon her daughter. First she was to keep her body free of drugs, alcohol and avoid the villages of anyone who sold their bodies for money. The second thing was that she was to never ever cut her hair. Should she do so, she would immediately lose the beauty she had been given.

”I want you to be as free and as beautiful as the butterflies that flit from flower to flower here.” Chan repeated again and again to her young daughter. “Butterflies are rare and they can spread their velvety wings and float on air. If they are caught their wings and the colors that make up their beauty is destroyed. This is what will happen to you if your beautiful shiny hair is cut even one inch. Please remember all the things that I have taught you for one day there will come a time you will need these valuable lessons.” Chan continued.

Chinese women do not like sunspots on their skin and favor the lily-white look which is pore less and flawless. Chan bought Pearl Powder face cream and vials of apothecaries to use on her skin. She drank the white powder in a cup of got water tea for good health. Every night before bed she would moisturize her long black hair with coconut oil. They were not rich by any means but they kept themselves as healthy as possible.

Now it came to pass that Jia Li met a handsome man who owned one of the tallest buildings in Tolo Town. He had moved to the area from Hong Kong as a young boy with his parents. He had worked very hard to become one of the owners of this high rise building and he was looking for a wife to spend the rest of his life with. When his eyes caught the sight of Jia Li walking down the street in front of his building he knew he must meet her. So Ming-húa set his plans into motion.

Immediately Ming-hua spoke with his mother who owned a modeling agency. He asked his mother to contact Jia Li and offer her a job as a model. Jia Li was quickly sent a letter inviting to become a model in Hong Kong. When the letter reached Jia Li she was thrilled. She had always wanted to work in Hong Kong and this would be a wonderful chance for her to make a great deal of money for her family. It wasn’t long before Ming-hua was escorting Jia Li all around Hong Kong showing her off to his affluent friends. They spent a great deal of time together.

Now Ming-hua’s mother was a very controlling person. She wanted to give Jia Li the top position in the business and make her the best of all the models. She decided that too many of the models had long hair and asked Jia Li to cut her hair short so more of her features could be seen. Of course Jia Li declined graciously. She had remembered the words of her mother.

One night as Jia Li was sleeping; Ming-hua’s mother sneaked into her bedroom and cut off her long hair. Upon waking Jia Li discovered that her hair lying in locks upon the floor beside her. Fear gripped her thin body. She rushed into the bathroom to see her reflection in the mirror. Just as her mother’s words rung in her ears, her eyes beheld the picture of a wrinkled haggardly witch. It was more than Jia Li could bear. Her once beautiful countenance crumbled upon the floor beneath her. She had lost her beauty and was sick unto death.

Jia Li refused to go outside or answer the telephone. She was overcome with grief and fear. Now no one would look upon the face of such a ugly woman. She would certainly lose Ming-hua and his mother would never want her modeling for her company. As soon as darkness came, Jia Li returned to birthplace to seek the guidance of her mother.

“Mother look at me. Someone cut off all of my long hair and now I am cursed to live as a witch. Please do something to make me beautiful again.” Jia Li cried bitterly.

“Oh my darling Jia Li I wish I could make a wish and your beauty be returned to you. I cannot do this thing. You will have to stay here long enough for your hair to grow back out. Only then will your beauty be returned.”

So for twenty years Jia Li lived hidden in the very house in which she was born. For twenty years her life passed before her without the love of Mingh-hua. The only thing Jia Li could do was to sing and sing she did.

She cried to the gods to allow her hair to grow quickly and she applied the white camellia nut oil daily to her short hair. Her life had been stolen from her and the only thing that could bring her beauty back was time. Time passed ever so slowly. Day by day Jia Li cried out to the gods and sang her songs of despair. Her voice rang out from town to town but her face was hidden from the world.

So it came to be that Jia Li learned a very important lesson. She realized that beauty was a gift given to her by her parents and no one could undo what had been done. She became so depressed she decided to end her life. Twenty years was just too long to wait. She would be too old to even give life to a child.

One day as Chang returned from the market she discovered Jia Li’s body lying still upon her bed. An empty bottle of sleeping pills lay beside her. Jia Li was dead. Kim Lo buried his once beautiful daughter in the rose garden he had made for her. Happiness died with Jia Li for Chang had no other children. The once bright sunny house became a tomb of darkness forever. After Kim died Chang sold the land to an investment company and in her depression refused to eat. After many weeks Chang joined her daughter and husband in death.

A simple thing such as cutting long hair can completely devastate a person whose life is based solely upon beauty. There is a greater gift and that gift had not been taught to Jia Li. The greatest gift is love for without love the spirit of man will die. Love conquerors all. Jesus is love!

Question: What is the greatest gift given to mankind?

Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted 3-7-2012

We thank Jiang Wenli for the use of her picture to display so children can see how beautiful Chinese women are. Thanks, Jiang Wenli

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