A Moment

In our life,
Time is counted by seconds,
Minutes, hours, days,
Months, years and centuries;
Past, present and future.
Time is long, yet it is short.

A place – a river,
Holds myriad memories
Of times gone by.

Qingping is a small village.
It sits beside a small, green river
In the mountains of Southwest China.

When the Cultural Revolution was roused,
I was sent to there when I was eighteen.
I was sent, a long with millions of youth
From urban centres to these isolated villages
To be “re-educated” by peasants.

Four years went by as a laborer;
Four years of suffering and isolation,
Four long years of creation and revelation,
I started to draw my daily life;
I gave my love to art and in turn,
Art guided me through the darkness.
This is how it came to be,
That Qingping owns a part of me.

My dream –
To show Qingping to my daughter.

A moment in time:
In a small motor boat,
We were travelling on the Qingping River,
The heavy rain beat down,
Until the water was swollen.
What emotions! – to see this place again.

In an instant,
Our boat collided with a cargo boat,
It immediately capsized and flipped over.
My family and I
Were trapped inside the boat as it began to sink.

I escaped from a hole inside the boat;
I opened my eyes but I couldn’t see any thing,
Except the swollen waster.
At last, I was breaking the surface of the river,
I saw my family around the sinking boat,
And my daughter’s hair beside the boat;
Unmoving, dying.

I was screaming!
I felt a kind of pain I had never felt before.
My cousin and I pulled my daughter out of the boat.
Her head was down and she had no breath.
I shook her body,
Finally she spewed water from her chest
Returning to life.

We were fortunate to be pulled out of the water,
By an old local fisherman.
We survived.

I felt when I neared death
Time was still.
It was like a long scroll painting;
In this painting,
I saw the past, the present and the future,
All at once.
People of the world were in the river,
Trying to survive.
There was no beginning and no end;
There was only a moment.

A place
A dream
A river
A boat
A moment
A breath
A new life

– Gu Xiong, June 2000