We have a section in the China Today magazine called Microfiction. To be frank, most of these articles are terrible, because a lot of meaning and symbolism gets lost in translation, leaving a bare and often confusing passage. I suggested I write one, focusing of course on China, and after I wrote it, was told that only Chinese authors could be selected. So, here on my blog (the scrapyard for rejected magazine articles) is the microfiction I wrote.
Ming was six years old the first time he flew a kite. His grandfather had taken him to an open field on a hill, overlooking the city below them. Ming had received his kite for his birthday and flying it had been all he talked about for the entire week, until finally, on a sunny Saturday, it was time to fly his kite.
“Hold on tight”, said his grandpa, placing the string wrapped around a piece of wood into Ming’s hand.
“On the count of 3. 1…2…” before his grandpa could finish counting, Ming took off, running across the green grass with the kite flapping behind him. Just as his grandpa had told him, he slowly let the string unwind from the piece of wood until the kite was now high above him, dancing among the blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Ming stopped running to gaze up at his red and yellow dragon-shaped kite that now soared over the city, like his own personal guardian. His grandfather walked over to him and placed his hand on his shoulder.
“Look grandpa, look how high it is!”
As his grandfather looked up at the red and yellow dragon that contrasted against the bright blue background, he smiled, thinking of the first time he had flown a kite so many years before.
“You’re a natural,” said his grandfather, looking down at his smiling grandson who held onto the wooden stick as if it were the most important thing in the world. After a while of the kite zig-zagging in the sky, it started to falter and eventually came crashing down on the green grass of the hill. Ming looked up at his grandfather with a look of confusion and sadness. The elderly man chuckled as he knelt down on one knee to look at his grandson.
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s over,” said the little boy quietly.
His grandpa smiled and said, “This time is over, but nothing lasts forever. We can try again in a bit. Go run over there and get your kite.” Ming raced across the grass as the wind blew against his face and picked up his dragon kite, pausing for a moment to look up at the sky from where it had came. He then ran back over to his grandpa who had already started wrapping the string around the wooden dowel.
“Sit with me for a second,” he told Ming, who sat down next to his grandpa as they both stared down at the city below them.
“Nothing is forever,” began his grandpa, “And nothing should be.”
“But what if I like it?” asked Ming.
“New things will come, which will bring new opportunities and new experiences. A long time ago, this city was much smaller, there was no subway system, and people still road horses on the streets. But now, what do you see?”
“I see cars, and big buildings, and big signs, and people with phones, and trains.”
“That’s right,” said his grandfather. “And one day, maybe those things will be gone, and instead, there will be something better.”
The little boy smiled before asking, “Like when I tear a hole in my pants, mom buys me new, better pants?”
“Exactly. Now, why don’t you pick up that dragon and have another go. I’ll watch you from here.”
The little boy excitedly grabbed his kite in one hand and picked up the string in the other. Then, before smiling back at his grandfather, he one again raced across the hill, slowly letting out the string and releasing the kite until the wind caught it and launched it upwards. As Ming’s grandfather sat in the grass and watched his grandson chase the kite high above him, he too understood that change was not only inevitable, but beneficial. He thought of how quickly China had changed, and although he wanted to hold on to how things were, he understood that a new generation, including Ming, would be the force to drive China forward.
“Grandpa, look! Look!” shouted Ming, as they both stared up into the sky to see the dragon hurtling past them. His grandpa smiled and nodded, knowing that the enthusiasm, curiosity, and spirit of Ming’s generation would lead China to new heights, just as each generation had done before.