Freedom's Candles by Jytte Bowers
Sometimes, at night, our sighs wake us up. Sometimes they are loud so we wake up one another. Those are our Chinese sighs, depressing, so deep, that only a Chinese would recognize them. They began with the massacre at Tiananmen; for the Chinese, however, they began way back in history, maybe when they dragged the first stones for The Great Wall.
We returned from China with scars, which never seem to heal, just like my childhood scars, they are always sensitive to touch.
“Every time I read my country’s history, I cry,” our friend, Chiang, said as we sat in a teahouse overlooking the hills around Nan King, watching a magpie fly back and forth with twigs for its nest. “It is so sad—so very sad.”
In 1989 we left Chiang. We do not dare to write, lest someone, someday, wants reprisal; but when we wake up in the middle of the night and have nothing else to do with those quiet hours we think of him and the many who touched us the years we chased the revolutions from Tiananmen in China to Vilnius in Lithuania.
Jytte and her husband, Jim, live in a cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota that they fondly refer to as Troldhaugen because it reminds them of the mountains of Norway where Jytte dreamed of going as a child.