My first Mid-Autumn Festival in China
I just marked my first Mid-Autumn Festival celebration in China. Exactly a week after arriving for my graduate studies, I was kind of nostalgic- memories of past experiences back in Kenya with family and friends swapping scenes in my mind. In the morning of Friday 13, the atmosphere on the Central China Normal University (CCNU) grounds was very upbeat. Chinese students explained to us the importance of the day as gifts of mooncakes and osmanthus wine were exchanged.
Then came the night. The full moon dangled precariously in the sky. Like it was about to fall; as millions of eyes looked at it with reverence. Unlike previous nights, a cool breeze swept through the campus; and for the first time, I felt this liberating spirit. With African music playing on my headphones, a danced my way, floating in the wind, and forgetting myself for a moment.
The feeling was so wonderful. Perfectly aligned with nature while tapping into the human exuberance around me.
As I settled back into my hostel room, I was intrigued by the festival's idea. My curious mind nudged me online where I stumbled upon the poem Prelude to Water Melody, by the renowned Chinese writer Su Dongpo.
This poem succinctly captured what I was going through. The message and the tone both resonated with my feelings. Writing to his family, Su wondered what time it was back at home. Given the time differences between China and Kenya, I was constantly trying to figure out what time it was back at home.
Riding the wind, there I would fly, goes a line in the poem. I too remembered how, with arms wind open, I chided the Wuhan breeze to lift me off the ground.
Finally, Su asks his family to join him in celebrating the timeless perfection of a full moon in a cloudless night. What a way to finish. I, too, was hoping that all was well with my family. That despite the distance and anxiety that comes with not seeing or hearing from a loved one; we were all flourishing under the watch of the full moon.
There was more. The poem speaks to the singularity of humanity. That geography is no barrier to shared destiny. Human experiences; though expressed in symbolic languages of the world converge where it matters the most.
And while we may go away from home, as happens from time to time; the family remains the most important unit to our productive existence. As the Chinese used the holiday to reunite with the loved ones, the Kenyan community in CCNU also got together, shared a meal and walked the streets of Wuhan under the neon lights.
As I write this, a day after the Festival, I cannot help but look forward to the next. Thanks to the Chinese friends whose generosity and candor played out to make me and a horde of other foreign students experience unforgettable 2019 Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Writer is a PhD Student of International Relations at Central China Normal University.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.