Red Chamber’s No. 7 It girl–The Helpless Introvert 贾迎春

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It’s difficult to associate someone good at Go-chess with someone who’s a Blockhead but that’s Yingchun. While her kindness was a manifestation of her weakness, her weakness in turn was her coping mechanism growing up as a motherless invisible child in a household filled with talented women.

She is the most easily forgotten girl of the lot–no one really remembers what she was like, and if she was talented in anything at all.

It’s a tragedy to be born ordinary in an extraordinary family. By no fault of her own.

It’s kind of sad to think that someone as ordinary would be forgotten so easily, when majority of us are just as ordinary. So today, I am going to tell you the story of an ordinary girl who had been sidelined throughout her life growing up in a big household. I would like for you to know that she was a gentle soul, a victim of circumstances, and was good in Go-chess. She also liked jasmine flowers.

She was mediocre, beautiful but mediocre and she accepted her mediocracy.

Yingchun grew up motherless, was the second of the 4 female cousins in the family (the 4 girls’ fathers were brothers), so naturally she fit the profile of an invisible middle child in the grand household (since they all lived under one roof and functioned like a mega-size core family). Typically it could swing both ways, either you work really hard at being outstanding so people would notice you, or you get used to being invisible. Yingchun opted for the latter.

When cornered by her other servant maids to report the misdeeds of her long-time nanny, she grabbed a book off the shelf and started reading. It was the book The Treatise on Response and Retribution/Treatise on the Response of the Tao (太上感应篇)which revolved around the concept of karma and the importance of good deeds.

When her long-time nanny stole her accessory and got found out, instead of pursuing it further she opted to just ‘let nature/karma take its course’. She took out a Taoist book (preaching about karma and consequences of one’s actions, and the importance of doing good) to read while her other attendants pressed for her to inflict some sort of punishment onto the nanny. She was a little troubled by their insistence and commented that whether the nanny would be spared by the matriarchs of the house, or if this incident would go unnoticed, it’s all the karma of the nanny. She as the owner of the accessory, would not actively expose the nanny, and would rather let go and forget about the accessory than to upset the matriarchs.

Her kindness was often perceived as weakness by servants, and they called her blockhead in private, and one even went on to say that “she wouldn’t even make a sound if you pricked her with a needle”. Maybe she knew about this nickname, but she didn’t seem to care. All she wanted was to spend her life peacefully, in mediocracy, as she was an easily contented person.

The only time when she was mentioned as an individual (instead of in passing as “one of the girls”), was a scene when the rest of the entire family of women and the male protagonist (yes, he’s always hanging out with the girls) gathered for a day-feast coupled with poetry-making and bonding activities. While everyone was busy with interacting with one another, Yingchun was sitting quietly in the shades alone, just streaming the jasmine flowers together, and taking it all in. I was sure that it was great happiness for her, to be surrounded by her family. I think she didn’t want to disturb all the happiness in the family by doing anything that’s “out of the ordinary”, or against what she perceived to be “natural course of action/karma”. Her weakness was her attempt to show that she put the family above herself, and just being in their shadows was enough for her to be happy.

She would do anything to keep her family together, including being married to a terrible husband known for domestic violence. Her dad was owing a family quite a fortune, and the family was known to be on the rough side, but the dad didn’t care and ‘sold her’ to repay his debt. Naturally, she was abused and tortured to death by her vile husband.

It was suggested that eventually, she was married/sold off to a violent family and abused to death.

And so, it was the ending of the mediocre daughter who did what she could in her limited capacity to be a good member of the family. She didn’t ask for much–no attention nor material wealth, and her family failed her.


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