One day I want to go for lunch. On my way to the restaurant, I walk past a café. I hear somebody call my Chinese name. I think that this is just my imagination playing a trick on me and walk on. But then I hear somebody call my name again. One of my female coworkers is sitting in front of the café, on a table hidden behind some bushes. I have never talked to her before and go over and ask what she’s doing here.
She: “I needed to get some fresh air.”
I: “Are you feeling unwell?”
She: “I am. Are you going to eat something?”
I: “That’s my plan. Have you eaten yet?”
She: “I haven’t. I haven’t felt like eating for the last 3 days.”
I: “Is your body or your mind feeling unwell?”
She: “My mind.”
She gestures me to sit down on the chair opposite of her. I sit down and ask: “What is it?”
She: “There’s this guy. We have always been chatting on QQ. A few days ago he told me that he has had a girlfriend for the past 6 months and that they are going to buy a house in Northeast China. He’s from Northeast China, just like me. People from Northeast China like to be with other people from Northeast China. We got along so well. It has hit me really hard that he has a girlfriend.”
I: “Did you know each other only via QQ?”
She: “Well, kind of.”
I’m trying to put things into perspective, so I ask her:
“How old are you?”
She: “I was born in 1985.”
I: “How long have you known each other?”
She: “For 9 years.”
I: “That’s a long time. Is he living here in Shenzhen or in Northeast China?”
She: “In Shenzhen.”
I: “Have you ever met him in real life?”
She: “One time I saw him at a subway stop. I only saw him from a distance but I knew it was him from the photos. I walked towards him. He was typing something on the phone, looked up and smiled at me. At that time I was still a bit away from him, but I think he also knew that this was me. Before I could reach him, the subway arrived and he got on it. I was waiting for the subway into the other direction. I then messaged him that I just saw him.
“When he told me he had a girlfriend, I wanted to call him. I wanted him to give me an explanation, to hear his voice. I called his number, but he didn’t pick up the phone. I called again, but he still didn’t pick up. He has started ignoring me. I have already deleted his QQ contact and his Weixin contact. If only I could talk to him. I’d like to talk to him and let him know that we could still be friends. Do you think that there’s any chance that he might add me again on QQ?”
I: “To be honest, I don’t think he will. But I also think that this is better for you. If he keeps the contact, you might just get hurt even more. It might take some time, but I think it’s best if you try to forget him. Have you talked about this with your Chinese friends? Maybe they have a better understanding of the whole situation.”
She: “Not really. I’ve been living in Shenzhen for a very long time, but I’m only friends with a few co-workers. I really don’t feel like going back to work at the moment. I thought sitting here might make me feel a little bit better. When I’m at home, I think about it way too much.”
I: “You should try to go out and distract your mind. Don’t think about it too much. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Maybe it didn’t work out because it wasn’t supposed to work out. I do believe that there is something like destiny. Maybe you’re not destined to be together because you’ll meet someone else.”
She: “I once believed that we were destiny. You know, seeing him at the subway stop and things.”
I: “Have you ever told him about your feelings or ever talked about your relationship to each other?”
She: “No, never. I’ve had feelings for him ever since, but I never told him. I’m not sure if he had feelings for me or not, he never told me. Except for that, I used to tell him everything. I could tell him everything. Now that I’ve deleted his QQ contact, it feels like there’s something missing. And since he’s buying a house with his girlfriend, I guess they want to get married. You see, he’s already 34. Maybe his family is giving him pressure too. After all, 34 is an age where a Chinese guy should settle down and get married.”
I: “I’m not sure what his feelings for you were in the past, but he seems to have moved on. I know it’s not easy, but you should do the same.”
She tells me that it’s good to talk with someone. A little while later I get up to go eat something and she goes back to the office.
Has a stranger ever entrusted you with such personal matters? I’d love to read your stories.
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Poor girl, sounds like she has no-one to talk to about these things. Maybe you should talk to her more from now on, be her friend?
I offered her to meet up again, but she declined and said she was already feeling much better at the time I called.
It’s a nice restatement of a conversation. Reminds me of two stories: the first one is a short story by Elizabeth Taylor, “The Letter Writers”, it’s about two people who had maintained intimate correspondence for ten years and finally met each other. However, their first face-to-face appointment didn’t turn out as well as they imagined, which outlined the discrepancy between one’s expectation and the reality one experienced. Here’s a podcast link to this story: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/01/fiction-podcast-paul-theroux-reads-elizabeth-taylor.html
The second story is the one I’m living and suffering in. I can much sympathize your colleague for I’m too feeling tortured by receiving no response from someone I care about a lot. Meanwhile I ask myself, trying to understand this situation, “whether to reply me feels to her more torturous than I feel when waiting for her reply?”. If it is, then I shall quit such longing and move on till the destiny can finally show mercy on me and let me have the answers I’ve been endeavoring to get.
And what destiny really means to a person who’s been trying so hard to cross his life to someone else, yet constantly failed? Is that really what his destiny should be like? Or wouldn’t this someone accept what his/her destiny plans for her?
Here’s something I learn from Buddhism, but it’s in Chinese: 缘即使心，心起缘起，心落缘落。I know you understand Chinese, hope you’d under what these twelve characters truly mean.
That’s really a shame he left that woman heartbroken like that. How nice of you to comfort her. I agree with Anonymous, perhaps you can become friends with her?
That’s what I thought to, at least be a listening ear from time to time, but she didn’t take up my offer of meeting up again sometime and I didn’t want to pressure her to meet up.
On one hand I feel sorry for this poor girl, but on the other… nine years, never met in person and she never told him she liked him? Then… what was she expecting?
We had a weird conversation with a stranger a few weeks ago. Well, it was my bf and he later told me. Our bathroom tap was leaking and we called the repairing guy. When he had already seen the problem and left, he came back, knocked on the door and told my boyfriend he was having problems with his wife: she lived in another city and was convinced he had a lover, but he doesn’t have any. He asked my bf what he should do and how he could convince his wife that he wasn’t seeing anyone else.
I agree. It’s not fair to say this is all the guy’s fault when she never took a step to tell him about her feelings. But I can also see how she might have been anxious to do so – maybe she was afraid of getting rejected. It might have hurt less if she knew earlier though.
I imagine it’s hard to prove that you don’t have a lover if you live in different cities and if the other person doesn’t trust you enough to believe in your words. This story would make for a nice guest post :-).
Is that a proposal? 😉
Definitely! Drop me an e-mail if you’re interested: chinaelevatorstories[at]gmail.com.
9 years! Wow. I knew a Canadian guy who sold his house in either Alberta or British Columbia, I forget which, to move to Vienna and chase an Austrian girl he met on ICQ random chat 8 years prior. I thought that was crazy.
9 years is definitely a very long time.
These things are either crazy or romantic – depending on how the story turns out, I guess.
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