Oct. 3, 2018

HER NAME WAS NADIA...

" In 1994, I returned to China as a Communication Specialist and lived on the outskirts of Beijing.  My life style was dramatically downsized and I found myself  trying to adjust to a life with few American comforts…like heat, air conditioning, a car, or fast-food restaurants.

One year later…after completing my contract with the Beijing Broadcasting Institute, my life style instantly zoomed upward.  I felt like I’d won the Lottery once I began teaching English to the Chinese Staff of Beijing Coca Cola, Shell Oil, Kerr-McGee, and Totale(a French Oil Company).  My good luck continued when the Chinese Leaders invited me to live at The Tianlun Dynasty Hotel, their luxury, five-star hotel located on Wangfujing Street in the heart of Beijing.

One late afternoon, the hotel operator called my room to see if I would accept a visit from a well-respected Chinese Teacher named Wong Wei Cheng.  I’d never heard of him but the operator said he was quite famous… that he spoke many languages and often served as the translator for Chinese leaders.

Mr. Wong, probably in his fifties at the time, had a classic Chinese look.  He was nicely dressed and, upon entering my room, quickly apologized for intruding on my privacy. It seems hotel security had prevented him from learning my room number and from leaving me a note. In fact,  security had walked him to my door and were now standing guard, outside.

Knowing time was limited, Mr. Wong spoke of the reason for his visit.  His story was heartbreaking:

Thirty years ago, the Chinese Government assigned him to teach Chinese to Russian leaders.   At the time, Chinese Leaders were close friends with Russia and they were developing a powerful alliance between the two countries. Russian teachers had been ensconced in Chinese classrooms for years, instructing young Chinese in speaking fluent Russian.  Mr. Wong had been one of the students who’d learned Russian in grade school.  Well-versed in the Russian Language, Mr. Wong would be teaching the Chinese language to Russian Adults and, overtime, would have the responsible for assigning Chinese Teachers to Russian schools.

It was in Moscow that Mr. Wong met and married one of his Russian students. In barely one year they had a child, a pretty daughter with green eyes, curly hair, and very white skin. They named the beautiful little girl, Nadia. At the time, He believed everyone was happy, including his wife. 

 Soon, his new position required him to return to Beijing for six months. Only then did he learn that his Russian wife wanted to stay in Russia and live with her mother.  For the first time, his mother-in-law spoke-out about her dislike of Chinese.  She even ranted about how she hated Chinese because of their small, slanted eyes.

Forced to return to Beijing without his wife and daughter, he was determined to work fast so he could rejoin his family as soon as possible.   Then, only a few weeks after leaving Russia… he received the most devastating phone call of his life.

 His wife explained that she’d taken a temporary job, knowing her mother would care for Nadia.  On her seventh day of employment, her mother called from the local hospital saying Nadia was in the hospital.  Russian Doctors suspected Nadia had a quick-acting and rare form of Cancer and needed immediate surgery.

Mr. Wong’s wife claimed she had no warning that her mother had already signed papers, giving doctors permission to operate on Nadia.

It was then that Mr. Wong began to cry, to share years of pent-up grief and helpless anger. Only after his train reached Moscow and a taxi delivered him to the hospital….did he learn the extent of his mother-in-law’s heartless/reckless actions.

Staring down at his perfect and beautiful, sixteen month-old, curly-headed daughter--her face completely covered in sterile gauze --he was in disbelief to hear that surgeons had removed both of Nadia’s gorgeous green eyes.

What followed would have crushed most fathers, most husbands, but I suspect Mr. Wong was a rare human with the ability to shoulder heavy loads. Within moments of his arrival at the hospital, His wife demanded an immediate divorce and instructed Mr. Wong to take Nadia back to Beijing with him. She stated there was no room in her life for him or an imperfect child."

My Chinese Experience will continue tomorrow.  Look for it on "Simply, Sally", after 5pm, on Thursday, October 4, 2018.