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Yiying my darling,


With this letter, I bid you a final farewell! I am writing this as a living person on earth, but I will be a ghost in the underworld by the time you read this. Ink and tears flow in equal measure as I write. I can hardly go on and want to put my pen away, but I am afraid you would misunderstand my heart and think that I am so callous as to forsake you, or that I seek death without knowing your wish for me to stay alive. So, I have to overcome my sorrow to explain.

吾至爱汝!即此爱汝一念,使吾勇于就死也。吾自遇汝以来,常愿天下有情人都成眷属;然遍地腥云,满街狼犬,称心快意,几家能彀?司马青衫,吾不能学太上之忘情也。语云:仁者 “老吾老,以及人之老;幼吾幼,以及人之幼”。吾充吾爱汝之心,助天下人爱其所爱,所以敢先汝而死,不顾汝也。汝体吾此心,于啼泣之余,亦以天下人为念,当亦乐牺牲吾身与汝身之福利,为天下人谋永福也。汝其勿悲!

I love you to death! And love gives me the courage to face death. Ever since I met you, I often wished that all the lovers in the world would find fulfillment as we have. But, the reality is that the land is permeated in blood, and vicious thugs roam the streets. How many families can claim true happiness? Just like the Tang poet, Bai Juyi, cries for the misfortune of a concubine, I could not be like the ancient sages who held themselves aloof from the ordeals of the common people. It is said: "benevolence is to take care of the old as you would your own parents, to take care of the young as you would your own children." As my heart is filled with love for you, that love makes me yearn to help others love whom they love. That is why I dare to die and leave you behind. I believe that, as you understand my heart, you would, even in your tears of sorrow, be glad to sacrifice my life and your well-being, for the long lasting happiness of all the people. Please do not be sad!


Do you remember? In one evening about four or five years ago, I once said, "if one of us were to die, I wish that you would die before me." At first you were angry when you heard of it. After I gently explained my intention, you still did not agree but could not refute me. What I meant was, I knew you would not have been able to bear the sadness of my death if I were to die first. My death would have left you in a cruel agony. I would rather that it was me who would bear the sadness of our separation in death. Alas, it is I who will have to die first!


I can never ever forget about you! I can visualize our family residence in Back Street, and mentally enter the front door, walk through the hallway, pass both the front and back parlors, into the smaller parlor after a few turns, and the adjacent bedroom where we lived together. Remember three or four months into our marriage, on a winter night of a full moon, sparse plum branches outside the window sieved moonlight into exquisite shadows. Side by side, hand in hand, softly we talked. Every experience was shared, and every feeling was exchanged! Oh, the memories left tear stains on my face! I also remember about six or seven years ago, after I returned home from a period of desertion, you tearfully told me: "You must let me know next time you go on a long trip. I will accompany you wherever you go." I promised you then that I would. A little more than ten days ago when I came back home, I wanted to tell you about this journey. However, when I was with you, I could not bring it up. Especially since you are pregnant, I was afraid you could not bear the sadness. All I could do was to take refuge in alcohol. Alas, my wrenching agony at that time was beyond words.


It is my true wish to live out our lives together, but based on the current state of affairs - natural disasters can kill us, thieves and robbers can kill us, the upheaval in the breaking up of China by foreign powers can kill us, corrupt and despotic officials who abuse people can kill us. Our generation lives in a country where death can strike people at any time, anywhere. When that happens to one of us, could you or I bear to just helplessly watch the other die? Even if we escape death, what is to prevent us from being forced to separate from each other until our longing eyes become blind and our yearning bones turn into fossils? The pain of separation is worse than death. And, just like a broken mirror cannot be restored, families separated hardly end in a happy reunion. We are fortunate to be alive and healthy today. But the number of people who had wished to live yet perished, and couples who had wished to be together yet were separated, is countless. Can true lovers like us bear with this? That is why I have made the decision to lay down my life, even if it means losing you. I will have no regrets. The success of the revolution will be on the shoulders of my comrades. Yixin is five years old now, he will be a grown man soon. Please raise him well and make him like me. I suspect the life in your womb is a girl. If so, she surely will be like you, and I will be very glad. Or maybe it is a boy, then please educate him to follow my aspirations. So there will be two of me after my death. Great! Great! Our family will become very poor. Poverty is not a great hardship for a life lived simply.


I have no more words. If I should hear your wails from afar in the underworld, I ought to answer with wails of my own. I do not believe in ghosts, but now I wish they do exist. Nowadays people also claim that telepathy is possible via bio-electrical signals. I also hope the claim is true. So after my death, my spirit will still be at your side and you will not feel the sorrow of losing your spouse.


I had not revealed to you my aspirations. It is my fault. But if I had told you, I was afraid that you would worry about me every day. I could willingly sacrifice my life for my country a hundred times, but I cannot bear the thought of you worrying for me. I love you most deeply, and I am always anxious that I have not thought of you carefully enough. You were fortunate to marry me, but are unfortunate to have been born in today's China. I am fortunate to have you, but so unfortunate to have been born in today's China. In the end, I cannot tend only to my self-interest. Sigh! So much love, so small a handkerchief, and so many feelings from the heart left unsaid, but you can glean the rest. I can no longer see you now! I know you won't be able to let me go. Will you see me often in your dreams? I am tumultuous!


Written at 4/24/1911 2am


PS. Our aunts are all proficient in literature. Please ask them for help if anything is unclear, I really want you to fully appreciate my heart.

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