Posted in Books, Politics, Reviews

The Approximation of Meaning: Book Review – Babel by R.F. Kuang

Love Persevering

And finally, I leave you with this.

There are as many definitions for grief as there is for joy. Both are incredibly singular and personal experiences, and it varies from person to person, from culture to culture. 

Marvel, through Vision, described grief as love persevering.

I once asked my Chinese teacher what the Chinese word for “sad” was. She told me that sad in Chinese is 难过 (nán guò). 难 means difficult and 过 means “to get past”. I thought about this translation for a disproportionately long period of time after class was over. 

It made me think about my very Asian family, who could give the British a run for their money when it comes to keeping a stiff upper lip. We don’t use words like happy, sad, or even love very often. 

But on special occasions like birthdays or Christmas or All Soul’s Day, we carry out rituals for the people we love who are no longer with us. We prepare food, pray at their altar, and burn paper money so that angkongand amah have something to play mah-jong with up there in the afterlife.

Through these rituals, we carry them with us and keep them a part of our lives even when they’re gone, because their loss is something that we never really get over. And this is how grief and sorrow are expressed in Chinese: to love something so much that its loss stays with you forever. 

难过. Love persevering. Two languages, two different cultures, worlds apart from each other in everything from political ideation to religion…and yet if they took the time to understand each other, they’ll see that at the most fundamental, human level, both are essentially the same. 

That’s something to think about, isn’t it?

Author:

Extraordinarily ordinary. Nurse. Teacher. Part-time traveller, full-time bookworm and music lover. I incorporate wishes, dreams and being a hopeless romantic with a sense of realism grounded on life experiences. I have yet to fully take off my rose-coloured glassed when it comes to life -despite occasional disappointments - and I prefer to keep it that way. I am in love with London, my adopted city. Every day is a new adventure, a chance to try something new. It has become such a part of who I am that I can't imagine living anywhere else. I am under the illusion that people will actually want to hear what I have to say and if it does turn out to be just an illusion, who cares? I want to put my thoughts out there for anyone to listen. I want to be heard because I have so much to say and I'm going to have fun doing it. I enjoy banter and a good back-and-forth. There is nothing more stimulating for me than an interesting conversation. So feel free to comment, express your opinions and let me know what you think. Let's get the world talking, one blabbaholic at a time.

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