I’m sitting in the garden of my house in our boring middle-upper class neighbourhood in South Spain. I’m eight, it’s four o’clock, siesta time, in the warmest summer. Everyone is sleeping and the town is dead. All I want to do is run away and have an adventure, but I am not even allowed to leave the house or make a noise. I’m a well-behaved girl. There is no way out the neighbourhood unless you drive a car, and my parents are definitely not going to drive me anywhere now.
Then I hear them driving past the house again, but I cannot see them through the fence. I’ve heard mum saying that all the cars that have come past recently quite often to the house at the end of the street are drug dealers. I’m not sure what a drug dealer is, but I wish I was one, so I could drive as fast as they do, playing music as loud as they do and only stay for as short as they do in this boring residential area. I wish I could ask them to drive me away from here to Beijing. Kids have good fun there; they play on their way to school. Beijing kids walk together to school with one of those red scarves around their necks; I’ve seen it in the book dad got me about children from other parts of the world. I wish I could go to school like that, it’s so boring when my father drives me to school in the winter, listening to that annoying deep whatever music. And then, after school I could just train red dragons, feed them with colourful carps. It’s such a shame that there aren’t any dragons in Spain anymore, though it’s no surprise, they probably died of boredom or were poisoned by spinach. I could eat plain rice everyday.
There they go, the drug dealers again, now leaving the neighborhood. I asked mum what drugs are, she said they are things some people use to have fun, but after a short time of fun they feel very sad and feel pain all over their bodies and so then you need drugs all the time and if you do not have them you feel unhappy. She said it as if it was something very bad but I cannot see her point, if I were an adult I would just eat drugs all the time –they sure taste better than spinach, so I would never stop having fun and I would always have lots and lots all the time so I never feel unhappy for not having it.
I so wish I was not a good girl so that I could open the door and run and ask the drug dealers to drive me to Beijing where I would always be able to play with other kids, I could give them drugs and maybe they would let me be one of them. I so wish I were not a good girl and I could run away.
There were so many stories, so many things that made me wish I was there… Julio Verne and Les Tribulations d’un Chinois in Chine; the last emperor, Pu-Yi; The Adventures of Tintin and the Blue Lotus; the shadow theatre; Hua Mulan, the heroine I wanted to be; silk on my smart dresses; panda bears eating bamboo leaves; a made in China in the tag of my red t-shirt; and dragons; and samurais: and the paintings in the walls of the local Chinese restaurant of my town; and the Great Wall as the only human creation that could be seen from the Moon; Marco Polo; the Forbidden City; the first printer; that strange bottle of syrup for my colds; carps; even my goldfish came from China; rice was brought all the way from China too in my fantasy world.
Western society was a very miserable place compared to the Chinese Paradise.