Some time ago, I’ve added “When China Rules the World” by Martin Jacques into my Amazon wishlist. I was attracted by the provocative title and believed it should be a small book containing sarcastic passages about prejudices about both world and the chinese culture, witty anecdotes and such. Something like “User’s Guide to <put your country name>”.
I’ve got it as an Xmas gift. The 550 page volume, published in 2009, turned out to be a serious work on geopolitics, full of tables and graphs. I don’t know if I read the book, because I’m afraid its content is too dry to be palatable for me. Besides, already the first paragraph is a bit hard for me to swallow:
Since 1945 the United States has been the world’s dominant power. Even during the Cold War its economy was far more advanced than, and more than twice large as, that of the Soviet Union, while its military capability and technological sophistication were much superior.
“Hey!!! I’ll show you the true size of our military power, you yankee, common, let’s fight as men do”, yelling the remains of a soviet patriot in me. “Fine, so there are no objections regarding economic power?” the author would probably say…
But this post is not inspired by this paragraph. It is the Acknoledgements chapter, the most astonishing Acknoledgements chapter I’ve ever read, and not funny at all:
My interest in East Asia dates back to a visit to the region in 1993 when I also happened to meet my wife to be, Harinder Veriah, on Tioman Island, Malaysia. The idea for this book dates back to 1996. In 1997-8 contracts were signed and plans drawn up for us to be based in Hong Kong for three years.
At the beginning of November 1998 we arrived in Hong Kong with our nine-week-old son, Ravi. Just fourteen months later, Hari died in the most tragic circumstances.
It was five years before I could resume work on this book. I would like to thank everyone who, in their different ways, gave support and helped me survive the darkest days anyone could possibly imagine […]
My greatest debt of all is to Ravi, our son, who is now ten years old and who was just sixteen months when Hari died. It has been an unspeakably painful, sad and cruel decade but together we have found a way to play, live and grow.
Ravi, you have been my reason, the source of such pride and pleasure. Thank you for putting up with all those endless days and months when Daddy has been, in your words, in “his prison”, otherwise known as my study. What has kept me going are all the times in between that I have spent with you, messing about, enjoying your company, listening to you play the violin and taking delight in your ever-expanding range of interests and gifts: Mummy would have been thrilled.
This book is for you but, as you know, it is dedicated to the memory of your mother who I loved beyond all reason or belief. She would have been so proud of us having found the will and fortitude to complete the book despite the cruel hand of Fate. She cannot share this moment of pleasure with us. The aching emptiness of her absense stills any sense of elation.
And the dedication on the front page is
My love for you knew no limits, nor has it dimmed with time. I miss you more than words can ever say.
I sympathize with the author. He is trapped, maybe for the rest of his life. I don’t think he would have been loving her that much, if she wasn’t died. Millions of tiny disagreements and microscopic dissappointments happening when you live together, would have faded his love. But now, he is unable to communicate with her, and so her image is frozen in his memory. And if he thinks about her every day, and I believe he does, her image is still burning in his heart. And his love becomes even deeper.
I don’t know if there is an exit from this trap. But I admire the author being so unbelievably strong to endure that nightmare for the ten long years.