Published September 28, 2012 by rochellewisoff

The lovely picture for Friday Fictioneers this week is from talented writer Sandra Crook. Here’s my offering for this week. Also, it would please this aspiring novelist if you’d also read my previous post. Comments welcome. 

Once a month twelve-year-old, American born Su-Yin spent the day with her grandmother. Before each time she groaned and protested.

“Nai-Nai doesn’t have a computer or even a TV.”

“Or one of these.” Mom snatched her daughter’s iPod.


Flushed, Mom murmured something in Chinese the girl didn’t understand.

Later, Su-Yin pouted in Nai-Nai’s garden and stirred her vegetable rice with chopsticks while she waited for her monthly portion of poetry and boredom.

Instead of ancient verse, Nai-Nai whispered, “When I was your age I watched communists behead my father and murder my brother by a thousand cuts.” 

40 comments on “THE CHAIRMAN’S SONG

  • Well I’ll bet that brought the over-privileged youngster up short, and so it should! Nicely done, and I for one would look forward to hearing the rest of Nai-Nai’s tale. Nicely done Rochelle.


  • Too often we don’t fully appreciate the stories our elders have to share until it’s too late. Hopefully, this will be a wake up call for little Su-Yin. Very powerful story, Rochelle.


  • Whoa, talk about perspective! That is something sorely missing with today’s young people (gosh I sound old now!), and it was good to see Su-Yin get a much needed dose! Now if we can just work on the rest of them!🙂

    Great stuff Rochelle!


  • A great story Rochelle, I bet Nai-Nai’s stories will make her hair curl! Much better than ancient poetry.
    I think I would have spelt out the word ‘thousand’ rather than using the number, it didn’t read quite smoothly to me.
    Thanks for visiting mine too.


  • Splendid job of telling the story of learning a lesson (at least I would hope Su-Yin learned a lesson) and of showing generational and cultural differences. I think you have the makings of an wonderful tale here. I think Su-Yin’s understanding of what communism really was and is is about to be corrected and enlarged.


  • The young do get lost in everyday life especially with all the toys and electronics. Good to have them learn more than just get more points. Well done and look forward to more of Nai Nai.
    I am number 44 this week


  • Interesting piece illustrating the different expectations of different generations. Sort of like how I feel when I think about the prospect of my living in Europe during the Holocaust while I’m whining about a paper cut!

    Not sure it was the best approach for the grandmom to talk to a 12 year old about a beheading but really drives the point home that we ought to be thankful for what we have that others did not.


    • Perhaps not…but on the other hand. I suppose there’s a kinship between Nai-Nai and my mother who let me watch Holocaust films as a child (younger than Su-Yin) so I’d never forget what “they” did to “us”
      Su-Yin’s accusing her mother of being a communist for taking her iPod was the catalyst. I think there was a phone call preceding the girl’s visit. Mom and Nai-Nai agreed it was time what Su-Yin knew.


  • *As a side note, my Google search for atrocities took me to You Tube. There’s an 8 minute slide show (I made it through less than half) of the things Nai-Nai tells Su-Yin. Death by a thousand cuts was an ancient form of execution brought back by the Red Chinese.


  • OH my! I hope Nai-nai has Su-yin’s attention this time. And somehow I think I can overhear a conversation between Mom and Nai-nai earlier, all about the iPod argument. (And for a little more irony – aren’t iPods made in China?)

    A nicely layered look at ordinary, everyday life plus the kind of horror we haven’t needed to consider ordinary.


  • What the English did to certain members of my Grandma’s family and the Irish in general is a subject that is openly talked about in my family. You are never too young in an Irish household to hear about the both the dark and good side of people.

    I often joke with my cousin that we were never children just really small adults.

    I enjoyed this because I believe open frank discussion about the realty of mans dark side is needed to keep us in the light. This was a excellent piece and a great lesson. A morale compass is needed in life and it looks like Nai-Nai is going to give a tough lesson on sensitivities to a spoiled child. Lets hope it sets her on the right path. Well done!


  • Wow. Interesting that you used this for your story, Rochelle. It is more real than one might think. Horrible things happened when the Communists were in power in the former Soviet Union and their USSR republics. A great aunt of mine and her husband and children were killed by the Soviets when sent to a Siberian prison camp. It is one of the very issues I tell about in my historical fiction novel, w’here Lies the Truth: A People Betrayed. And as long as China remains in Communist control, these things can and maybe have happened too.


    • As I posted earlier, Joyce. The events that Nai-Nai recounts are the result of a Google search that led me to a You Tube video/slide show. I couldn’t watch much of it. Death by a thousand cuts was an ancient Chinese torture/execution brought back under Chairman Mao.


      • How horrible. There is incredoble stories of torture and horror that come out of China. Wayne and I financially support (with regular contributions) a missionary/evangelist ministry that goes into China (Terry Law World Compassion Ministries) and hear a lot of horrible things done to their missionaries. As I was telling before too, my great aunt was a sister to my great grandfather who was still left behind in the Soviet Union with her family and could not get out in time and immigrate like my other relatives so were all killed with thousands and thousands throgh the Stalin Purges of the 1930s and during the famines.


  • My earlier hurried post (above this one) has another misspell, would you believe. Sorry. It is intended to be ‘through’, Got to do more proof reading. My eyesight is atrocious anymore. LOL.


  • Dear Rochelle,

    First off, let me tell you that the title was perfect lead in to this sad and stunning story. Life hangs by a thread and many a family tree is chopped down and fed into the chipper of history by the mobocracy. The challenge for the young is that they don’t know what they don’t know. Humans are doomed to keep repeating the blunders of their ancestors, no matter how many times Nai-Nai tells Su-Yin her story. Still, we try, and stumble into the future, headless, it would seem or bleeding out from those thousand cuts we inflict upon ourselves each time we choose to ignore the past.



    P.S. i like what you tri…. Oh, never mind:)


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