“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.”
These are the famous words uttered by the military genius Napoleon Bonaparte. But China is not a place to be feared. It’s a place to be held in its glory. And its beauty. I would know. This is where I had my heart stolen by someone I never would have imagined. I should never have reached out. I never should have gone to that most illusive of lands. That maiden of the east now haunts my mind.
I had never seen such radiance whence I came. Though my newly made Chinese friends would beg to differ. I think that was part of the curiosity they had with me. I was a man from a foreign land who looked rather different from what they were used to. I remember being commended for my good looks. Good looks? Back at home, no such compliments ever made my way. In fact, it would be difficult to justify such claims about me where I came from. They also commented how beautiful women from my home were. And, unfortunately, to an extent, I could not refute their claims. I could not refute their claims because, all around me, I could not find one thing to point to concerning Chinese beauty.
But then, she came along. She appeared like a comet in the sky. And, like a comet, our encounter was short, but magical.
She was something to behold. She held my gaze as though space-time had distorted itself to keep me from looking away. And it wasn’t from a lack of trying. Soon, she invaded my mind in a blitzkrieg-like invasion. I was caught off guard. But, soon, I regained control of my consciousness. And I resisted. And that was our first encounter.
Perhaps it would have been best left at that — a first encounter.
Some time had past between our first and second encounters. I had returned back home to find my place in the world, and had long forgotten about that most elusive of women. She was long gone from my mind, and in her place, other preoccupations filled the chasm. I was happy where I was, and I was making progress towards finding meaning in my existence, when my path led me back to China. As if fate was playing a sick, manipulative joke, my life led me back to her.
But this time, the fault was on me. I never should have rocked the boat. I never should have reached out to her. Despite my guts telling me I’ll never escape from her clutches, I sent her a message.
The journey that ensued took me through some of the best, and worst, days of my life. Not even my wildest dreams could rival the spectacles I witnessed. I saw the tops of the highest peaks of life, and the bottoms of its deepest troughs. And, by far, I experienced more during the few days I spent with her than I did during the months I spent pursuing other matters back home. But, alas, I knew this was not where I wanted to be. This was not where I was meant to be. And I wanted out.
But by the time I had realized this, it was too late. Try as I might, I was unable to escape her clutches. My mind knew I had to leave, but my body, my soul, my heart refused to leave. I was stuck. I was ensnared in the trap that was her beauty. And I could not leave. And at that moment, I knew, there was no going back to the life I once knew. There was no going back to my home, my friends, my life. She was now all I knew, and my infatuation with her grew stronger every day.
China is a sleeping beauty — a sleeping beauty who, once awoken, will never let you leave. It may look as though China is welcoming you with open arms. She may look like the welcoming home you’ve always been looking for. She may seem like the one you’ve been searching for all your life. But she knows, once you’ve felt her warm embrace, there’s no going back. She knows you want her. And that you’re powerless against her.