The moment when, after many years of hard work and a long voyage you stand in the centre of your room, house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, knowing at last how you got there, and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose their soft arms from around you, the birds take back their language, the cliffs fissure and collapse, the air moves back from you like a wave and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing. You were a visitor, time after time climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. We never belonged to you. You never found us. It was always the other way round.
I had a discussion today in my Chinese lesson about how much it costs to have a second child in China. My teacher, Ivy, is han-Chinese and has a younger brother. I asked her to explain to me how it works.
She told me that the fines varies from province to province, as the enforcing of these “crimes” are up to the digression of the local authorities. Her brother cost her family 50,000RMB ($8,000) in 1986. Today it averages at about 200,000RMB ($32,000) but within the city of Beijing can cost up to 2,000,000RMB ($323,000), an outrageous sum as the average Beijinger only makes $ 12,447/year. Luckily, the family USUALLY has 18 years to pay the fine, although this is again up to the digression of the local authorizes, and was paid in one lump sum in the case of Ivy’s brother.
If my family lived in China, my mother would owe the government nearly $1,000,000 for her crimes against the population.