Guilan is the given name of my grandma. It literally means sweet osmanthus and orchid.

These pictures were taken when I spent a month with grandma last summer. Since I left my hometown I haven’t lived with her for almost 10 years. Grandma had a stroke and later suffered from paralysis, spending the rest of her time in a wheelchair.

I had always been afraid of going back as if in that way things would never change. Any cheers in my daughter Daisy will mean a sigh in grandma’s worsened condition. My daughter is 3 years old and is learning to eat, dress and more words to express her emotions. While sadly at the same time, I could see grandma was losing her ability to do all these things on her own.

But back home I lived as if I was a stranger. The jamais-vu feeling made me feel so uneasy; my familiar hometown was lost. I came back to Shanghai for work and I told grandma I would be back before winter. I didn’t know she would pass away the day before I went back.

It was hard for me to look back to the last time we met. I was pretending to be so lighthearted to prevent her weeping. But she still wept, as if she foresaw that was the last time.

Several weeks ago, she came to my dream, wearing high-heels and told me that she was so tired because of the shoes. I took her by her arms and told her that she could take them off.

“Do you think I’ve lived for too long?”

“You’re 86. Do you want to live to your nighties? That would be too old!” I answered with a smile.

“ You think so?” She looked into my face, with her shoes in hands.

“Sure, I won’t live to that age.”

“ Yes, you’re right.” She seemed satisfied with this answer.

Grandma made the decision to give birth to her fourth child, my mother. And my mother failed to abort her first child, that was me. All the coincidences made our life and our destiny. And those coincidences, though small and personal, together opened the whole world for me. And I start to know something won’t vanish through time and memories; it was like some kind of “Samsara”.

For once, I just want to call grandma by her name, Guilan.











“你八十六岁了,你还想到九十岁吗?那样可太老了!外公都等了你三十年了。” 我笑着说。

“是吗?” 她低着头,手里拎着鞋。





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