Part II follows Don’t make the same mistakes as I did: Letter from a Chinese father – Part I, a letter that was written by Cape Town-based Mr. Chen to his son C.S.Y., who came to South Africa in 2015 to study at a local high school.
C.S.Y., my son:
You are given a healthy body by your parents. But if you don’t exercise properly, your body will weaken. Do you still remember what I used to say to you repeatedly when you were a kid? “I am a real man.” I am glad that you are equipped with a good body that can qualify you as a man. But your inner self is still lacking. It takes an eagle many failures and attempts over a long period of time to be able to fly high in the sky. You can continue your life living like a pregnant woman, but if you want to stand strong in the world and go wherever you want to go, you must have a healthy body and mind.
Your body must be able to survive the hottest summers and the coldest winters, to bear the strongest wind and sun, and to be able to function well when pressed with all the challenges of life and death. With these abilities you will have gathered only half of what you need to be successful. As you grow older, you will meet and network with more people. By then you won’t have the time to exercise. I am hard on you in terms of exercise because I want to be a responsible father. You cannot lie in bed and spend hours playing games on your phone. When you are successful, you will find yourself in situations where you have to drive by yourself for over 10 hours on some days, and frequently fly on ten-thousand-mile trips. If you don’t build a good physical foundation, your career development will be limited. I hope you understand why a good body is so important.
I believe that by now you also understand the importance of knowledge and see that, at this stage, your duty is to study. Without knowledge, you won’t be able to change your destiny at all, and it will be impossible to turn knowledge into financial potential.
I know that you have a weak foundation in English, thus I wanted you to repeat grade 10. But the principal disagreed because of your age. He said you are too old to repeat grade 10. Are you not worried? All I see you doing is playing on your cell phone constantly. Are these responsible actions? The studying years are the time to ‘eat bitterness’ (endure hardships), but I only see you enjoying life. Perhaps when it’s really time to enjoy life, you will have to work very hard to earn your three meals. I don’t want to see that day.
All I hope is that you will use what I have offered you as a runway from which to take off, but you have to prepare yourself first. At this stage, all you need to do is to study and charge your body and mind. If you fail to do so, you will only be a trivial man for the rest of your life – so trivial that you won’t even be able to feed yourself, not to mention supporting your family and parents.
I sincerely hope that one day, when you have developed your talents, you will make some meaningful contributions to society. But, if that’s too much to ask, you must at least be able to make a living. Your grandparents are very proud of you, and I am very proud of you. We expect great things from you.
I have talked so much. I hope to leave all our disagreements from 2017 behind, and happily turn the page to 2018. If you want to chat, play, and eat, do it in China on your holidays. On your return to South Africa, forget all of that and start again. Write a formal plan and submit it to your mother and me for review. I hope you will start 2018 fresh, and take everything seriously.
Time is cruel – it doesn’t wait for anyone.
I wish you a Happy New Year.
Father: QH Chen
2017.12.31 Cape Town