Subtle Happiness

By 王竹青

Liu Qingyun was sitting on a wooden stool next to the sidewalk and looked at the row of bicycles in front of her. She was dressed in a work uniform with the words “Traffic Warden” written on it. I assumed that she was coordinating the parking of bicycles there, so I stepped up to check. Different form the previous two interviewees , Liu Qingyun was much more cautious when I suddeny approached her. However, after learning the reason for my interview, she became much more relaxed.

Liu Qingyun doesn’t have a Shanghai hukou, and she has been working in Shanghai for seven years. When I asked her if she had considered working in another city, she answered frankly: “ I have not. I am already 48 years old, but I am illiterate, I  can’t read.” Her child studies in Shanghai and her husband does business in their home town, Anhui. He is very busy, so they seldomly meet. When I asked her how long it takes her to go back home, Liu said she didn’t know, because she hardly ever went home. When I asked her how much she is paid every month, she refused to answer. Liu Qingyun is a woman in her forties, with a simple look. All of her plans and expectations for the future are simple as well. She told me: “I’m illiterate, all I can do is work hard. You students are not the same. It’s hard for people like me to go out to make a living, we are stupid. We can’t even tell the difference between a man’s toilet and a woman’s toilet. We are lucky enough that we are able to feed ourselves .” After saying that, Liu Qingyun said goodbye to us with a smile.

Life is not easy, only the people who fight for life can learn. To make a living, you can live apart from your family, you can work in a strange city for seven years, and you can still smile in face of the hardness and tiredness of work.  

At this point, I’d like to thank these three people who accepted our interviews. Happiness in life can be very simple, it can be having a complete meal and spending your day in a simple way. Happiness canalso can be living in a big villa and driving a luxurious sports car. But the former  makes me feel the subtle happiness of life, like the morning sunlight which brings hope to the people who still struggle in Shanghai!