Sha Bihong: A Woman’s Several Possibilities (Excerpt)
Sha Bihong: A Woman’s Several Possibilities
Flowery Spring and Fruitful Autumn
That evening, Sha Bihong finished the record of an interview. After that, the 12-year-old little girl interviewed talked to Sha Bihong that, "Auntie, I think you are very successful!" Sha Bihong was stunned for a moment and told the little girl, "What I do is to pursue dreams. I’m a dream-seeker."
Perhaps Sha Bihong felt that she could not explain to that girl what the word “successful” meant, or perhaps she never thought whether she was “successful” or not. But in the eyes of ordinary people, she is successful in career; in the eyes of friends who know her well, she is successful in love, marriage and family. Some friends said to her with envy, “You’ve had all that a woman should have.”
Sha Bihong is a very capable woman. She started to publish literary works since she was 16 years old, and her novels, dramas and poems were also published in book form and caused debates among critics; she studied abroad in Germany for love and obtained perfect love and happy marriage, and she learnt directing and drama in directing department of Munich Film and Television School and drama department of University of Munich respectively; after returning to China, she became a CCTV reporter and editor & director, and several full-length documentaries shot by her such as One Dream for Generations of Women and Social Care- Warnings on China’s Cracking Down on Human Trafficking won awards and evoked great response in the society; she served as the hostess of Story and this program’s ratings rose continuously…
“Are you a workaholic?” some people asked while working with her. “Will such a woman get married?” some even said in private. And people who often went to bar and teahouse together with her asked, “You are such a gentle woman. How can you be a director?” They even doubted, “How can people like you run around those tough places?” People can hardly imagine another side when they see one side of her…
In the summer of 1995, Sha Bihong came to Yan’an for shooting Flowery Spring and Fruitful Autumn as the chief director, and we worked together for over half a month. We ran around the countryside for over ten hours every day, and continuous working made me exhausted. The continuity clerk was too tired and had to get an IV drip in the middle of shooting, and cameraman also took medicine. But she still wrote the program for the next day energetically every night. One day, local public security officers came to the crew to dissuade us at 2 a.m. in the morning which lasted for a long time, and we thought we could sleep a little longer on the next day, but she knocked at the door at 5 a.m. on time again…
In July 2000, her daughter was only 8 months old, but she accepted an 8-month task- serving as the chief director, general script writer and interviewer of an 11-episode full-length documentary Warnings on China’s Cracking Down on Human Trafficking invested by the Ministry of Public Security. Shooting was all done at the scene. After receiving the news on the morning of March 30 that public security officers in Shenzhen just saved almost 200 women and children, she rushed to the scene for shooting by airplane on the afternoon. Shooting actions of fighting against criminal activities of abduction of women and children was simultaneous with “fighting against abduction” actions taken by public security officers. As human traffickers usually appeared at night, many actions were taken at night. The crew slept without undressing at night and set off together with police officers at midnight, and often could not sleep through the night for several days. As nearly all “fighting against abduction” actions were taken in remote and poverty-stricken areas, the appearance of all crew members changed due to fatigue after 8 consecutive months of work in over 10 provinces and regions. The beautiful Sha Bihong was almost like a macaque. Physical hardship could be tolerated, but members suffered psychologically again and again while witnessing unions and departures. That kind of unforgettable pain could not be understood by anybody else. Sha Bifang, the sister of Sha Bihong, who served as a director of one crew at that time, cried in a corner outside the computer room for a long time after editing the documentary.
Until now, people from some poverty-stricken areas find Sha Bihong through various channels and wish to obtain help through her - the reason is that Sha Bihong has shot a series of documentaries like One Dream for Generations of Women, Flowery Spring and Fruitful Autumn and Social Care with focus on poverty and on women and children in poverty-stricken areas which evoked response in the society and changed the destiny of many people after joining CCTV program Half the Sky in 1994. So many people found Half the Sky and found Sha Bihong to seek help. Someone said to her, “TV station is not relief station. You can’t change anything by helping several people.” But she did not think so, and still tried her best to help people who found her. She not only offered one-to-one study assistance to 10 girls in Guizhou but also motivated her sister, brother and sister-in-law to offer one-to-one study assistance to girls in poverty-stricken areas. Even the American boss of the company where her sister-in-law worked took out some money for one-to-one study assistance every year after seeing the documentary shot by her.
When she was a child, her mother, a doctor and her father, a teacher were sent to the countryside. As a result she lived for a period of time in the countryside. Her mother was respected as a goddess among the farmers. When she left, people went down on their knee for a long time to see her off. She was moved by her great mother and cultivated to have good nature – striving to pay attention to and help people in need- although at that time, they’re sent to the countryside, her parents got monthly payment of one-hundred yuan. Since they lived much better than local farmers, her mother often helped them in health care and poverty.
In the beginning, she paid attention to poverty out of good nature and universal love and because she had the ability to do something more. After finishing Social Care, she started to introspect and defined her responsibility as a media worker, namely conducting publicity more and appealing to people to focus on poverty and focus on vulnerable groups.
Exchange True Love for This Lifetime
Sha Bihong said, “When I’m at home, I feel most comfortable while tidying the room and clearing the clutter.” Many friends who went to her home were surprised, “What a woman!”- Because her home is too comfortable with flowers and grasses you expect to see. It is said that the bathroom is decorated like a gallery. “I also read books and listen to music, but not deliberately. I must read books before sleep and turn on the music after entering the house.”
People who haven’t been to her home will never believe that she could cook, and will find she understand enjoying life too much after eating such dishes as “layers of forests are all dyed”, “birds fly over tree tops” and “explore spring” with elegant names and good tastes. Guests will be more surprised if they know she would cook a pot of nourishing soup as long as she is free.
When Sha Bihong was a child, vegetables were grown in front of and behind each house in the countryside to feed the family, but her parents grew flowers and sunflowers in front of their house. After sunflowers blossomed, Sha Bihong and her sister put golden sunflowers around inside the house and villagers laughed at this- they said their family only focused on beauty. She said that her parents taught them love, namely loving life, enjoying life and having passion for life, through ways like this.
Sha Bihong said she was never pessimistic, and when she encountered difficulties she would regard them as problems and use wisdom to solve them, and such difficulties would disappear. After graduation from college, she worked in a company and was soon dispatched to a poverty alleviation team to help the poor in the countryside. Another girl who went together expected to return to the city with a worried look every day and dressed sloppily as she thought nobody would look at her even though she dressed beautifully in the countryside. But Sha Bihong dressed neatly every day, and went to famers’ home to learn to knit shoe soles and make handiwork from birch bark, and lived very happily every day.
Her daughter is 3 years old now and lives in Shanghai. As long as she is free, Sha Bihong will go back home and live with her daughter. She never teaches her daughter anything, and she mainly plays with her. She will tell her a tree’s growth when seeing a tree and tell her a fish’s happiness when seeing a fish in the water, guiding her to love- love kindness and love life. She always squats while speaking with her daughter. She also has many toys of her own, and tells her daughter respective toys while playing with her. “This is mummy’s toy and mummy sends it to you,” she specially emphasized when giving a toy to her daughter. Her daughter’s clothes and toys are chosen by herself- giving her daughter equality and respect.
After returning to Shanghai, Sha Bihong often spared some time to go to an orphanage nearby the home and see orphans. She once took her daughter to the orphanage, and said to her, “Mummy wants to adopt some brothers and sisters and play with you. Is that ok?” Her daughter thought it over and said, “Ok.” Then she added, “Mummy, do you love them?” Sha Bihong said, “Certainly.” Her daughter asked worriedly, “Well, do you still love me?” At that moment, Sha Bihong understood that her daughter was afraid that she would give love to others and would not love her. She explained patiently to her daughter, “Love is giving. The more love mummy gives to others, the more love you can get.”
Give Your Dream a Boat
In recent years, hosts in TV stations have published books one after another. The content is mostly about “self-narration” autobiography or a little “inside information” plus a little privacy. Sha Bihong’s books that have been published include: a collection of poems Give Your Dream a Boat and a collection of novels Brokenhearted Summer published in 1992; Dictionary on Appreciation of Ancient Chinese Poems Throughout the Dynasties published through cooperation with others in 1990; her latest novel Homelessness, published in March 2000, is one type of “grassland tribe” series under fully market-oriented operation, showing a certain of readability.
Sha Bihong said she knew she was not very good at writing but still wrote because she thought some feelings needed to be recorded as a way to record previous life. She said it was just a thinking habit and she did not make revision after writing so the words were not necessarily beautiful. She once said, “Writing novels makes me feel peaceful.” Sha Bihong has great enthusiasm for writing, and she wrote articles for nearly all documentaries directed by her and all work diaries and director’s notes were written by her. Until now, she keeps mood diaries every day like a little girl and in the form of poems- although she says she does not want to be poet.
Writing attitude determines that Sha Bihong is a writer by snatching a little leisure from a busy life, and for her, writing is possibly like the name of her collection of poems Give Your Dream a Boat…
Sha Bihong said to her work partners, “We should have a strong passion for work just like for love.” As a matter of fact, she makes demands on herself for both work and life like this all the time…
From "Beijing Document"
2003.01-02 combined issue