Saturday, March 12, 2011
一封家书 A Letter to Mom and Dad
This unique song is composed by Mr. Li Chunbo, who used the most common template of Chinese letters as the lyric in the song. The song shows the deep love of a son, who works far away from his hometown, to his elderly parents. The lyric is very simple and direct, but very moving. Every time I hear the song, I cannot help crying.
A couple of cultural notes: in China, many old mothers, who went through severe poverty and a lot of hardship when they were younger, would save every penny for the children and the family. Even if the life is much better now, they are still used to not spending any money on themselves. That's why the writer urges his mom to wear the sweater he bought for her, because he knows she would save it for a very special occasion that probably would never come.
Also, it is the Chinese custom to go back to our parents' home for a family reunion feast on the eve of the Chinese festival no matter how far you are away from home or how busy you are with your work. Guangzhou is a big city in the south of China near Hong Kong, where the economy boomed in 1990's and attracted a lot of job hunters all over the country.
Replace the parts underlined in the lyric, and you've got a nice letter to your parents in Chinese!
qin1ai4de ba4ba ma1ma
xian4zai4 gong1zuo4 hen3mang2 ba?
wo3 xian4zai4 guang3zhou1 ting3hao3de,
ba4ba ma1ma bu2yao4 tai4 qian1gua4.
sui1ran2 wo3 hen3shao3 xie3xin4
qi2shi2 wo3 hen3 xiang3 jia1.
ba4ba mei3tian1 dou1 shang4ban1 ma?
shen1ti3 bu4hao3 jiu4 bu2yao4 qu4le.
wei4le er2nu3 shou4jin4le ku3,
ye3 gai1 xie1xie le.
wo3 mai3le yi2jian4 mao2yi1 gei3 ma1ma,
bie2 she3bu4de2 chuan1shang4ba.
yi3qian2 er2zi bu2tai4 ting1hua4,
xian4zai4 dong3shi4 ta1 zhang3da4le.
ge1ge jie3jie chang2 hui2hai2 ba?
ti4 wo3 wen4hou4 ta1men2 ba.
you3 shen2me huo2er jiu4 rang4 ta1men gan4,
zi4ji3 hai2zi you3 shen2me ke4qi4de.
ba4ba ma4ma duo1 bao3zhong4 shen1ti3,
bu2yao4 rang4 er2zi fang4xin1 bu2xia4.
jin1nian2 chun1jie2 wo3 yi2ding4 hui2lai2,
hao3le, xian1 xie3dao4 zhe4 ba.
ci3zhi4 na4ge jing4li3!
yi1jiu3jiu3san1nian2 shi2yue4 shi2ba1hao4
Dear Dad and Mom,
How are you? Are you busy with your work now? How is your health?
I'm doing fine now in Guangzhou. Don't worry too much about me. Even though I seldom write you letters, I miss home very much.
Does Dad go to work everyday? If you don't feel well, don't work anymore. You have suffered so much for your children. It's time to have a rest.
I bought a sweater for Mom. Don't treasure it too much towear it. In the past, your son was not obedient. Now he has grown up and understands your love better.
Do my big brother and big sister often come home (to visit you)? Send my greetings to them. If you have any housework to do, let them do it. Why should you be so formal around your own kids.
Mom and Dad, please take good care of yourselves. Don't let your son worry about you all the time. I'll certainly come home ( to see you) this Spring Festival. OK, I'll finish the letter here for now.