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Winnie nostalgically remembers her mother who leaves her at the tender age of six. The way Winnie talks to Pearl about her mother indicates that she is the most loving person that Winnie has ever met and perhaps the most influential one in her life.
Her memories about her mother, though fragmentary, have a profound impact in shaping Weili into a mature adult. The six years that she has spent with her mother are the happiest days of her life. She is spoilt as a child as her loving mother takes care of all her whims and fancies. But alas! Happy days do no last forever. With the disappearance of her mother, the grim phase of Weili’s life begins.
The day before she leaves, her mother takes her on an outing. She also teaches her various other things, which prove to be extremely useful in the years to come. Even the basics, like the art of listening - including keenly listening to the whispering sounds - Weili learns by observing her mother. Like her mother she knows right from her childhood, that a person has to be alert when the situation demands it. Her mother also has very refined tastes, for instance, her love for English biscuits. Weili imbibes the tastes of her mother and she too has her eyes on the best.
In short, Weili’s mother is her role model. In terms of appearance, Weili’s mother is extremely beautiful with her long black shiny hair. Weili even preserves the strands of her mother’s hair for quite sometime. In terms of intellect, she is way ahead of most of the girls of the time as she is far more educated and liberal-minded. This is one of the reasons for her love affair with a revolutionary and the resultant crisis of her marriage. She could not accept the old Jiang Sao-yen as her husband. To further aggravate her agony, she is labeled as the ‘Double Second’ by his other wives. The ‘double second’ are the only words that Weili remembers her mother having said angrily to her father. Actually, they refer to the position assigned to Weili’s mother in the house. The second wife of Jiang Sao-yen had been killed and Weili’s mother occupied her room, which is supposed to bring evil to the occupant. Though Weili’s mother loves her daughter, her own life is strife-ridden. Weili aspires to be like her mother, so she tries to absorb the same genteel and refined qualities of her mother. Weili loves the way her mother used to fondly call her, ‘Syin Ke’ in Chinese meaning heart liver.
She soon realizes that it is considered disgraceful to even mention her mother’s name. All sorts of rumors and gossips spread about her mother and some even say that she has committed suicide or that she has become a nun. Whereas others believe that, she stays happily with her Marxist boyfriend. Actually, nobody is sure about exactly what has happened to her.
Weili’s love for her mother is so immense that she tries to her rationalize her actions, that is, she tells herself that it was probably the only sensible way to handle a loveless marriage. Weili cannot think badly about her mother and therefore forgives her despite the fact that she has caused her so much distress. But then, she feels that her mother could have returned after some years just to see her daughter who she loved so deeply. But, unfortunately for her, that never happened. Still, the ray of hope lingers in Weili’s heart that maybe one day her mother would come back to her and lift her high up in the air and say, "Syin Ke, Syin Ke! There you are!"