April 3, 2011

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness - Differentiating the Fact from Fiction

When I was young I was often asked " Do you have a Christian name?". We are fourth generation Methodists of Sibu. My aunts(third generation Methodists)  were given Christian names by Mrs. Hoover. And I strongly believe that my father was called George because there were evidence of his signatures in some of his books with  both Christian and Chinese names. My cousins were given Christian names like Gracia and Ivy by Aunt Grace because their mother and Aunt Grace were best friends studying in the same class. Dolly and Ivy Chong are cousins too and they have brothers like Samuel and David. Perhaps that was because their Grandmother was a Catholic who preferred the Chongs to have Christian names.

During one year in my Primary School days we were taken to see a movie called "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" about a nice Christian missionary  Gladys Aylward. So just out of perhaps self defence and also in keeping up with the Joneses I called myself "Gladys" secretly and from then on wrote my name Gladys XXX on every book I owned! I have been inspired to do good in God forsaken land since then.

Later in secondary school a few friends who were more than cheeky and very biased ....told me that that name was very old fashion and it was for a woman of 60 years of age. Poor silly me but no less still starry eyed...added Yvonne to my name because that was the only nice name I could find beginning with a "Y".. Well now I do smile..YG...and not YC were my special initials a long time ago...Those were the days.

 Today I am more confident with my Chinese birth name and absolutely happy with just one single word as my name (which coincidentally means Happiness in Chinese) and a surname to say which Chinese clan I belong to. I do not carry a middle Chinese generation name. I don't care if some of my Chang  (Zhang) ancestors were bandits or men of ill repute in Chinese history. I am sure up the line there were fabulously good people!!

Below is some info on the book and the movie from which I got my Christian name .

 My literature teacher taught me to differentiate very critically  facts from  fiction and he asked us to use a movie based on a book we have read to do some research. So I studied this particular book and watched the movie again to write the essay. I often in later years used this book and the movie to help my own English students to differentiate facts from fiction.  That skill is still very important to me today.




Gladys Aylward in cheongsam when she was older

The Chinese wish each other five happinesses: wealth, longevity, good health, virtue, and a peaceful death in old age. The sixth happiness one must decide for oneself.

The movie, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is based on a real life story— that of the Englishwoman Gladys Aylward (1902-70), who in 1930 went off to China to ‘serve’ the people there. 40 years after her death, she is  regarded as something of a national heroine.









Ms. Aylward, turned down by the China Inland Mission, spent her life savings in 1930 to go to China as a missionary. She founded the Inn of the Six Happinesses and for a time she served as an assistant to the Chinese government as a "foot inspector" by touring the countryside to enforce the new law against footbinding young Chinese girls. She met with much success in a field that had produced much resistance, including sometimes violence against the inspectors. (see Wikipedia for biography and movieinformation). In 1938 when the Japanese invaded China, this incredible woman led 94 orphans over the mountains and across the Yellow River to safety.
The movie, released in 1958, was taken in large part from the book The Small Woman by Alan Burgess. One reviewer of the book said that the written material was more action-packed than the movie. The reviewer described Aylward as one "who had to deal with unbelievable conditions and reconcile her actions with her religious beliefs."


Ingrid Bergman played Gladys in the movie which included some fictionalised scenes and storyline. In real life Gladys Aylward was  dissappointed with the movie:

"a well-produced, heartwarming movie starring the great actress Ingrid Bergman it was a thorn in the side of Gladys Aylward. She was deeply embarrassed by the movie because it was so full of inaccuracies. Hollywood also took great liberties with her infatuation with the Chinese Colonel Linnan, even changing him into an Eurasian. But Gladys, the most chaste of women, was horrified to learn the movie had portrayed her in 'love scenes'. She suffered greatly over what she considered her soiled reputation."



Still, I do recommend the movie. Just read the book first.
Image: Front Cover of the book, "Gladys Aylward: Missionary to China."


I still have a copy of the book so if any one in Miri wants to read it you can borrow it from me. And I am sure one day I will be able to get a copy of the DVD version of the movie and watch Ingrid Bergman once again.

With Ching Ming coming soon I think of relatives and friends who have gone before me... They have left their names on their tomb stones. And most of them did not bring their adopted names to the next world because their relatives only "carved" THEIR CHINESE NAMES ON THE TOMBSTONES.

I won't think further here on this tombstone issue at this point of time.....

What's the Sixth Happiness you desire? 

So here is Gladys Yvonne Y.C. (ANOTHER SMALL WOMAN) signing off today......May you be blessed by Six Happinesses.....

19 comments:

Bengbeng said...

i will keep an eye open for this book

Sarawakiana@2 said...

BB..how are you? Hope you can find the book in Sibu. I have not seen any new editions. Someone at the moment is reading my book.

Thanks for visiting.

Ann said...

Hi Gladys Yvonne Y.C.

When I was little, I always wonder if you guys were Foochows or not, only one name. The other person was in my class, Wang Jing.

I have my Baptism name, Ann, then I also have my confirmation name which I never use, caroline I chose from an old American classmate, and my big sister said was awful.

Now I just use Ann Chin, ( foolishly using my husband's surname since we got married.)

This brings me to:

You notice on my new blog,
I have called it annkitsuetchin, adding my chinese name. This is going to be on my book.

I also toy with annkitsuet chin-chan.

chin-chan didn't go so well with my Kiwi friends, the young ones even joke chin chin chan chan.

In Singapore, many women use both surnames. What do you think?

Ann said...

Must try to get hold of this book when I am free.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann
My father being educated in Beijing came back to Sibu and married my mother. But he gave all his children one word name. Some of his brothers too asked him for help in naming their children. So they too also have one word name. Later in life it was hard for me to convince west Malaysians that I was Foochow. (How come your surname not Ding Dong Kong leh?)
I think Ann kit suet Chin is fine. How are checques to you written?

I can never use Y. xxxx (my husband's name) on checques. In Malaysia we can only use our ID name. Hence was the reasons I dropped my Christian names. Finally nothing fancy.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann
Chances are better in second hand book stores or Christian bookshops.

Enjoy!!

zeuss40 said...

???

Ann said...

Mr lau used to stop us from using Christian names, he said, today, Tom tomorrow peter, third day another.
He uspet me because I was RC, and I had my Ann from when I got baptised.

My husband decided to keep his Chinese name, thought I told him, it stands out as a Christian.

Now all the PRC kids come here and adopts a western name. I told them, they didn't have to.

Ann said...

I don't have a chequing a/c.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...yes I remember that!! He kept announcing it in the Assembly. May be that was another reasons I stopped writing GY Chang on my exercises books. But luckily I was not Winnie one day and Doris another day...hahahaha Yeah I felt sorry for those minority RC in our school. Some Anglicans too. But we did have one famous Tommy Wong who I think was Foochow. I never knew his Chinese name though. David Teng used his Chinese Name too...very nice name too.
Yes...many of my PRC students love Christian names or Western Names.. like Dawn Huang...Rainbow Shih...Their pinyin of their Chinese surnames can be so knockout!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...
I don't have a checque a/c either. Don't believe in current accounts...and don't have such money either...Best is a Debit card...hahahahah

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Zeuss ?????TQ

Daniel Yiek said...

Like

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Daniel...thanks for visiting....Are you going to Sarikei to vote?

Anonymous said...

Dear Gladys Yvonne Y.C..

I believe the most important thing that Gladys Aylward wanted to teach the Chinese people is that we must be sure that our names are written down in God's book in heaven. A name means nothing unless God knows us as His children. If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become God's children, and the bible says "our names are written in the Lambs book of life". God loves you and desires that for you. Brenda

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Brenda...thanks for writing in...

I like your comments and agree with you absolutely!!

CY

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