The second lesson is: you myst always inform your parents where you are going and what you are doing. You must get their permission on important decisions in your life. Again, I tell you this so you will understand how later, when I divorced without telling my parents, I broke this rule of my past.
The first lesson of filial piety is this: that your life and body are gifts to you from your parents. This means that it is unfilial to try to commit suicide. I tell you this now so you will understand why later, when my life was very sad, I could not kill myself. I had to honor my family and stand on my own two feet.
You ask me how I could run a bank, a dress shop, and still be so obedient to Hsüs because they were my son's grandparents, and therefore my elders. I grew up with these traditional values; I could not discard them, no matter how Western I became.
After Lao Ye died in 1944, I continued putting three hundred dollars a month into Lu Xiaoman's account because I though it was my son's duty to provide for her. About four or five years later Mr. Weng came to see me. He told me he had sold several ton-bags of tea and was now wealthy enough to support Lu Xiaoman on his own. After that I stopped sending money.
My entire life, I have worried about fulfilling my duty. Even after the divorce I took care of Hsü Chih-mo's parents because I thought it was my responsibility to do so. I did what I though was right for Hsü Chih-mo, his family and son.
I do not know what your mother has told you about marriage, but when I married, my mother gave me only two pieces of advice.
The first was that, once I entered the Hsü household, I must never say no, only yes.
The send was that, no matter what ever happened between my husband and me, I had to treat my in-laws the same.
I am your grandfather's sister, Chang Yu-i, and before I tell you my story, I want you to remember this: in China, a woman is nothing. When she is born, she must obey her father. When she is married, she must obey her husband. And when she is widowed, she must obey her son. A woman is nothing, you see.