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The Death of Black Jade
in the Dream of the Red Chamber

18 May 2007

The Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦) is the most memorable Chinese novel, and Lin Blackjade (林黛玉) is the most memorable character in the Dream. In fact, with her remarkable literary talent and raze sharp-wit, she is, arguably, the most unforgettable female character in whole Chinese literature.

Despite she is just a fictional figure, a great number of Chinese seem to know for certain how Lin MM (林妹妹 "Younger Sister Lin" as her lover Baoyu (宝玉) would call her, so do her devoted fans) looked, talked and walked. Yet Chen Xiaoxu's (陈晓旭) screen interpretation of the character is warmly accepted by almost everyone; many believe that after centuries living in people's imagination, Lin MM eventually materialised through Chen Xiaoxu. It is a near miracle, given that people usually do not agree on what they see, let alone what they dreamed of, especially on the subject that they have a strong opinion about.

Blackjade did not live beyond the age 16, while Xiaoxu's life went on in search of an alternative version of the Dream after the Red Chamber encounter at 18. So as it happened Xiaoxu lived into her 20s and, after a Lin MM success, quitted her acting career to establish an advertising empire; lived into her 40s and, at the height of her business triumph, quitted the mundane life to become ordained as a professional Buddhist; lived for another 80 days after that and, amidst the public hype over her new life in monastery, on Sunday night, 13 May, was forced to quit the life in this world all together, as the result of breast cancer.

In the novel Lin MM died of a broken heart when her love was lost; in reality, Xiaoxu left the world with a big heart as her compassion expands beyond the bounds of this life: a 50 million yuans charity foundation, as it has been arranged in her will, was formally launched on her funeral Friday, aiming to help poor kids to finish their school and sicked poor to get medical attention.

Her early departure sees a nation in mourning, for after Xiaoxu's Lin MM, there will be no other Lin MM.

Yet in the later stage of her life, she was no longer a somber-mood and over-sensitive Blackjade who was obsessed with a passion for one man. Xiaoxu's passion has long transcended into compassion, and that compassion is for all sentient beings. At age of 42, she died young, but she lived full.

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