Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


War and Exile

Author: David Poulson
Published on:July 21, 2000

War and Exile

"Although more than six years have passed, the memory is still fresh in my heart of the moment when I stood safely on the docks in Shanghai and found Liu Ren beckoning to me. My feelings at that time were too complicated to be described simply as 'joy.' Silently, I held his hand. I could not find the words to say how I felt. It seemed, somehow, that his hand now was larger and warmer than it had been before."
[Verda Majo. En Cxinio Batalanta]

It is not hard for us to understand how Verda Majo felt when she reached China on the 19th of April 1937, and why she was so overwhelmed with mixed feelings that she could hardly speak. Yes, certainly, she would have been relieved and delighted to be re-united with her newly-wedded husband. But her relief and happiness would have been counter-balanced by sadness at leaving her family and friends in Japan, and by acute anxiety at finding herself in a land where she did not know the language, which was under attack from her fellow countrymen, and where she, herself, would be confronted with danger, animosity and insecurity.

And indeed, Verda Majo tells us herself that, although Shanghai always remained for her the most impressive and memorable of cities, she never liked it. At that time, Shanghai was divided into the "French Quarter," the "International Settlement, "(formerly known as the "British Settlement"), and the main part of the city, where more than 3,000,000 Chinese lived, many of them in conditions of extreme poverty.

Verda Majo wrote bitterly about the condition of the poorer Chinese inhabitants, the "wage-slaves" of the foreign capitalists.

"Each day, half-naked, they pulled rickshaws and carried heavy loads, work which in the lands of their masters was carried out only by machines or horses or oxen. They knew neither their own language nor that of their masters, and were unable to read or write." When Verda Majo arrived in Shanghai, the infamous notice: "Chinese and Dogs Not Allowed," had been removed from the entrance to the Public Park. Nevertheless, Chinese coolies never dared to pass through those gates at that time. They "?were not regarded as men, either during their life or after their death. If they died on the street - as they often did - from hunger, sickness or cold, their bodies were simply got rid of as if they were stray dogs."

Verda Majo and Liu Ren, with a married couple whom Liu Ren had met in Tokyo, rented two small rooms in the French Quarter. To avoid contact with the neighbours and visitors, Verda Majo and Liu Ren occupied the back room and she was described as someone who had recently arrived from Malaysia. The strange language she spoke to her husband (which was Esperanto, of course) was also described as Malayan.

There she learned, with the help of her friend, the very basic tasks of housekeeping: how to make a fire, and how to prepare and cook, Chinese-style, the cheap vegetables which they bought from shops which were in the neighbourhood.

Some friend jokingly said that Liu Ren must be the happiest man in the world because he lived in a European-style house, ate Chinese cooking and had a Japanese wife. In fact, he lived in one room, only ate twice a day and even then only the plainest food, and was married to someone who was far from being a typical Japanese wife.

On July 7th, 1937, less than three months after Verda Majo arrived in Shanghai, Japanese troops attacked Wanping, south-west of Peking, and before long Shanghai too was under attack. Although Verda Majo and Liu Ren had, by this time, become very active participants in the Shanghai Esperanto League and the Chinese Workers Esperanto Union, at the end of November they were compelled to leave the city, which was almost completely cut off by Japanese troops, and travel by ship to Canton, another so-called "treaty port".

At first all went well: the couple received a warm welcome from local Esperantists and soon were busy writing articles and pamphlets. But, not long after their arrival, Verda Majo was arrested by Kuomintang police and she was deported to the British colony of Hong Kong. Liu Ren travelled with her. (For information about the Kuomintang.

(To be continued).

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ELSTARAJ PERSONOJ KAJ ESPERANTO
PRI ELSTARAJ ESPERANTISTOJ
. EL HISTORIO DE RUSIA E-MOVADO
KION ONI SKRIBAS PRI ESPERANTO
ESPERANTO EN LITERATURO
. KIAL E-MOVADO NE PROGRESAS
HUMURO PRI KAJ EN ESPERANTO
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DIVERSAJHOJ
INTERESAJHOJ
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UTILAJ LIGILOJ
IN ENGLISHPAGHOJ EN ANGLA LINGVO
PAGHOJ TUTE EN ESPERANTO
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