You Won't Understand My Sorrow
(Southern Weekend) "You Won't Understand My Sorrow" By Yuan Lei (袁蕾). April 12, 2007.
On March 26, the father of Yang Lijuan jumped into Hong Kong harbor and drowned himself because his daughter did not get to meet celebrity star Andy Lau by herself.
On that day, Andy Lau wrote in his diary: "You won't understand my sorrow."
Similarly, people do not seem to understand the sorrow of the Yang family.
Father, mother, daughter -- what was the psychological trajectory of this family of three and how did they influence and affect each other?
Here are the observations of our reporter: a story that contains vulnerability, sensitivity, despair and obstinacy.
She had not changed her clothes in more than a dozen days. She had not taken a bath either. She took off her black leather shoes and she sat on the edge of the bed. She twisted her toes as she tried hard to remove the remaining red nail polish on her toe. "My dad has passed away. I should not have anything red on me. The nail polish was something from before. The quality is bad and I can't get rid of it."
Yang Lijuan realizes how "popular" she is. Every time that she picks up the telephone, she begins by saying "I really don't want to be interviewed right now" and then she proceeds to chat for half a hour -- according to this reporter, she often chats with different reporters to make sure that each media outlet gets an "exclusive interview."
"I don't know how to speak the Lanzhou dialect." Yang Lijuan's putonghua has a Shanghai flavor. When you speak to her, you cannot imagine that she has only completed second year in high school. She is a careful person. While surrounded by the media, she will never mention "in the past," "father-daughter relationship," "life after she dropped out of school ..."
"If we had not seen Andy Lau, would my dad be still alive?" Yang Lijuan sometimes talks to herself in a low voice. Then she switches to a condemnation of Andy Lau. Finally, she falls into a state of total collapse while calling, "Daddy, daddy, how can you leave me? What will I do?"
She goes into mental collapse several times a day.
She does not have the compulsion for cleanliness as legend has it. But every time that she goes through the Yellow Pages, she will go to the bathroom to disinfect herself. But it is easy enough to go in and out of her room and everybody has sat down inside -- except for her mother Tao Juying. Tao Juying lives in another room. She does not even know which room her daughter is staying in. The daughter will not even ride in the same taxi as her. She comforts herself that her daughter loves her a lot and she is is presently distraught over the death of the father.
During the several days when the Yang mother and daughter were back in Lanzhou, the media paid for all their meals. One day, the reporters finished their meal and took the unfinished food to them. After a few bites, Yang Lijuan found out that the potato strips had corn, peanuts and other food underneath. This was different from the box of potato strips and the box of green pepper and meat strips that she had before because this other box of food clearly came from different sources. She hesitated for a moment but did not express any displeasure. She asked the reporter to give the food to her mother. Previously, she never cared about what her mother ate. After sending the food, Yang Lijuan called some other reporters and asked them to bring another box of food up.
Tao Juying could never accept her life. Yang Qinji was not good-looking, he did not have money, he was not socially prominent and he was a failure in trying to help his daughter meet Andy Lau. "I feel that my life has been a waste. I have never had anything good. Her father did not and my daughter did not. The Heavens have punished my family quite severely."
On March 26, Yang Lijuan's father jumped into the harbor and drowned himself because his daughter did not get to meet Andy Lau alone. Last year, after the affair of "father sells kidney to help daughter chase celebrity star," the case reached a climax that is showing no sign of subsiding. The singer Yang Chengang helped the mother and daughter to come to Hong Kong to take care of the father's funeral. Yang Lijuan broke her promise to the media that she would not try to look up Andy Lau. As soon as she arrived in Hong Kong, she went knocking door by door in Andy Lau's villa-filled neighborhood.
What do they really want? This question has been asked countless times before. Before Yang Qinji jumped into the ocean, the answer was always like an iron armor: "The daughter gave him thirteen years of her youth. He must see her." After Yang Qinji jumped into the ocean, the answer was always like an iron armor: "This was her father's dying wish. He must meet her."
So the mother and daughter's latest expectation is that they will stay in Hong Kong, dead or alive.
They are not willing to return to Lanzhou and they don't want to go back to Egan town.
Yang Lijuan said: "My mother said that we cannot go back. If we go back, we cannot face it."
"It is unsurprising that weird people like Yang Lijuan should come from Egan town." Bing Zhe said. He is a police officer in Lanzhou and he spends his spare time filming a documentary in Egan town. He has been doing that for two years. The reason why this is "unsurprising" was that the people who live here look especially "vulnerable, sensitive and desperate" to people outside.
Yang Lijuan and her mother Tao Juying were both born in Egan town. Her father Yang Qinji taught in Egan town until he took early retirement in 1995.
Although Egan town was just over 20 kilometers away from Lanzhou, the road is rugged and it takes almost one hour to reach there by car. The name Egan 阿干 comes from a classical text which refers to a river in the mountains. The Egan river goes from south to north through the middle of the town. On two sides of the river are barren mountains. Egan town was founded in the northern Song dynasty and was a relatively important station in the mainland Chinese section of the Silk Road.
In the 1950s, Egan town became an important base for industrial coal and residential fuel for Lanzhou. The local saying says: "Lanzhou would not exist without the coal from Egan." In the 1950s, Egan town residents were proud and arrogant. Nowadays, when a Lanzhou person wants to characterize someone as a country hick, they would say "Are you from Egan town?" Zhang Lei and his partners are presently seeking funding to make another documentary titled <Egan town in images>.
In Egan town today, the buildings are mainly Soviet style residential and office buildings. There are many broken glass windows as well as empty dormitories. The local residents can move into any of the unoccupied spaces that they want. The only cinema has become a factory for manufacturing plastic accessories. If you enter the lobby, you see three worn out characters "Watch People ... Son 观人子" -- it used to be "Movie Watches Welcome 观众您好" but parts of the words have been worn off. No movie has been shown here in over twenty years. On the most prosperous street (Tiezi Street), it look as if every house is locked. But if you approach the houses, you will discover that someone is watching you from behind every window. Occasionally, someone shows up in the street. They usually don't have any expressions and their mouths are pouted downwards.
Bing Zhe said that most Egan people can foresee their own fate: the men either die or get injured at the mines or else they end up with occupation-related diseases. The women look after the men who live from day to day and the children who attend the schools which are not of high quality. The children walk silently on the streets while coal dust brush against their faces, or else they get run over by the speeding coal transport trucks.
In early 1990, the people in Egan town began to migrate outwards. In less than five years, the population in Egan town dropped from the original 100,000 or so to the 20,000 or so today. Yang Zhibin is a reporter with Lanzhou Evening News and he has visited Egan town eleven times on assignment. In his view, Egan town represents those types of town in Gansu province: the natural resources have run out, all manners of problems are present, people do not have steady jobs and their only desire is to leave town.
"The bankruptcy of the coal mines and the decrease in development triggered off a series of social problems and severely affected the stability and prosperity of the Egan area." Lanzhou city's external publicity department said that in a 2005 article about Egan town at the Gansu channel of the Xinhua agency.
Yang Lijuan's mother Tao Juying is a descendant of coal mine workers. When she was young, that was the era in which Egan town flourished. But her own life did not "flourish." Like anyone else living in town, she was most familiar with two types of vehicles: coal transport vehicles and police vehicles. When the coal miners could not go down the well, they drank alcohol, which was the best way to vent off their frustrations. They would pull out their knives to fight over trivial matters, and the police cars came to make arrests.
The father of Tao Juying was a coal miner. He had seven children and his wife was often ill. The whole family depended on her father's wages. "One day, daddy did not come back as late as 830am in the morning. Then someone rushed to our home and said that daddy was involved in an accident." Tao Juying remembered that her father had his legs crushed in an accident. After her father got out of the hospital, he went down the mine well again where he encountered a gas explosion. After he came back, he could only do some simple things on the mine surface. Therefore, the family financial conditions got even worse.
In 1976, Tao Juying worked as a temporary employee at Middle School Number 31. She helped to paint the school wall. 37-year-old Yang Qinji walked by, looked for a long time and volunteered to help her with the work.
Yang Qinji was not from Egan town. In 1973, he was transferred from Middle School Number 20 inside Lanzhou city to Middle School Number 31 in Egan town. He originated from Hebei province where his family composition was intellectual. His father taught at the Xibei Normal University. His elder brother and young brother taught, but he did not necessarily had a happier life than Tao Juying.
"Something bad happened in their family." Tao Juying avoided mentioning this "bad thing": the younger brother of Yang Qinji killed their mother with a knife.
This happened Lanzhou in the 1950's and it was sensational." The colleagues at Lanzhou Middle School Number 20 still remembered that. Why did the younger brother kill the mother? Nobody can explain clearly. The version that Yang Qinji's colleagues found more persuasive is this: "It had something to do with Yang Qinji." Yang Qinji was not tall, he was plain-looking and he was unsuccessful in finding a girlfriend. One day, the younger brother brought his girlfriend home. When the mother saw her, she probed: "Your older brother does not have a girlfriend yet. Why don't you give this girl to him?" The girlfriend of the younger brother got very angry and dumped him. The younger brother became mentally disturbed and killed the mother with a knife. The final ruling was that it was a mental disease -- this is the so-called "history of mental disease in the Yang family" that the outside world is talking about.
Tao Juying never disguised her unwillingness to marry Yang Qinji. "I looked down on him. He was older than me by so much." This "additional 14 years" put a lot of pressure on Tao Juying: "When I go out, everybody asks me: Is this your father? Is this your grandfather?" Tao Juying prefers the kind of men who are like her own father: tall (1.78 meters), lively gait, clean outward appearance, efficient worker. Yang Qinji had none of the attributes.
This was a marriage forced by livelihood. "My father said that he was a decent man. At least he had a job, and he had a city hukou."
Yang Lijuan was born the next year. The middle-aged Yang Qinji was very happy.
In 1981, Yang Lijuan was three years old. The family moved back to his father's home in Lanzhou city where he had a hukou registration. So Tao Juying finally left Egan town. Meanwhile, Yang Qinji commuted every day to and from work; one hour in the morning to work and one hour in the evening back home.
"I don't want to mention Egan town! You must really try to help me by not asking me about why I dropped out of school. It had nothing to do with why I want to meet Andy Lau!" When Yang Lijuan gets interviewed, the reason for dropping out of school was one of the questions that she was most reluctant to answer.
Fifteen years later, Yang's middle school class master Teacher Qi tried hard to recall Yang Lijuan: she was not tall, relatively shy, loved to sing but not to get on stage to perform; her grades were okay; she did better in the arts than science; she even came first in class once; she had several good female student friends; she cared about the school; she came early in the morning to clean the classroom; she was elected a student cadre by fellow students.
In the summer of 1992, when the second year of middle school was about to end, Yang Qinji came to the school to tell Teacher Qi that Yang Lijuan wanted to drop out of school. Teacher Qi was very shocked: she never noticed that Yang Lijuan may not want to continue school. She could not think of just why Yang Lijuan did not want to continue school. It was the father who came to tell her about this decision to quit school, and this father was a middle school teacher himself.
Teacher Qi visited the Yang family many times to dissuade her -- she remembered clearly that there were no Andy Lau posters in Yang Lijuan's home at the time.
At the time, Yang Qinji was mumbling to himself: "What can be done? The child does not want to study." He promised that he would let the child stay home. "The nine years of free education" were not valued. Even for Yang Qinji, quitting school was nothing new. In his 31 years of teaching, he had seen many children quit due to family poverty, and even the mother Tao Juying never attended school.
According to Tao Juying's recollection, Yang Lijuan begged for more than half a year before they consented for her not to go to school. The daughter's reasons were: the school tuition was too expensive at 80 RMB per month; she wanted to spend more time with her mother; she was often exploited by her fellow students.
Tao Juying said that she softened when she heard the word "exploitation." "Our family has been exploited all our lives. I was exploited and her father was exploited." Tao Juying felt exploited because the neighbors saw that she did not have to go to work and they asked her to take care of their children for a symbolic 25 RMB per month. As for Yang Qinji, Tao Juying complained that people younger than him were made school principal while he was remained the teaching director and ultimately only a "senior teacher." Although there was only one "senior teacher" at Middle School Number 31, the mother and daughter kept using the word "exploitation." They were also afraid of being exploited by the media: the reporters come around to do interviews and then they get raises but meanwhile the family has still not seen Andy Lau.
The "exploitation" that Yang Lijuan was talking about was that she worked hard to do her homework but her school mates would borrow it for copying. When they borrowed the homework, they were all smiles; when they were done, they ignored her.
Last year, some media looked up Yang Lijuan's old classmate and brought her over for a visit. Yang Lijuan was unhappy: "How come you did not contact me earlier? Now that the media are reporting, you all show up." This class mate recalled that when she was getting married, Yang Lijuan called. But she was so busy about her own wedding arrangements that she did not spend too much time on chatting. Maybe Yang Lijuan might have felt being ignored.
As for dropping out of school, another story was that Yang Lijuan fell in love with a teacher. "That teacher was teaching middle school in Egan town. He had a wife and child." This is what Wan Long heard from Tao Juying and he was the "boyfriend" of Tao Juying.
Several neighbors and former colleagues of Yang Qinji also said that they heard this story from Tao Juying: Yang Qinji took her daughter back to Egan town Middle School Number 31 for a visit and she fell in love with a colleague of her father. She wrote a "love letter" to the other party, who did not know how to respond and ended up turning the letter over to Yang Qinji. Yang Qinji did not know what to do either and ended up returning the letter to his daughter.
"Perhaps the young girl was embarrassed. I don't know if that was the reason why Yang Lijuan dropped out of school."
Wan Long said that Yang Lijuan did not immediately "dream" of Andy Lau after dropping out of school. But she was dutifully staying every day to do two things: watching television and washing her hair.
In 1994, two years after Yang Lijuan dropped out of school, two big things happened in the Yang family: Yang Qinji and Tao Juying got divorced and the daughter Yang Lijuan saw Andy Lau in her "dream."
According to Tao Juying's own explanation, she divorced Yang Qinji in order to obtain additional housing.
"Tao Juying told me that ever since the child was born, they did not have conjugal relationship," said Wan Long.
After the divorce, Tao Juying had several men. The first one was a worker who treated her well. Tao Juying would spend a few days at the worker's home and then go back to stay a few days at the Yang home -- she did the laundry for the father and the daughter.
Wan Long is a retired state cadre. He is thin but strong. He wears a well-ironed western suit with a sparkling white shirt. He met Tao Juying at a singing/dance hall. At the time, Tao Juying was "white and chubby and quite attractive."
The veteran soldier Lao Qian also met Tao Juying at the old dance hall. He is robust and straightforward. He had met Yang Qinji before and was told that Yang maintained a "comrade-like friendship" with Tao Juying because they were too far apart in age (fourteen years).
Tao Juying was with Wan Long for a while. Wan Long divorced his original wife and Tao Juying formally moved in with him . The same old routine applied: she spent a few days at the Wan home and then a few days at the Yang home.
The two families kept a special but intimate relationship: Tao Juying went home often to cook and do laundry for the Yang father and daughter, and Yang Qinji often brought his daughter to visit the Wan h ome.
Wan Long liked Tao Juying most of all for her diligence and he took care of her. When Tao Juying was with the first worker, she was pregnant but had a spontaneous abortion when she insisted on going to Yang home to do the laundry. "Yang Qinji did not even take her to the hospital. Fortunately her younger brother called the worker to go and take her to the hospital." Another time, Tao Juying was involved in a car accident and stayed home to recover. "Yang Qinji and his daughter lived upstairs and they did not come downstairs to see her."
"Over these years, I have not left my family and I have not left my daughter. I can be said to be a great mother and a great wife. If I did not take care of the household chores over the years, her father would not have won so many prizes." Tao Juying kept repeating this.
Wan Long ultimately did not marry Tao Juying: she was too awkward and she had a foul temper.
Tao Juying paid a lot of attention to her appearance. "She paid attention to her lipstick. She spent an hour a day applying her lipstick," said Wan Long. He took Tao Juying to shop: "She spent 800 RMB to buy a skirt. Her clothes and shoes were all famous brands." Tao Juying was a generous spender. She gave the street beggars at least two RMB. She made stream buns and distributed most of them to neighbors. "I must have spent several tens of thousands of yuan during her time with me."
Tao Juying was ill-tempered and often hit her daughter. "The mother and daughter sometimes got along well. If not, they had vicious fights. One time, Tao Juying hit her daughter with a wet towel so hard that the skin peeled off." Wan Long still had a fresh memory of that incident.
As to who was hitting whom in the Yang family, the neighbors and friends held different opinions: some said that Tao Juying was the tough one who beat and scolded father and daughter; others said that the daughter was the tough one who beat and scolded her parents; still others said that mother and daughter often fought while the father tried to mediate; a very few people said that Yang Qinji beat Tao Juying. No matter who was hitting whom, no individual or organization came to mediate or interrupt.
When Yang Lijuan was living with her father, she got up and then tell him about her "Andy Lau dream." After Yang Qinji listened to his daughter, he said that he had an identical "dream."
Nobody cared whether the dreams were true or false. Wan Long just felt that Yang Qinji was trying too hard to "please" his daughter. "You tell me whether it is possible for the father and daughter to have the same dream on the same night? If I were her father, I would not tell my daughter even if I had the dream."
In 1995, Yang Qinji took early retirement from Middle School Number 31. This was four years ahead of his official retirement. As the sole senior teacher at Middle School Number 31, Yang Qinji's retirement pay was the highest. At 2,050 RMB per month and with a little bit of discipline, it was more than enough for three persons to have a decent living in Lanzhou. But they ended up always in need of money.
"Old Yang told the school that he wanted to retire in order to take care of his own dad. Actually, he wanted to take care of his daughter." Tao Juying said.
Yang Lijuan seldom says the words "Andy Lau." She usually use "he" or "him" instead. When she is angry, she would refer to "the person named Lau." "I keep dreaming about him. He has become a family member after so many years."
That "coincidental dream" is very simple: There is a painting on the wall with a head and two sentences on the side: "You are especially close to me" and "You and I meet in true love."
According to the narrative from Yang Lijuan to various reporters, the later "Andy Lau dream" has two main themes: destiny and pure love; Andy Lau met Yang Lijuan at the peak and then took her down by the brook and said to her lovingly: "You have gone past me so why are you still running?" Then Yang Lijuan entered a dark room in which there was a magnetic tape upon which is written "You are my woman."
Yang Lijuan kept emphasizing the dramatic effect of the "dream": a classmate showed her a poster and then she realized that the person in her "dream" was the famous Andy Lau.
Yang Lijuan did not go out and her world became smaller and smaller. Her only hope in life was "Andy Lau." She became more and more convinced that if Andy Lau could meet her and hear about her "dream," he will "respond."
Yang Qinji retired and he thus avoided the talk at the office about his wife and child. But he could not avoid the talk by the neighbors. So he stayed home and kept company with his daughter dreaming about Andy Lau.
Yang Qinji acceded to every request from his daughter. He doted on her. He would not let her perform any household chores. Wan Long said: "Tao Juying said that that Yang Lijuan is more than 20 years old but it was always her father who bathed her and dried her. The family did not feel that there is anything wrong with that."
"I am closer to my father than other children. I think about him if I don't see him. I am so old already, but the only times when my father wasn't with me was for him to attend meetings. He was with me at all other times. Now that my father has truly departed, I really feel that I don't have anyone to rely on." This is the only discussion of father-daughter relationship that Yang Lijuan has made.
"As long as it makes the daughter happy, he will do anything." Yang Qinji's former colleague Lao Jia angrily recalled. One time, the daughter wanted to drink Red Bull beverage. Yang Qinji did not have the money so he went to steal from a shop. He was caught the second time. "Fortunately, it was a state enterprise and they let him off with a lecture."
Along with the "Andy Lau dream trip," Yang Qinji also moved his home. At the time, he was trying to hide away from the scorn of his neighbors over his daughter chasing Andy Lau.
One neighbor joked with Yang Qinji and asked if he was still waiting for Andy Lau. For that one sentence, Yang Qinji immediately called 110 to summon the police. The more that he showed that he could not handle these jokes, the more the neighbors talked. The Yang family became afraid of human contact and the relationship with the neighbors worsened. The rumors range from Tao Juying having an extramarital affair to Yang Qinji carrying the foot-washing water of his daughter to the mother-daughter beating the father. Who can tell the truth anymore?
In 2005, Tao Juying passed out due to gas poisoning and broke her good. Yang Qinji brought Tao Juying back home and she stayed there permanently afterwards. By this time, this family was reduced to a single goal long ago: Andy Lau.
"I ripped up all the magazines and smashed all the cassette tapes." Tao Juying said that she began ripping up the magazine and smashing the cassette tapes since 1996. During the series of news reports about "father selling kidney to help daughter chase celebrity star," her actions were interpreted as the parents opposing the daughter's star-chasing. But one year later, Tao Juying said that she was angry not because her daughter was "chasing stars" but because Andy Lau refused to write back.
Anyway, after the family of three were re-united and they were tied together by a single string: "If we can meet Andy Lau, then our family will lead a happy life afterwards."
"If we can only meet Andy Lau, then our family will live happily afterwards." This was like an evil curse.
Lu Na who is with the <Daily Cultural Broadcast> at Beijing TV felt that there are two completely interpretations of this sentence. If Yang Lijuan meets Andy Lau, then her wish is fulfilled and the family of three can live happily afterwards. If Yang Lijuan meets Andy Lau and their "ideal dream becomes realized," the family of four will live happily afterwards.
When the news of the attempt to sell the kidney failed to achieve the effect, Andy Lau responded publicly through the media: "To ask the father to see his kidney in order to meet with me is disloyalty and lack of filial piety."
At a time when the Yang family was stuck, the Heavens sent Lu Na along. He was one of the people that Yang Qinji wrote letters of condemnation about later. Yang condemned Lu for using the Yangs to generate audience ratings, and even using a fake Andy Lau to hoodwink and deceive them.
"They told us that their channel is powerful and they will be able to help my child meet Andy Lau." The Yang family was full of hope.
Lu Na came to interview them and promised to contact Andy Lau. "When I first arrived at the Yang home, my first instinct was sympathy." The sympathy involves their poverty as well as the love of the parents for their child. Therefore he "naively" thought that if he could help Yang Lijuan see Andy Lau, then they can live normally.
Lu Na said that he managed to contact the company of Andy Lau's agent: "It was a man. Once he heard what I said, he told me that they will not approve, they will not respond and they will not hold any meeting."
On the second trip to the Yang home, Lu Na began to feel that this family did not deserve as much "sympathy" as during the first trip. "Yang Lijuan's father played a subservient role in the family. His actions and words were monitored and questioned by the mother and daughter." He asked Yang Qinji (who was the "only person who could be talked to") to come to his hotel secretly and told him that Andy Lau will not meet with them.
"At the time, I really wanted to help them." Lu Na said that his help also included: bringing along two psychiatrists; teaching Yang Lijuan to get on the Internet and sing kara-oke.
But this assistance was futile. Basically Yang Lijuan would not meet with the psychiatrists. Lu Na said: "Yang Lijuan was hoping that Andy Lau and her would fall in love at their first meeting. She told her parents in my presence: You don't watch over me now and when I go with Andy Lau, I will not watch over you either."
At the third meeting, Lu Na brought along "Andy Lau" -- Wu Ke, who looks like Andy Lau and sometimes drives fans crazy. But Yang Lijuan had no reaction towards Wu Ke's appearance.
Lu Na and Wu Ke thought that the atmosphere was quite friendly, but the Yang family was actually infuriated. They said: "They brought a fake Andy Lau to deceive us." Wu Ke did not expect that the family was so selective about interpreting information. "Yang Lijuan was totally unlike the other fans" is an assessment that gave Yang Lijuan a great deal of encouragement. In her later interviews, she used this sentence to distinguish her from the other "star chasers."
In October 2006, the Yang family went to Beijing. This time, the two sides were no longer so "friendly" with each other. The formerly well-behaved Yang Qinji caused a scene at the television station and wanted to condemn the "shamelessness" of Andy Lau through the television show. The two sides were arguing.
Lu Na was at his wit's end and so he bought two front row seats at the premiere showing of <A Battle of Wits> with his own money. On one hand, Lu Na was nervous about how Yang Lijuan would behave because he would be held accountable. On the other hand, he still had the illusion that maybe Yang Lijuan would recover after actually seeing Andy Lau.
The result of the Beijing trip was: Beijing TV gave 2,000 RMB to the Yang family in the name of the program show.
Concerning the 2,000 RMB, Tao Juying was angry. At the time, she cursed Yang Qinji out: "I told her dad not to take the money. It does not matter if it is 20,000 RMB. This is a debasement of character. It is like as if we are doing this for their money."
The disappointment of her daughter and the fury of his wife plus the destruction of the hope to meet Andy Lau turned Yang Qinji into a different person.
Xiao Zhou said that when Yang Qinji returned to Lanzhou from Beijing, "he was in a trance, he was losing his teeth and he looked pale and tired."
Xiao Zhou is the son of Yang Qinji's most trusted supervisor and also the person who lent the money for the family's final trip to Hong Kong. Before the Lunar New Year, Yang Qinji's asked him for a loan of 11,000 RMB. "I said that I did not have that much money. Besides, I knew that he wanted to use the money for his daughter to chase the celebrity star." Yang Qinji came back three more times and said that he tried everybody but had no luck.
Xiao Zhou told him repeatedly not to be crazy like his daughter. Yang Qinji sat on the stool next to his couch and repeatedly said: "I really hope Andy Lau would meet with Juanjuan and listen to her tell about her dream. Then our family would have happy days."
What kind of "family"? What kind of "happy days"? Nobody knows. In the view of the wife of Lao Shen (former colleague of Yang Qinji), Yang Qinji seemed to have become "more and more confused." "Yang Qinji came to borrow money from us. He told us that they had a good time in Hong Kong and they can stay at Li Ka-shing's house any time."
Like most people, Lao Shen's wife did not want anything to do with the Yang family.
Yang Qinji and Tao Juying had borrowed money from anyone and everyone. From nephews to neighbors, from colleagues to supervisors and even the "good friends" of Tao Juying, they have all lent them various sums of money. Yang Qinji has an accounts book in which are written the names of the lender, the amount and the due date. Apart from that, there are also some "famous sayings from famous people" such as: In order to do things nowadays, you need (1) social connections and (2) economic clout.
It was extremely cold in Lanzhou in the winter, and Xiao Zhou did not want the almost 70-year-old Yang Qinji to stand outside and wait downstairs. So he went through some friends to find a manger to lend him 11,000 RMB -- this was the rumored "high-interest loan."
"I told teacher Yang that I lent the money to him and I don't care how he usesd it. We struck a deal in which he promised that he will see me in Lanzhou again. He broke that promise!" When Xiao Zhou heard that Yang Qinji had killed himself by jumping into the ocean, he was beating his chest and stamping his feet in sorrow at home. He had previously sensed that something was wrong.
On March 4, 2007, Yang Qinji came to pick up the money. He brought three boxes of "treasures": the hukou booklet, the child photographs of his daughter, the awards, the student rosters; all the awards that he won; locked stuff left for his daughter.
Yang Qinji explained that he was traveling and afraid that he might lose the stuff at the hostel -- they had no home to stay in and they had been living in a cheap hostel for several months already.
This could have been a family reaching for the happy life, or it was a mentally draining effort to arrange for the after-effects. In retrospect, this was going to be Yang Qinji's final gamble.
On March 25, at the meeting of Andy Lau fans, Yang Lijuan met Andy Lau in person for the first time. She did not get the ten minutes to "tell her dreams," "inspiration," "gratitude" and transformation of her life.
In the early morning of March 26, Yang Qinji left behind the seven-page farewell letter that he had previously written and jumped into the harbor to kill himself.
On March 26, Andy Lau was impacted by this affair and his work was semi-stalled. In this diary, he wrote: "You won't understand my sorrow." There will be more fans who will imitate and use the threat of suicide to meet with Andy Lau.