Saturday, July 02, 2005
Book Review: "The Diary of Ma Yan" by Ma Yan and Pierre Haski
The gratitude that Ma Yan felt towards her parents, especially her mother, forms the central theme of the book. Besides her love of learning, Ma Yan's one big aim in life was to do well in school so that her parents' sacrifice would not be in vain.
My fervent wish is that every 5th to 8th grader could read this book. Many of us have a sense of entitlement when it comes to our education, but with Ma Yan, she counted every day that she could go to school as a gift (although it took her 4 hours walking each way to get to school). I found that Ma Yan displayed a lot of Confucian values like respect for one's elders, duty above pleasure, honor for one's ancestors, which was very refreshing to see in a young teenage girl where hormones and a certain rebelliousness usually dominates.
Today Ma Yan is in a good high school in a big city of China. Her family's lives changed radically after the book was published, but till today Ma Yan gives 25% of the income she earns from the book to an association set up for other poor and underprivileged kids that are in the same position like she once was.