Tan Lin’s meteoric rise in popularity kept her so busy recording albums, filming advertising spots and doing campus tours that she barely had time to breathe and was near exhaustion. The executive producer of her record label wanted to release a new album but she resisted due to her poor health condition. Finally, the production team came up with a clever plan that would take the pressure off her. Launch a competition to have her fans write songs for her new album and give the contest winners front row seats and back stage passes for the album debut concert.
The plan was approved and put into motion due to the many business advantages it would provide. It would create pre-release publicity and fan interest which should guarantee high initial sales volume, reduce promotional ad costs and eliminate paying for copyright fees since the songs would become their property.
After pre-production screening, the producer made a “short list” of just under 30 compositions to be considered for the new album. Tan Lin had insisted on making the final decision on which songs to record because she wanted them to closely reflect her personality. The Producer initially rejected her request but in the end acquiesced.
Once the track list was final, recording began. This was never an easy task for her because there are always conflicting ideas about how a song should be sung. But on one particular day, the producer kept stopping her at the same place until they were both scarcely able to hold their tempers.
“Cut … cut! I keep stopping you in the same place and you keep making the same mistake over and over. I want you to put more feeling into it. ”
She had been recording from dawn to dusk and was starting to get a little depressed because she had fought for this song in particular and it seemed that she would never be able to sing it so that the producer would be satisfied..
“Let’s take a break for supper and then pick it up later.”
The staff was relieved to hear this and her agent, standing in the wings took advantage of the break to talk to her.
“The newspaper reporter, Qu-Fang, called me to request an exclusive interview with you.”
“Why bother me? Why doesn’t she just interview my dad? He had plenty to say last time. Maybe she could manage to destroy my reputation completely.”
“Your new album is releasing soon and the producer wants to get some good press to help promote it.”
“I absolutely won’t talk to her.”
“But she writes for the same paper that published that last article where your father accused you of being a stripper. Maybe this is a good opportunity to refute his claims and repair the damage to your reputation. Remember, the CEO is the one that discovered you in the first place and he wants you to show a little gratitude by doing this for promotional purposes. I think you should reconsider.”
She finally agreed to do the interview just to appease her boss but she made it known that she was doing it under duress.
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll set a date and then write the release that will go into the paper. We’ll make sure you get a good review out of it.”
Tan Lin wondered to herself how an evil man like her father could be aloud to be a parent. Her childhood was miserable and now that she was grown up, she still suffered from his selfishness and greed. He was a perfect example of the Chinese proverb that once a Buddha is chosen, the dogs around him want to rise to heaven on his coat tails.
Before that article, she had refused to meet with him because she knew that his only motive was to get money from her. He had retaliated by making false accusations about her and implying that she was ungrateful for all the things he had done for her.
What hurt the most is that she had grown up with Qu-Fang. They knew each other well enough so that it should have been obvious that the things her father said were outright lies. And yet she submitted the interview for publication. True, she called immediately and gave advance warning of the article but it was little consolation; the damage had already been done. An apt metaphor that came to her mind was, when you pound a nail into a board, you can pull it out but the hole still remains.
She had vowed at that time to never talk to her again but after a month, her anger had subsided and she decided that maybe it would be a good idea to see Qu-Fang again and clear the air between them. But, she knew in her heart that she could never forgive her father for all the misery and abuse she and her mother had suffered by his hand.
Thinking back for as long as she could remember, the relationship between her father and mother had always been strained. Her mother slept together with her out of protective love and motherly instinct which always irritated her father. As time went on he became increasingly jealous to the point where he openly expressed his dislike for her which seriously intimidated her. If not for her mother’s unbounded devotion and love she could not have survived emotionally.
In addition to the feeling of rejection by his wife, the success of his business ventures gradually diminished which compounded his frustration and feelings of anger. He had originally inherited his father’s optometry business which served to increase his wealth at a moderate pace but he was after more. He liquidated the business and invested the money in the stock market and after a few years acquired substantial wealth. But, as his wealth increased, so did his rate of spending and soon, he was no longer able to support his extravagant life style.
He had often suspected that Shi Lin was not his child. As she grew older, it became obvious to him that her appearance did not resemble him in any way. And even though she was born eight months after their marriage, she did not need to be put in an incubator. He always refrained from confronting Kaori on the matter until one night when he was feeling particularly irascible.
“Can you honestly tell me that our daughter is not some other man’s bastard child?”
“What nonsense are you talking about? Keep your voice down. Do want Lin to hear you talking that way?”
The two of them went into the bedroom to continue their discussion but Kaori kept looking out to the living room sofa where Lin was sleeping to make sure they weren’t disturbing her. Now Bing-Xiang exploded in anger.
“You have always been obsessed with your baby but never seem to care about me! I’ve had all I take of your neglectfulness!”
He gave her a violent shove and she staggered backwards; her head slamming against the wall. Without concern that he might have injured her, he violently pushed her down on the bed; thinking that it was about time he taught her a lesson.
“You have your daughter to occupy all your love so you might as well give me a son to love!”
He tore off her underwear, unzipped his pants and proceeded to rape her. Her pleading and painful moaning only served to affirm his male prowess and dominance, augmenting his sexual fervor. The ruckus awakened Lin and she toddled over to the bedroom door rubbing her eyes, still half asleep. When she saw her mother being raped, she had no idea what was happening and just stood there frozen and motionless.
Kaori screamed and tried to push him away from her to no avail.
“Are you crazy? Lin is standing in the doorway watching. Get off of me you pig!”
Without any hint of consideration or remorse he slapped her face to shut her up and shouted, “This is a good opportunity to teach your daughter that a wife should always be obedient and how to please her man!”
“Listen to your mother! Turn your head away and don’t watch!”
She didn’t understand what had happened but she new that her mother was suffering from pain and now her previous feeling of dislike for her father was replaced by a deep fear.
After that, when he was away, they were happy and free to do what they wanted. But when he was home, she avoided him as much as possible and her mother assumed the role of the obedient submissive wife. Since he could not find any reason to blame them, he lashed out violently against them.
“How about someone around here caring about my feelings and loneliness?”
He especially vented his wrath on Lin quite frequently by slapping her and yelling, “What’s the matter with you, are you mute. I know you can see me but you never even say hello.”
He consoled himself that, at least for now, he still had a lot of money and decided to seek warmth and comfort away from home which offered Kaori and Lin the chance to live freely again.
This lasted for about three years until his bad fortune in the stock market and his continual squandering of his wealth put him in a downward spiral to destitution; that and his affair stealing half his money and abandoning him.
Unexpectedly, he returned home one day like a homeless dog that they had fed in hopes he would go away. Seeing Kaori and her daughter again brought back the old feelings of anger even though he had no cause for resentment after the way he had deserted them.
Over a bowl of soup, he was reflecting on his unfortunate experiences with women. His wife was pregnant with another man’s child when they married and only wanted a secure normal life for her baby. His affair had swindled him out of half his fortune and disappeared. He decided that no woman had ever loved him and he could only choke back the hatred caused by knowing that his wife would forever only love her daughter.
Predictably, his unwelcome return home renewed the atmosphere of anxiety and fear caused by his anger. Lin tried to avoid him totally but that was not possible with him living in the same house. Her only respite was her time at school with her friends.