When we were filming, Amy had still been living at Xiao Qian’s place.
Xiao Qian was like Amy’s older sister. It was she who first told us about Amy. We told them we wanted to film some scenes of the two of them cooking in the kitchen. Xiao Qian immediately said: “I’ll cook some shrimp for Amy.”
On the day of our filming, we had set up the camera, and I chatted with Xiao Qian while she was making the shrimp.
“Why do you want to make shrimp (for Amy)?”
Her response is captured in the film. If you watched closely, you might have seen that Xiao Qian was on the verge of breaking into tears at that moment. She managed to barely finish one sentence, and choked back the rest.
I was taken aback by her reaction. She turned away and adjusted her glasses. She said to us a little embarrassingly: “I’m sorry.”
Xiao Qian has a genuine and childlike nature. She used to live at Yudong Gao place and watched Ben grow up. Just half an hour ago, as we had been listening to her telling us about Ben, her eyes squinted from chuckling with joy that we couldn’t even make out her words. But when we started talking about Amy, tears welled up in her eyes, and she pursed her lips as she tried not to sob openly. Xiao Qian is also very considerate. The first time we conducted interviews in London, we stayed at her place for a few days. She didn’t even know me back then, but every day when I returned home late at night, I saw that she had prepared a thermo-bottle of hot water and some fruits for me. Next to them was a piece of napkin with her beautiful handwriting, telling me that this was for me. Later I asked her for the napkin as a keepsake, she told me she had already used it to wipe her nose. Fortunately I had taken a picture of it.
It didn’t surprise me that she’d feel sorry for Amy, but I had not expected to see her emotions flow out so rapidly.
She told me that Amy would often stay over at her place whenever she was really upset. She’d cower in one corner of the bed and fall into a deep slumber. Xiao Qian said it was a small blessing from heaven that Amy could at least sleep well. Otherwise how much tougher it would have been for her to be living under someone else’s roof for so long.
Xiao Qian told me that all of the Falun Gong practitioners in Britain care deeply about Amy. An auntie who lives in Scotland gave a plush hedgehog to Amy. Its spikes were soft to the touch. She had hoped that Amy would one day come out of the spike-studded shell in which she had been hiding in the past. (In the film, you’d see the cute hedgehog perched on Amy’s bookshelf).
Xian Qian said that fortunately, Amy had not strayed from cultivating in Falun Dafa. Walking steadily on the path of cultivation, Amy would often smile bright smiles, and on occasions when she felt really happy, she’d shout “Sister Qian” from across the room and come up from behind to tickle her.
As Xiao Qian was telling us about these precious moments from her and Amy’s lives, sitting at the other end of the living room, Amy, who had not expected that Xiao Qian would bring up these details, covered her face and began sobbing. Director Ma quickly captured the moment on her cellphone. Amy looked up and stared at the Director’s cellphone, tears still streaming down her cheeks, looking dazed and helpless. This was the scene that you’d seen in the film.
When the two girls picked up their chopsticks to eat, both had tears in their eyes. They gave each other a hug and wiped their eyes, and then they began eating the shrimp, chatting casually.
“Did you know the shrimp would taste better after marinating them for one night?”
“Because they’d absorb all the flavor.”
“Do you marinate them for one night first?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t.” Amy said as she took a bite of the shrimp.
Director Ma turned to me and asked if I had anything else to add.
But I had been crying so hard that I could hardly speak.
(This blog post is about the film Candlelight Across the Street. Click to watch the full film!)