Ho Ling - HÁI the label Mother's Day Feature: Rapeseed Flower

Ho Ling - HÁI the label Mother's Day Feature: Rapeseed Flower

Rapeseed Flower

The Hokkien (Min Nan) people have a saying that compares a woman's fate to that of a rapeseed flower. They describe women as being like rapeseeds that float in the wind and take root wherever they land. This analogy is drawn from the fact that rapeseeds are known for their adaptability to different environments and their robustness. It is used to illustrate how women are expected to endure whatever comes their way in marriage, whether it be positive or negative.

This is Ho Ling's Story. - Written by her daughter Violet. 


=My mother immigrated from China to Taiwan without knowing anyone. During my childhood, we resided in a rural courtyard with my grandparents, where the sounds of roosters were the morning alarm. Unfortunately, my grandparents treated my mom like a servant; she suffered many injustices. I vividly recall witnessing the violent fights between my parents, where my mother knelt down to plead with my father, resulting in him hitting her and shedding blood on the walls. I also remember seeing broken appliances and the sound of slaps, which terrified me as a child. At the time, I was too young to understand the immense pressure my mother was under.

My mother can't ride a bicycle or a scooter. She occasionally received a ride from our neighbors to go into town, and it was the only time she got to relax and feel free. Until this day, she's still grateful for her neighbors.

Our family worked hard to move out of the courtyard, but we remained poor in the new city. My mother then became a street vendor, loading goods onto a small cart and asking permission from commercial buildings to sell. She hurt her back during the moving process and even underwent surgery, which still causes her discomfort when the weather changes. Despite her struggles, my mother continued to work tirelessly, prioritizing basic necessities like rent, food, and utilities and had little to no money left over each month.

It wasn't until I grew older that I truly understood how much my mother had suffered during those years. She has improved her proficiency in speaking Taiwanese, and our financial situation has improved. However, she continues to live a simple life, using only the cheapest cosmetics and clothing and shopping at cheap wholesalers. She always tries to snag some cheap/free deals and save the money up for us.

Although these challenging times have affected her mental health, my mother insists she is in good spirits. My mother, sometimes irritable and depressed, is like a drifting oilseed rape from China.

Could you please introduce yourself briefly, Mrs. He Ling?

My name is He Ling, and I was born in 1973 in Nanan District, Chongqing City. At the age of 22, I took a leave of absence from my job at Chongqing Petroleum Company and worked at a relative's company in Guangzhou. My child's father was a customer of that company, and we met and fell in love. He was 27 years old at that time.

At what age did you come to Taiwan? Why did you want to marry in Taiwan at that time?

When I was 25 years old, I got pregnant. After my child's father communicated with his parents, we married and returned to Taiwan to have the baby. We stayed in my husband's family's rural hometown.


When did you realize that the actual living conditions differed from your expectations when you first came here?

I came to Taiwan nervous and uneasy and lived in a traditional rural courtyard with my husband's family. We shared a bathroom and a shower with everyone, and I wasn't used to the food, customs, and practices there. At the same time, I had to face my mother-in-law's strict demands on me after I entered the family.

How did you get through the period when you were still living in a courtyard house?

Although I was the youngest in my family, I had to take on the responsibilities of a married woman and help out the family. Growing up in a city in mainland China, I had to accept and endure the reality for the sake of my child.


Living in a traditional countryside courtyard in Taiwan, where the living conditions and customs were very different from what I was used to, and facing the strict requirements of my mother-in-law after entering the family, I had to be strong and persistent to cope with the challenges. The difficult days, learning, and perseverance in the countryside made me stronger and more determined to face life in Taiwan.

What was the most difficult part of that period after you moved out?

In the second year after we moved out, my husband had an acute myocardial infarction on Tomb Sweeping Day and underwent coronary artery bypass surgery. The period when he was recovering from the surgery was the most difficult time.

Do you know the meaning of "Rapeseed Flower" in Min Nan dialect? Do you consider yourself a resilient "Rapeseed Flower"?

After entering into marriage, women must endure whatever comes their way, whether it is good or bad.

I have the toughness of rapeseed flower and I believe that enduring whatever comes my way is my responsibility to my marriage and my family. As a mother, my responsibility is to provide a healthy family for my child.


Looking back now, if given the chance to choose again, would you still want to marry and come to Taiwan?

If I were given another chance to choose, I would still marry my husband and come to Taiwan. He is the reason I became a mother, and I am very happy to have two intelligent daughters because of him.

Do you have any words of advice for people currently experiencing similar situations?

I would like to give some advice to those who are going through similar experiences. When you choose to marry a Taiwanese man, you are choosing to be far away from your family and your hometown. As adults who have made our own decisions about marriage, we must bravely face any family problems that arise and support each other to maintain a happy family. While Chinese culture values the concept of returning to one's roots and continuing one's family line, I believe that taking root and letting my life and my children's lives flourish in Taiwan is my greatest wish.

On this Mother's Day, I wish everyone happiness and a blissful family life!

HÁI the label to Mrs. Ho Ling: 

We resonate deeply with your story, as our own mothers are also like resilient rapeseed flower, marrying young and only later realizing the hardships of life. Now that we have reached the age our mothers were then, we begin to understand the challenges faced by women who are mothers and wives. Thank you for accepting our interview, and we wish you a happy Mother's Day and all the happiness in the world. :)

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