One Thousand Years of Orchids

In the Imperial Palace there was a sight which even the Emperor was too unworthy to gaze upon. The sight was one of unparalleled beauty. There was nothing that could match the splendour in all of the world; mù lán.

The greatest heroine in Zhōngguó was the only one permitted to look. Yet, for a reason fathomable only to her she didn't. She was present when they presented the sight to her. That one splendour was their tribute to her and her services.

She chose the country and the people over her own family. Her devotion to the country was seemingly without limit. Her own life meant nothing in comparison to theirs. She chose to serve the Emperor, his army and Zhōngguó for only twelve years.

Her years of service elevated her to be the people's heroine. She was revered and adored but took nothing in return for her services. That was how she was seen by the masses.

The heroine of Zhōngguó arrived to a quiet home in the rural village of her upbringing. The door to her ancestral home was opened. She entered with heightened caution; fearful of the reactions they would display. Time had chosen to end her service but could her years of motherhood end too?

They were gathered by the porch. The view was of the bench her father used to sit her down and speak to her on. A shadow of a smile flickered across her face in remembrance. He was no longer her father and she had no right to think of him as being so.

"Mùlán," her beloved husband spoke softly as he ushered her to his side. "Are you now satisfied?"

She feigned a smile as she watched the bench. "I will stand by your side now; as a wife, a mother and everything that I am required to be,"

He whispered in her ear worryingly. "Has your penance been completed?"

Before she could answer her six year old son raced to her. "Mǔqīn, my friends speak of you! They say you'll be known for a thousand years!"

She patted his head. "Thank you, Léi,"

Author's Note: I despise what Disney did to this. In Chinese society your hair, skin and body are all granted by your parents. Women who cut their hair are disrespecting their parents. By destroying her hair she was not being filial to her parents. That is why even men had long hair and why she didn't have to cut hers. In fact, her reasoning for taking her father's place suggests that she is filial and therefore she would most definitely not cut her hair. Also, cutting hair can also be seen as cutting as bonds and breaking connections in certain circumstances. She was not cutting her bonds with her parents. I believe that if she had cut her hair she would have enacted penance. Another thing is, with this story, once a person dies they wait to be re-incarnated and all their ties with the living are broken which is why he's no longer her father. I want to clarify the title. The name she is usually given is Huā Mùlán. Huā means Flower. Mù and lán, when put together, form Wood Orchid. The tribute made to her is the planting of an wood orchid tree and as long as the tree stands she sees that as watching over the realm in some way which is also, in this story, counted as penance. The name Léi is also the word for thunder. Mǔqīn means mother. Zhōngguó means China. This story overlaps in many areas with the original poem because that is, in my view, far better than this happy-happy cheer fest that is boringly predictable, but I appreciate this as part of my childhood – a part that I can now never revisit. Do not get me started on that sequel, please, for I have ranted enough. Also, I've completely passed the day that this was meant to be uploaded but I believe that I did the right thing and, if you've noticed a distinct lack of the the two letter word beginning with i and ending with t, thank you. There is no word for that in Chinese and therefore there is no such word here. Thank you for reading. I hope that you enjoyed this piece. I apologise if you did not enjoy what I have written.

Part of the Revival Collection.