They rushed into the Square like water pouring into a single container. “Ten thousand years, ten thousand years!” they shouted under the gaze of those imaginary animals.

Love, that simple little thing, needs to be quiet; shouted and declared, it loses the intimacy that honest and real things possess. It matters little whether a person or a country is the object. It is a personal thing too, destined to be guarded jealously like a secret; when shared among thousands, it begins to take on the shape of mania, delusion, hyperbole. There are some things that should never be put into words, much less song.

Did shoving their way into Tiananmen turn them into real revolutionaries with true love for the chairman? There is a reason why the love in this book — be it love for books, music or between people — why love in these pages blooms in little rooms, small and spare, some buried, others guarded, all hard to find. A square is a container the way verse or performance are containers; water remains water no matter whether the goblet or chalice is dross or gold. Setting sentiments to meter doesn't make them fine. Away from the grandstand and the waving flags, safe from the dances and performances, one begins to restore some of that affection and belief, some of that faith the songs trumpet.


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