Tuesday, September 11, 2007

[story] Distant Melody

Wrote for the song "Distant Melody":

Once upon a time, women in China practiced a tradition called "feet binding". Before a girl reached six years of age, her mother would break four toes in each foot, fold them underneath, and then wrap them as tightly as possible. The pain would last for years, and there was no medicine to numb it. Women were taught that bound feet represented beauty and class, and that a mother binding her daughter's feet was a great act of love.

There was a woman who had such bound feet. Her mother cried as she broke her feet, and she kept repeating that she had to do it because she loved her, because she wanted her to marry well and have a good life. The woman clung to those words as she grew up -- they were the only thing that could comfort her through the never ending pain.

But, all that changed when she gave birth to her own daughter. As soon as her little girl could walk, the woman realized that her daugher had a great talent -- a talent of dance. She knew that if she broke her little feet, she would break her mind and her spirit too.

But what could she do? The rest of the family would want to bind her feet. The woman came up with a plan -- she taught her daughter to walk like a cripple -- Always limping and hunching her body. It worked. Everyone wrote the little girl off as a cripple, and only at night, in the bedroom, when the door was closed and the shades were drawn, would the woman sing to her daughter so that she could dance freely. Oh, how beautifully she danced!

They kept it a perfect secret for years. Not even the father knew. But one hot summer night, they got careless. They left one window open, and when the father walked by, he spotted dancing shadows. He charged into the room and discovered that his daughter was never a cripple at all! He was furious. He sold his daughter to another family and kicked his wife out of the house -- They had betrayed him, and he never wanted to see them again. Ever.

The little girl never saw her mother again. Her new family took her to America, where she grew up to be a great dancer. But every night in her bedroom, when the door was closed and the shades were drawn, she would think of her mother, and the song that she sang to her ...
Once upon a time and long ago,
I heard someone singing soft and low.
Now when day is done, and night is near,
I recall the song I used to hear.

My child, my very own.
Don't be afraid, you're not alone.
Sleep until the dawn, for all is well.

Long ago this song was sung to me.
Now it's just a distant melody.
Somewhere from the past, I used to know.
Once upon a time, and long ago.