Ms. Adeline Nip was born in 1957.  She is the younger daughter of Mr. Kwong-Yu Nip (1928-) (Note 2).  When Adeline was 3 months old, she contracted polio.  The germs infected one leg.  Afterwards, she had trouble walking without assistance.  She was under frequent medical care to reduce pain and physical suffering.  When she was enrolled in the second year of primary school, the Culture Revolution shook up China.  Many medical doctors in China who were educated in western countries were taken away from their normal service to be re-educated in political lessons.  The re-education was designed to remove the ¡°foreign influences¡± from their mind.  The doctor who was left to care for Adeline did not provide her with proper treatments.  They actually operated on her to gain more experience for themselves, regardless if Adeline needed the operations or not, or if the operations even benefited her.  She was operated repeatedly over many years.  With brace applied to her leg, she could walk with a minor limp.

 The Chinese government categorized the Nip family as capitalists and owners of large-tracts of land.  The family members went through hell each time there was a new political upheaval in China.  Since the government owned and operated most companies during the early days of New China, the government denied employment opportunities to several of Adeline¡¯s uncles.  The government owned and operated public schools discriminated against her cousins, and subject them to disgrace and fear.  Some better schools of the country would not accept the application of her cousins regardless of their ability or achievements.  Since Adeline needed frequent medical treatments, her opportunities for receiving education were even fewer than her cousins.  She did not obtain even rudimental education in schools.  Except for the first and second years in primary school, Adeline did not receive any formal education in China. 

 The Chinese government confiscated Adeline¡¯s family fortune during several political upheavals in China.  During the Culture Revolution, the so-called Red Guards invaded her grandparents¡¯ house and took whatever things they like.  They broke what they did not take so that no one else could use them either.  Some strangers even moved into their house, without obtaining their permission nor paid any rents.  Besides financial ruins, the Nip family members were faced with constant psychological harassments and political repression.

 Adeline¡¯s mother eventually moved to Hong Kong for a chance to improve living conditions.  Adeline¡¯s father stayed behind in Shanghai.  The couple divorced after a long period of separation.  The sad part was many couples divorced in China not because they stopped loving each other, but because of political reasons or after a long separation.  Adeline¡¯s grandparents raised her, along with her sister and three other cousins.  The five girls were so happy together that they found humors even when them endured life¡¯s darkest chapters, with little financial resources or social supports.  The grandmother was sometimes forced to serve discarded vegetables since nothing else was left.  The grandmother was from an older and male dominated generation.  She was saddened by the reversals of family fortune and was concerned about the future of her granddaughters.  She worried that these girls not only did not received formal education, but also had not learned the manners of proper young ladies.  She told them: ¡° How would you ever find a husband?¡± 

 Adeline did not allow the adversities ruined her life.  She never passes up an opportunity to learn.  She picked up painting on her own.  Without formal education and with her ¡°improper family background¡±, Adeline made at most $18.00 a month in Shanghai.  She later followed her married sister, Bonnie, to live in Hong Kong.  She had to learn to speak the Cantonese dialect, which is completely different from those dialects that she was familiar with.  She had to overcome discrimination from people of Hong Kong against people from Shanghai.  She was able to learn enough on her own to enroll in a technical college.  She graduated with a diploma in business management even though she did not finish primary school and had never attended high school.   She started to work in a hotel as a desk clerk.  Within one year, her performance was so impressive that she was promoted to a management position.  It appeared that she finally grew out of the misfortunate of her childhood.  Her positive outlook of life erased the impacts of discrimination that she suffered during the formative years.

 Adeline got married at 26 years old to an athlete in China.  He was not a bad person, but had acquired the bad habits of stars who were adored by the public for a while.  He had a quick temper and was chauvinistic.  As he grew beyond his prime conditions as an athlete, he could not accept that the public no longer worshiped him.  The limelight was now shifted to the next generation of athletes.  He wanted to live continuously an expensive life style even though he did not earn a steady income.  Adeline felt that her son, Rudy, needed a male model, so decided not to get a divorce until the child reached 18 years old.  Adeline and Rudy are very close to each other since the father was dysfunctional and was hardly around to care for them.  When Rudy reached 16 years old, Adeline¡¯s husband was still immature and irresponsible.  Rudy told Adeline that they would be better off if them were separated from the non-supportive husband and father.    After the divorce, the ex-husband refused to provide any child or family support.  Adeline was again forced to support herself and Rudy on her salary alone.

 The financial market in Hong Kong collapsed after 1997, when the British returned the governmental responsibility to China.  The financial safety net that Adeline built up painstakingly for herself and her son suddenly disappeared.  The house, which was the primary family asset, depreciated below the value of the mortgage loan.  Adeline lost a major portion of her worldly assets through no faults of her own within a short period of time. 

 The old childhood affliction returned to haunt Adeline again at this junction in time.  The leg joints were so painful that Adeline could hardly walk.  Her doctor advised her that if she did not undergo operations immediately, she would be wheelchair-bounded for the rest of her life.  Adeline did not have enough savings left to pay the medical bills.  She was forced to declare bankruptcy in order to obtain governmental support for medical treatments.  She underwent partially successful operations in Hong Kong to reduce the pain. 

 Due to her bankruptcy, it became impractical for her to work in Hong Kong.  Adeline was forced to return to Shanghai after the operations.  At the lowest point of her life in 1999, Adeline had to start all over in Shanghai, with little money.  Her ¡°improper family background¡± reduced her chances of getting work.  She was barely able to walk and had to support Rudy since her ex-husband did not contribute any child-support at all.  The ex-husband continued to lie and cheat Adeline¡¯s relatives in order to borrow more money from them.   In spite of all these difficulties, Adeline started a new profession in advertisement.  At first she was involved in business management and provided consultation to the designers.  Soon she became successful also in recruiting new business. 

 Since the numerous meetings of advertisement business required her to travel frequently, the conditions of her leg deteriorated again.  She had to return to Hong Kong for an eighth operation.  With the many operations in the same area, the recovery took an extra long time.  She will ultimately need a new hip joint.  Since new hip joint only lasts for a limited time, she might need multiple replacements of hip joints for the balance of her life.  As the area of injury has been operated so often, there is a concern that it may not heal properly.  Hence she has to preserve her hip and avoid the rigorous demands of advertisement.  She was forced to look for still another profession.

 Two cousins of Adeline are self-taught artists of watercolor and oil paintings.  They thought Adeline possesses talents in painting even though she neither has any art training nor any professional experience in art.  They managed to teach Adeline enough that she started to sell some of her own paintings.  She found another means to support herself and Rudy. 

 Even though she lacks formal education, Adeline learns also to write fluently.  Her writing style is directly to the point and also full of humor.  Sometimes she poked fun at herself to enlighten the essay.  An author who read essays written by Adeline encouraged her to write more for publication.  She sold several essays to magazines that specialized in historical living in Shanghai in the period between the end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the democratic government in China.

 As Rudy grew, Adeline wanted to give her son what she did not have in her youth.  She single-handedly supported Rudy to graduate from high school in New Zealand.  She plans to send Rudy to Foothill College in California for the lower division of university education.  Rudy excels in mathematics and sciences.  He avoids subjects that do not interest him.  He still has to learn the importance of a comprehensive education.  Rudy plans to study computer programming in college in America.

 It can be said unequivocally that Adeline did not get any material advantages from her one time wealthy family.  Instead, she suffered the consequences of some governmental policies due to her so-called ¡°improper family background¡±.  Adeline did not let the discrimination prevent her from reaching her goals in life.  Not even an irresponsible husband prevented her from giving her son an excellent education.


 1.  This essay is based on input from Ms. Adeline Nip

The names and dates of the relatives are based on Reference 1


Clyde Nieh



 1.  Testimony of a Confucian Woman, The Autobiography of Mrs. Nie Zeng Jifen, 1852 ¨C 1942.  Translated and Annotated by Thomas L. Kennedy.