Family of multi-nationalities reflects Uygur-Han harmony

Source: [16:58 July 14 2009]

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It is a scorching summer in Huocheng County, Yining City, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Sarim Airsha and his wife Zhang Jinhua are preparing lunch in their kitchen close to the green vineyard. They share the cooking: Sarim slices carrots into small pieces on the chopping board, while Zhang cleans mutton under the tap. Accompanying the couple is their 12-year-old daughter Barjie, who peels garlic.

In five months', Sarim, 41 and his wife, three years his senior, will celebrate their 15th anniversary, which has seen both frustrations and happiness.

Favorable impressions

Sarim and Zhang met each other in Sarburak Town of Huocheng in the summer of 1989. At that time, Sarim served as a junior officer at the local court, while Zhang was in charge of family planning with the town government.

It was a tough job for the girl, as there was neither public transport nor guaranteed security in the rural areas: she was even threatened by oral and physical intimidation from time to time. Sarim, who was responsible for assisting family planning, borrowed a motor tricycle from his friend and offered to help Zhang get in and out of the remote villages.

"He was kindhearted, ready to give me a hand and boost my courage at any time," Zhang recalls of their first encounters. "He was strong, energetic and handsome."

Zhang's sincerity also impressed Sarim. "She treated everyone on an equal basis, regardless of their nationalities. "As time went by, the two young people developed a passionate love that "could be severed by nothing," says Zhang.

"I was chased after by quite few Uygur girls, but I thought I was destined to meet and love her," Sarim says.

They made a formal engagement and informed their families of their decision. Zhang's mother was concerned that they may run into difficulties in the future and advised her to ponder over the marriage before jumping into it.

Zhang's father, who was a village party secretary for many years after he moved from Gansu Province to Xinjiang in the 1950s,was more open to the issue.

"He told me he would respect whatever decision I made, and I was relieved."

In contrast, Sarim was pressed by his mother. Her religious belief in Islam made it hard to accept a daughter-in-law of Han nationality, saying that they were "unable to live under the same roof."

The proposal was thrown into a deadlock, and Sarim went to Beijing University of Law and Political Science to pursue studies in the following years.

Their marriage was not held until December 8, 1995. "We decided to get married, despite my mother's opposition," says Sarim.

A Uygur-style wedding ceremony was held in a small restaurant. Zhang's parents showed up, but Sarim's mother refused to be present. Party secretaries from the county court and town government presided over their ceremony.

Like all the newlywed couples, Sarim and Zhang came to learn the arts of concessions in family life. "We do quarrel now and then, but the differences never arise from our family backgrounds. I respect her living habits and customs, and vice versa."

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