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Sanawa: Stepping Towards Happiness Everyday

Xinjiang Daily News (Gaowa reports) On the morning of July 17th, the hawking of vendors and music played by drums, along with laughter, as well as many other sounds are heard in the ancient city of Kashgar, a site of historical interests and scenic beauty in China, attracting tourists from different places. “Embroidered on the hat is badam flower. This bonnet is made of Ide Rice silk and it’s suitable for both boys and girls,” says Sanawa Memetitursun, a shop assistant in a handcraft store. She, wearing Ide Rice silk dress and flower-trimmed bonnet, is introducing products in the store with fluent mandarin.

“Tourists like my outfit, so they want to take photos with me and are willing to buy things from me. Last month, the sales volume of mine alone amounted to something between 20 to 30 thousand yuan,” says 23-year-old Sanawa to the reporter. During the interview, a bright smile appears on her face from time to time, which makes it hard to imagine that she once fell victim to extreme religious thoughts, resulting in her isolation. She even demanded to sever the relationship between herself and her family.

Once Darkened Life

When there’s no customer in the shop, Sanawa likes to learn dancing from friends of nearby shops. “I like dancing so much. It has been a dream for me to become a professional dancer since childhood, but I gave it up when my dad passed away,” she says.

Back when she was a child, outgoing Sanawa was fond of singing and dancing. Her father passed away when she was 12. Then she lived with her grandfather and dropped out of school not long after. Under the requirement of her grandfather, she wore traditional robe and stopped singing and dancing.

She says, “Grandpa demanded me not to form any social relationship with ‘heretic’, or I will end up in hell after my death. I’m too scared of that place, so I obeyed him.”

At the age of 16, she complied with her grandfather’s arrangement to marry a man more than 10 years older than her through reading Nikah. Since then her life had been colorless under the so-called “rule of religion and of family”.

Because of the erosion of extreme religious thoughts, Sanawa refused to use standard spoken and written language of the nation and to buy goods without the mark showing they were produced according to Muslim’s rules. Even her mother and brother, her closest relatives, were seen as ‘heretics’ by her for they didn’t believe in religion and didn’t go to church.

Under poisonous influence of extreme religious thoughts, Sanawa went even farther on the wrong path. However, her family did not give her up. Time and time again, her mother tried to persuade her to take learning programs in Kashgar Vocational and Technical Education and Training Center.

Letting More People Love Xinjiang

With meticulous care and education given by teachers at the training center, Sanawa finally relaxed her guard and reflected on her past with an objective view. She says, “Extreme religious thoughts made me more and more ignorant, and the only way out of it’s influence is to change my thought.”

She worked hard to study standard spoken and written language, law and e-business, and managed to find a job shortly after her graduation.

She finds being a salesperson interesting because she can learn something novel from her daily communication with tourists from various places. Her careful work and zealous attitude to customers are such that she was elected as an excellent worker after only 2 months of employment.

Sanawa works hard and likes to think. She has learnt e-business, so she helped to start our online store in a few days after her coming there. Now, we can sell goods both online and offline and our profit is promising,” says Behemutijang Abudmomin, the owner of the handcraft store.

Apart from a handcraft store, he also owns a dried fruits shop in which Sanawa usually helps. She says, “Xinjiang Province has a lot of precious things to offer besides dried fruits. In the future, I want to run my own company to sell local specialties as well as to introduce my beautiful hometown to everyone, so that more people will know and love Xinjiang.”

My Good Sister is Back

For all those years, she has been regretting something. On her 18th birthday, Tayiejan Memetitursun, her brother, gave her a pink purse as a gift. At that time, she saw her brother as a ‘heretic’, so his gift wasn’t in line with the requirements of religion. As a result, she threw the purse out in front of her brother. “I still remember his face at that time. His eyes were filled with sadness. I have been regretting it so much. I shouldn’t have done that to break his heart,” she says.

To make up for her fault, at a family reunion not long ago, she gave her brother a carefully-selected wallet and apologized sincerely. Upon receiving her gift, Tayiejan gently stroked it for a while, then caressed her head, saying, “Sanawa is thoughtful now. My good sister is back.”

Recently, Sanawa’s family are busy with opening a restaurant, fully engaging in many things including formalities, selection of the site, purchasing and employment, etc. Seeing Sanawa fully occupied with all those things, her mother Buwajun Abudclomo feels pleased, saying, “She is now outgoing and cares for relatives. The whole family is increasingly close.”

Set free from extreme religious thoughts, Sanawa feels a sense of freedom she never felt. “Looking forward and walking under the sun, the new me step towards happiness everyday,” she says.