Nan Chucai, a young scholar in old China, left his wife Xue Yuan to embark on a long journey to build ample experience and social networks. Impressed by the young man’s gorgeous looks and brilliant talent, a governor he came to know proposed that he be his son-in-law. Unknowingly accepting the governor’s offer, Nan sent a young boy to his hometown to bring him his six-stringed zither and books. When the boy came to ask Nan’s wife to pack her husband’s belongings, she had a hunch that her husband would not come back and decided to write a poem for him.
Looking in the cold mirror to draw her self-portrait, the wife felt even colder inside. A long separation from her husband must have left her with rough, dry skin and her thin hair braided behind the ears. She despairingly continued brushing her self-portrait, thinking of what the use will be of dolling up because it was already over. I can only depict myself left in tears for long years, but I have no idea how to show my broken heart. One day you will forget what I look like. Then, please reflect on my old drawing to be reminded of me. She had to let go of her husband without being allowed to beg him not to leave or throw a fit back then. Nan returned home immediately, deeply moved by his wife’s poem and self-portrait drawn by her tears. He might have noticed her generosity while reading the lines that ask him not to forget her without blaming the breakup on him.