May 15, 2006
From the bottom of the bridge, we took an elevator to the top of one of the towers connecting the bridge. The view from the top was mesmerizing, spanning miles and miles across the river and beyond. Though the Nanjing Bridge looks strong and superb, the air up there was extremely polluted from the fumes of the ongoing vehicles, as the bridge carries not only four lanes of traffic, but also two rail tracks. Still, looking at the masterpiece, I can truly comprehend the significance of the bridge to the hopes and dreams of the people living here.
Coming down from the tower, we were privileged to visit a glass painting shop owned by Master Gong Liang, a professional glass painter. This exceptional man has dedicated his life to the bridge by opening up his small shop in the tower and donating all the proceeds from his works to the maintenance of the bridge. His reason goes back to the time of his father, who was one of the engineers who helped construct the bridge. Master Gong Liang’s father was a scholar and was unhappy when called for service, causing him to commit suicide by jumping of the half-done bridge. Master Gong Liang never knew his father, but visits the bridge yearly to commemorate his death. Five years ago, during his yearly visit, he met 12 ex-engineers of the bridge protesting for the renovation and preservation of the old bridge which was then breaking down. Ever since that encounter, Master Gong Liang has devoted his days painting in his bridge tower shop. Some people say that he does it in memory of his father, others, for fame. I believe that no matter what his reasons are, they are for a good cause. The only sad part is that Master Gong Liang will not be able to paint much longer due to old age and glaucoma, and unfortunately, in such a delicate art such as glass painting... there is no choice.
Thanks to the efforts of Master Gong Liang and the people of Nanjing, the Nanjing Yangtze Bridge will be able to retain its grandeur and splendor for hopefully, many more years to come.
From journal Proud and Prevailing Nanjing