Sitting in my dormitory, smelling the scents of fishiness brought by the wind from the ocean, I am now writing this passage. I have no idea where to start or where to end, but I just feel if I had not written down what is still fresh in my memory, I may never again be able to feel it again. The wonderful memories I have had, the amazing people I have met, the interesting things I have experienced, and the unforgettable love, I have been given, since my childhood.
Born on 19th May, 1987, from a typical family of workers in Hengyang, a small city in southern part of China (some 600 KMs north of Hong Kang). I was raised pretty much like any other single children in their families. Despite the fact that the time I was born that richness is rare, I have been given the best to the capabilities of my family. As my other always say, I was treated way better than my cousins since they never got a chance to attend kindergarten or child care. And my father, a person of story, came to my memory, when I was lying on bed with my mother, daring at his exhaustion, hand washing my diapers, which back then are made of cotton, and are expected to be washed by father’s hands in the culture.
As I have read from the papers for my class, education is about experience. I feel lucky that I am a person, since little, who is willing to perceive and process my experiences. I would begin with the awful one, since the experience probably reshaped my understanding of a person for the first time in my life.
My Aunts took me to a fair.
Back then, once or twice in a month, a fair will be held, occupying one of the busiest street of the city. For a city this size, it is probably the only chance when people can really find some clothes, shoes, or hand soaps from outside of the city, and what’s more, usually a much better prize comparing to all the other state-owned shops and department stores. My Aunt, named De’E, the youngest of my mother’s siblings has always been very interested in taking me out. I guess maybe through that experience; she was practicing her motherhood. I was very excited, each time I saw her, as a boy of five, I liked to see her simply because I know that I will be going out again. I like to see around; this curiosity never dies. So, I was going to a fair with my Aunt, she was probably told by her sister and her father for many times, that she needs to grab my hands all the time to make sure I was not lost in the crowds, so she did most of her parenting alertly. Except once.
I was with her at the big crowd trying to bargain their price off with the sellers in the fair. I was not tall enough to see what was sold in the fair, but it must be girls product. I heard, my aunt bargaining vigorously, but the next thing I realized, which almost scared me off is that she had let my hands go. Again, I was tall enough only to see people’s belly, I tried my best to trace her from the dazzling volumes of different bargaining. As her voice was getting more and more difficult to be distinguished from those other unfamiliar voices, the fear in my heart started to grow.
It was suffocating being pushed and then realized all the time in the crowd, I tried to move out of the crowd. I looked around, I didn’t see my Aunt, or anyone familiar. The feeling of fighting back my unbearable fear is still fresh. All my parents’ warnings about being abducted and sold to a poor family in the countryside to become son of the parents who are unable to have children, especially the fact that those parents are usually care less about hygiene, really kills me. I looked around for my aunt one last time before I could hold back my fears. I have given up fighting back those fears.
I forgot all what I was told by my parents and other adults about what to do in this situation. I felt I have to run, to find my aunt again. I felt that I need to be away from the fair where my nightmare begins. I could hear my heart pumping fast enough to cause choking and suffocating. But I kept running, so that I can see something or somebody familiar that could lead my way back to my parents. My tears turn into out loud crying along my way.
Maybe, it looks strange to see a child of five or six, running and crying on the streets without parents or guardian, but I probably ran for quite a while, until my throat are tired of making those sounds and had to rest for a second or two between each cries. I can’t remember I saw anybody on the roads full of people, it now felt like I have been running along the roads all by myself, until I was approached by a stranger.
She was a lady probably in her fifties and she was speaking a dialect I have never heard of. By the way, at that time I was speaking the dialect of my hometown which I learned later as very unique comparing to the official spoken Chinese. Her strange dialect, gives me a feeling of danger. Apart from the unfamiliarity, I felt she must be from those places where people care less about their hygiene and would wanted to buy a boy. I was scared even more, and cried even harder, I was trying my best to get other people’s attention. I would like others to know that I have no connection with the lady and she should let me go. I searched around the streets again, try to dig hard in my memory to detect any thing of the slightest familiarity. By the time I was almost giving up and letting the lady grab my hands, I saw a face, and I knew I see the face often, from one of my mother’s Majiang Friends..
There, she seated on the place she was supposed to be, as a sales person of a state-owned store, where you don’t care much about how many things you sell. She was gazing at the streets where I was crying, with her thick pair of glasses, motionless and emotionless. I don’t think she recognized me until I was too close to be perceived as someone irrelevant and not needed attention. She comforted me and told the lady following me that she is a friend of my mothers’ and will bring me home.
I was provided with water before she hired a tricycle, which was then typically for carrying cargos, to take me home. She provided the address to the rider, soon, I began my happiest journey in my life going back to my parents ago. My parent’s apartment located in a small street, besides which lies a statue of an eagle up on the stones. By the time I saw that statue I realized it and I cannot hold back my joys. There, the opposite direction, on a familiar bike, I saw my mother and her worrying face, and then the shock on her face when she saw I was brought home.
Later, I learned that almost everyone in the big family, my parents, all my mother’s five siblings and their reachable friends who know what I look like, my father and his sister, the only next of keen he has in the city, my father’s colleagues from his work place, who have been given a special permission by their leaders to laid off work temporarily for this emergency, my grandparents and their friends and neighbors, all these people are riding their bikes, patrolling each and every streets of the city which back then holds about 700 thousand people, with their eyes opening wide, care more of not to miss a boy like me than their own safety riding their bikes, trying to find me. I am now so grateful for all the efforts trying to bring me home, and the unconditional kindness in each of them.
After this incidence, my relationship with my Aunt changed completely. I was naturally scared of going out with her for quite a long time, maybe all of my childhood. In retrospect, I know I was jeopardized back then, had my mother not bringing me to her gambling (which is now recommended by the educators), I would have lost the last chance to recognize the familiar at the last moment. Had the lady who wished to take me away by any chance speak more like a local, I would have gone with her. Then it is going to be difficult to imagine what a life I was going to have. It could be that I won’t be able to speak English at all, and have this story share.