|I wrote this short essay to remeber those times that I spent in school in China.I really miss them. Thinking of those days will make my eyes filled with tears |
It was one of those cold and windy weekends. Parents were arriving at our school to collect their children for the weekend. Some arrived in cars, some in buses and some on foot.
On this particular Friday afternoon after finishing my teaching work I went to the Reception office near the school gate to check the mail. The amiable old lady behind the reception counter said to me with a gentle smile on her face, ''Miss Liu you have got a letter.'' Since it was from a close friend I couldnít help reading it there and then.
''Excuse me Miss, Is the class over?'' a manís voice came from behind.
As I turned I saw a middle-aged man standing near me wearing an old blue coat splattered with dirty spots.
He seemed a little nervous and worried as he stood there rubbing his hands together, his grey hair flapping around by the wind. I guessed he must have been standing there for quiet a while, before I noticed him.
Looking up from my letter I responded, ''Are you waiting for someone?''
''Yes, I am waiting for my daughter.''
When he said the word daughter, a gentle expression filled his ageing face. His expression turned to pride as he went on, '' My daughterís name is Li Ding, she was enrolled this year and she is very good at her study.''
Just at that moment while we were still talking, he saw his daughter.
'' Here she comes.'' He said brightly.
When I turned around, I saw a bright lively young girl in a pale yellow coat, with a red school bag on shoulder, walking towards the entrance gate. She continued on her way just as though she had not noticed her father at all.
Her father anxiously called after her, ''Hi there Ting Ting, itís me, your dad,''
Ting Ting turned around and for a moment she remained there silent, then she came towards us.
''I have told you not to come to my school to look for me, why did you have to come again?'' she blurted out, her face showing signs of resentment.'
It was her words that arrested my attention. Then it dawned on me that she was the same Li Ting whom I taught English.
When she recognised me, her embarrassment began to show. I looked first at her and then her father, but I could not figure out why she was not happy with her father coming to take her home from school.
I said to her, '' Ting Ting, your father has been waiting for you in this cold wind for a long time.''
''I see, Miss Liu, I am going now, bye.'' she said in a low voice, her beautiful eyes avoiding ours.
Then she turned to her father, her lips half open as if to speak but no words came out, and instead she gave her father a hesitant glimpse and then she walked towards the school gate.
Her father, looking at me, smiled a little and said, ''This is just her nature, she never has much to say.'' and with a knowing gesture he strode off to join his daughter.
As I watch them leave, a fresh gust of wind snatched withered leaves from their branches near the gate and the old manís grey hair was blown in all directions.
After the weekend, I received a letter from Ting Ting. In it she wrote, '' I know I was not showing the right attitude towards my father, I know he loves me and I should love him, but all his life he has never progressed beyond a common labourer. Whenever I saw him he was wearing the same old dirty clothes that made me feel ashamed and now he has even lost that job. Since then he has tried various kinds of work, but he is so untidy and awkward. He likes to smoke poor quality cigarettes and he sometimes drinks to excess. Why do I have to have a father like this?Ē
When I read this letter I felt her pain in my heart, I realise there are many families in our society just like this one. They are desperate to make their way in the world and are looking for opportunities to improve the living standard of their offspring by giving them the best education they can manage.
For those who are not born into a privileged family this is a very common story of the plight of some city workers in China today. If these people lack a good social position and a good education then all their hopes and dreams are tied up in their children. They live such a poor and simple day by day existence that success and failure in this life has all but lost its meaning. It is hard to see how these people will ever have any real change to their fortunes.
The old manís daughter is in the prime of her life and she dreams of her future being as beautiful as the flowers. When she was at primary school her teacher would have told her fairy tales and so she dreams that she can become a palace princess. She wishes that he father were better educated so that he could tell her all the wonderful stories she hears from her teacher. She finds it hard to accept that he is not a politician or a professor or a lawyer or a rich businessman like the fathers of lots of schoolmates.
The sad plight of Ting Ting kept me awake the night that I received her letter and by morning I felt I just had to respond to the sadness of her heart. I picked up my pen and began to write, ''It is never easy to really love another person. If you feel you do not love your father, would you mind taking my advice? Please try to accept your father and try to understand what he has done for your family and that you are his dream and his only future hope.''
A week later I saw the girl, she looked a little tired, her eyes were large and little vacant, and I could detect in them a shadow of distress. She handed me another letter.
''Dear Miss Liu, this weekend I went to visit my family. During the weekend while my father was helping to deliver coal balls for a restaurant a car hit him while he was pulling the cart loaded with coal. When my mother and I arrived on the scene he was sitting on the road surrounded by the coal balls that had spilt from the cart. As he tried to pick them up, his face dirty with sweat and coal, I couldnít help noticing how old and broken he looked. Tears began to well up in my eyes and when I went to help him pick up the coal I saw his tears too.
At this moment I realized how much my father had done for our family, and how difficult it must have been for him to support my study. Then I understood that he did all this because he loves his family and he loves me, so how could I have once looked down my father?
Miss Liu, there must be some very bad people in this world like the person who drove the car that hit my father, and then drove off as if he didnít matter.''
Ting Ting, In this world, there are lots of nice people, but we will meet some bad people also.
I know the fairy tale world Ting Ting heard about at school will be eroded, piece by piece by the world of reality but I still hope that while understanding the reality of life, she will never lose the beautiful dream she has for her future.
Posted on May 26, 2009 by aaaflower
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