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Old Days

06172 Lu Jun Hua
Translated by Nie Xu Min

Chapter One

I had a happy childhood. The sunshine was always so warm and bright then. I am the youngest of three children. I was spoiled by my parents and protected by my brother and sister. Everything was provided for me and life was carefree. My mother was a good, hard working housekeeper. My father was an excellent craftsman. My family was by no means rich but we never went hungry or cold. This was indeed a blessed life in those days. Then everything came to an abrupt and unexpected end and all were taken away from me. My father suddenly fell ill. My brother, just entered first grade of junior high, had to quit school to help my mother on the farm.

Father passed away a year later. Father’s medical treatment left the family deeply in debt. All the burdens fell on my mother. Every day, she went out to work before dawn and did not come back until after dust. The never-ending daily hard work and the emotional stress from losing my father took a heavy toll on my mother. She was exhausted and became sick. Our world went completely uncertain and dark. The three of us were totally helpless, surviving day-by-day like a small boat floating in a vast and stormy ocean, that could be overturned and swallowed by the strong winds and waves at any time. Life seemed hopeless, full of misery and sadness.

That year, my brother was seventeen, my sister was thirteen, and I was ten. All the burden fell on the young and tender shoulders of my brother and sister. My brother never complained. He became the bread-earner of the family and took on the role of father in the family, teaching and encouraging me to be strong, to always improve myself, to be optimistic, and to be a good man. No matter what difficulties he encountered, he always responded positively and never gave up. I have always looked up to my brother. His tough and optimistic attitude has a profound influence on me throughout my whole life.

I also dropped out of school the year my father died. I stayed at home to do what I could to help my brother and sister with daily chores. We were struggling to survive and did not dare to entertain any ideas and to hold out any hopes about the future.

A family without father and with a mother on sickbed was a constant target of ridicule and discrimination. The contemptuous and unbearable insults still ring loud in my ears nowadays. I became depressed, rarely speaking and always kept to myself. The lively, playful and carefree old me was gone and morphed into a mature and rational teenage. My heart grew stronger by the day. A seed of hope sprouted in my heart and grew into a forceful desire – I wanted to go back to school.

One day, I stood outside the classroom windows in the village primary school and started to listen to the teachers' lectures. I just listened and listened, becoming oblivious of hunger, frigid cold, unbearable heat, and the sad times. The school windows became my launch pad into the future. At that time, I was so eager to go to school, to go out and enter the world outside of the mountains.

This lasted for sometimes.

Maybe the teachers were moved by my persistence. And my brother was doing all he could to get me back to school. One day, a teacher in the school informed my brother that I could go back. Since there was no textbook for me, I had to settle for the instructional textbooks for the time being. I was finally back to school! This was a big turning point in my life. I didn't miss any opportunity to change my fate. I cherished this hard-won opportunity and studied hard. At the end of the semester, I placed first in the exam. This was an achievement that I could never forget in my life. It means that, for now on, I was really back in school, a place where I could learn a lot of knowledge, use the knowledge to arm myself, to make myself stronger, to help me get out of poverty and change my destiny.

Chapter Two

On the day of receiving my middle school admission notice, my brother was shocked by the tuition bill. It was over 200 yuan, which was more than half of family total income for a whole year.

How much I would have loved to continue school! But seeing my sick mother laying on the bed, my brother and sister working all day long every day, I knew I needed to give up and I was devastated. That night, I cried all night under the big tree at the village entrance, realizing that I would drop out of school and may never go back. But my brother did not give up. He managed to scrape together the money for tuition and sent me on my way to junior high school. It was thirty kilometers from my village to the county seat. No one came to see me off. My brother told me that, this was your life journey and you needed to go on by yourself and never stop. This was just like my brother. At every critical junction of my life, he always encouraged me to be brave and keep going. I did what I was told. I travelled alone to junior high. Later, I travelled along to high school. I travelled alone to college.

In the first year of junior high school, I placed at the top of the whole grade and established myself. In the second year, my mother, after a long struggle with poor health and illness, closed her eyes forever, with her three heart-broken children crying at her sides. She passed away at the age of forty-nine, with her never-ending love and deep attachment to life and her three beloved children.

I had witnessed all the darkness in the world, endured all the sufferings. The whole world was miserable, merciless and hopeless. All my struggles seemed to be in vain. No matter how hard I tried, a cliff was waiting in front of me. And I had to jump, not to my death, but to an endless, purposeless nightmare without any hope. All my strength and determination have vanished.

It was the love of my brother and sister that lifted my spirit and brought me back to life. They refused to allow their beloved little brother to be living like a depressed ghost. No matter how much pain and suffering they endured, they never showed. Instead, they tried their best to make me happy. They sheltered, protected and provided for me. I never lived like a poor orphan. No matter how hard they had to work, they insisted that I go to school, and that I become a good human being.

Bring it on, destiny! I am still alive. I will live. I will thrive!

In the second semester of junior high, I joined PEACH. An enduring bond was formed and PEACH had been with me ever since. PEACH gave me the courage and determination to go on with life. I was like a drowning man catching a life-saving rope. Whenever I felt lonely, overwhelmed or exhausted, PEACH would be the harbor of my life vessel and anchor of my emotions, the resting place of my soul that will forever stay in my heard.

I finished junior high school successfully. Although there have been emotional ups and downs with grades, the pains of missing my parents, I managed and overcame. I understood that I need to be strong and independent. I was responsible for myself. If I gave up or failed, nobody could help me.

Good fortunate and good luck like to deal with people who are prepared. They always revolve around people who hold on their dreams. If we persist, miracles, unexpected but justified, will happen.

After middle school, I got excellent scores in the entrance exam and was admitted by a highly ranked high school. After taking the college entrance examination, I applied to Yunnan Police Academy and was admitted. I realized my dream and became a college student. I spent my college time in full fulfillment and happiness. After graduation, I returned to my hometown, passed the public service examination, became a civil servant and a police officer.

 

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