Gratitude to My Parents
05242 Xiao Gang
I come from an impoverished village in Niu Jiao Zhai township located in Yuanyuang county， Honghe district, Yunnan province.
In my first year of junior high school, my older brother dropped out and started working, and my mother started going out to the field near the village to collect fruits and vegetables to afford my education. On the township's market-day, my mom would walk for around thirty kilometers to sell the food she collected. She was reluctant to get herself a bowl of noodles that only cost several cents and saved most of the money for my school fee and allowance. Day after day and year after year, mom supported my education and gave me uncountable and irreplaceable love with a pair of aged yet industrious hands. As for my dad, he likes to drink in his spare time, and when farm work at home was not that busy, he would join the team of migrant workers led by labor contractors from villages nearby to support our family.
My parents were constantly worried about livelihood and my tuition, and sometimes they fought. Honestly, I knew that if I dropped out, and if my older brother could help spare the burden instead of causing worries, my family would not have to face such a difficult situation. I dropped out many times to try to get away from the miserable life, but my mom and dad would force me to go back to school. After two years of trying, I came to understand the effort of my parents and stopped skipping classes. I realized that I would not achieve anything in particular even if I dropped out. I should focus on school so that I could have the ability to support my family instead of becoming a failure as an adult. I should treat school seriously because if I did not, I would be wasting the amount of effort my parents put into my education.
In my third year of middle school, my mom suffered from a serious illness. Due to the difficult financial situation at home, she only took herbal medicines, and dad paid a sorceress to chant for her. I knew that these practices would not cure my mom, but my dad was helpless. Dad did not send mom to the hospital until she was dying. He borrowed one thousand from a loan shark, who was a descendant of a landlord from a nearby village, and then he and my brother rent a van from the neighboring village to drive mom to the county hospital. Dad did not let me go along and dropped me off at the intersection leading to my school. He told me not to worry, and that mom would get better. I watched the van off and walked to school in a daze.
Five days after mom went to the hospital was a market-day. My brother came to my school, looking haggard, and told me to ask for a leave. He said mom had recovered and wanted to see me. On the way back home, I saw many relatives out on the street, so I asked my brother why so many of our relatives were out to buy stuff. He said that maybe they needed help to gather crops. At that time, the news that mom had recovered took up my mind, so I did not give the question a second thought. My brother did not tell me that mom had already passed away until we were just a hundred meters away from our village. He asked me to come back home to see mom one last time before they seal the coffin. Tears welled up in my eyes instantly and streamed down my cheeks.
When we got back home, mom was already lying in the coffin peacefully with her eyes closed. Seeing that I was back, dad burst into tears and talked incoherently in between. That was the first time I saw dad choked with tears. I did not pay extra attention to dad or other relatives. I did not even feel afraid. I just stroked mom's pale cheek and said, “Mom, I'm back.” I could not hold back my tears when she did not answer. The elderly in my family told me not to cry beside the coffin because it was believed that mom could not leave in peace if I left tears in the coffin.
Mom left us forever. The year mom passed away was also when I had to take the high school entrance exam. People who usually ranked way after me in tests have passed the exam, but I failed it. Dad knew that I was still down from the fact that mom passed away, so he comforted me instead of scolding me: “It's fine! Just take the exam again next year. You will definitely pass it.” But dad did not know that I have lost the will in receiving education. Grandpa was already in his seventy, and my brother could not make much money, so I decided to drop out again. I started working as a waiter at a restaurant in Ge Jiu city and earned 150 yuan every month. The winter vacation passed in a blink, and my classmates who got into high school have returned to school. Dad tried to persuade me to go back to school again, and I got annoyed: How was I supposed to go to school when I could not even pay the tuition? The school won't let me go for free! Although these words had been on his mind, dad still got upset hearing them coming out of my mouth. In the end, dad told me to focus on school, and he would figure out a way to pay my school fee. My homeroom teacher and another teacher who cared very much about me also came to me and talked me into repeating the grade. I went back to school eventually. Dad took care of the family and went out to work with my brother, and paid my tuition with the salary.
The year when I went back to school, the labor contractor did not give salary to dad on time, so he did not give me any allowances for months. My previous homeroom teacher owned one of the school dining halls, so he reported the difficulty I was having to the school authorities. Meanwhile, my teacher told me to use their meal voucher when I did not have money for food. Although he said I could use the voucher for free, I still felt bad for simply taking it, so I borrowed vouchers from him. After some time, dad had not sent me any money still, and I felt sorry for borrowing too many vouchers, so I only had one meal a day. Sometimes I even ate nothing. I used one yuan to buy three pastries, and ten yuan would last me a week. I ate two pastries for breakfast and three for lunch and dinner. I drank water when the pastry was hard to swallow. After about three months, I did not even have the strength for PE class despite the good physique I once had.
My homeroom teacher and the principal asked to see me in the office one afternoon when I skipped the PE class. I was nervous on the way to the office, thinking that I was definitely about to face a harsh reprimand. Contrary to what I expected, they informed me about the Foundation. They told me that the foundation could help poor students finish school. There were only two places allocated to my school, but they would save one for me as long as I did not skip any class. I was overjoyed: I never thought anything like this would happen to me. Even though my scores were in the top rank of my class, many classmates still ranked before me. I did not think I would be qualified for the place, considering that only two places were offered. After several days, my homeroom teacher asked me to give him my personal information, and he helped me apply to . I did not have to worry about food and clothes after that. Uncles and aunts from would send me clothes and stationery every season, and I received four hundred yuan from every semester as a student grant.
I got into the No.1 high school of the Yuanyang county with the help from . The day I got the acceptance letter, my dad was overcome by joy: I finally passed the exam, and with 's help, he did not need to worry about my tuition anymore. Time flew by, and soon high school had started. I saw so many smiling faces in the new campus and met many other students like me who received help from . We joined the same class made for students and helped each other.
My brother came to school to visit me on a cold and foggy day in the second semester of my first year in high school. I was curious why he came to see me without any gift, not even a small notebook. But my mind went blank when he started talking: my grandpa had passed away, and the coffin was already sealed. He was here to ask me to go back and see grandpa one last time. Although I felt really sad, I did not cry this time, neither did I think about dropping out of school. After I got back home, I comforted dad and told him not to be too sad, and his kids were both grown-ups now. Dad hugged me and cried. That was the second time that I saw his tears. I was eighteen years old that year, and I could feel that dad's heart was completely broken by the incidents that happened in succession.
Dad turned into a heavy drinker, trying to drown his sorrows in drinks after grandpa passed away, and my brother became the backbone of the family. After discussing, my brother and I advised dad to go out to work with the other migrant workers, not for the salary, but for stopping him from dwelling on memories and overdrinking. At first, dad was unwilling to take in the advice. After about two months, he told us that he decided to leave to work with several uncles and aunts from our village in the He Kou county located at the border with Vietnam. My brother and I were happy about dad's decision.
In the last few days of my first year of high school, I got a call from dad. He said that if my brother and I did not disagree, he wanted to remarry. I told him that I agreed with his plan and there was nothing to worry about. I also told him not to worry about how stepmom would treat me and my brother as we were grown-ups now. Dad then said that he and stepmom would work together to afford my education, to which I said sounds great. To be honest, I did not expect extra support from stepmom. I just hoped that dad would not turn into an alcoholic. Besides, it was good to have a stepmom as long as she treated my dad well since I could not always look after my dad. It was also nice that dad could have someone as his emotional support. My brother shared the same thoughts, so dad remarried in the end.
Although dad stopped drinking heavily after stepmom joined our family, the birth of my younger brother brought new burdens upon me as my allowance became a big problem. Thanks to PEACH's help, I did not have to worry about my tuition. On vacations, I worked at restaurants to serve dishes and wash the plates to earn allowances. I would send some money back to dad when my family was struggling financially. Although I told dad that the money gave me was enough, he did not know that I asked for leaves and worked part-time for months. My homeroom teacher would contact me sometimes to urge me to go back to school since if I kept skipping classes, the drop of my grades would be far from reasonable, and I would not go back to school until then. I finished high school just like that.
While studying in Kunming, I have worked part-time jobs such as selling drinks at a bar and selling wedding dresses at a wedding company. I have also given out leaflets and worked as a tone-deaf clown at a downtempo bar. Up to now, I have changed my jobs several times. Some companies have halted production, and others I quitted because I was dissatisfied with the pay and the development opportunities. I work at the Guizhou project team of the subsidiary corporation to China Metallurgical Group Corporation now. The monthly wage is ten thousand. I also got married in May this year, and I am living a fulfilling life. My classmates and teachers from school and colleagues from work have taught me many lessons, and they let me know that a person's character and ability are way more important than degrees. Surprising results await you as long as you are an upright person and a steadfast worker.