17221 Li XX, 10th Grade, Male

Translated by Jennifer Lee

It was a mistake to be born. My parents divorced when I was young and add another broken family and unhappy daughter to this world. It breaks my heart to see my nearly 80 year old grandmother distress over living concerns to make ends meet. I once was helpless, worried and couldn’t stand seeing my grandmother in anguish over me.

Fifteen years ago, I was born into a happy family with loving and capable parents and healthy grandparents. Life was good until the day I was born. Once I was born my parents divorced. My father’s emotional state changed drastically as he became drunk everyday, could not hold down a job and never cared for me.

I lived with my grandparents instead because their lifestyle was healthier and they were healthy enough to still be working. Two years later, grandfather became gravely ill and passed away when I was not even 3 years old. Naïve little me asked grandmother: “Is Grandpa coming back?” Grandmother was speechless and could only hug me as she started to cry, and I started to cry with her. From that day on, it was just grandmother and I.

One year, I was actually kicked out onto the street. I was little and did not know any better and did not understand the meaning of having divorced parents. When I went to my maternal grandmother’s house to play, they closed their door and kept me out. All I could do was play on the street until paternal Grandmother came after work to pick me up. I didn’t want to stop playing so I stayed outside and played by the front door until dark. Maternal grandmother’s family eventually took me home. When we arrived I still didn’t want to go inside so they tricked me by saying “your grandmother has prepared a lot of candy, quick go inside!” After I went inside to discover there was no candy, by the time I turned around to tell them, they had already left. I started to cry and paternal grandmother quickly ran over to hug me and cried too. Every time I visit my mother’s side of the family it always ends with sadness and neglect. I decided I couldn’t do this to my paternal grandmother anymore who always showers me with love, and since my mother’s family doesn’t even bother with me, I am not going over there anymore and spare my loving grandma some pain.

Luckily the time to start school finally came. My father never paid one penny for my schooling, rather, it was all paid for by Grandma who painstakingly picks tea leaves and saves bit by bit to pay my tuition. Sometimes when tuition is due, and we don’t even have a single penny in the house, Grandma will wake up at the crack of dawn to borrow money. At the time I didn’t think it was shameful to borrow money, but now I fully understand how embarrassing and shameful it is for an 80 year old woman to go out begging, and my heart just breaks.

Under the care and support of my grandmother, I swiftly approached middle school. Middle school was not as easy as elementary school, and it was then that grandmother’s health began to deteriorate. I thought my dad would start giving us living allowances, but I was wrong, and I really despise him.

Now I am grown up and can help my grandma with many tasks, especially the ones that require lots of brute strength so I can spare her the heavy lifting, especially for an elderly woman. Grandma did everything for me and toiled away in her old age for me. It is unbearable to see my loving grandma have to work so hard at her age, but she continues to work so that I may continue my education. But I cannot bear to see her suffer for me, I don’t deserve it. I tell her “Grandma, I don’t want to study anymore. Let me come home so I can take care of you. At least this way you don’t have to suffer everyday in hardship.” She angrily makes a fist and pretends to beat me, and gently whispers “Child, how can you not study? You must study and show everyone.” I could say no more knowing it would only hurt her feelings, but the notion of dropping out has been planted in my heart because I no longer wish to see Grandmother suffer in hardship.

I have no other hopes other than to stay by Grandmother’s side, taking care of her in those last days of Heaven and Earth. But for now I cannot do that, I can only watch her working to support me, and I am so helpless.


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