17881 Fan XX, 9th Grade, Female

Translated by Neil Sun

My family consists of six people, father, mother, one younger sister, two younger brothers and myself.  When my father, my uncle, and my aunt were in their teens, Grandpa died accidentally and Grandmother remarried soon after and left.  Our aunt was married when she was only sixteen old.  My father and uncle made a living from taking care of livestock for other villagers.

My father can barely read.  He can only recognize less than 50 words.  My mother was forced to drop out of school at second grade.  From time to time, she even writes her own name wrong.  My parents had been farming on the land and living in the house that Grandfather left behind.

When I was born, my family did not have the money to buy milk powder.  My father had to ask for an old hen from my grandmother (on my mother’s side).  He raised the hen for a month and sold it in the market.  Only then did he have the money to buy a bag of powdered milk.

My family still lives in the same house.  The house is very old.  When it rains outside, it also rains inside too.  Once there was a hail storm, and the gravel-like hail fell directly through the roof and landed inside the house.  The hail caused great loss of our corn harvest.  As a result, my parents had to spend the money out of the tight budget to buy corns from the neighbors in order to feed the livestock.

I did not start school until I was eight years old.  My younger sister was in the same class.  In third grade, the village school was merged into the Adu Elementary where we graduated.   My two younger brothers are now in sixth and fourth grade respectively.  We all received good scores in school.

Money is tight but my parents work very hard to maintain the basic living.  However, something unexpected happened to us last year.  Approaching our summer break, my mother was taken to the hospital.   Her intestines were rotted because a medical instrument was accidentally left in her stomach from her Hysterectomy five years ago.  My mother stayed in the local hospital for a long time, but doctors were afraid to perform surgery on her.  In desperation, father transferred mother to a more advanced hospital in Kunming city.

Mother finally had the needed operation.  She lost a lot of blood and some doctors had doubts if she will ever survive.   But eventually she woke up.   A few days later, mother had to be discharged because we simply cannot afford the high cost of hospitalization and medical expenses.  Father had already borrowed as much money from all the relatives.

When mother first came home, she could only lie in bed because she could not control her balance while walking.  Gradually, she became better.  Just when we thought she will be fully recovered, we discovered from her medical record that she has been diagnosed with a severe case of depression.  Her temper became more and more violent.  She would demonstrate suicidal behaviors over small events.   Many times after she had small quarrel with father, she would attempt to commit suicide.   All the kids were scared and cried.  We stayed close to mother around the clock in fear of accident might happen.

With mother's condition, my father carries all the responsibilities as a father and a mother.  We are unable to help since we are all required to board in the school.  However, we would do our best to help out with the housework during weekends when we go home.  I noticed that my father’s white hair has increased.   I realized that he is 50 years old and seem to be unable to bear the burden on his shoulders any longer. 

This year, the farm harvest is not very good.  My brother and I picked wild mushrooms to pay for our living expenses such as books, meals, etc. at our boarding schools.

I have thought of dropping out of school many times, but my father said firmly: “The reason I’ve worked so hard is to support you to get better education.  Don’t be like me living in such hardship because I am uneducated.  Only with education, you can support yourself in the future.”  At that moment, my tears flowed and my heart was heavy.  I regretted that I did not pay enough respects and listen to my parents before.  And I feel shameful to face father each time when my test scores were poor.

My wish is that mother will recover as soon as possible, my grade will get better, my parents will smile again, and father will not have to carry such heavy burden.

I hope my wish can be realized.


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