Edited by Planetes
When my wound was nearly healed, Auntie Li came to see me, bringing along my clothes, my identity card, my bank card and all the other belongings I left in the house as well. Auntie Li’s husband had been injured at his worksite. It was not very serious, but it was enough to affect his daily life. Auntie Li was in a hurry to go take care of him, and she would not be back for a period of time. She also knew where my mother was buried, and she had also visited her grave already.
“It’s pretty nice over there, you don’t have to worry.” Sitting next to my bed, Auntie Li was peeling an apple for me.
“Mn. Once I’m discharged, I’ll go visit her.” Hearing Auntie Li, I quietly felt relieved.
“Is that person who helped us out your friend? He’s quite a nice person,” Auntie Li suddenly asked when she handed the apple to me. I knew she was referring to Yi Tian, and I froze, not knowing how I should reply. Mustering up a smile, I nodded. I did not want to continue talking about it, and hurriedly changed the topic. “In the future, I have to trouble you to visit my mother during the new year and other occasions, and offer her some food and what not. I don’t have anything, just this little bit of money left in the bank card. Take it, the pin is…”
As I spoke, I held the card out to her.
“What are you doing?!” Auntie Li stood up abruptly and pushed the card back at me. “You’re still injured, and you need money to live as well. Keep it for yourself.”
“Buying things needs money too, and I might not be able to take care of those matters in the future. There’s not much money in the card, please, just accept it.” I insisted on handing the card to her.
Auntie Li paused, asking me a little doubtfully, “Xiao Mu, what plans do you have for the future?”
“I might not stay in this city anymore.” I smiled at her. “I’ll probably never come back here again.”
Auntie Li wanted to persuade me, but did not say a word after seeing my expression. She sighed, “If we didn’t do the surgery, maybe… maybe…”
She started getting choked up, her eyes reddening.
I knew that Auntie Li still blamed me a little. Uptil today, she had no idea where I disappeared during those days. If not for my sudden disappearance, this would not have happened to my mother. However, due to my injury, she sympathetically chose not to ask anything. I also did not want to explain anything, as even if I said anything, my mother would not return.
In the end, Auntie Li did not accept the card, only reminding me to take care of my injury properly before she hurried away. She still had to catch a train, as there was someone for her to worry over in another city.
Ever since that day I woke up, I never saw Yi Tian again. However, when it came to meal times, the two women who followed him here would always appear, delivering my meals, cleaning the room, and helping me change my clothes whatsoever. I knew that these were all arrangements prepared by Yi Tian. His actions did not come from any concern, he just probably did not want me to continue clinging onto him because of this injury in the future. To squabble over this would be meaningless, and it might even cause him to misunderstand. I gave up thinking about it, and so accepted the arrangement quietly.
After dinner, I slowly made my way downstairs with the doctor’s agreement, sitting in the garden of the hospital and enjoying the breeze. Lying down too long on the bed was very uncomfortable. It was as though I had turned rusty, hurting wherever I touched. The room was also very stuffy, and staying there too long made me feel suffocated. People around me were walking about hastily. Some were patients with awful complexions supported by their family, and some were doctors dressed in white striding across with medical files in their hands, all breezing through.
I was the only one sitting there quietly, and even had the mood to observe others.
“Little bunny be good…” A young and bright voice nearby caught my attention. Turning, I discovered a mother and daughter sitting on the other side of my bench. The little girl, around three or four years of age, was facing me as she sat in her mother’s arms, singing. When she saw me looking over, she immediately buried her face shyly in her mother’s chest. Registering her actions, her mother turned to look at me. I gave her a friendly smile, and she froze a little before returning a smile as well. At this moment, the little girl peeked out quietly, looking at me in curiosity with big, round, shiny black eyes. I thought for a moment, then shifted slightly over to them while keeping a polite distance that still allowed them to hear me.
“You sing very well, can you sing another song for me?” I looked at the little girl, smiling. Again, with a red face, she swiftly buried her face in her mother’s chest, leaving me with the sight of the back of her round and cute head.
“This uncle is praising you, why don’t you sing a song for him?” Her mother bowed over, persuading her. The girl still refused to look up, clutching tightly at her mother’s clothes. I smiled and did not force her. Hearing the foreign accent in her mother’s words, I started chatting with her.
The girl was four years old, and was born with congenital heart disease. Both her parents were farmers from a village, and their family condition was not very good, so they had been delaying her treatment. This time, the couple had sold everything they could from their house and borrowed some money from their relatives, taking all their savings to the city for her surgery. They had rented a basement room near the hospital to be able to take care of their child. When the child’s mother was narrating everything to me, her face was serene. She could even tease her child occasionally with a smile, and she did not seem to have a sorrowful expression of nursing any bitterness or hatred.
I was a little surprised. To be honest, I had seen too many news reports, and always believed that people from the villages placed great emphasis on extending their family line. Most of them would prefer sons to daughters, and I never expected that this couple would actually give up their all for their daughter, not even leaving themselves any way out. Thinking about this, I felt very shallow. A rich family’s child was precious, but a poor family’s child was also precious, what difference did they have? Furthermore, a parent’s love, a child’s importance to their family, how could a person like me speculate and comment on it?
Pouting, the little girl sang softly. I took her little hands, quietly consoling them, “There has been great medical advancement now, this surgery is nothing. The child will definitely be able to grow up healthily.”
“As long as she gets well, we won’t ask for anything else. It’s fine if we lose the house, if we lose the land, as long as she’s OK.”
I froze there.
This woman looked very ordinary, dressed in a mustard-yellow sweater. On top of her sweater was an old black coat crudely made, and her coarse hands that were hugging her child obviously belonged to a farmer. Such an ordinary person, perhaps without much education, had actually said something that made my eyes well up with tears.
The child’s father came at this moment. Buying his wife and daughter a few large meat buns, while this tall, sturdy man sat by the side, chewing on mantous1 with large bites. The couple even courteously offered me some buns, and I quickly smiled, thanking but refusing their offer, telling them that I already had dinner.
The little girl whose mouth was all smeared with grease from the bun would peep at me periodically. Probably after I spoke to her mother, she got a little more familiar, and would occasionally send me a shy smile, revealing adorable dimples in her cheeks. While taking care of her daughter, the woman removed the meat filling, passing it to her husband as she ate the bun. I sat by the side, quietly watching this family of three, their warmth making me feel like crying.
The world had always been like this. Just as you thought that your heart had been frozen solid, and therefore you thought that you were invincible, a thin gauzy curtain would be pulled away, revealing the rare, precious love and gentleness in the world.
I had once been submerged in my negative and gloomy emotions, my eyes covered to the point where I could not see a thing. I had long forgotten that to love was to forgive, to endure, that love had many warm and pleasant definitions, and it was definitely not to be possessed through despicable means.
Some things that I had thrown away, that I had missed, they were lost forever, and there were no miracles or what-ifs. The blame I received was not a small amount, and I also carried with me many awful names and curses. However, true pain came from deep within one’s self, and there was someone there constantly telling me, “See, this is your retribution.”
I’m very very sorry.