Edited by Planetes
When I woke up I found myself lying in a dilapidated room. On the floor was a pile of old cardboard and newspapers. Not far away, a woman had her head bowed, and she seemed to be tidying up. I was a little groggy, and struggled as I tried to sit up on the bed. An immense pain pounded on the back of my head, and I could not help but groan.
That woman turned to look at me when she heard me. When she saw that I was awake, she actually lunged towards the bed, a joyful excitement on her face as she made strange, wordless sounds.
I was frightened by her, and shrunk backwards.
Her lips flattened, aggrieved, when she saw my actions. She seemed at least forty, and when she revealed just a childish expression, I was really at a loss for what to do.
At this time, the door opened, and coming in was a simply-dressed woman who looked even older. The woman saw that I was awake and quickly walked over with a smile, “Little fellow, you’re awake? Are you fine? Does your head still hurt?”
I nodded at her with a bewildered look.
The woman smiled and explained everything to me and so I understood what was going on.
That day when I went to the motel to look for accommodations, I had probably bumped into those hooligans lying in wait in secluded spots. After getting knocked out, I was robbed of my belongings, and thrown in the rubbish dump by the entrance of the alley. The mute woman who was picking up the trash, that woman whom I saw immediately upon waking up, had saved me, and piggybacked me home. As for Auntie Li, the one explaining everything to me, she lived not far away from the mute woman. She found her pitiful, and so often took care of her.
“She? … Piggybacked me home?” I glanced at that thin and weak woman, startled.
“Yes! I got a huge shock that day. Why did she bring such a big man home?! Once we helped you onto the bed, Ah Xiu’s legs immediately collapsed under her,” Auntie Li shook her head and laughed.
I was unable to speak for the moment. If not for the mute woman, I would not know how many days I would have been lying in the rubbish dump. However, even if I died there, no one would probably have minded.
“Thank you,” I nodded at the mute woman in thanks. She smiled brightly at me, and suddenly reached out to caress my head.
I froze, and Auntie Li hurriedly came over to pull her hand away. She looked at me awkwardly, “I’m sorry, Ah Xiu has a bit of a problem here.” She pointed at her own head.
The mute woman looked at Auntie Li a little unhappily, struggling to get her hand out of Auntie Li’s grip. She seemed to not have understood what she had done wrongly, and she probably thought that caressing someone’s head only meant that she liked the person and wanted to be friendly. I did not know why, but I felt very upset. Why was life so cruel to such a good person? These people were all kind, but why were they living in the society’s lowest and harshest environment?
Thinking of this, I laughed self-mockingly in my heart. What sort of position was I in to sympathise and pity them? My life could not even be compared to theirs.
“Little fellow, I have a phone in my house. Why don’t you send a message to your family so that they can come pick you up?”
I stiffened. “It’s fine… My… my family lives overseas, I don’t want them to worry.” I suddenly saw the light, “I’m really grateful to the both of you. Having disturbed you for so long, I’m really sorry. I’ll leave now.”
Pulling the blanket away, I sat up, only to feel so dizzy that I stopped moving again
Auntie Li and the mute woman both came towards me and pushed me down at the same time.
“Don’t be in such a hurry! You don’t even have a single cent now, where can you go?! There’s still a huge bump at the back of your head, you should lie down and rest.” Auntie Li sighed, “There would always be a time when a person will be faced with troubles, you don’t have to be in any hurry. I’ll go prepare something for you to eat first.”
I smiled gratefully at her, but only tasted bitterness within me.
After Auntie Li left, the mute woman stood by the side, watching over me. In her eyes was an undisguised worry. I was a little sleepy, my initial shock and uneasiness had retreated, and now I actually felt exhausted.
“I’m fine,” I smiled at her.
She looked at me blankly, and I exaggeratedly mouthed a word of thanks to her before groggily falling back asleep.
When I woke up again, the sky outside was completely dark. The entire house was so silent, nothing could be heard. It was mostly likely deep in the night already. Feeling extremely thirsty, my throat was dry like a desert. Thinking about it, I slowly sat up, about to look for water, as I really was too embarrassed to wake anyone up at this time. My head still pounded painfully, and I was a little giddy. If those people had put a little more force into their blows, I might not even have woken up.
Groping about, I walked to the table in front of the bed. On it was a kettle, and I found out that it was empty when I lifted it up. Surveying my surroundings, I confirmed that I would not be able to find anything to do with water in this room, and so I could only open the door and step out. With the help of the light from outside the house, I immediately saw a tap on the walk. Taking a few steps over, I twisted it open, and water rushed out. Rejoicing for a moment, I reached out to cup a handful of water. Before it could even touch my lips, my hand was wrenched away, and the water splashed out.
I raised my head, astonished. The mute woman was standing in front of me, and shaking her head forcefully. I patiently looked at her as I pointed at the water, forming a cup shape with my hand, gesturing that I wanted to drink. She still shook her head at me, then turned the tap off and pulled me into the room. Switching the lights on, she turned and left.
I sat on the bed, a little gloomy. I did not know what I should do to let her understand that I wanted to drink water.
After a while, the mute woman came back in again, a cup in her hands. She carefully walked towards me, handing me the cup. I slowly accepted it, only realising then that she did not want me to drink tap water…
Drinking the large cup of water in one big gulp, I felt a lot more comfortable. I handed the cup back to her, and before I could thank her, she hurried out of the room. I had a premonition that she would definitely come back, and actually looked at the door with some anticipation.
As expected, she returned again, this time carrying a small pot. She pulled a chair over and sat in front of me, removing the lid from the pot. I could now see that there were three hard boiled eggs inside.
She placed the pot to the table nearby, taking out an egg from within. Knocking it against the pot, she started peeling the egg seriously once the shell cracked.
I just watched her dazedly. She was actually very good looking, only that she had some wrinkles on the corners of her eyes, and her skin was rough. At that moment, she was so focused that I did not dare to make any sound and disturb her.
When a person was sick, they would always wish to receive some care and concern.
It was clearly only a very small, very insignificant pain. However, because someone was showing their care and concern, that pain magnified boundlessly. You would feel aggrieved, whine, and make a fuss, then you would contentedly enjoy the even greater care you would now receive.
In the past when I was with Yi Tian, there was a period of time I suffered from migraines. I would wake up every morning at 6 to prepare traditional chinese medicine, and I drank it for three months. However, I still did not get a word of concern. Actually, it was not anything major, and I also was not in any position to reproach Yi Tian for being so indifferent towards me. It was only because I was looking at this woman whom I had known for less than one day peeling an egg for me, my heart hurt to the point where I could not speak.
The mute woman peeled the shell off the egg, only leaving small pieces where she was holding onto it, and she passed the egg over to me. I took it, and the shell was actually still warm. She must have boiled some water after cooking the eggs, and left them in the warm water to keep warm.
I took a bite, and she looked unblinkingly at me. I quickly gave her a very cheerful smile. Finishing two eggs in a row, then I took the last one, peeling it and handing it to her. She joyfully accepted it, taking one bite then looking up and giving me a somewhat foolish smile. There was a little egg yolk staining the corner of her mouth.
I tried holding myself back, but still could not help laughing. When she saw me laughed, her smile grew even brighter. However, with her smile, she looked even more foolish, and I could barely stop laughing… The cycle continued, and thinking about how two people were looking at each other with big foolish grins, it must have looked silly.
However, as a matter of fact, I had not been so happy in a very long time.