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Walking Out of Daliang Mountain

时间:2010-11-04 13:59:41  来源:Stories of GLV   作者:Wang Chunyou

My hometown, Butuo, lies in the depths of Daliang Mountain. From the very beginning, people of Yi nationality have been multiplying and living there at an altitude of more than 2000 meters. To leave Daliang Mountain had been my dream, but I came to realize that I couldn’t stop thinking about that place after I left it behind.

 

*Walking Out of Daliang Mountain - Wang Chunyou *

 

There are two things we can’t choose in our life, one of which is that we can’t choose our birth. I am of the Yi people and all of my ancestors have lived in a village called Butuo in the depths of Daliang Mountain. Both of my parents worked in the prison and my father was a prison warder. That prison was like a village. This is where I spent my childhood and dealt with all kinds of prisoners. There were no people to look after me before I went to school, so my father always dragged me along while he took the prisoners down to the orchard for work. Due to my father’s busy work schedule, he entrusted me to a prisoner’s care, in case I dropped into a ditch or was bitten by  bugs.

I have a younger brother and an elder sister who was very smart with great academic results. She had been wearing big red flowers which was a symbol of honor and been receiving certificates of merit. I, on the contrary, had been naughty. My elder sister and I went to the same school from kindergarten to middle school. Every time the school held the parent-teacher conference, my father had to go to two classes. He always had a good time in my elder sister’s class where her head teacher praised her all the time, while in my class, he would be totally embarrassed when the teacher criticized me. When we got home, my parents would, of course, speak highly of her and I got a beating.

I liked competing with my elder sister ever since I was a child, trying to beat her in everything. When we were still of school age, my sister and I would go to school at the same time before we split up and walked on different sides of the road, pretending not to know each other. The people in the school would be surprised when they learned of our relationship

My sister, since childhood, was into organizing activities, like general knowledge contests, symposia and outings. For a certain period of time, our parents were gone and put her in charge. She made dishes of cabbage with tofu and stir-fried shredded potatoes everyday in order to save money from the meal budget for her activities. I didn’t want to blow the whistle, but I didn’t like what she was doing. Instead of joining her activities, I often engaged in sabotage. Her excellence created tremendous pressure for me, which I think directly led to my inferiority complex that I haven’t been able to completely get rid of.

The prison my father worked in was transferred to Liangshan’s capital city, Xichang when I was at the first grade of middle school. Our mother had to stay due to her job while we three children followed our father to the Xichang City.

The unexpected departure from that familiar environment and people known from childhood, and coping with a strange city, really created a lot of anxiety. I was restless and lonely for a long time. Our father asked lot of people for favors before he put my elder sister and me into a local school where there was sometimes violence. The class had already started when I got registered in that school. I had some books in hand and stood with my parents outside the classroom, nervous and at a loss. My father noticed that I hesitated there, looking like a wimp, before shouting at me, “What do you think you are doing? Get the hell inside!”

I bit the bullet and went inside. The teacher in the class that day was my head teacher who hadn’t learned that he would have a late transfer student. He cast a glance at me and said angrily, “What are you doing here? Get out!” I was so embarrassed in front of so many students. I had no choice but to go out again and tell my irritated father, “The teacher told me to get out!”

“Can’t you tell him that you are one of the students in the class?” I was struck dumb. The teacher came out and figured out my situation before criticizing me for my impolite behavior of entering the classroom without reporting. I was instructed to go inside through the back door. When I found no empty seats available at the back of the classroom, I stood there transfixed, like an invisible man.

    Just at that moment, a girl at the front beckoned me to her place where one seat was available. I was so grateful to her that I can still remember that moment and her name clearly. She was such a nice and kind girl, but she became a drug addict later like many of my classmates.

I was a little reserved and melancholy without friends when I entered that unfamiliar environment. My father only visited us once or twice every month due to his tight schedule. It was my grandmother on my mother’s side who handled everything in the family. I felt like I was orphan who needed to get up for school in the morning before sunrise and to come back at dusk. It was really exhausting and I was extremely reluctant to go to school every day.

One morning, I drank half a bottle of the liquor that belonged to my father. I felt like  I was floating in the air, free from all the annoying and unhappy things on my way to the school. At school, I became so high that I even sang, talked and scolded the teachers in class, for which I was expelled from the class and punished by the school. What’s worse, I began to drink alcohol whenever I was in a bad mood.

After that, those punks in my class started to mingle with me and I got my new friends. All of them liked to play and show off, anything but study. They often caused trouble in the school or in the community. They collected protection fees like the people in Hong Kong and Taiwan movies do. Every time my father attended the teacher-parent conference, he would always hear the teachers’ complaints and threatened to kick me out of the school. He almost had to go down on his knees and beg the principal and head teacher to give me one more chance. Back home the corporal punishment and thundering scolding were unavoidable.

All the beatings and scolding from my parents didn’t change me a lot and my academic results were still terrible. At that time, my sisters and I were all studying in school and my family could barely afford the tuition. Our parents decided to put me in a technical school so that I could start to work earlier and my sister in the high school and the university due to her great academic results. It later turned out that my elder sister’s results met the requirements of the best high school and the best technical school in our city, while my results could only get me qualified for a high school with an extremely bad reputation. In order to further my studies, my elder sister had to go to that technical school and I continue to feel bad about that..

I totally abandoned my studies in high school. The public security was terrible there and I came to know a low of lowbrows who committed fraud, theft and robberies. I was also familiar with some hookers, drug addicts and drug dealers, you name it. We often hung out together, eating in the restaurants, dancing in the ballroom or singing in the KTV. We went to any place that was interesting and we would demand protection fees as soon as we were short of money.

One time two younger brothers of my clan came to my city for fun. I went out with my friends to collect protection money again so as to entertain them well. We did get a great amount of money from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. However, the police showed up when we were having a great time. It turned out that one of the victims was a plainclothes police. We were all detained except some children who were released. They were told to inform the other arrested people’s parents to go to the police department to pick up their child and pay for the fines. But they didn’t dare to tell those parents and I was stranded throughout the night with nobody picking me up until I was freed again on the second day to make room for new-comers who needed the space.

As far as I can remember, our house was always in a chaotic situation thanks to all sorts of people. My father was very hospitable and had friends from every walk of life. The Yi people in the countryside came to look for him because of his well-known hospitality. He would treat them well by covering all the meals and accommodations and do favors for them. Every now and then, they performed the “Bimo” which was a cultural activity of the Yi nationality; chickens and swine were killed to exorcise evil. Sometimes, there were people sleeping scattered on the floor everywhere and the room was a total mess. My mother usually quarreled with my father over this, threatening to divorce him.

One time our parents asked us three children whom we would follow. My elder sister and younger brother cried without daring to utter a word. I turned around and went out after I answered that I didn’t want to follow either of them and I no longer needed the family. I didn’t come back until a few days later, for the family was really chaotic and I could hardly bear it. The biggest dream then for me was to leave my family as far as possible, to make a living by myself in the outside world.

 

* I Knelt Down in Front of My Mother *

 I often drank and got intoxicated and my mother would beat me for me not being able to live up to her expectations. I didn’t hide nor did I cry, letting her beating me until she was exhausted. One day she drank so much that she slept and didn’t wake up until three days later, which really scared us to death.

My mother was of the Han people and her hometown was Chongqing. She went far away from her relatives and family to marry my father. Ever since we moved to Xichang, she lived a simple and frugal life in the country, saving money for our father and us children. However, my father was so restlessly extravagant and fooled around with mistresses regardless of his wife and children. Only when she moved to Xichang did she learn that all her sacrifices and dedication had been totally ignored and ruined. What’s worse, a woman even went to our house to quarrel with her. She was truly overwhelmed with sorrows. Thus, she laid all her expectations on me but unfortunately, I wasn’t interested in studies and led a befuddled life instead. She became desperate and could not take that kind of life any more.

She howled after coming to her senses and said, “I can bear your father even though he treats me badly. I could’ve killed myself if it were not for you three. I am afraid that you will be treated badly if I die and no one would take care of you. I’ve taken all the sufferings for nobody but you. Can’t you understand me?”

Staring at my mother’s anguish, I could feel nothing but the sting of remorse. I didn’t know that she had accumulated so much pain and had gone beyond her capability to endure and I worried that she’d thought about suicide. Suddenly, I remembered that she picked peat in the river while carrying me on her back, she was worried when I played with water, I even thought about how she had married my father in Liangshan due to her gratitude for him and how she had given up the chance to further her education in the university because of this family. She had abandoned everything. How could I waste my life in such a way and hurt my mother so? I dropped down on my knees in front of my mother and said, “Mom, I am wrong. I promise I will stop playing and start to study hard.”

I seemed to have a dream which ended almost at the end of my second semester of my senior year in the high school. I had to pick up all the subjects I had abandoned earlier and study industriously. I only went out of the school gate once during the last two months before the college entrance examination. When my mother went to visit me, I would just see her off at the gate before I told her, “Mom, you can go now and I will go back to study.” Every day I moved among the canteen, the dormitory and the classroom and went to great lengths to study. My teacher told me that I could go to the pre-university class of Tsing-Hua University if my score on the college entrance examination went beyond 420. Now I had the possibility to enter the university. Therefore, I took 420 as my goal.

There were three simulated tests before the college entrance examination in the second semester of the senior year and usually the result of the second one was not too different from the real coming examination. I just got 270 out of 750 in the second one. I was shocked and speechless because my mother would be desperate if she saw that. I felt I had no choice but to ask someone in the copy house to print me a new transcript with 20 added to each subject.

Looking at the total score, 370, on my fake transcript, she smiled and was satisfied even though she was worried that I was not able to go to the university. The smile on her face made me feel embarrassed and sad, knowing how upset she would be when the real result of the pending examination was 270 again. All I could do was to study as hard as possible. At last, my college entrance examination score was 375 which was a new record in our school for no one had raised the score up by 100 points within such a short period. Nevertheless, I still failed to get out of Daliang Mountain and entered a pre-university class in a local university.

 

* She Raised Her Head and Said That I was Honest *

My father had been expecting me to go to the police school in Liangshan. However, my personal file was already at the university by then. Many graduates from that university couldn’t find a job and he wanted me to end my studies there. My mother strongly disagreed, stating that she was willing to pay for my tuition by herself. There was a drizzle when I registered at that university. My father took me there on his motorbike, with me holding a quilt in one hand and luggage in the other, despondent and forlorn.

All the students in the pre-university class were minority students and my entering result was pretty high compared with the other students. There was an exiting and favorable new policy for the minority students so that the top ten students in my class could go to the colleges in Chongqing and Chengdu, which meant that I still had the opportunity to change my destiny.

I achieved good academic results without effort in the class and I came to be the top student in the final examination for the first half year, which gave a favorable impression to my head teacher who always praised me and asked the other students to keep up with me. I was very happy for I knew that I would be able to leave Daliang Mountain sooner or later and go to the university in the capital city, which was really a great honor for a minority student. During the clan meetings, they often became awestruck whenever my possibility of studying in the university in Chongqing or Chengdu was mentioned.

That year was a quite enlightening one and I started to learn a lot of truths in my life. The one I felt most deeply was that honesty matters. No one can avoid mistakes and once a mistake is made, first we have to admit it bravely, even though sometimes we cannot change the results.       

I loved reading, so I borrowed a lot of books from the library. At one time, I forgot to return it on time and was informed by the teacher that my book had passed its expiration date. I checked the time and it was indeed overdue. The teacher said that I needed to pay for the fine for the expiration. “OK, how much do I need to pay?” I replied without hesitation. She lifted up her head and looked at me and said, “You are very honest. Many students will make up a lot of excuses for the expiration. It is truly good for you to admit it. That’s all right! You don’t need to pay for it this time.”

This incident touched me and I still remember her words today, although I can no longer recall that teacher’s appearance after all these years. Her praise when I made a mistake prompted me to live in a more confident, honest, way. Ever since then, I always admitted it whenever I made a mistake. I still think that we have to acknowledge any mistake we’ve made regardless of the consequences.       

 

* I was Out of Daliang Mountain *

Drugs were rampant in the Daliang Mountain area then and I could hardly find any friend who was highly motivated and shared the same ambitions as me. All the friends who had grown up with me had become drug addicts. Whenever I went back on holidays, all the friends would stay in the same room; they took their drugs and I drank my wine.

All those friends were very close to me and were talented. One of my friends indulged himself so much in drugs that he passed away from an overdose. One other friend was able to drive a car when he was only eleven years old because his father was a driver. I could do nothing but watch all of them deteriorate with my heart torn apart. Sometimes, they would ask me to try drugs with them. I told them that alcohol was enough for me and I didn’t want to have a new hobby. Actually, drinking was part of Yi nationality’s culture and it was excusable to drink. However, taking drugs was nothing but an evil that dragged us to death. I have never taken drugs, but I have a strong affection for alcohol.

The students in our class were all from different minorities which favor the culture of alcohol. Therefore, we often drank together and gradually I was so hooked on it that I would almost get paralytic twice a week. The rules in the school were extremely strict, for which the students gave the school a nickname - the graveyard. Smoking and drinking were banned in school and my head teacher caught me drinking a number of times. He was really kind to me and didn’t want to report it to the school. He made me write many guarantees and kept instructing me, hoping I would desert my alcohol addiction but I continued to drink.

One day the principal caught me smoking and gave me a scolding. I talked back to him defiantly. It really enraged him and he insisted on expelling me from the school. My head teacher found the principal and begged him to give me another chance, saying that he had been my head teacher for a whole semester and he was pretty sure that I was too young to be thoughtful and would surely become a useful person in the future. Thanks to my head teacher’s efforts, I was not kicked out the school, but I received a demerit which cost me my opportunity to study in one of the colleges in the capital city. After that, my head teacher warned me that I couldn’t violate any rules any more and assured me that he would be able to erase that demerit from my track record and I would be able to go to study outside.

I was extremely grateful for my head teacher who helped and encouraged me and stopped me from falling apart more. If it were not for him, I could have indulged more in alcohol or become addicted to drugs and died, as some of my friends did.

I ranked the in the examinations for the second half of the semester, and was able to successfully enter Chengdu Electromechanical College and took mechanical design as my major. What’s more, my younger brother also was admitted to the Deyang Police School. Our parents were very happy that both my younger brother and I went outside to study. They killed sheep and swine according to the Yi nationality customs to celebrate it with others. It was in 1999 that I finally trod out of Daliang Mountain and moved into the outside world.

 

* It was Tingting Who Accompanied My Mother *

My father drank too much and died at a wedding banquet when I was in the second half of my first year in the university. His death struck such an immense blow to our family that life became increasingly poorer even though the prison he worked for gave my younger brother and me 120 RMB every month.

My mother’s remarriage came so fast and unexpected that we were all shocked. One day my mother went to visit me in the university. I walked out of the dormitory building and in front of me stood my mother, younger brother and a stranger who was with them. My mother introduced him to me, “Youyou, this is your dad.”

Suddenly my mind went blank and I became so sad, but I didn’t disclose any of my negative emotions in front of my mother because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. It took me a very long time before I could finally accept the fact of her marriage.

With regard to my mother’s remarriage, all the elders in my clan were extremely resentful, condemning her choice of marrying a Han without the permission of the clan and her defiance of the clan’s female virtues. From then on, the status of our family in the clan was nothing to speak of. The idea of clan was very valued in Yi nationality and every year their would be a few clan conferences. We were no longer invited to attend such meetings and were actually eliminated from the clan despite the fact that we still seemingly had very little to do with each other. To the Yi people, getting expelled from the clan was really a serious punishment, just like a plant being uprooted ruthlessly. Therefore, I felt that there was nothing worth living for and everything was meaningless. I felt abandoned again.

I even thought about becoming a monk. I relied more on the alcohol and all I wanted to do was to find a restaurant and to drink by myself until I was as drunk as a log. One night I bumped into a telephone booth at the gate of our school after I finished drinking. I had no where to pour out all my pent-up emotions, so I started to take it all out on the telephone booth and tore it down. I was detained for the second time because of this and woke up with ice-cold water being poured on me by the police. On the second day my teacher bailed me out. 

I didn’t believe in feudal traditions and wasn’t opposed to her remarriage. However, she should’ve left some time for us to get prepared for this. Nor should she ask me to call a stranger “dad”, for the position of a father is irreplaceable in children’s hearts. My stepfather was not bad and pretty nice with me, but that made me uncomfortable and I felt I was a guest at home so every time I went back, I would live with my relatives’ and my affections for my family became weaker and weaker.

At the beginning, the elders in my clan asked me to leave my mother to live with them, which I refused. There were always some people who spoke badly of my mother. I tolerated it at first, but I could no longer bear it later and found that they were so stubborn and stuck to their feudal traditions. I felt my mother had a right to pursue happiness. Since then I hardly went to visit my relatives and I would stay at school or go to my aunt’s house whenever I was on holidays. In fact, I was truly grateful to my stepfather who supported and accompanied my mother.

My stepfather had a daughter named Tingting who was only ten years old. Back at home, she was afraid of me due to my downcast face. I disliked it myself, but it was already a habit and I didn’t do anything about it. Although we were not blood-related, we felt really close to each other. Maybe that was because she was so considerate and good at making my mother happy given the early death of her mother. I was sincerely thankful to her, for it was she who took over the responsibility to look after my mother when her own children were not around.

 

* I Felt That They were Angels*

I graduated three years later and the place my father had worked for offered me a job as a warder but I was still curious and looked forward to life in the outside world. My elder sister was already a supervisor in an American-invested handbag factory and I wanted to get a job there so I left on a train bound for Canton with other friends who were also going to Shenzhen.

Instead of providing me with a job by taking advantage of her authority, she hoped that I could live independently and never rely on anyone. She gave me 50 RMB every day and asked me to look for a job by myself. I began to get turned down in different job markets. I read want ads in the newspaper and called the information stations, interviewing from one company to another. The summer in Dongguan was so sweltering and the job market was so packed that I would become saturated with sweat every time I attended one. It was terrifying. What’s worse, not only did I have to elbow myself through the crowd, but I had to wait for a long time whenever I wanted to leave a resume.

In the mechanical industry, all the factories liked to hire experienced people who could work without training. My experiences in the school-run factory were nothing to speak of. Within one month, I searched throughout all the towns in Dongguan and nothing was achieved. After having been turned down repeatedly, my last slice of confidence slipped away. The physical fatigue was bearable, but it was the spiritual fatigue that destroyed me. To be honest, I didn’t learn anything useful in the university, which I didn’t realize until I arrived at Dongguan. I felt that I was good for nothing. I couldn’t even find a job with my bachelor’s degree and became a burden to my elder sister instead.

I found myself so tired one noon that I went to a park to take a rest. Two girls and a boy came over and borrowed my newspaper to read. I chatted with them and found out that they lived together in a rented apartment and were looking for a job every day. The boy was so weak and thin, saying that he wanted to be a security guard even though he was only 17 years old. “You are so thin and tiny; can you become a security guard?” I doubted that he could. He answered jokingly that it didn’t matter, for he was still growing and he would soon became stronger after exercising.

They were so optimistic and believed that they would find a job soon regardless of the fact that they were almost broke and had only graduated from middle school. Compared to them, I found my pessimistic mood ludicrous. At least I was a university graduate and had an elder sister who supported me. I resumed my confidence, thanking God who had sent those people to help me get through the setbacks.

 

* You Have to Try to Stay *

After almost one month of torment, an ultimatum was sent to me from Daliang Mountain, threatening that I would lose the warder job if I didn’t report to them in time. I made my decision to stay after thinking about it over and over. My elder sister arranged for me to live in the house that belonged to her foreign friend, Susan, who had gone back home. One week later, I still hadn’t found a job. Therefore, I decided to leave Dongguan for Shenzhen, but my elder sister told me that so many people had to look for a job for two or three months before they could finally secure one, I shouldn’t give it up after just one month and probably things would take a turn for the better soon.

Right then, one company where I had interviewed informed me I could go to work there as an IE technician. They were badly short- handed and remembered me. That was the one and only accomplishment I had for those days of searching and I was so thrilled that I finally had a job.

Susan came back from America and had a chat with me. She said, “You have to learn English well before you can have a great future.” She gave me a set of New Concept English books and I bought myself the cassettes, and started to learn English. There was no electrical outlet in our dormitory, so I used my Walkman to listen to English until the middle of the night, which cost me a lot because of the batteries. In order not to interrupt others, I would go outside with my Walkman to the garden after I got up at six in the morning, strolling back and forth reciting English until eight when I had to start my work. It was so challenging given the freezing weather and other factors, but I was so enthusiastic that all I wanted to do was learn English well regardless of its usefulness in the near future. Four months passed and I was so fluent at recitation of the New Concept English that I was able to tell the chapter and the volume from which any sentence was picked.

Two months later, my friend arranged for me work in the biggest electronic factory in Dongguan. The day I reported in, I couldn’t show them my ID card which had been mailed back to my hometown in exchange for a new one, so the manager in the HR department couldn’t hire me. At a loss, I found my supervisor. He asked me what I would do if the HR manager still didn’t want to employ me after my ID arrived. “I can do nothing but leave,” I answered him. Upon hearing this, he immediately gave me a lesson, “You already want to leave even before you get into this company? What you need to think about now is how to stay here rather than leaving.” That made sense! So I found that manager again and successfully was employed after coaxing and pestering him unceasingly.

 

                               

 

* I Couldn’t Even Fill Out an English Resume Completely *

That was a good company, and though I didn’t stay there for a long time, I learned a lot. Unfortunately business in the company was slack and the orders were only half of what they had been, so it had no choice but to lay off some employees, including me. Shortly after that, I went to a lighting equipment factory and worked as a technician again.

    My elder sister told me that the Brazilian company she worked for was hiring people then and asked me to give it a try. She informed me of the time and the fact that the interview would be carried out in English.

    Before that I used to talk with foreigners in a casual way and they wouldn’t call attention to my mistakes but now I had to have a genuine English interview which made me extremely nervous. On my way to Dongguan, I recited my resume in my mind over and over and tried hard to bring up all the trade-related words and sentences I’d learned and strained to put them all together. I also found some questions that they would probably ask me and prepared my own version of answers. What’s more, I even took out my electronic dictionary to review the 900 English sentences for daily use, which actually made me tongue tied due to my intense state of mind and anxiety.

    I had to fill out an English resume and all went well until I came across a word- Gender, which I wasn’t able to recognize no matter how hard I tried. This was ridiculous, I told myself. If I didn’t even know this word, how could the company to expect me to handle my work well? I took out my electronic dictionary after having noticed that there was no one around. I did not know whether to laugh or to cry when I found out that the meaning of that word.

    I ended up working there and my main responsibility was to prepare materials for my Brazilian manager and to input all the information to the data base, just like a robot tapping the keyboard all day long. I worked in a big independent office and had quite a lot of time at my disposal. I usually shut the door and studied computer technology after I was off. I hadn’t learned much about computers in the university, so I had to study as hard as possible given my lousy basic knowledge.

I bought a great many books and studied every day until the company was closed. Afterwards, I started to practice on my computer, which often caused technical problems. Some colleagues in the IT Department complained the most, for they had to go down to the second floor to help me fix my computer and restore my computer system once a month at least. However, we became friends later, because I rushed to fix the computers before them whenever there was a computer problem. I would ask them to do it only when the problems were beyond my capabilities. Thus, I picked up almost all the computer technology there, for I couldn’t even change the image of the desktop when I came to the company, but I was able to do graphic designing independently when I left it.

 

* I Didn’t Know What I Was Looking For *

    I worked in that company for more than a year and I would have to work like a slave when it was busy. On the contrary, I needed not to do anything for one or two weeks when it wasn’t busy. Once a Brazilian manager made a mistake himself and accused an assistant of having made it before he fired her. She was my good friend. She was from Inner Mongolia and boasted of an excellent performance at her position, but she ended up being sacked from the company, which really disappointed me. What’s worse, one day two assistants and I worked overnight to help the manager to finish a report in time. When he went to the company the next morning, he said nothing but, “How come this simple thing has taken you three all night?”

     I usually slept at my desk when it wasn’t busy and didn’t wake up until two or three in the afternoon. One day, I asked myself after having woken up, “What am I doing here? I am only 24 and sleeping all day, wasting my time?”

    At that moment I made up my mind to leave and wrote a letter to my elder sister who in return gave me a simple answer, “Just leave if you have decided to.” Therefore, I gave my letter of resignation to my manager who agreed without saying anything. I was afraid that the upcoming newbie would have trouble in doing the job, so I wanted to stay for a few more days for the handover of the work. However, my manager turned me down, saying that it was unnecessary. I had been working there for more than one year and been considering myself of great importance which turned out to be just my own naive idea.

     I continued to change jobs four or five times going from being an assistant to a   designer for a foreign trade company. The shortest job only lasted for two weeks. However hard I worked, I couldn’t shake off the destiny of a robot and my most strenuous efforts at work were not recognized, either. I came to realize that I couldn’t make a difference if I kept hopping from one job to another. I wouldn’t be able to find a suitable position while I was not sure about what I wanted, but still I went on with my wandering and searching.

 

* I was More Surprised than Thankful*

In February, 2002, I posted a resume on the Internet and went to work in a foreign trade company in Zhuhai. When I left Dongguan for Zhuhai, my elder sister told me that I could find the principal of GLV, Ping, if I needed any help. Ping was Susan’s friend and I was introduced to Ping through Susan, which had been the only time we met. There were two people I knew in Zhuhai and Ping was one of them.

      I was short of money when I arrived at Zhuhai, so I went to GLV and found Ping who seemed not to recognize me until I mentioned my elder sister’s name. He asked me directly what I was there for after my sister’s name rang a bell for him. I said, “Ping, I just came here and I am afraid that I don’t have enough money; can I borrow some from you?” “No problem, how much do you want?” He answered without a split second’s hesitation.

    I was more surprised than thankful at that moment. We only met once and he agreed to lend me money immediately after I asked, which I couldn’t believe. I had been looking forward to studying in GLV and I thought that it would be much better if I could work there. I was unwilling to leave after I had got the money, for I hadn’t had a generous and helpful friend for a long time. Therefore, I told Ping, “Is there anything I can do for you? I can do lots of things and maybe I could be really helpful.”

    “No problem, you can ask Gina in HR about that,” Ping said. Afterwards, Gina came over to arrange an interview with me. On the day of the interview, she gave me some lyrics of popular songs and asked me to translate them into English. I tried my best to finish even though I didn’t understand all the meanings of those lyrics. Then she asked me to translate them back into Chinese before she compared my version with the original lyrics. Fortunately, she said it was not bad.

     I started to work in the Marketing Department in GLV, in charge of designing and publicizing the advertisements. GLV was not very big then and the manager in the Marketing Department was a woman whose name was Magen. She performed her work exceptionally effectively and efficiently and was pretty humorous and carefree, which made my work day with her very pleasing. At that time, there were only five people in our department, but we were like a big family with lots of laughter all day long. What’s more, we always went out for meals, one small one each week and one big one each month, swearing that we would taste the dishes of all the restaurants in Zhuhai. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize our dreams for Magen left GLV later.

 

* The Door Would Be Open All the Time *

I felt a strong sense of security at GLV. At one staff conference, Ping said, “We will consider the welfare of the staff as the priority when GLV becomes better in the near future.” I couldn’t help admiring this, for I had never heard of anything like this from any boss even though I had worked at so many jobs in different companies.

    I started to take over the webpage designing later and sat on my chair while doing some of the trivial and boring work, which made me feel pretty depressed. I would really like to communicate with others and only that would make my life meaningful. Thus in April, 2004, I decided to go to Dongguan after my elder sister called me to help her take care of her business.

    Right before I left GLV, I went to say goodbye to the foreign teacher Alan who gave me a compass and said, “Daniel, I hope wherever you go, you can always find your way back.” This sentence made me hesitate for a while before I uttered, “Goodbye.” I pushed open his door and as I went out the door shut behind me automatically and again he said, “Daniel, please keep the door open!” I left the door open without realizing the meaning of his words. When I was very far from his office, he popped his head out of his door and said loudly to me, “Daniel, remember, the door is always open for you!” Upon hearing that, I stood still and tried hard to hold back my tears.

 

* I Didn’t Know the Importance of You Until I Had Left You *

The business in Dongguan was extremely good and we kept receiving orders which meant a lot of future benefits. However, I somehow felt lost as I always worked in an empty office. Everyone was busy with work and I couldn’t find anyone to talk to, which caused me to think of GLV, the big family in Zhuhai. Finally I couldn’t refrain from calling Ping again, “Ping, I want to go back to GLV.” Ping said nothing but, “Great, just come back!”

    In May, 2004, I went back to GLV again and arranged to work in the Student Center to take charge of the student affairs. A great many students would turn to me for help and I was glad to help them even though sometimes it could mean a lot of problems to be solved. Nevertheless, I felt happy for I was appreciated and could realize my values there.

There were many tutors working in GLV and I became one of them. Tutors were supposed to help the students with their studies outside the main classes. I took on the role of the teacher and found that I really enjoyed being a teacher. Not only did I want to teach Chinese students English, but I hoped that I would be able teach foreigners Chinese, spreading the culture of the Yi nationality to the western world. It was really an amazing thing to share what I had learned with other people and to get recognized. I felt extremely happy and satisfied whenever the students thanked me for what they had learned from me.

In the Spring Festival, I brought my parents over to Zhuhai to celebrate the New Year. Principal Ping invited a large number of foreign teachers and my parents to his house to make Chinese dumplings. The following May, I took the TEFL courses and successfully received the certificate of TEFL or Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I don’t know how others define success, but I thought that was one of the most important successes of my life. I had set up a goal and pursued it successfully. I don’t know what it would be called if it was not considered to be a success. Another success in the family is that Tingting has received a letter of admission to a university.

It is true that we can’t choose our birth or our parents, but we are capable of deciding our own future through our efforts. I will never forget that I am a descendent of the Yi nationality and its culture and soul are deeply entrenched in my life. A Han journalist named Zhang Junlan went to my hometown and established the first Hope School in Butuo County after grueling efforts. Thus all the Yi dropouts could go back to school again. I believe that I, who have come from Daliang Mountain will one day go back home to Daliang Mountain where I was born and brought up.

I didn’t treasure you until I lost you, I didn’t realize your significant meaning in my life until I had left you. Just like Ping who didn’t figure out the fact that his roots lay in China until he studied in America. After I had left Daliang Mountain, I finally came to know that my soul was still in the mountain. I was confused and didn’t know who I was and what to do when I walked out of the mountain, but now I have begun to know myself. No matter what will happen to me, one thing will surely not to change and that is wherever I go, I will always remember my hometown which I go back to in my dreams.

 

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