I’m happy for my chil­dren

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

a res­i­dent of Song­gou vil­lage, Kangx­ian, Gansu prov­ince

Iwas born in Guangyuan, Sichuan prov­ince, and came to Kangx­ian in 1980, at age 21, to work as a car­pen­ter. My fam­ily was very poor then. My fa­ther died when I was a baby, so my mother raised me and my four broth­ers. At the time, the scarcity of farm­land meant many res­i­dents of moun­tain vil­lages in Guangyuan cut down trees to pro­vide farm­land so they could grow more crops.

I ar­rived in Song­gou vil­lage on foot. I walked through the moun­tains for a whole day, cov­er­ing more than 100 kilo­me­ters, and ar­rived at night.

I worked in the vil­lage for about three years and mar­ried a lo­cal woman. I fol­lowed the lo­cal tra­di­tion and lived with my wife’s par­ents.

When I was in Guangyuan, I had never heard of the tra­di­tion that a man lives with his wife’s fam­ily, but af­ter I had been in Song­gou for three years, I grew ac­cus­tomed to it, es­pe­cially af­ter see­ing many other men set­tle down.

My mother did not op­pose my de­ci­sion to marry in Song­gou. In fact, she ac­tively sup­ported me, un­der­stand­ing that I could have more farm­land and a bet­ter life than in my home­town.

I un­der­took dif­fer­ent types of work, in­clud­ing farm­ing, grow­ing veg­eta­bles and re­pair­ing roads, while my wife spent most of her time look­ing af­ter our two chil­dren.

I look af­ter my wife’s par­ents as if they are my own par­ents, and they are very kind. I re­turn to my home­town to see my mother, who is more than 80 years old, about once a year.

We used to live high in the moun­tains with my wife’s par­ents, but in 2005, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment en­cour­aged us to move down to a new house near a new road.

Now, I also grow tea and can make about 6,000 yuan ($890) a year, which is much bet­ter than be­fore.

My son is 32. He mar­ried in nearby Yangba town­ship in 2009 and fol­lowed the lo­cal tra­di­tion. He now works in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong pro vince, and my daugh­ter-in­law looks af­ter their son, who at­tends a pri­mary school in the town.

My daugh­ter’s hus­band is a mi­grant worker in Yichang, Hubei prov­ince. He and my daugh­ter have bought a house in the city.

In the past, at least one child would stay in the vil­lage so they could care for their ag­ing par­ents. I don’t mind that my chil­dren aren’t here — I’m happy that they are much bet­ter off than I was when I was young.

Xie Zhi­jun spoke with Wang Xiaodong.

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