An Old Cou­ple

老妪老翁

Special Focus - - Contents - You Jin 尤今

There was an old cou­ple who lived in a small vil­lage in Tianjin Bay, Shan­dong Prov­ince, nour­ish­ing each other for many years.

In autumn, when a big gourd was picked from the field, the old lady put it on a tall wooden stool and po­si­tioned it with her hands as her hus­band cut it off with a saw. They wanted to make a la­dle to scoop wa­ter for their daily use.

Rest­ing, they sat against a pile of sun­burnt corn. The old lady scratched the old man’s itchy back. “Up a lit­tle bit. A lit­tle bit more. That’s it!” he said

At the age of six, the old lady had to fol­low the tra­di­tion of bind­ing her toes into the shape of snails. Gen­er­ally af­ter a busy day of farm­ing, the old lady would put her three-inch “golden lo­tuses” on her hus­band’s knee, and he would bow his head down, trim­ming her stone- hard toe­nails with great care and pa­tience.

When his fin­ger was care­lessly pricked by a thorn while work­ing, the old lady would put on her pres­by­opic glasses and pick the thorn for him care­fully. The old man joked, “You’re not pick­ing a thorn. You’re dig­ging a pit or cut­ting a tree.”

The old lady would re­ply in a low, slow voice, “I’m too old and blurred to see it clearly.”

On one Spring Fes­ti­val, the old lady suf­fered from her lung dis­ease and was hos­pi­tal­ized. The old man sat alone in the hall, poorly at­tended and crest­fallen. When the old lady’s con­di­tion im­proved, the old man could not wait to rush into the hos­pi­tal room. The old lady sat on the bed. He sat be­side her, and wip­ing away his tears, he said, “We have been mar­ried for sixty-eight years. This is the first time we haven’t spent the New Year to­gether.”

On the 70th an­niver­sary of their mar­riage, their son bought an air ticket for the cou­ple to travel to Bei­jing. The old lady, who was fly­ing for the first time, was hor­ri­bly jit­tery. The old man pre­tended to be a hero with an in­domitable spirit and held her hands to ease her. Af­ter ar­riv­ing in Bei­jing, the old cou­ple, with four legs and two crutches, printed their foot­prints all over the cap­i­tal, hand in hand.

They grew older, and one day the old man pressed the heavy cof­fin he had pre­pared and told the old lady, “You have en­dured a lot with me all your life. I’ll leave this cof­fin for you, and make a thin one for my­self.”

The old lady beamed with sat­is­fac­tion and said to ev­ery­one she met, “I haven’t wasted a life­time with a car­pen­ter.”

(From Lis­ten to the Voice of Words: You J in’ s Phi­los­o­phy of Life, Haitian Pub­lish­ing House. Trans­la­tion: Qing Run)

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