A Chi­nese Mother and Her For­eign Son


Special Focus - - Contents - Zhou Huacheng 周华诚

On the morn­ing of a forth­com­ing re­turn trip from an i nter­view in North­west China, I sat in a three-square-me­ter stair­well and hap­pened to strike up a con­ver­sa­tion with a clean­ing maid there who was help­ing with the cook­ing.

She men­tioned her son was her pride and joy. Her son was still just a lit­tle tyke when her hus­band passed on, forc­ing her to be­come a sin­gle mother. She was most proud of the fact that the son of a sin­gle par­ent could be ad­mit­ted to a univer­sity some thou­sands of miles away.

When her son left to fol­low his dream, the dy­namic and en­er­getic woman took on a new job to keep her­self oc­cu­pied, namely, cook­ing for the lo­cal chil­dren in a school. It was a hard job that paid less than four hun­dred yuan per month.

Many for­eign­ers, in­clud­ing Amer­i­cans, Rus­sians, Aus­tralians, Ja­panese, Kore­ans and Bri­tons, come from thou­sands of miles away to this re­mote moun­tain vil­lage in the North­west to learn Tai Chi. They come and go reg­u­larly. The funny thing was, that this ag­ing woman with­out even a mod­icum of English man­aged to leave a great im­pres­sion on them.

James, an Amer­i­can stu­dent, learned Tai Chi in this back­ward

lit­tle vil­lage for one year. When he first ar­rived, he didn’t re­al­ize how bit­terly cold the place could get. As a gust of cold wind blew across his bare legs only half­way cov­ered in loose-fit­ting shorts, he turned blue and started shiv­er­ing. She saw him and ges­tured to him, say­ing, “It is so cold and windy here in the win­ter, you can’t go with­out wear­ing long pants.” Later on, she brought a pair to him from her home, glad to see him put it on.

James said to her in his bro­ken Chi­nese, “You’re al­most like a mother to me.”

She cooked for them on a daily ba­sis, while all gath­ered and ate to­gether in the small stair­way. Al­ways a mis­chievous one, James would put his hands into her sleeve to warm them when­ever they felt cold. Later on, when James was called back to ac­tive duty in the mil­i­tary, he made sure to run back to the kitchen to say good­bye. She made a ges­ture of shoul­der­ing a gun and asked, “James, if you were a sol­dier, would you shoot me if we met on the bat­tle­field?”

Be­fore he could re­ply, she said, “I would surely sur­ren­der my gun and run over with open arms and said, ‘James, my boy…’”

As the two bid farewell, this Chi­nese “mother” and for­eign “son” shared a warm em­brace and burst into tears, re­luc­tant to sep­a­rate for a long time.

“I cooked for him every day and watched him prac­tice Tai Chi clum­sily like my own child. Could you point a gun at your own child?” she asked rhetor­i­cally. “I don’t care if they’re black, white or yel­low. I have never thought of them as for­eign­ers. They’re all my chil­dren.”

Af­ter that, I heard from the prin­ci­pal that the most im­por­tant thing for al­most every for­eign stu­dent who came here to learn mar­tial arts was to hug and say good­bye to the clean­ing maid. They said in var­i­ous lan­guages, “I love you, Mom.”

( From Yangtze Evening Post.

Trans­la­tion: Qing Run)

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