My grandfather's Medal Awarded From the Korea War, 1954 | 《爷爷的抗美援朝纪念章》

Bumps | 颠簸

Frightened, 2015.5.12 | 《害怕》

Frightened, 2015.5.12 | 《害怕》

 

“Little shit, useless! Little shit, useless!”

My father would shout this when he beat me with a dustpan – my earliest memory. He hated me being born as a dwarf, particularly a female one. He didn’t stop beating me until one day he almost beat my mother to death.

 

Patriarchy, 2015.5.20 | 《父权社会》

Patriarchy, 2015.5.20 | 《父权社会》

 

Influenced by such violence in a patriarchal family, where all parents favored a boy over a girl, my brother also liked bullying me. He learned to beat me till one day he was scared when he cut my forearm deep with a scar.

 

Scar, 2015.7.9 | 《伤痕》

Scar, 2015.7.9 | 《伤痕》

The Scar, 2019.10.19 | 《那道疤痕》

The Scar, 2019.10.19 | 《那道疤痕》

 

Years of my mother staying unwell in bed gave me more chance to do farm work, housework and take care of two young sisters. And that somehow made me useful in my father’s eye.

 

Family, 2015.5.13 | 《家庭》

Family, 2015.5.13 | 《家庭》

 

When mother got better, I started school at ten. Things were fine till Grade Five when my Chinese teacher doubted my writing, “Have you copied this from an Essay Book?” I said no. He then left a striking red mark: Whether or not you have cribbed your article off a book, you know the best! 

 

Vulnerability, 2015.5.12 | 《脆弱》

Vulnerability, 2015.5.12 | 《脆弱》

 

My private Shenzhen library built from a dormitory window that liked receiving wind and rain uninvited, 2013.9 | 《我的深圳私人藏书屋》

My private Shenzhen library built from a dormitory window that liked receiving wind and rain uninvited, 2013.9 | 《我的深圳私人藏书屋》

 

The irony was that I didn’t even have a book. To prove myself, I insisted on joining a writing competition, which no one believed I should. In the end I won First Prize in the whole district. I thought that would make people look at me differently, but it didn’t. Their silence was confusing.

 

Confusion, 2015.4.17 | 《困惑》

Confusion, 2015.4.17 | 《困惑》

 

Nonetheless, I kept studying hard and being a good student. This didn’t change until a kidney stone that almost needed surgery in high school made me start wondering: What was the point of being good? What had good writing done for me? Why should I meet an expectation that was not mine? Why not just listen to myself?

 

Be Wild, 2015.3.18 | 《自然野》

Be Wild, 2015.3.18 | 《自然野》

 

Therefore I half listened to my father about becoming a teacher. But behind his back I chose Hainan Island for my college life. This was strongly against his wishes because it was too far away. For days, he didn’t sleep or eat much. At last, he gave me a thick roll of thirty-eight hundred cash and told me with red wet eyes, “This is all I have. Don’t come home until you can afford it.”

Father, 2015.4.25 | 《父亲》

Father, 2015.4.25 | 《父亲》

 

I assured him, “Don’t worry. The school offers a five-thousand loan every year.” 

But I could never tell him that the loan was a lie. How could I?

 

My grandfather's Medal Awarded From the Korea War, 1954 | 《爷爷的抗美援朝纪念章》

My grandfather’s Medal Awarded From the Korea War, 1954 | 《爷爷的抗美援朝纪念章》

 

Owing half my tuition fees, I had to constantly take different part-time jobs. Yet my salary was never enough to pay off my debt. When the time came to register for the second year, the administrator refused me unless I paid off everything. Accordingly I showed him these two things: “Look, this is my grandfather’s medal awarded from the Korea War and his Military Certificate authorized by the renowned General Chen Yi. It clearly says, His family get preferential treatment.”

 

My grandfather's Military Certificate, 1951 | 《爷爷的革命军人证明书:司令员 陈毅》

My grandfather’s Military Certificate, 1951 | 《爷爷的革命军人证明书:司令员 陈毅》

 

“Is he still alive?” He sneered.

“No… please!” I suddenly knelt down. “My grandfather had fought many wars and sacrificed a lot. He had become crippled and deaf, and almost been killed on the battlefield. His greatest wish was to see me graduate from college.”

“Your grandpa is dead. What’s the use of all this?”

 

Sob, 2015.7.7 | 《哭诉》

Sob, 2015.7.7 | 《哭诉》

 

I got up slowly, pulling myself together. I began to make phone calls and borrow money. This made me sick. When I asked for a raise after three years of working for my first company, the boss killed me as a chicken to scare the monkey. And later in the second company, I found my basic salary had been underpaid for six months. What the hell made people do that to me?

 

Mankind, 2015.5.6 | 《人》

Mankind, 2015.5.6 | 《人》

 

Unhesitatingly I quit my full-time job to chase my writing dream. Had I not been framed by a world where the colors are drawn by child abuse, sexist bullies, social suspicions and human unkindness, would I struggle even now to tell the bumps of my life stories? 

 

A Framed Life, 2015.7.11 | 《一个被设限的生命》

A Framed Life, 2015.7.11 | 《一个被设限的生命》

 

I’m not going to ask ‘Why me?’. Because it is not just me. It is a bunch of mes. But what bumps do you have and what impacts do they have on you?

 

Hope, 2015.7.5 | 《希望》

Hope, 2015.7.5 | 《希望》

 

捕获

 

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—Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club Still Drives Me Crazy, 2019.10.19 | 《上海头马依旧让我痴狂

 

Related article:Transformations

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Note: To build a mutual Literature & Art community, Heather has now opened her personal channel (WeChat ID: Heather69) to her friends, who are following HeathersChamber. No cheaters!
备注由于时间和精力有限,为了建立一个互敬互惠的文学艺术圈子,阿太特向已关注此公众号的朋友们分享她的个人微信号:Heather69 。骗子勿扰!

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Heather Cai is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently working for Shanghai Taichi Center.

希瑟·蔡太莲是福建一个自给自足稻农的女儿。她作为穷人的穷人之一,讲述的故事来自最底层的仰望。她写就她的梦想与世界分享一些个人独特的亲身经历。她完成了两本英文文学小说,喜欢收集树叶、书本、影碟、贝壳和剪报,向往各种自然美。目前在上海从事太极文化行业,也在努力打造“阿太的密室”,集文学、艺术、文化、哲学和世界女性于一体的个人公共服务平台。

Copyright © 2019-2020 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者蔡太莲所有

When You Are Hit by a Car, and You Are Fine

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

If you are hit by a car, then normally you would not be fine, but would know what to do, right? However, if you are hit by a car, and you are fine, what would you do?

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

This question might confuse everybody. Let me tell you a fresh story, my story.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

One ordinary morning in April this year, I was hit by a car. It happened at a pedestrian crossing with no traffic lights in Jiangsu Road. I’ve crossed this two-way road for nearly five-hundred days since I moved to Shanghai. It was during the week but after the peak. And the traffic was not busy. As usual, I was enjoying some music with earphones plugged in and following a guy in the front. It was just another morning on my way to work.

 

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Then, all of a sudden, a car just missed the guy and drove straight at me. Scared, I slightly turned away and raised my right hand sending out a signal: “Stop!” But the driver didn’t stop. It first hit my right hip and made me lose balance. I fell towards the car. My right arm was pressing on the hood and my left hand holding my phone tight in the air. The speed was not enough to make me fly, but fast enough to lift me up. My feet were dragged along till the end of the zebra line. Finally, the car stopped. I fell onto the ground and rolled once. It happened too fast. But my subconscious was in slow motion, almost like a dream. There were no sounds, no colors, no pain, nothing. I couldn’t remember how I got up. The moment I started hearing sounds and seeing colors, I found my phone was missing. It took me several minutes to find it behind one of the front wheels. When I found my white earphones were stained black, I began to feel angry. All the while, the driver wearing glasses, remained in his comfortable seat. Thinking about this and realizing that I was supposed to be in a hurry, I couldn’t help shouting at the nerdy driver.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

“I was walking right after the guy. How could you just drive straight at me?”

 

“Sorry, I didn’t see you.” He didn’t even look at me. Or was he ashamed to look at me?

 

“Are you blind?”

 

“Sorry…” He said indifferently. I became more angry.

 

“Bullshit! You hit me!”

 

“Sorry…” He repeated it, throwing me a glance with the same indifference.

 

“Aren’t you going to say something?” My anger almost exploded.

 

“Sorry…” He turned into a stone, and the car horns were blowing behind him.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

I was too shocked to think further and too speechless to stay longer. In the end, I gave him a middle finger and left.

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

By the time I entered the metro station, my mind spun. How could I forget to take a picture of his car number? Idiot! I should report him. But what would I do if I did? Would I like to deal with the police? Would it be worth reporting him?

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

All day long, I was looped by questions. I didn’t feel any pain until the water ran over my body in a shower. There were bruises on my knees, my palms and my hip. And my left little finger couldn’t move. But this didn’t worry me. I actually laughed. Because my family’s newest superstition says that my luck would turn in 2019.   

 

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— Datong Yungang Grotto, Shanxi, 2016.8 | 山西大同云冈石窟

 

Now, two months have passed. The only thing that still bothers me is my little finger. I often play with it, in a way like one long-bearded philosopher would touch his beard. And meantime I would wonder: If you were me, what would you do? Would you report him right there? Or would you walk away feeling shocked and lucky?

 

About the Author:

 

Heather in Sri Lanka, Mar 2015.

Heather in Sri Lanka, Mar 2015.

 

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently living in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.

 


Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片

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Listen! …

Gradually, traveling (more especially, traveling out of China) has made me a good listener and a story digger.

Listen to the locals. Listen to the travelers. And listen to myself. All different lives with different voices, but the same goal – to live a better life.

(If ever I will have a child, I would rather educate him/her at home, not send him/her to any Chinese schools. If possible, I’d like him/her to grow up by traveling, listen to the world outside, then sink down at home and rethink in the dark.)

First, I’ve met a Dutch couple one short evening in Galle, Sri Lanka. Listening to their voices, I was amazed by their adventurous life on a boat for more than eight years now. Also, I’ve learned how a Chinese boat company cheated their European honest heart. And a story about how a Chinese woman who even don’t know her own birth date, could escape from her Chinese husband, get married to a nice Dutch guy and nobody could imagine. Then I learned My Flee From China and 1421. (Here’s their website: www.sy-nightfly.nl)

Then, the next evening an English couple who are both language teachers in college, were hooked by my angry voice like waves. Through them, I’ve learned what is cricket by watching an international match where their son was the captain of the school team. And if possible, one day I may visit them and feel their life living in a cottage with a big dog.

 

She is Naomie, a Japanese artist, who loves the art of communicating, especially with French people.

She is Naomie, a Japanese artist, who loves the art of communicating, especially with French people.

She told me, it was painful to travel with a 81 year-old Japanese woman who made her sleepless at nights, who never dined with her but only asked her to bring food to the hotel room and who even told her to do this and not to do that. The original aim for her was not to travel alone, but the end seemed worse than being alone. So we shared the table in Suisse Hotel, Kandy.


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Monica from Switzerland. I “fell in love” with her sexy back and her taste at the first sight in Amaya Beach Hotel.

She speaks five languages. She is teaching German in a university in Switzerland. She is the opposite of my thinking. She can describe a thing simply and clearly by a word or even a number while I have to use a series of description to make myself clear. Even sometimes I sink so deep I get lost from the maze of my words.


 

The waiter looks young and small but very anbitious.

The waiter looks young and small but very ambitious.

Strangely in Sri Lanka, when I asked, Are you married?, no matter how young the person appeared to be, the answer was the same: Yes and with a child or two. In Nuwara Eliya, this waiter who is married in his early 20 and has got a 6 year-old daughter, behaved smartly. With his whole body moving with a swift agility and of course, his smiles, he served us lively, even though we were the only customers eating in the Chinese restaurant (Though the food was not much like Chinese food). Before he asked me to take a photo with him, he told me that his dream is to work at a bigger and bigger hotel, though he couldn’t imagine one day he would own a hotel himself.


Our gentle driver Kusum in Sri Lanka.

Our gentle driver: Kusum.

In Sri Lanka, the craziest driver is bus driver. Last month, a bus driver managed to scrape by another bus. Due to that, a boy’s arm was straightly knocked off from the window. Maybe taking a train is a safe option. But both trains and buses are always packed by the locals. And believe or not, this is what I’ve witnessed: a train was starting off yet a young man deliberately stopped the train by walking on the rails towards the train. Then the train had to slow down, meanwhile many people jumped off the train from the windows and more people sneaked into the train without any tickets. That’s why no one knows exactly how many people died from the tsunami in 2004 after the whole train was swallowed.

Whatever, be wise – get a car and a driver to pick you up from the Colombo airport and let the driver take you wherever you want. Likewise, our driver is honest, reliable, cheerful, kind-hearted and gentlemanly. His style is to drive safely and do things efficiently. He would share whatever he knows about whatever you want. He has never bought a pack of cigarettes in his life but only one or two cigarettes, because a pack of cigarette is a luxury for him. So he even didn’t know how to open one.

He said that most of his customers would eventually become his friends like me. Some of them even have sent him Christmas gifts, like his laptop was given by a Belgian couple. 

Listened to him carefully, his dream is to run a small business and then become a big boss himself. 


 

In a word, I am touched…

I