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

Secret Love

--- A quartz stone I picked on the way walking from Xiadang Middle School to my home village 19 years ago. Photo taken in Shanghai, 2019.7.22

— A quartz stone I picked on the way walking from Xiadang Middle School to my home village 19 years ago. Photo taken in Shanghai, 2019.7.22

 

You and I have been younger. We were almost as unpolished as this quartz stone. Our heart was little and vulnerable. When we saw a dragonfly, it wasn’t just a dragonfly. It was the whole fascinating world around the dragonfly. And when we saw a face that fascinated us, we might dream about it every night. The charming eyes. The fluffy voice. The sweet smile. All these would melt the ice in the dark. We wouldn’t feel pain when that person punished us. We would feel the joy of some strange connection. We would admire that person’s jokes or even bullshit. When we looked into the eyes, we would blush like a mystery.

 

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--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

At thirteen, I had this tender feeling for my Grade Three primary school teacher Mr Hu. He came as a volunteer from a neighboring town to teach us in 1999. Actually, each school year, there would be one or two volunteers like Mr Hu. The school was dirt-built, black-tiled and really old. There were no blackboards or white chalk, but wooden boards and charcoal. There were no windows in the classroom, but only a square hole. And there was no place to eat, but the families in turn would provide fresh food and firewood for the teachers.

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

However, the playground was paradise. We would often skip and play the Chicks and Eagle game. Sometimes Mr Hu would play the Eagle. It was then I discovered that he was not as bookish as I had thought. His usually slow movements could be sharp, his usually toneless voice could be wild, his usually shy smile could be bold, and his usually calm eyes could be sparkling. Such a contrast just ignited my curiosity and attracted me like a magnet. When he caught me as the Chick and grabbed my arms with excitement, I couldn’t move or talk. My heart was racing, my face burning, and my eyes were afraid to meet his. When he let go of my arms, I wished he could hold me for longer. His existence had possessed my whole attention, and class time was not long enough to appreciate him.

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

One noon, after school, I couldn’t help but stay longer to watch him cooking through the square hole that gave a view of the kitchen. He was clumsily peeling a potato. I laughed. Those smooth fingers were probably more suitable for holding books. By the time I had to leave, it felt the more I saw him the more impossible for me not to see him.  

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

Until one afternoon in the middle of the second term, something new happened. A pig squealed like hell during our break. It was dragged along the playground by a mother and a daughter. The daughter Miao had the most beautiful smile in our class. When she smiled, her eyes smiled too. And that afternoon, her laughter resounded through the Fungshui forest beside our school with the screams of the pig. Everyone was laughing, except me. I was staring at Mr Hu. He was smiling and sometimes laughing too. His hand was holding his chin, his face was blushing, and his eyes were gazing at Miao with the same admiration as when I secretly watched him peeling potatoes. That moment, my world turned blue. I didn’t know there was such a word “jealousy”, but I envied Miao. From then on, although I frequently raised my hand in class, Mr Hu would still call Miao. Gradually I lost courage, and cried at night.

 

--- Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

— Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, 2015.3 | 斯里兰卡·锡吉里耶

 

The pain accumulated till the end of the school year. On the morning when he said goodbye, he slowly crossed a stone bridge. When all the classmates had left, he turned his head with a smile that broke my heart, waving his hand for me to go home. I smiled back, one hand covering my mouth and the other waving goodbye. He moved on and never looked back. I watched him disappear into the distance. Tears flooded my face. I knew I might never see him again.

 

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Was it secret love? What was the most nostalgic story from your school life? Have you ever had hopeless love for someone even if you knew that person would never love you back? What if you could meet your secret love again?

 

--- Spring Picnic in Grade Three primary school (1999). Total sixteen students, six from a nearby village. My young brother and I were in the same class till Grade Two in middle school. And I did meet Mr Hu again when I graduated from high school in 2006. That was anoher story.

— Spring Picnic in Grade Three primary school (1999). Total sixteen students, six from a nearby village. My young brother and I were in the same class till Grade Two in middle school. And I did meet Mr Hu again when I graduated from high school in 2006. That was anoher story.

 

About Heather Cai:

 

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.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者所有!


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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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Rain Girl

White and Blue

White and Blue

The girl in the rain, once was a sort of boy who only hung out with boys. A number of times, she would do all different things in the rain, alone or with someone. The midnight before graduating from high school, she couldn’t control herself but led a bunch of boys running in the rain on the road. It was all dark. But she wasn’t afraid of the darkness. she was suddenly afraid of growing up and leaving an old place.

In the darkness, along with the boys, she laughed, cried and screamed; she lifted her face up, welcomed the rain pouring down; she kissed and tasted the rain; she sensed the freedom of the rain; she felt behind such freedom was sadness. The rain comes and goes, just like people coming and going. She really enjoyed how the rain washed something away from her heart and added something else to her mind. It was exactly the same feeling as how people gave her memories and she was afraid to lose them.

When leaving a place, she was always the last one to leave. She sent off everyone. She then quietly left alone. She even pictured her future without people coming and going. But she knew it was her sheer illusion.

Later she became a woman. The feeling never changed. One late night, thinking of leaving another place, with an impulsion she couldn’t help walking in the rain, alone. It was a dark street. The rain made her wet all over.  Even her brain was soaked. This time, she didn’t laugh or scream. But she did cry in silence. She tasted the rain more deeply. She opened her mouth, let the rain fill in naturally. She then would swallow a mouthful of rain, as though the rain was not rain but beer. She drank one mouthful and another. Until there was a motorcycle coming towards her. The driver waved, whistled and asked if she wanted a ride. She shook her head continuously without looking at him. Apparently, he was disappointed. As a result, he suddenly sped up, drove a circle around her with one hand touching her tits roughly. For the moment, he was a ghostly dark shadow and she was so horribly terrified that she couldn’t see anything. The only sound she could hear was the engine from the motorcycle. The only thing she could smell was the cigarette from his nostril. The only thing she could feel was the dirty hand that she was not fast enough to push away. Once she could see something, he already disappeared in the darkness with only the sound left. She wished she could cut off that hand and have it feed the pig.

Since that night, she stopped walking in the rain in the darkness by herself. But tonight, she had the same feeling. She walked alone in the dim light, missing the rain. Passing through the crowds, she felt as though she was the only one moving. Stealing a glance at the others whose eyes were as emotionless as a dead fish, she wished she could take a cold shower in the rain.


This blog is to remember a great Penguin in a particular way.