The Most Perfect Dad and Mom in the World
I turned to look at them and saw an old man staring right at me. There was an old woman by his side. Meeting my eyes, he hurried to lower their heads. Idid not know them but they did not look like beggars. Their clothes were so new I could tell the creases. Mymother insisted because they were bending, and she saw acrutch against the old lady.
"Tianchi was an orphan," She said. "He had no relativesto invite for the wedding. They should be driven away if you don't know them. Beggars nowadays are mean. They are always waiting at the gate of a hotel and sneakin as relatives for a free meal."
I told my mother that they were no beggars. I turned to ask Tianchi. He got nervous and clumsy, hitting the bouquet of flowers off my hand. He said in a faltering voice that they were his uncle and aunt.
"You almost drove out relatives." I gave mom a dirty look.
"Tianchi, didn't you tell me that you were homeless? Howcome you have relatives?" Mom was confused.
Tianchi was afraid of my mom. He bowed his head and said that they were his distant relatives who had not visited him a long time. But getting married is a bigevent, and if nobody came from his family he would think it quite a pity, so. . . .
Leaning against Tianchi's shoulder, I told him that heshould have told me earlier about his two relatives. They should have sat at a different table with other guests instead of being left unattended at the corner.
"Nope. Let them sit there. They would not be comfortable if they should sit with guests."
Until the banquet started, that table had only the uncleand aunt. Tianchi and I were toasting each table. Whenwe passed them, Tianchi paused a moment, and pulled meto move away. I turned and found that their heads were even lower. I dragged Tianchi back. "Uncle and aunt,let us toast you."
They looked at me, amazed. They both had grey hair,looking in their 70-80s. Aunt's eyes looked blank, her sight blinking though her face turning towards me. I waved my hand in front of her eyes. She gave no response.She was blind!
"Un…uncle, aunt, this is my wife Xiaojie, we are to asting you now." Tianchi said in his local dialect.
"Urgh, well." Uncle managed to stand on his feet,staggering, his left hand on the old lady's shoulder,his shivering right hand holding the cup. I saw thick,yellow calluses on the back of his hand, and black dirt underneath his chubby fingertips. Working too hard onthe farmland made their back bend too early. I was shocked to see uncle did not have his right leg.
Aunt is blind; uncle is lame. What a couple!
"Do not stand. Sit down, please." I went over to take their hand. Uncle staggered to sit down. For somereason, tears welled up in aunt's eyes. I found uncle patting her on the back, speechless.
I had wanted to comfort her, but Tianchi pulled me away.
I told Tianchi to give them money when they leave. They were too pitiful. Both disabled! I could never imagine how they had managed to make it through all the years.
Tianchi nodded. He threw his arms around me tightly,without saying a word.
On the eve of Spring Festival of the first year since our marriage, Tianchi said that he was not feeling good about his stomach and did not want to have dinner. He went into his room to rest. I asked mom to cook rice porridge for him. I went in to see him. Lying in bed,Tianchi's eyes were filled with tears.
I said, "Stop, Tianchi. How come you don't want to have dinner with my family, and come in here so sad. It looks as though my family is mean to you. You feel uncomfortable in the stomach upon festival. Don't you think it too strange? I know you lied. Tell me all about it."
Remaining silent for a considerable amount of time,Tianchi said sorry. He was sad because he thought of his uncle and aunt, as well as his parents who had passed away. He was afraid of bursting out sad on thedinner table to make my family upset, so he lied. I hugged him. "Come on. You look like a child. Afterthis festival celebration, we will go see your aunt anduncle. I want to see how they live their life."
"No." he said, "The mountain path was quite tough, youwould be exhausted. I'll take you there after the road is improved and until we have a baby."
I said to myself silently, "who knows if they still live when we have a baby." But I did not dare to utter thisword, and said instead, "then we send them some candies."
On the Mid-autumn Day the following year I happened to be on a business trip and could not go home. I missed Tianchi's parents very much. I chatted with Tianchi on the telephone for a long time. I asked him what if he was missing me so much that he could not go to sleep. He said that he would get online or watch TV, or just daydream if neither works." We talked and talked until my mobile phone got quite hot and the battery was out.
Lying in the hotel bed, looking at the round moon outthe window, I could not go to sleep however hard I tried.
I kept my eyes wide open. I was missing Tianchi, myfather and mother, tears welling up in my eyes. I guess Tianchi might still be up, or he might be roaming on the Internet. I got up, switched on the computer, got another QQ ID and named myself "Reading you". I wanted to trick him. I searched for his QQ number. Bingo, he was indeed online. I sent him a request to become hisQQ pal, he approved.
I asked him, "Why are you online alone on such a day when every family gets together?"He said, "My wife is travelling. I miss her so much that I have to pass time online."
Quite happy at his confession, I kept pressing on. "Hmm…your wife is not home, why don't you find a lover to replace her, like one from online?"
I waited a long time before seeing his reply "If you arelooking for a lover, I am sorry, I am not the one for you.
"Oops, I beg your pardon. I did not mean that. Please do not be so angry." I sent it over as fast as I could.
After a while, he asked me why I was also online.
"I am working away from home. I miss my father and mother now. I just called my boy friend but I cannot go to sleep, so here I am."
"Yes, I miss my parents, too. But I am away from home. I want to take a good care of them, but they are too far to reach."
"But I am away from home. I want to take a good care of them, but they are too far to reach. But why?" Icopied these two lines and sent them back to him. I was bewildered. How come he said that!
"You named yourself 'reading you'. Well, I'll let you read me just for now. Some secrets would make one fall sick if they are not told for a long time. Now that Ido not know you, you do not know me, you may just aswell listen to a little story. Ok?"
Then, quite unexpectedly, I learned a secret, whichTianchi had been hiding deep in his heart.
"Thirty years ago, my dad was not married even at the age of 50. He had lost his leg and his family was too poor. No girl would marry him. Then, an old man and ablind woman came begging in his village. The old beggar was seriously sick. My father took great sympathy on them and let them stay at his house. Unfortunately, hedid not rise once he lay in bed. In the end, the blindwoman, the old beggar's daughter, married my dad."
"I was born the next year."
"My family was extremely poor, but I was always fed enough. Dad and mom could not work on the farmland. They earned a living by shelling pellets from corn on the cobs for neighboring households. One day's workwould make their fingers badly blistered. The next day they would continue to work with their fingers wrapped in cloth. To pay my schooling, they raised three chicken layers. Eggs from two were sold for cash, and the remaining one lay eggs for me. 'City boys have eggsat school. I learned it when I begged in the city. Myboy should also have eggs at school. He will grow smarter than a city boy.' Mom would say."
"But mom and dad never ate any eggs. One day I saw momfrying eggs for me and licking the inner side of the eggshell. I threw my arms around her and burst out wailing.
I refused to eat eggs however hard she tried to persuade.
When dad learned all about this he was so angry that heal most beat her with a stick. At last I compromised withthe condition that we three eat together. They agreed,but each time they only touched the egg with their teeth."
"The whole village did not call me my real name. They gave me a nickname of "lame blind boy." Dad and mom would always be fighting with whoever called that. Mom could not see, so she picked up bricks to throw at them.
While she tried to hit them, she would curse, 'You fool bastards. We are lame and blind, but our boy is nice and smart. I hate you calling him that way. None of you will be better than my child in any way.'"
"That year I attended the high school entrance examination. The 'lame blind boy' got the highest scores in the county. Dad and mom were indeed happy and proud for quite some time. The Township government paid all my schooling. Dad went out of the poor mountainous village for the first time in his life, to send me toschool. When I got into the bus, I could not hold back tears flooding in my eyes. One hand on the crutch, dad wiped them off with the other hand. 'Study hard in school,son. Get a good wife at the city. If you are asked about dad and mom, tell them that you are an orphan. Your parents have both died. If you don't say so,people will look down on you. Most important or all, no girl will marry you. I would not dare to face my dead ancestors if you get no wife because of me and your mom.'"
"'Dad!' I stopped him from saying more. What was he talking about? I was then not of any use how could I do that? But mom insisted that dad was right, and that I must listen. 'Don't you remember? When you were at junior high school, once you told the truth, others looked at you in a humiliating way. At the beginning,even teachers did not like you. When you take your wife home, you tell her that we are your uncle and aunt.' With these words, mom wiped off her tears. Dad said,"Don't take your wife home. If you do, your mom will one day carelessly let out the secret." He thrust ten eggs into my pocket, and walked away with mom."
At this point my eyes kept dropping from my eyes. Being disabled is not their fault. It is their bad fate. But they gave me such a perfect Tianchi. This silly Tianchi!
Such a perfect dad and mom! Where can I find two more perfect ones? I was very angry. Why on earth did he look down on me?
I continued to ask him questions, "What happened next? Did you tell your wife that they are your uncle and aunt?"
"I did not want to do that at the beginning, nor did I believe I had to. My wife is married to me, not to my parents. Why can't I call them dad and mom? But duringthe ten years when I was at school, my parents had never come to see me. When I started to work for the first year, I wanted to take them to stay in the city, they declined. They were afraid of affecting my image among people who knew me, and especially of making me fail toget a wife. They wanted to live in the mountainous village for the rest of their life. Nowhere would they want to go. Mom said that city life was nothing because he had been there."
"Then I had my first girl friend. When I thought it was the right time, I took her home. But she soon walked away without not even having dinner. I ran after her and asked her why. 'I cannot stay with such a poor family even for one day.' She said. 'Your family must have wrong genes, and your children would not be healthy.' I was so angry that I shouted at her, 'Get lost,as far away as you can!'
When I walked back, mom was weeping. Dad scolded me. He blamed me for not having listened to him. He worried that I might ruin his hope of having a grandson.
Then I met my second girl friend, my wife now. I loveher very much, and I dread losing her even in my dream. Her family is quite wealthy and all their relatives arehigh-class people. I was very afraid, having made one mistake with the first girl friend, so I had to followmy dad's suggestion. Whenever it is a festival or theend of the year, however, I will miss my parents. I am very upset from deep within."
"You never told your wife this secret," I was verycurious, "Perhaps she would not mind".
"Nope. I have never told her. I am so afraid. Even though she does not mind, my mother-in-law will not. I live with them. My father-in-law is quite somebody outside. If my dad and mom come to stay with us, he would feel disgraced. I can only sneak back to see them on my business trips. Thank you for listening to mystory for so long. I feel much better now."
I got offline, but still could not sleep. They say ason should not look down on his mother even though sheis ugly, and a dog never minds if his host is poor. Look,what have we done? I understand why Tianchi had to lie,and I also understand why his parents kept that secret. But they do not know that what they did had already mademe a heartless woman.
When the day broke, I knocked at the door of my departmental manager. I told him that he had to proceed with the rest of things because I had something urgent to deal with. I packed quickly and ran for the railway station. Fortunately, I caught the first train.
That mountainous path was indeed rough. First I wasable to walk fast easily, but soon my feet were blistered.I could not move an inch. It was right at noon, with the sun scorching the land. I was out of breath for all the trudge. Water I carried was almost running out. Idid not know how much longer I had to walk. I took off my shoes and squeezed the blisters. I hurt so much that I cried out. How I wished to call Tianchi to take mehome. But I did not. I picked up some reed flowers fromthe roadside and put them in the shoes. I felt much more comfortable walking now. At the thought that Tianchi's parents were still working hard at home, I felt an erupting strength on my legs. I made to my feet and pulled along.
When the old village head led me to where Tianchi'shouse stood, a burning-red sunset just glittered through an old jujube. There sat uncle, oh, no, Tianchi's dad. Dad looked much older than I first met him on my wedding.
He was shelling corn on the cobs, his crutch leaning against his legless side. Mom was kneeing on the ground,collecting corn pellets which had been put out to dry. Her hands were moving corn pellets on the ground towards her.
This scene looked just like a painting, in which I saw the most perfect dad and mom in the world.
I walked step for step towards them. Dad saw me, shocked,his cobs dropping to the ground. "Why, why did you come?" He asked.
"Who has come?" Mom was feeling around with her hand.
"Tian, Tianchi's family."
"Ah, where is it? Where?" Mom frantically felt around with her hands.
I bent down to put my luggage on the ground, grabbed her hand, faced them, and knelt down, down, with heavy,heart-broken sorrow. I heard my own knees hitting the ground.
"Dad, mom, I've come to take you home."
Dad coughed and wanted to say something, but nothing I heard. Tears came rolling down his wrinkled face.
"I've said my boy is good. I've not wasted on him." Mom cried. She scratched her hands on her clothes backand forth very carefully, and then hugged me into her arms. Tears ran out of her hollow eye holes, down herface, down my neck. I felt they were so warm.
When I left the poor village with my dad and mom, people played fire crackers. I was proud for my dad and mom once again.
When Tianchi opened the door and found mom and dad each standing on both sides of me, he was astonished. He froze there, not saying a word.
"Tianchi, I am the one who read you. I took our mom and dad home. Such perfect dad and mom. How come you left them in the mountain?"
"Thank you, thank you." Tianchi was weeping. He cuddled me so tightly, and poured his tears onto my neck, just like his mom.
那晚，我们直到把手机聊得发烫没电为止。躺在宾馆的床上，看着窗外圆圆的月亮，我怎么也睡不着。睁着 眼睛流着泪想天池、想爸爸、想妈妈。想到天池估计也没睡着，说不定正在网上神游。翻身我也打开电脑， 重新申请了一QQ号名叫“读你”想捉弄一下天池。查了一下，天池果然在，我主动加了他，他接受了。