首页 > 关于我们 > 关于平和

Chain of Love

时间:2010-11-01 10:08:30  来源:Stories of GLV   作者:Chen Liming

A woman principal in an American middle school, a homeless boy who walks on crutches, a respected and senior teacher, a handicapped person who has been disfigured by fire: Karol, Tiger, Jimmy, Myron. They had been living their own life until one day they gathered because of love and now are friends. The sky is small, but the sea of our heart is big; the land is narrow, but our mind is wide; the world is complicated, but we live in peace.


No one can live his or her life over again. What has been done cannot be undone, just like the past never returns. However, I cannot help imagining what I would look like and how my life would be today if there had not been that fire, if that flame had not kissed my face, or if it had been a harmless touch. When I was three years old, fire took my little brother’s life mercilessly and burned one side of my body. I have been handicapped ever since.
* Handicapped *
My Chinese name is Chen Liming and my English name is Myron. I am from the countryside. My maternal grandmother has two daughters and my mother is the elder one. My maternal grandfather worked for the government. He was well-read and well-informed and sent my mother to serve as a waitress in a big restaurant of our town as soon as he had the opportunity. My father entered my mother’s family from another village for he had no money to bring home a wife. Therefore, my younger brother and I took my mother’s family name and considered our maternal parents as our paternal ones. A live-in son-in-law in the countryside was the last thing they respected and he had to take over all the physical labors including carrying water and planting.
My grandfather lived in the dormitory provided by the government and hardly came back due to his work, nor did my mother. My grandmother and my aunt, were constantly dissatisfied with my father and always scolded him though he was honest and reserved. He could do nothing but keep all the complaints to himself.
People in my village always asked my father why he didn’t leave the family since he was treated as a slave. My father couldn’t tell right from wrong very well and he took their words seriously. One day he felt really bad after being mistreated and told my grandmother that he would like to go back to his original family for a visit after many years of marriage. My grandmother believed him and let him leave the family and, to her surprise, he never came back.
Later a subpoena came, saying my father wanted a divorce and demanded to take away one child. My grandmother claimed that the children belong to the Chen family and none of them could be taken away. At last, they divorced and my younger brother and I lived with our mother. I was three years old and my brother was not much more than one year old. After the divorce, my mother suggested she take my brother and me with her, sending me to the kindergarten and my brother to the nursery. However, my grandmother didn’t want to give any child to her, for it was she that brought us up all the along and she wasn’t willing to entrust us to anyone.
My grandmother had taken over the laborious work ever since my father left us. She went out very early each day to prepare for the drying of paddy. One day, the electric power was out and she left the house without turning off the kerosene lamp, thinking that she would come back soon. I guess it was a gust of wind that toppled the kerosene lamp put by the head of the bed and the mosquito net caught fire. The kerosene flame went wild and I became the way I am now within a short time.
Actually, the flame just devoured only the side of the bed and part of the quilt. I was three years old then and quickly ran out when I felt the pains from the burning, but my little brother had just learned to walk and was too young to escape by himself in time. It was our neighbor who grabbed him out of the flames at last. I guess that the kerosene lamp fell on my brother first, which explains why he was so seriously injured.
We were rushed to a county hospital which told us to transfer to a city hospital immediately. My poor brother couldn’t make it before the hospital began to do anything to save us. My grandmother was shocked and kept blaming herself and she went insane for more than six months. We sent a telegram to my father and he came to visit me, still declining to live with us. My mother had hardly any feelings left for him after the long departure.
I have the same mild temperament as my father does. When I was in high school, I wrote my father a letter with the address from my mother and he mailed me a few hundred RMB in return. One summer vacation, I went to visit him and found out about his harsh life. He had three children from his second marriage and his wife was also a peasant. Actually my father was a kind and nice person and I didn’t want to bring the unhappiness from their generation to mine. I have never complained about his sudden disappearance without saying goodbye, for probably it was the best choice for him at that time.
I was burned in 1980 and shortly after that our family was penniless. My grandfather was a government official then and the government kindly lent us money for the treatment which we could pay back gradually, later. My right hand was unrecognizable and my right arm was distorted and stiff. What’s worse, I had to walk in a bumpy way due to a stiff hamstring. Two years later, I underwent my first plastic surgery which proved to be successful. I could stretch my right arm straight and dress myself. Besides, I was able to walk in a normal way, which pleased my grandfather a lot. At the very beginning when I was burned, my head swelled up as big as a bucket and my eyes were nothing but two seams. Many doctors told my grandfather that there was no point saving me, who was almost blind, and lame with a right hand beyond recognition. Nevertheless, my grandfather insisted that he would save me as long as I was still breathing.
My skin was half burned and there was not enough healthy skin for grafting therefore, I had to use pig’s skin which I eventually got used to. The pig’s skin must have fallen off after all these years. My grandmother suffered from mental disorder after the accident and my grandfather had to live in with me till I was in fifth grade in the primary school. He loved me very much and it was his love that gave me my second life.
* School Life *
 When I began school, my grandfather was afraid that others would bully me, so he found the headmaster he was familiar with and asked him to take care of me. The headmaster assured my grandfather that nothing would happen to me. Every teacher was nice to me in grades one through grade six in the primary school, for I was one of the top students in our school, or even in our town, in terms of academic results which I achieved without extra hard work. I had never thought I was different from others and needed to make additional efforts. I just went to school as the others did. Ever since I was a child, I led a life free of trouble and I kept moving up in the school and never came across anything such as I have since read about how bullied some handicapped children are. Nobody refused me, declined to accept me or even despised me just because I was disabled.
My mother remarried and my stepfather came to our family with his daughter, after which their son came to the world. My mother took good care of me, but she was too occupied to pay extra attention to me. I barely went to her house except during the summer vacation. I was close to my half sister as a friend. As for my stepfather, he was nothing to me but a title.
 My mother always went back to my grandfather’s place to spend the Spring Festival, while my grandfather hardly visited my mother. What’s more, my stepfather didn’t like to pay a visit to my grandmother with my mother as my grandmother hated him. Actually, he was not nice for he often beat my mother when I was young and didn’t stop this until I was a junior in my high school.
   My half brother is 22 and good-looking now. However, he went directly to work right after his middle school education, which actually had something to do with my grandfather. I got my tuition fees from my grandfather who thought that I took Chen as my family name and therefore I was the grandchild of Chen family and would carry on the family name but my half brother took my stepfather’s family name. In a word, we two were totally different in my grandfather’s heart with regard to importance.
 I usually put my right hand into my pocket, which was a basic instinct rather than that I was afraid the other people would see it. One of my colleagues noticed that and kindly told me that, “Disability is not your fault, why don’t you show your hand? Otherwise, your right hand will be completely useless.” I knew he was being kind and sincere as friend but I could return with nothing but a smile. This must have something to do with my psychology. Nobody is flawless and each of us tends to hide our flaws, which is really challenging to change, just like short people who like to wear high heels. I have to expose my face as ordinary people do but I would have worn a mask if many others chose to wear one. All of these things are just habits.  
My grandmother passed away a decade ago when my mother was fifty years old and retired. My stepfather was also gone by that time. Actually they had started to live separately long before that. Every one or two weeks, my mother would visit my half brother. However, they divorced, at last, due to the absence of love. My half brother often took care of my stepfather when he was sick, while my mother didn’t go to look after him for she had no feelings for him at all. Besides, he had always beaten her ever since she was pregnant with my half brother. She had become totally depressed after two failed marriages.
I took the college entrance examination and fell into the fourth admission group. I was afraid that I would not be able to get through the physical check, so I applied for a certificate of third-degree disability. I thought that certificate would save me a lot of trouble. I found the enrollment instructions of the Guangzhou English School for Disabled People in a newspaper later. It was set up with donations from society and no tuition was charged. What’s more, it promised that the school would introduce the students to the companies when they graduated. My grandfather was old then and it was really challenging to put me through college. In addition, I was worried that it would probably be difficult to find a job even if I graduated. I thought this school was a suitable choice for me, so I took the admission test and was admitted.
This English University was co-organized by the Foreign Language School of Zhongshan University. There were only fewer than seventy students with three levels. All the teachers were from the Zhongshan University and the whole system was adopted from the Zhongshan University as well. This was a language school therefore it only admitted physically disabled students but declined to accept deaf, mute or retarded people.
Job Hunting
Disability didn’t stop me from my development of my abilities and I felt no different from others and was free of psychological shadows. Nevertheless, when I graduated and stepped into the society, I found that my disfigured face could bring me more pains apart from my physical pains. My school introduced me into a company where I could work as a telephone operator, so I didn’t need to contact customers face to face. However, that company just said it would consider me and never replied. I tried to look for jobs in different companies by myself, but all of them told me that I couldn’t do the job.
My friend introduced me into a private company to make illuminated advertisement boxes. English was useless and all it required was computer-aided drafting which I didn’t learn at all in my school. I lost my first job after two months, for my boss told me that he could ask his wife to take my position if I just did the document filing.
If I could choose, I would rather lose my whole right arm in exchange for appearance. However, I felt I was in a dilemma sometimes as I could do a lot of things with my right arm. Now I can’t do many things except simple ones like carrying a table. My right arm has gone through two operations. In 1987, my grandfather took me to Guangzhou, in the hope of giving me a face-lift. Nevertheless, the doctor dismissed my grandfather’s idea and told him that he couldn’t stick to the out-of –date thoughts any longer, a disfigured face would not necessarily influence me in making a living. If I successfully had a hand surgery, I would be able to support myself at least. My grandfather refuted that there were many single-armed people who could make a living, while disfigured face would make it difficult for me to find a job and get married.
That doctor was so stubborn and insisted that he would do the arm surgery but not the face-lift. Finally, we decided to do the arm surgery. The doctor wanted to pull my arm straight and cut my remnant palm apart, simulating a normal hand. It was a pity that it didn’t work out at all. Actually my grandfather had known the result even before the surgery began for another doctor told him that my right arm’s ligament was broken and my right arm was useless when I was three years old. My grandfather told that to the doctor but he refused to believe it. Surely I knew that the doctor was thinking in favor of me, but it was me that suffered and it was my grandfather that paid for nothing.
Later my grandmother had a stroke and didn’t utter a word till she left us at last. However, I knew that she was clear about everything for she would look at me when I called her. The medical fees were getting increasingly higher and my grandfather couldn’t afford one more plastic surgery. When I worked in GLV, I went to Guangzhou for another surgery with the money donated from my colleagues there. The last piece of healthy skin on my arm was taken to fix my inside eyelids. I won’t do any further surgeries, given all the suffering they entail. Most importantly, there is no healthy skin left for grafting. All the places where the skin has been taken have become scars.
In my school, there were many people with more serious physical problems. Some walked with one crutch, some with two crutches. There was a girl whose hands had been burned with only two fingers left; her face was better than mine though. Even for an extremely sensible girl, a minor disability would make her depressed, not to mention a disfigured face. After graduation, most classmates became secretaries; the ones who relied on two crutches went to work in the banks to input the data. I knew a girl who had two artificial legs who worked in the China office of an American charity institution and she even got the chance to go to America last year.
I went back home after I lost my job. I sincerely believed that there must be a window open when God shut all the doors. My grandfather had a monthly pension of 500 RMB which we both lived on. My half brother had married in town and he had already had a child who my father took care of. Actually it was me that my mother and grandfather worried about most; they were afraid that I would never be able to find a girlfriend. The English I learned in the school didn’t do me any good and I was dejected for wasting three years in the school. Sometimes, I did some wholesale businesse with my friend and made some money out of it, but it was too risky.
To be honest, I could’ve married and couldn’t have had any high expectations of myself if I had stayed at home all the time. Nevertheless, everything is different now and I don’t despise myself because of my disability. I’ve been looking for a girlfriend who I have a lot in common with, who is educated at least. Probably there are many people who would sniff at my naive idea and say that any girl available would be a blessing for me. I will just laugh back without any unnecessary explanation.
* Teacher Tang *
It is a little bit mysterious when it comes to my story of GLV and me. In 2001, I received a letter from a teacher named Tang Hongguang. He wrote that he was an English teacher and Jimmy was his English name; he used to teach in Zhuhai No.1 High School and now he had adopted a homeless disabled child named Tiger. Teacher Tang told me that the younger brother of my former school’s principal was his colleague earlier. He also wanted to send Tiger to that school. He was eighty and retired at home, unable to teach him on a daily basis. Therefore, he was thinking of inviting a graduate student of that school over to teach Tiger at his home, which he thought would be better in terms of teaching effects.
Teacher Tang told me that he had been to the school for the disabled and asked about the graduates’ information. My head teacher told him that there were still three graduate students who hadn’t found a job, one in Guangzhou, one in Guizhou and the last one was me. After that, Teacher Tang wrote me with the address from my head teacher. He said that I didn’t need to come here if I was having a good life back home; or I could come over if I was interested.
My business didn’t work out and the more than 10,000 RMB my grandfather borrowed for me was gone. I thought going to Teacher Tang’s place might be a good opportunity; besides, I’d like to practice my English and put what I had learned in my school into good use. Thus, I came to Zhuhai at the end of 2001.
In March, 2002, I moved into Teacher Tang’s house. He was exceptionally respectful to senior people who lived at a old residence left by his great uncle on his mother’s side, Tang Shaoyi who was the first prime minister in the cabinet of Republic of China. Teacher Tang had been living there for a long time, welcoming all the tourists who wanted to visit the residence of Tang Shaoyi.
He told me that he would cover my accommodation and meals, and would pay me only 500 RMB per month given the fact that he only lived on his pension. I didn’t care much about the money and ensured him that I would do my best.
My student Tiger was already twenty years old and had to walk on two crutches due to having contacted polio. No school was willing to admit him even though he was way over his school age. He had never been to school and had been living on Gongbei Street and couldn’t write his own name before he was adopted by Teacher Tang. Tiger was able to read and write after two years of teaching offered by Teacher Tang. However, I still found it difficult to teach him.
* Karol *
Karol, looked younger than my mother and was the Principal of an American high school. I heard that she came to China to travel on vacations. She knew Teacher Tang when she visited Tang Shaoyi’s original residence earlier. Karol revisited this time and came across me. She was pleased after discovering that I could speak English and was so interested in my English-studying process that she even asked me to take her to visit the school for the disabled given her teacher background. We talked a lot and came to know each other well as friends in defiance of the age gap. She gave me her email before she headed back home and I have since been in contact with her.
I heard about GLV when I was in the school in Guangzhou. It was a high-end school in my mind. Karol chatted with me about GLV and shared with me the fact that she went to GLV to teach every time she came to China, also. What’s more, Principal Ping of GLV had been a friend of hers and Teacher Tang’s for years. Principal Ping always took foreigners to Tang Shaoyi’s original residence and that was how Karol came to know Teacher Tang. Returning from Guangzhou, Karol invited me to GLV where I witnessed foreign teachers walking in and out and heard all the students speaking in English, which created a nice atmosphere.
I got along well with Tiger and he was diligent as a student. Although he could read newspapers after two years of life with Teacher Tang, Tiger still failed to express himself clearly because of his lack of formal education. In July, I led Tiger to Guangzhou for the admission test of the school I had studied in. Nonetheless, it was a pity that he didn’t pass due to his terribly insufficient basic knowledge.
Teacher Tang felt great pressure about the family’s expenditures.. He ended my tutoring classes for he knew that Tiger’s Chinese couldn’t be improved within a short time. He told me that he hated to stop my tutoring classes but he couldn’t make ends meet any more; besides he promised me that he would help me find a new job.
Teacher Tang found a friend in Doumen. That was a foreigner who ran a shipyard and married a Chinese woman. I thought at the beginning that I would do some paper work in the shipyard. However, it turned out that I needed to clean the floors with an unfavorable salary. I declined it and wrote to Karol, informing her of my decision to leave Zhuhai for my original business back home. She replied that she would respect my decision.
Meanwhile, she suggested that I apply for a job in GLV. I was astounded to hear that forI had been considering GLV as a high-end school which I couldn’t be part of. What’s more, Teacher Tang had been a friend of GLV Principal Ping for years and didn’t even bring up this idea. Nevertheless, Karol insisted that I give it a try for no one knows the result before trying. She was fully convinced that I could be a tutor in GLV considering the fact that I was a tutor for Tiger for half a year. Karol prepared a resume for me and came to China and found Ping to discuss this.
Principal Ping of GLV had a few conversations with me, checking if I was competent or not. In September, 2002, I was successfully hired by GLV which I even had never dared to think about. I was assigned to help the foreign teachers with their communication with the outside and to giving some tutoring classes to the low level students. After my entry into GLV, my life was totally transformed due to the elevated class life I had never experienced. At the very beginning, my purpose for learning English was to prepare for life and survival. As soon as I started to work at GLV, I felt that a higher goal and a greater dream should be made; at least I should have a job I liked so that I didn’t need to worry about trivial things in life.
I didn’t complain about unfairness of my destiny. I always considered myself as a lucky dog and lived life as I found it. I never condemned my grandmother for her negligence which led to my disaster, without which I probably couldn’t have learned English, met Karol and many other foreign friends or entered into GLV. Otherwise, I could’ve gone into another field of career. All of these made me think that some things in life, to some degree, were set by fate.
I have received a lot of help from others all the way along, including the time in GLV when so many people donated money for my plastic surgery. I felt extremely grateful for all the support and it was gratefulness that guided my behaviors. I would help people who were in need and I would offer my help to others once they didn’t need it anymore. Thus, a beautiful world came into being.
I contacted almost every foreign teacher in GLV. It was part of my job and what I liked to do out of my own motives. For example, I help the restaurants near GLV translate their menus because the foreigners often ate meals outside. Besides, I would happily go out with them rather than turn down invitations when a foreign teacher asked me out on Sundays, which was the time for me to rest.
Sometimes the foreign teachers offered me tips for what I did for them, but I declined to take them. Not because getting tips didn’t conform to the teaching principles in GLV’s culture, but, as I told them, it was my job and I liked to do it. Actually I needed money badly and I knew they wanted to thank me as friend, but would some tips express their thanks to me? Possibly this was still my Chinese way of thoughts.
As a matter of fact, care and love can’t be measured by money. For example, I would really like to give my thanks to Alan who was an American teacher. He barely talked to me except for daily greetings, though his utmost considerateness truly touched me. He bought a pair of sunglasses especially for me, which did surprise me. He thought of things ahead of me and it was the small details and neglected needs he noticed that moved me.
At a meeting of all the school staff, Principal said that the worst disability was spiritual disability. There was a handicapped man was very positive even though he didn’t have a complete arm or leg. He had a lot of friends and was always ready to help others, which exerted a great influence on his wife who started to do volunteering work with her two daughters in the hospital every Sunday. His wife told others that she didn’t consider him as a disabled man in the family for he did everything at home and  was happy to live with him.
One’s mind-set matters much whether you are disabled or not, healthy or not. It would be a disaster if you exaggerate your disability and expect to get more from others. The greatest thing ever I came to GLV is not my improvement in English, but that I have come to find the appropriate way to look at myself. I have become fully confident rather than depressed and reserved over my disability.
Principal Ping instructed me sincerely and straightforwardly, “Myron, you are healthy both physically and spiritually. You can see, read, run and jump. GLV is neither a charity nor a safe harbor for you. It would be disrespectful and unfair to both you and the teachers and students if you receive special help here. You are yourself, you are Myron. GLV only provides you a platform on which you have to lead your life on your own in the future. Only with the possession of such a spirit can you realize your dreams. Thus, you will demonstrate your values even if you leave GLV one day.” Ping said that would a success of GLV’s as well as mine.
There were many English words that I didn't know when I came to GLV at the beginning. I just kept guessing and asking others before I made a progress in my reading, oral and written English through working and studying with foreigners. I could talk to foreign teachers fluently and do my job proficiently. Many of them spoke highly of my progress which I could hardly believe myself. I translated a lot of English articles. Besides, I helped the government in Doumen translate the initial scripts for a promotion video. I was invited to Zhuhai TV Channel for the recording of scripts which had been proofread by the foreign teacher, Al.
On February 15th, 2004, a special student recommended by Karol came to GLV. He was Tiger and his Chinese name was Li Jihua, the one I had taught earlier and the one Teacher Tang supported. He soared from level one all the way up to level four in three months’ the immersion experience English training, which was a remarkable improvement.
I wrote to Karol, saying that Tiger loved GLV and had applied for the position of volunteer in GLV. What’s more, I told her that I had got married and was about to become a father; my wife was healthy, graduated from the middle-school and worked in my hometown. I was ready to be a great father and my new chapter of life would begin soon.
We have to face whatever comes to our life and remember that we can’t go back in time. It is sincerity and love that lighten up the way to the future just like the sparkling stars do. Although I have been confronted with many hardships and setbacks in life, love has been the column that holds up my sky and the mentor that comforts me through all the depressions and sorrows. In addition, I also extended my love to others. God help those who help others, only then can our world become more beautiful and warm.
Time flies and I have been working at GLV for more than two years, during which a lot of things happened. My daughter is already six months old, chubby and lovely. Although she is not well-educated, my wife is in possession of the qualities of thrift, simplicity, industry and kindness which are features of people from the countryside. She helps my mother to do the housework and takes care of my grandfather, which makes it possible for me to feel at ease when I work away from home.
I went back home this Spring Festival. On the Lunar New Year’s Eve, we sat together around the table and my grandfather smiled in a satisfied way. I was very happy to see how he smiled and I was sure that that was one of the best Lunar New Year’s Eves he had ever had. I didn’t let him down in a family of four generations. His efforts cultivating me finally paid off. I also enjoyed the my own happiness when I had had to deal with the destined setbacks and hardships. I guess the wonderfulness of life lies in the fact that there are so many things unexpected and uncontrollable around us.
My English has improved a lot now after all the time I have spent with the foreigners and I can chat with them cheerfully sometimes when I am familiar with their culture. Besides, I began to think in a western way, which, I think, elevates me to new heights of English.
My confidence now is much stronger than before. I believe that confidence always comes with one’s abilities in life. I have faced life head-on, bravely, and have made a great many friends. What’s more, I have started to do media interviews and face the public.
With the help of Ping and Karol, my student Tiger has made his great breakthrough and was successfully admitted to the foreign language school I was in, after his training at GLV. His way of life has suddenly expanded from being a homeless boy to a student studying in a foreign language school. I am really pleased to see Tiger’s changes and see myself in him when it comes to the similar experiences. Good luck to him.
Karol still comes to China at least once a year and continues her love for China. She comes to China when she is on vacation and she often tells me that she always thinks about China when she is in America. Every time Karol comes to China, she is more interested in Chinese people rather than Chinese tourist sites. She has come to China a number of times and made a lot of friends in Zhuhai, while she has never visited such big cities as Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai and other world-renowned tourist attractions.

 Ping and Karol are two honorable and important people in my life. I am grateful for their help which has helped me to change my destiny that would’ve been totally different otherwise. I work and live in GLV, positively facing every day and everyone. There will be more obstacles and difficulties in my life, but GLV will continue to build up my confidence and willpower, which, I am sure, will bring me a better future.