A Chinese Girl's Photoplay

The following story was found at Wenxue City, but its origins are uncertain.  Was this a commercial project? a school project? a public service announcement? or a personal diary?  Well, it doesn't matter really.  If this was a true event, it was a positive thing; if this was a staged event, it is still a positive thing.  (Added on August 1, 2006: She is the 缘梦解语 blogger!)

[in translation]

It is the summer vacation now.  Today, I went down to the train station to see my classmate off.  The place was busy and filled with thousands of strangers who miraculously came together in this place only to be dispersed all over the country later on.

After seeing my friend off, I and my camera-carrying friend wandered around.  "Little sister ..." said a timid-sounding voice.  I turned my head around and I saw an old lady eyeing the beverage container in my hand.  I saw her backpack and the bag in her hand and I understood.

My drink was only half finished, so the old lady stood by my side and kept smiling to please me.  I sighed in my heart and I sipped faster.

After I finished my drink, I handed the container over to her.  Since I had nothing else to do anyway, I began to help her pick up garbage.  Thanks to the 'quality' of our compatriots, I quickly picked up one whole bag of cans and bottles.  The old lady was beaming with a big smile.

By comparison, this "garbage watchman" did not understand how things worked and waited next to the garbage receptables without reaping many rewards.

The old lady reaped a big harvest today and she held a container in each hand as she would not give up anything!  Although she carried a heavy burden, it could not suppress her delight.  When I saw how happy she was, I was happy too.

Since I saw that the load was too much for her, I offered to help her bring things home.  On the way, the old lady told me that she has three sons.  In order to help her oldest son to repay his gambling debts and the youngest son to pay for his wedding, she began to collect garbage.  When I heard that, the garbage bag in my hand felt much more heavier ...

The old lady lived faraway in a remote and worn-down place.  I only discovered then that this prosperous city actually contains a place like this.

Although it took only half a minute to walk through this trash-filled street, I felt that I had traveled back to half a century ago.

Finally, we reached the district in which the old lady lived.  In this long lane, each family had stacks of garbage in front of their entrances.  I used to think that the Pig Sty City in the movie <<Kung Fu Hustle>> was fictional, but that was nothing compared to the reality here!

The local residents build their own stoves for cooking, using only coal residues, wood chips and other combustible materials as fuel.

This is the most "wealthy" household in which the space under the bed was stuffed with "wealth".  Yet I think that even the most avaracious miser could not sleep well in a house stuffed with wealth.

A lady that I met in the lane invited me to inspect her home.  In a house full of garbage, she laughed proudly.  According to the old lady, this is the wealthiest person in this area.  Faced with these plain folks, I maintained my smile but inside I wanted to cry so badly ...

I went by a door in which a woman was sorting out the garbage.  She asked the old lady how she did today.

Once the woman found out who I was, she felt close to me.  Her child is attending university right now, and every RMB obtained from the garbage goes to pay for the costly tuition of an elite student.

The woman was vivacious.  In her mind, the fate of the family will be altered as soon as her child graduates.  I dared not tell her that the employment prospects for university graduates are not as good as before and the road ahead is still distant.

In the lane, a small boy attracted my attention.  He was the only male that I spotted here.  I hope that he will grow up with determination.

I am used to walking on roads made of concrete, bricks or marble.  I am used to seeing the tall buildings, green trees and fountains in the city.  As I walked through the mounds of garbage, I had mixed feelings ...

Our arrival disrupted the peace in this neighborhood.  When the friendly women saw our camera, they took us to visit one resident.

In a dark house, we saw the oldest woman in this area.  The sight was hard for me to describe with words.

Like all the friendly homeowners here, this old lady got up to greet me.  Since she had severe spinal curvature, she could not raise her head.

The old woman is more than 80 years old.  One of her sons is physically handicapped, and the other abandoned her as soon as he got married.  The handicapped son rides a tricycle to make money while the old lady picks garbage.  As she is old and has trouble walking, she can ony pick up things like plastic bags in the neighboring areas.  She makes only several dozen RMB a month.  She has lung problems, but she cannot afford to get treatment.  So she is just living from day to day ...

Everything that I saw and heard here pained my heart.  I could not bear to stay around there anymore.  Before I left, I gave the allowance money that my mother gave me this morning to the old woman.  As of now, her heartbreaking look is still spinning around in my mind!

As I was  leaving, I turned around once again to look at this lane.  Sadly, I discovered that while the crack in the middle of the lane was shallow, the chasm between this place and the outside world was very, very deep.

Then I got back into the busy streets of the city.  Prosperity was everywhere and the colorful lights dressed up the city like an elegant woman covered with gold and silver ornaments.  In the past, I was deeply immersed in this world and I was seduced by its elegance and refined atmosphere as I hung around the up-scale shopping malls and specialty stores.  But how can I have the mood to do that today?  I ask: While we are captivated by the allure of this elegant lady, how many of us remember the old mother who brought her child up?

So I went back to my own little world which I found to be still warm and comfortable.  Yet, I did not have peace of mind.  I wanted to make sure that what I saw today should not be my personal memory alone, because more netizens should see it too.

Yes, poverty and backwardness, pain and suffering, exist in reality in all the small corners that we have deliberately tried to forget.  If you really want to, you can find them.  But what can we do next?