in China | China Watch
Chinese Man's Struggle (5)
A Poor Man's Lonely Festival
The following is an English translation of
the core text of a Chinese post currently appeared on China's
online forum. The author, a man from poor rural area with
college education, tells his true story (as he so claims)
of how he struggles with his career and marriage in a big
I Didn't Want to Give UP
I Took up Challenge
I Gave Up
I Was Left On My Own
Chinese new year arrived.
I returned home on the eve and told my wife
the true reason for my 28-days absence. She reproached me
for not letting her know when I was at hospital, but also
refrained from letting her parents know about my illness
- she didn't want to make them concerned for us. My mother-in-law
did not mention about the insurance fees either.
As usual, on the lunar new year's day, the
relatives of my wife's extended family would come to pay
new year call, and the guests would include my wife's
cousins and their husbands. One of the husbands is a Post-PhD
research fellow in the United States and becomes the proud
of my wife's extended family. I often heard my mother-in-law
mentioned him to her friends.
During her busy preparation for the new
year's day lunch, my mother-in-law did not forget to
tell my wife to buy a set of new clothes for me. My wife
was helping doing cooking in kitchen, and just gave me
300 yuans for me to find new clothes for myself.
I understood my shabby appearance would make
my in-laws lose face before the relatives.
I wandered in streets with my son. The atmosphere
of festivity was thick, and the mood of the crowd buoyant.
Watching the streams of the gaily holiday shoppers, I felt
so lonely and desolate. Soon my son was drawn to a firecracker's
stall and refused to leave empty handed. So I decided not
to worry about my new clothes and bought him 120 yuans
of firecrackers instead. When we approached home, I pretended
to talk to someone on my mobile phone and made sure my
wife and in-laws could hear my voice. Once at home, I return
180 yuans to my wife and told her that I had to meet an
important business associate who just arrived in the city
My in-laws said nothing. They understood
that I tried to make everyone's life a bit easier, and
my wife just silently stuffed a 100-yuan note in my hand.
When I walked out the home and closed the door behind me,
I heard a loud cry burst out from the other side of the
door, which was from my son.
During the entire festival season, I stayed
at my brother's rental room alone. My brother returned
to the village to spend the festival with our parents.
Of course, he would not reveal my true circumstance to
The room was tiny and scruffy, containing
only a plank bed, a shaky desk and a refurbished laptop,
but before leaving, my brother stored enough rice, noodle
and oil for me. I lie on bed watching television on the
laptop during daytime, and occasionally cooked a bowl of
noodle when felt hungry; at night, I ambled through streets
and squares watching neo-lights and fireworks, and pondered
where my life was going. I dared not to fancy how to be
successful, but I did need to think hard how to survive.
The easiest way out might be to return to
village and live a life as a peasant again. But I knew
it wasn't practical. It isn't a news for a peasant to go
to college and move to city, but it will be a scandal for
college graduate to return to the farmland.
The tragic truth is that we are constantly
unable to manage our lives in our own best interest, but
frequently based on other people's expectations.
As the U.S. financial crisis has now affected
China, my income has been reduced by half, while work
pressure doubled. I work in a state run organisation
which used to be an iron rice bowl, but since we now
have to sign employment contract, we've lost job security,
and my boss loves to intimidate staff with sack. I have
to bear all these because I have a family to support.
The pressure in life is both constraints
and opportunities. It may bring some people down to their
knees, but could also help others to grow stronger and
rise up to the occasion.
I swear, if my husband fails in his business,
I will keep supporting him.
Now I have no income, and my girlfriend has
just given me 200 yuans. I think I'm responsible for this
difficult situation because I haven't done my best. And
I believe, as long as I do not give up, I will eventually
I graduated from college two years ago and
lost my job 20 days ago, but I'll begin a new job next
Monday. I hope it's a good start and I will work hard to
keep this position.
My dream is to be able to look after my parents
and bring them a better life as they shall deserve.
I am tearful as I'm reading your post.
I was born in 80s as the second child of
my parents so my family was severely penalised. Until I
went to junior high, those family
planning people would still come to demand fines. My
parents were very poor and made a great effort to support
my high school education, while those heartless folks showed
no sympathy for us at all. My mother would scream at them:
She's already gown taller than me, and you still want to
punish us for bringing her to this world! Each time that
would bring great sorrow to my heart, and made me swear
inwardly that when I grew up I would work hard to earn
a lot of money for my parents.
As soon as I graduated from junior high,
I immediately started work, and at the first month, I received
1,500 yuans of payment, of which I sent 1,400 yuans to
my parents. With only 100 yuans in my pocket, I experienced
a great financial difficulties, and had no money to see
doctor when I was sick. But I had no regrets as I knew
I had helped my parents.
After changed several jobs, I began to earn
more, but still I sent the most of them back to my parents
since my dad was diagnosed for lung disease and needed
money for treatment. Once I was terribly sick, but I neither
could afford to go to hospital nor took a break. Sometimes
I was so tired that I felt I just wanted to leave my job
and go home. But of course, I know I must not. I need to
help my parents and make them feel proud of me before our
relatives and fellow villagers.
Hi, whoduthinkur, my experience
is fairly similar to yours. I was born as a second
child, and have worked for five years, still I don't
have any saving yet, as I sent all my money to my poor
parents since they are quite ill. I just left my previous
job due to my own misjudgment, and each day I spent
most of time looking for work online. There aren't
many vacancies available nowadays and sometimes I feel
I'm going to break down completely. Often I woke up
in the midnight, lying on the bed and crying my heart
out. However, when my parents phone me, I had to pretend
everything is okay and I am still working, because
I don't want to make them worried for me.
I'm 27 and live in a tiny house which would
not even allow me to turnaround without bumping into something.
Nevertheless, I still have to pay 500 yuans of monthly
rental fee - Hangzhou is an expensive city to live - on
top of 2000 yuans a month to repay the debt we borrowed
for our wedding. Each day after work I just go home straight
way, since I don't have much money in my pocket, and I
haven't bought a clothes for years. When got sick, I grinded
my teeth to get through it as I couldn't afford hospital
bills. Your post brings tears into my eyes.
I'm pretending I'm at work, but in fact I
am in an Internet bar reading your post.
My son is just ten-month old and financially
looked after by my parents, as my wife is also unemployed.
Each Tuesday, Friday and Saturday I rush
around searching for jobs, but forever see the same folks
pretending hiring new staff - seems they never find anyone.
农笑非 7 Nov 2008
The day flew by so fast and soon the Chinese
new year festival was over, by then everyone would return
to his former position in life and I had to find my place
I knew there was no real opportunity for me
in waste disposal business, since I possess no expertise
or equipments. But apart from that, what else I could do?
I saw only one solution for me: to work in
a construction field as a manual labourer.
I Became A Peasant Labourer
(Chinese text: xunlei-mz.cn/art_2960_5579.html)
Philanthropic Facade for the CIA
30 Dec 2008 in Beijing railway
station, a peasant
worker on his way to return to his village for Chinese New
Year festival 2009 on 26 January
30 Dec 2008 in Beijing railway station, college
students on their way home for Chinese New Year holiday
(Source of info and original photos by: 新华网 文涛摄)
Let's Share Good Times and Bad Moments
For the first time in history, Chinese government
is to provide living subsidy for Chinese new year festival to
low income earners, elderlies in
rural areas without age pensions and other disadvantaged
groups. The total cost is estimated to be around 9 billion
yuans. (Source of info: 陈朴,中广网)
A relative of mine is an amputee and got her false
leg installed for free at a state run hospital. Her husband isn't
well and can't work so they are dependent on government subsidies.
Another relative kindly offered his own job to her elder son
and now the son has bought a flat in a county town and brought
his parents to live with him.
My relative also helps on living costs by selling
fruits. When I returned China for visit, I witnessed some
naughty kids grabbed fruits from her stall and ran away, and
all she could do was to curse the little villains. But at home,
her son takes good care of her and her husband, and would bring
rice bowls to his seniors with both hands at each meal to mark
his respect. So on the whole, she is doing okay.
A HR manager of an insurance company let three
new recruits to describe a glass of water on a table.
The glass is half full
The first man said, "It's half full".
The HRM thought he was an optimist and sent him to sell insurance
The glass is half empty
The second man said, "It's half empty".
The HRM thought he was a pessimist and set him to review the
The third man said, "It's twice too big".
"Congratulations," the HRM shook hands
with the man. "You are appointed as their payroll officer."