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A Cola Boy

9 May 2009

At the deadly moment when a giant clock on the central square of Hanwang in Sichuan stopped ticking, a high school building in the town collapsed, and Xie Xiao (薛枭) was sucked into a black hole in no time.

During the incident, his left arm was seriously injured; and he was confined in the rubble and surrounded by the dead bodies of his teachers and classmates for three days and three nights. When he was eventually pulled out of the wreckage in the late night and was about to be placed on a stretcher, he began to talk for the first time since the disaster knocked down his school and his town, "Sir, I'd like to have a bottle of cola, icy cold please (叔叔,帮我拿支可乐。要冰冻的。)."

On the site of total ruin and utter devastation, after 80 hours being kept as a hostage to death, the teenager resumed his life instantly in his usual attitudes seemingly unaffected by previous experiences and circumstances - what a remarkable spirit of resilience!

At that dark moment when China was gripped by a mood of grievance, his cola appeal amused the rescuers and the nation, which was like a beam of sunlight touched the dismal corner of the heart of millions with a message subtle yet loud: Do not allow the tragedy to break your spirits; we can pick up our lives again after the day in hell. Thus he was dearly dubbed "Cola Boy" (可乐男孩) ever since.

The Cola Boy has now turned 17, and works hard to learn how to write with his left hand during his busy preparations for studying Economy at college.

Why Economy? He was asked. "Because I wish to become a philanthropic entrepreneur, so I can help many more people," he was reportedly answered, which is a quite simple yet rather admirable aspiration, of course.

China has a long tradition of Confucius Merchandise (儒商), an ethical code for conducting business. Sadly the civilised convention has been trashed in face of the brutal assault from the Western business principles that are, by and large, based on social Darwinism, which is typically illustrated by Spanish and British gunboat trade practice in the past and oil war initiated today by the United States.

When asked during an interview with journalists from Guangzhou Daily that how he would like to reflect the catastrophe in which he lost his right arm, eight of his best friends with whom he used to play sports with and more than 30 mates in his class, he was said to have responded in a measured tone beyond his years, "I think I'm very fortunate. I have kept close contact with my surviving classmates and I think the special bond between us will never break." Clearly the pain of loss will be forever felt.

However in a couple of days, he will observe the first anniversary of the tragic event by attending the wedding of "Uncle Chen", a young man named Chen Yan (陈岩) who spent days and nights working on the quake-stricken areas to search for survivors after the initial shake. Xie Xiao and his young mates are scheduled to be the ring bearers of the groom who helped to pull them out of the black hole, and it will be an occasion to celebrate the life under the sun.

Prev: An Earthquake Baby
Next: A Man and A Woman in Earthquake


A Chinese Town in the Quake Centre

The giant clock forever points at the moment when the disaster struck the town on 12 May 2008: 14:28pm

A night in Hanwang Town before earthquake

(Source of info/photos: 《人民画报》)

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