Chinese Stories in English
Stories by Lao Ma (Ma Junjie), Page 5
laomaruc的博客, http://laomaruc.bokee.com/5, translated from pages cited below
2. Stinky Mouth (臭嘴)
"Do you know how many legs ants have?" I shook my head.
He put his mouth to my ear: "I won't tell you. Go count them for yourself! You think you know everything? Crap, nobody in the whole world knows everything. Get it?" He smugly gave me the whole package, truth and bad breath all in one.
"Your breath smells worse than a fart. Stop farting through your mouth." I tried for all I was worth to block the foul odor from his mouth with my hand.
"Fart, fart, fart, what the heck? I could care less if I've got fart breath." He said it savagely, to provoke me.
I thought about picking up a beer bottle and stuffing it in his mouth, but the bottle was too dainty to make a good stopper.
"If you say my mouth stinks, it's because you've got dog shit stuck in your nose. This inconspicuous mouth of mine, it's mystical! It's perceptive! It has predictive abilities. You believe me?" I didn't wait for him to get any closer. I picked up a chair and used it as a barrier in front of my chest.
"I won't tell you about the distant past, just the last dozen years or so. Everything that came out of my mouth, none of it failed to come true." He gestured with one hand while he stuffed a piece of stinky tofu in his mouth with the other. He chewed it a few times and then extended his neck and swallowed. The area around his Adam's apple flared larger, then quickly returned to normal.
"In 1989, my whole body felt out of sorts. I said I was afraid something was going to happen. What was it? Forget about what happened in China, in less than two years, the Soviet Union was gone and Eastern Europe with it....
“One year, I forgot what year, I had a tic in my eyelid for two weeks. I told a lot of people that something bad was going to happen. What did happen? The embassy was blown up by some mother....
“One year I'd just lost my supposedly lifetime job when I slipped and fell. I said, 'Oh, no, we're in for it again.' That evening the TV said there more explosions in Jiangxi and Henan, and big fires....
"In '98, I remember it most clearly, my knees, wrists, and ankles ached all the time, like I had rheumatism. I wondered what was up, a big flood? And what did happen? That year the floods covered half of China....
"Another time I'd just decided to lie down when I discovered a ton of ants had gotten on the bed. That was not a good sign. I said trouble's on the way. It turned out that Zhongnanhai was surrounded by, what, something called 'Falun Gong'….
"In September last year both my cheeks hurt. It felt like red-hot iron bars were going through them. I said another disaster was coming, either natural or man-made. Hey, I didn't expect the United States to get smashed like that....
“These were all big deals, but everyone knows that some small things are even more evil. Just this year, I was having a drink with a bunch of pals one day. I said that our company’s Manager Xia didn’t have much clout with the bosses. I didn’t think he'd get shuang-guied the next day, you know, sent up on corruption charges....
"Last month I told my wife that something wasn't right next door, that something didn't bode well. That night somebody broke in and the place was totally cleaned out. Someone even got killed. Tell me that wasn't mystical. And they'd just installed security doors....
“Last week a classmate from elementary school came to see me. Actually he came to show off. In school he memorized the multiplication table chant as “three eights are twenty-three” and the teacher couldn't get him to say it right no matter what. The last couple of years, I don't know if he robbed a bank, or sold drugs, or what, but he seems to have made a ton of money and came running over with his stinky bragging. I told him he was headed for disaster. Could he believe it? He even said I was a worthless windbag and was jealous of him. Tell me, this guy, he didn't know his own from one in the ground. He drove off in his "Big Benz", right off the bridge to his death….
"And as for you, I don't think your complexion looks so good. You need to...."
“Bah!” I jumped him and grabbed his neck as tight as death. I stuck out one hand and snatched up that beer bottle, the one I'd been going to stuff in his mouth, and pounded viciously on his bald head.
You don't have to say it. His mouth really was perceptive. That very night I got locked up in jail.
5. Mystical Penmanship (神笔)
A calligrapher's characters are worth money. That’s because they’re written well and are works of art. Everyone understands the logic of this.
In fact, characters written less well are worth even more money, and the worse they’re written the more valuable they are. This is a secret known only to me.
You don’t believe it? I didn’t either, before, because it’s contrary to conventional wisdom. Facts are most convincing, though, and they don’t care whether you believe them or not.
Characters written sloppily still command high prices if they're the work of a high official right? But I’m not counting that. Characters written by a bank president are valuable, and it’s all the same whether they’re written well or not. You understand this. And I don’t need to explain that characters written by people with authority, influence and fame are definitely worth money. What I’m talking about, though, is the fact that the little people, commoners, can sometimes also write valuable characters, and the worse they’re written the more money they’re worth. What I’m saying is the absolute truth.
I had a classmate in middle school whose calligraphy was thoroughly dreadful. As his mother put it, it was uglier than the random scratchings of a chicken’s claw in the dirt. Starting in elementary school, teachers bopped his hand several times in attempts to teach him to write, but it was no use at all. In fact it drove two language teachers crazy. Homework, exam papers, absence requests, whatever, no one could understand anything written in his hand. But you can’t judge things you don't understand, so the teachers by and large gave him good scores to save themselves some hassles.
When we graduated from high school, everyone was asking the teachers for advice in filling out and submitting the college or specialty school application forms inquiring about their aspirations. The teachers always pointed to the characteristics and achievements of each student.
This classmate, whose name was Chen, Three-Four Chen, went to consult with a teacher as well. The teacher got anxious when he saw him. All he could do was laugh out loud and make a joke. “In view of your calligraphy,” he said, “you can only study medicine. Go to med school. Except for doctors, no one’s writing is harder to read than yours.”
The teacher had decided that Three-Four couldn’t pass the college entrance examination because the test papers weren’t graded as carelessly as regular tests and no one would take care of him.
No one expected that Three-Four would take the teacher's joking and teasing seriously, but he filled in and submitted the forms for med school without hesitation. When the results of the college entrance exam were announced, he’d actually gotten in.
After graduating from college, he was assigned to a well-known hospital as a doctor. Many of our classmates at the time broke into a cold sweat from concern for his patients – who knew what harm could be caused by the prescriptions he wrote out? It was a real danger to life and limb. No one who knew him would ask him to write a prescription no matter what.
The day before National Day last year, Three-Four called to tell me he was getting married. After they settled on an auspicious day, he’d be sure to send me an invitation to the wedding reception he would host.
I received a letter from him a few days later. I opened it and, God, I couldn't read hardly a word. When, where, what to do, I was in a fog. When I called to ask him, the people at the hospital said Doctor Chen was away on a business trip. I got quite anxious worrying that he’d mentioned something in his letter that he wanted me to help with. I really couldn’t fail him.
I took his letter to the property office. Because the people who want to live in company housing usually have to fill out written materials, and because they include workers, cadres and all kinds of other people, the director would certainly be able to read this letter. When I handed the letter to him, he studied it and then said with a smile. "We're clear about your situation. Why not ask a leader to write a note?" I nodded and said OK, and hurried to take the letter back. The next day, the property office notified me that I could come and get the key to my new condo.
Next I gave the letter to the head of my organization for a look. Lots of people send him applications for admission to the Party, so I figured his ability to read handwriting would be strong. He just glanced at the letter and handed it back. "It’s not appropriate to do this. How can you hand in your letter of resignation so casually? The organization understands your situation and your problems at work are under consideration. Don't worry!" I blushed like a boiled crab and very politely took my leave. The following month I got a promotion outside the normal guidelines.
I also took the letter to the office of the Party's Disciplinary Committee. They'd never make a mistake. They've seen all sorts of complaint letters, and no kind of handwriting would be too much for their eyes. The Committee's Secretary studied the letter carefully and told me seriously, "The clues you've provided are extremely important. We'll open a file immediately...." I was so scared I grabbed the letter and fled out the door. Later the Committee broke a major crime case and praised me for helping.
I was desperate when I got home with the letter. After my wife read it, she kicked up a fuss. She said I'd better explain exactly who the "enchantress" that wrote the letter was, because she thought its content was "too syrupy" and "too shameless". I worked like an ox to tell her the whole woeful chain of events. She only half believed me and suggested I give the hospital pharmacy a go at it. She would accompany me there. She said that only a pharmacist could recognize anything written by a doctor. I thought that was a reasonable suggestion.
The two of us went to the hospital pharmacy together and respectfully handed the letter through the drug dispensary window. Before long the pharmacist handed back out through the window – a big pile of various kinds of medicines. I can't put a name to what happened, but the wife and I have been taking those medicines for half a year.
I got a call from that classmate later on. He tsk-tsked and tut-tutted and said that I'd missed his wedding.
I smiled surreptitiously on my end of the line. I was thinking I really didn't care about your dog-shit wedding.
I only regret that the pharmacy kept the letter. If they hadn't, I would've taken it to the embassy's visa office. Who knows, maybe I could've gone on a trip abroad!
6. The Leader (领导)
We grew up together. We’re the same age.
My name is Longbow Zhang and he’s For the People Wang.
I wet my pants the first day of kindergarten. Broke a plate, too. He came over to cheer me up and told the teacher to help me change my pants. The teacher chewed me out and praised him. I cried. He was happy.
In the first class at elementary school, we were still playing around in our seats when the bell rang. The moment the teacher stepped in the door, For the People shouted, "Get up, greet your teacher!" We stood up, still giggling, and shouted hello as loud as he had.
When class was getting out, our lead teacher walked over and patted him on the head. "You’re the section leader!" he said.
When we got out of elementary school, he’d already been class captain for two years.
We were in the same section when we started middle school.
I didn't pay much attention in class and often wrote notes to girls. He didn’t pay much attention, either, and spent his time doodling. My notes began with "Dear," and his doodles did, too. The names I filled in after "Dear" included "Red", "Pretty" and "Beautiful"; the only word I ever saw after his “Dears” was "Regiment". I was punished and he got into the Young Pioneers.
In high school I often talked down on the teachers behind their backs with the other students. I’d give them nicknames like "Big-Eyed Thief", "Long-Neck Deer" or "Pig Head". He held back and never said anything until one day he wrote his comments about the teachers on a big sheet of paper with a brush and stuck it up on a wall. His nicknames for the teachers were deeper than mine, like "Capitalist Roader", "Black-Hearted Wolf", "Stinky Lackey" and so on. Of course I didn't understand who he was referring to at the time, or what those nicknames meant, but I think he must have known something. I remember that I was given the title "Little Reptile" that year, while he became "The Scorpion."
We got sent down to the countryside together during the Cultural Revolution. I said getting sent down was a calamity. What he said was, "It’s a vast world, with much to accomplish.” As a result, he got to blow the whistle to assemble the workers, and I carried a shovel with the rest of the crew. During our years in the countryside, me and the educated youths helped the villagers repair rice paddy terraces, dig ponds, build walls for pigsties, carry fertilizer.... He mobilized the workers, made reports, issued directives, studied....
We were both recommended for admission to college and once again were in the same school. I majored in machine manufacturing and he chose political economics. I immersed myself in the library chewing on high-level mathematics. He was there, too, soaking up “A Critique of the Gotha Program."
We were assigned to the same company after graduation. I went down to the workshop to engage in technical work, and he entered the upper echelons doing promotional work. I worked overtime to increase my design skills, and he wrote slogans all night long. I won the Model Worker award three years running. He became a factory leader after three years.
Still later, as everyone knows, the factory went down the tubes. I was laid off and he was promoted.
We’re still living in the same city now. Every night when I turn on the TV, his figure appears in the lead story on the news more often than not. I’m proud of him because he says things dear to my heart: "Administration for the People"; "Integrity in Public Affairs"; "What the masses want is what we do"; "Work for the masses with feeling..."; "Never forget the tribulations the common people have endured...."
I keep a small notebook beside me when I watch TV. It was a prize I won back then when I was a model worker – a “work diary” with a kraft paper cover. I write down what he says right away. I feel warm inside and tears often blur my eyes.
I often think how people’s lives are different right from birth. Some are natural born leadership material destined for big things. His name is obviously more stately and imposing than mine. My name is Longbow Zhang and he’s For the People Wang. The gap between us started to grow right from the day we were born.
I hadn't seen his familiar face on TV for a few days. To be honest, I’d especially wanted to see him in person to tell him how much I like hearing what he says on TV. Then my son comes home and tells me he heard that Old Wang was "shuangguied", that is, brought up on corruption charges before the Party’s Disciplinary Committee.
“I don't believe it,” I screamed at my son.
Some people just don't think positive. How can that be? We grew up together. We’re the same age.
7. A Number One Hand (一把手)
Secretary Zhou is really high-level. In my mind’s eye I look at him with admiration. The fellow’s not only lucky, but also capable and knowledgeable.
We grew up together. We were in the same sections in elementary and junior high school and were quite familiar. His nickname was “Two Dogs”, but I sure couldn’t call him that now. Wherever he goes, everyone respectfully calls him “Secretary Zhou”.
Lots of people would like to get close to him because he’s the Mayor’s secretary. No one can even think about getting in touch with the Mayor except through him. In-person meetings, reports, inspections, photographs, interviews, conferences, nothing gets in unless he’s arranged it, and this includes expressions of "personal thoughts" and the like.
Even the mayor's wife has to go to Secretary Zhou when she has something she wants to see the Mayor about. He’s so powerful that county magistrates, district heads and business leaders bow and scrape before him. They act like completely different people from when they’re in front of us commoners.
I try to find a way to see Secretary Zhou once or twice every year. He’s busy, I know. The reason I try to see him isn’t because I want him to do anything for me. I don’t want to be an official or make big bucks – not that I don’t want to, I don’t have the ability. I want to see Secretary Zhou just to listen to him. He’s so knowledge, so well-informed, that I feel I’m being educated and learning things no matter what he happens to chat casually about. Having said that, I do have to boast a bit. I’m a person who loves learning.
Secretary Zhou started out as a documents secretary in our village. Back then probably half the villagers called him Secretary Zhou, and the other half still called him “Two Doggies”. When the Village Chief was promoted to Township Head, he followed him into the township government. Still later, from Township Head he took over as Director of the Township Enterprise Bureau, then Deputy Magistrate, Deputy Party Secretary, Party Secretary, Deputy Mayor and Mayor. Secretary Zhou followed him right along.
Right up to this day, people call him "Secretary Zhou" just as they did twenty years ago. That’s not like the mayor, who's had to change his title every few years, making things awkward. Secretary Zhou once said that this is called responding to change by not changing.
It’s not easy being a secretary for a leader. The position isn’t high, but it’s critical with a lot of responsibility. Secretary Zhou’s an exception, of course. He’s smart and hardworking, with a quicker head than the average person. We’ve admired these things about him since he was a child.
So we only get to see each other one or two times a year. We get something to eat, have a few drinks, chat a bit – there’s nothing of substance that has to be done, and mainly I just listen to Secretary Zhou talk about some novelty. He’s quite tightlipped and rarely talks about the leaders’ affairs. We all understand and admire his professional ethics.
He did talk about the leaders once, though. It was very interesting. I went home and pondered over it for half a month. The more I thought about it, the more interesting it got.
He said that leaders are different from the masses, mainly in the hands. Their hands feel different and their gestures are different.
The textures of a leader’s hands and those of the common people are certainly different, and it’s easy to understand why. Farmers and workers use their hands to hold hoes and scrub machinery all day, so their hands are rough and stiff. They’re not like the hands of those who work as officials, which are smooth and soft with delicate skin and tender flesh, and that feel flabby when you hold them.
Regarding gestures – that is, how one ordinarily positions one’s hands – the difference between the leaders and the masses is huge. I really hadn’t taken notice of this.
Secretary Zhou, taking the mayor as an example, said that when he was the Village Chief and the Township Head, he usually liked to keep his hands behind his back. He’d walk in the fields and talk to the masses with his hands clasped behind him most of the time. You’d rarely see him voluntarily shake hands with the public.
After he started working as a county-level leader, his hands moved forward. Standing in front of the masses, in most cases, he’d place his hands on his lower or middle abdomen and interlace his fingers. No matter where he went, when he saw residents or workers or cadres, etc., he’d take the initiative to shake hands. I said shake hands, but in fact he just stuck hand his out to let the other person shake it. He didn’t put any strength into it.
In a city leadership position, he still usually interlocks his hands under his belly. This action can be seen at a glance on TV, especially in interviews, meetings, inspections, etc. His hands are generally positioned this way – you might say it’s habitual. These days there’s been some changes compared to the past, that is, the situations in which he shakes hands are fewer, and those where he waves have increased. A mayor can’t shake every hand when he appears in public and can only wave to the crowd.
You can see how interesting what Secretary Zhou said is.
A few months ago I heard that the Mayor was in a car accident. A hand along with the whole arm were crushed and he lost them. I worried about how this would change his gestures in the future.
I saw His Honor the Mayor on the TV news again yesterday. Hey, he’d been promoted to Party Secretary. He waved his hand vigorously right there in front of the reporters, but his gesture of interlacing his fingers wasn’t shown once.
I get it. Now he really is a 'number one hand', eh!”
8. Misunderstanding (误会)
The director of the organization’s personnel department, Asiatics Qiu, could at last breathe a sigh of relief.
The Internal Restructuring and Personnel Reduction Plan had finally been approved by the Ministry that day. He had spent a full six months doing this tricky job. He’d lost a lot of sleep during this period and not slept well from one night to the next.
"It was hard, really fucking hard!" When he got home he lay down on the bed without even taking off his coat, and sighed long and deep.
The organization had been streamlined and the merger cancelled; employees had been diverted either through early retirement or job rotation, which was the sort of thing that could offend people. Some were willing to be laid off, some agreed to quit, some preferred to retire.... Hey, it was done at last.
Director Qiu lay on the bed, exhausted. Over the past six months, how many people had pleaded with him, cursed him, complained about him, or in so many ways called in favors, wrote him notes, issued directives, made suggestions ... he couldn’t remember. He just wanted to rest, to put all these hassles off to one side for a while, to go to sleep peacefully and soundly.
As he was thinking these thoughts, he drifted off to sleep with his clothes on. He didn't even eat dinner. His wife worked for a foreign company and had recently gone abroad. Their child had been admitted to college the previous year and lived in a dormitory, seldom coming home. He was the only one living at home these days, and he didn’t feel like cooking.
The phone ringing awakened Director Qiu from his dreams. Still groggy, he looked at the alarm clock – just after twelve o'clock. He rolled over and pulled himself upright. A phone call in the middle of the night is the most frightening thing.
He picked up the receiver. "Hello, who is it?" There was no reply. "Hello? Hello? Who’s calling? Please say something...." Still nothing. All he could do was hang up the phone.
"That’s weird,” Director Qiu complained to himself “calling in the middle of the night and not saying anything.” He rubbed his eyes and thought about taking off his clothes and going back to sleep.
The phone rang again and he grabbed it at once. "Yes, hello, this is Asiatics Qiu." There was still no sound from the other end. He slammed the phone down. "Crazy fuck!" he snarled angrily.
Director Qiu washed his face before lying back down on the bed. When the phone rang again, he once more picked up quickly. "Hello, hello, who are you? Why won't you say anything, you fucking bonehead? If you call again, I’m gonna call the cops." There was no reaction whatsoever from the other end of the line." Director Qiu was really hot. He hurled a couple more curses before hanging up and pulling the phone line from the wall.
"This is harassment, classic harassment!" Director Qiu's sleepiness had been completely dispelled by the annoying ringtone. He tossed and turned on the bed and couldn't get back to sleep. Who? Who could hate me so much? He went over and over all the cadres in the entire bureau who'd been diverted or transferred during the reorganization. He fixed on some and then excluded them, and then went back and reconsidered them. Who would do this kind of petty mischief, making harassing phone calls in the middle of the night? None of them would, he thought.
But then another consideration occurred to him – anyone could have done it. He considered and reconsidered, but at daybreak he still hadn't arrived at any precise conclusions. He decided that when he got to work that morning, he'd investigate people face-to-face. He'd definitely be able to spot the troublemaking bastard.
A red-eyed Director Qiu dragged himself into the organization's building half an hour later than usual.
The Deputy Director rushed over to report as soon as he saw the director. "Director Qiu, the Secretary has called several times looking for you. He wants you to go to his office as soon as you get in."
Director Qiu stood in front of the Secretary, still feeling listless.
The Secretary had just taken office. More specifically, he'd just been appointed two days before.
The Secretary stared fixedly at the director. He pounded his fist on the table and shouted: "You, you, you…. What, what's ... your problem? Yester, yesterday, last night. You couldn't, couldn't wait, you couldn't wait until, until I finish, finish speak, finished speaking, before you hung, hung, hung up the pho, phone!"
Oh, God. Director Qiu broke out in a cold sweat. The new Secretary stuttered a bit and people had specifically warned him, especially on the phone, you must wait a moment, don’t be in a rush to hang up. So much had been going on the last two days that he'd forgotten this handy little bit of information.
"Get out of here!" The secretary snorted.
"Yes, yes, yes." Director Qiu muttered.
"You, you, you dare to imitate me?" The director was even more angry. "Get! Out!"
10. More Than He Could Say (说不清)
In his entire life, Old Sun had never held any job other than policeman. While he was alive, everyone habitually called him "Public Security Sun."
Public Security died at the age of sixty-two. His memorial service was ceremonious to an unprecedented degree. People came to pay their respects whether they’d known him or not. Many people in the crowd wiped tears from their eyes as they described the heroic scene where he’d sacrificed his life.
Some said he’d looked down the barrels of mobsters’ guns as though he felt that dying was just a homecoming, and that he’d stopped bullets meant for his comrades with his own body. Others said that the hoodlums were a gang of masked robbers who’d come swinging machetes. Old Sun fought them alone at the risk of his life and was cut dozens of times before he finally fell. Still others said he’d met his death when he jumped into a bone chilling, icy river to rescue, one by one, three children who’d fallen into the water….
Whatever, Old Sun was a hero. Everyone said so. No one doubted or corrected the legends that people increasingly embellished with great virtuosity.
The truth is, Old Sun died from an illness. As a reporter, I’ve interviewed in depth almost everyone who had any contact with him, including his bosses, colleagues, comrades, doctors and neighbors. The old fellow retired two years ago and didn’t die in the line of duty.
He was awarded the title “Politically Advanced” and received honors more times than I can count during his life. When he retired, he also enjoyed the benefits of a department-level cadre, even though he’d never held a leadership position in his life. "Heroes" must always have done "heroic deeds." In actual fact, Old Sun never did the kind of earth-shattering heroic feats that people talked about or imagined.
He was not educated and couldn’t read but a few characters. In over forty years as a police officer with the Public Security agency, he'd never encountered a life or death threat. The evaluations in his file are written in relatively abstract expressions, nothing more than insipid phrases like “firm stances”, “selfless dedication”, “happy to help others”, “whole-heartedly for the public”, “doesn’t shirk hardship” and “works hard without complaint”.
No corresponding inspirational deeds are attached to provide a background for honorary titles like "advanced", "model" and the others. But at the mention of Public Security Sun, no one fails to give a thumbs-up. Everyone says it’s hard to find people as good as him.
A good person must certainly have done good things. I was finally able to verify one story as true.
It was a cold winter season more than thirty years ago. One day Public Security Sun and two of his colleagues were out on a case. While waiting for a train on the station platform, they saw a group of prisoners boarding a train under escort. One of the criminals was an ashen faced, hopeless looking young fellow. He wore only thin clothes and was shivering in the biting cold wind.
When no one was looking, Old Sun went over and berated the young man: "Look at what an incompetent dolt you are. You need to be earnest about reforming yourself. Pluck up your spirits and become a new person!" While he was speaking, he took off his cotton gloves and stuffed them into the prisoner's shackled hand. Inside the gloves were ten yuan and ration coupons for ten pounds of food that Old Sun had just put there.
This scene did not escape the professional scrutiny of his two comrades, but Old Sun looked at them and sneered as though it were nothing. Under the standards of those extraordinary times, such behavior was quite dangerous. His two young colleagues did not expose him and, from then on, regarded him as a close friend.
Some years later, these two eyewitnesses were still moved by what they’d seen. They said that they’d been shocked at that moment. They also said that the ten yuan would be worth a hundred yuan today if he’d put it into savings, or maybe a thousand or ten thousand or even a million yuan. You can tell that Old Sun’s extraordinary behavior had affected them so deeply that they arbitrarily magnified the value of the ten yuan. To hear them tell it, adding the ration coupon, Old Sun had given this “human scum”, a total stranger, an entire bank and a food warehouse to boot.
After that, Old Sun became more and more awesome in his colleagues eyes. People privately wove many stories about his just and chivalrous behavior, and everyone was willing to believe these tales about a hero that doesn’t actually exist. Obviously, his violation of discipline on the station platform has been dramatized into the fictional legends of saving children, protecting property, fighting gangsters and so on. No one questioned and no one verified the stories – they only believed and passed them on.
The young criminal from that year appeared in this story again. He was sentenced to prison for the crime of "speculation and profiteering." After he was released, he spent several years looking and finally found the benefactor who had berated him that year. He got down on his knees in front of Old Sun and wouldn't get up until the old man promised to recognize him as his foster son. This young man, who had wandered the streets after his parents died when he was a child, was repeatedly sneered at and had entertained thoughts of suicide. He said that if it were not for Old Sun’s "berating" him, and the pair of still warm cotton gloves, he certainly wouldn't have lived to tell the tale.
The young man later made a fortune in business and became a well-known entrepreneur. He was filial to Old Sun and also performed many charitable deeds.
On the day of Old Sun's funeral, I saw a gentleman in the crowd wearing mourning clothes. It was the man Old Sun had recognized as his son. I interviewed him later. He said that his father (meaning Old Sun) was indeed a "hero" who had done more good things than he could say.
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9. See Lao Ma D, #2
10. More Than He Could Say
4. See Lao Ma C, #7
5. Mystical Penmanship
6. The Leader
7. A Number One Hand