PERSONAL NOTE: I DECIDED to share my book with friends and students in mainland China because it is too expensive to order a copy from USA. Enjoy it and share it with people you care and love. Peace, steve, feb 23, usa firstname.lastname@example.org blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
– 195 –
I was in my apartment one day when I received a phone call from a student who wanted to see me urgently. Albert was a journalism student, and whose mastery of the English language was simply admirable and enviable. Once he entered my apartment, he started crying uncontrollably. All I could think of was if someone died in his family. This was not the type of crying because your girlfriend had left you for another rich kid on the campus, or you were confronted with another unwanted pregnancy. This was heart-wrenching crying from deep inside a person.
“My father died of the same disease, Steve. The doctor said I have Hepatitis B.”
Strangely in America, the only time we would hear of Hepatitis B was in the context of workers in restaurants. Of course for the health safety of all restaurant patrons, a worker infected with Hepatitis B would be removed immediately. My adopted son had Hepatitis B when he was an undergraduate student in college. It is a serious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) that is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids. That means if you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected. That means if you share needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. That means mothers infected with HBV can pass the virus to their babies. That means all health care workers need to be careful when working with blood. Coughing or sneezing will not spread the infection.
It depends on the individual person. The “acute” (short-lived) Hepatitis B infection may last less than six months, because the immune system can clear the acute Hepatitis B from your body. Most adults have an acute infection. Those with “chronic” (long lasting) infection means your immune system cannot fight off the infection, and that can lead to serious illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Albert did not have the full knowledge of his father’s illness and death. He could have died of liver cancer or liver failure. Or some illness related to the liver. I did my best to calm down his fears. With a vaccine, my adopted son is strong and healthy today in America, I told him. Slowly he stopped crying. As a journalism student, Albert had truly mastered the English vocabulary and had the ability to use words to express his thoughts, feelings and strong emotions. I was particularly touched by a story he had written and shared with me, about an incident in his life, and it is certainly a good story for a children’s book. It is titled The Lonely Piglet in the Gully. Today Albert Ai Minwei is a teaching assistant in Nanfang College, Sun Yat-Sen University. I love this story.
– 196 –
“I grew up in a small village in Western China. When I was 7 years old, ma and pa raised three pigs, two adult ones in the pigsty and a piglet tethered near a pile of fresh straw. The sweet piglet became my best friend.
“I was always happy following ma each time when ma would feed them, especially the piglet. He had pure white skin and two big ears, a teeny-weeny tail and four beautiful legs. Ma knocked on the small wooden trough. Suddenly, the straw pile broke and the piglet would come out of it. He grunted and his small tail wagged, excited to see us. His smile was beautiful like a full moon.
“He wolfed down everything, wobbled back, and hid himself again in the straw. How lazy he was! I thought. Sometimes, I freed him. Scratching his back lightly, he would lie on the ground and enjoy it. His eyes closed and four legs stretched and trembled. He was like a big baby to me.
“One day ma was surprised to find many red spots on his fair skin. Something was going wrong. These tiny spots frightened us because an infectious disease was then spreading like a wild fire in our neighborhood and had killed many innocent pigs.
“To protect the two adult pigs from the contagious disease, ma and pa decided to send the piglet away. I really didn’t want that but I could do nothing to keep him close to me. They took a long walk and left him in a bamboo grove, about 3 kilometers from our house. I could hear him. He was grunting. He did not know what was going on.
“He did not know why he had to live far away from the family who had raised him. I couldn’t sleep every night, like a small boat blown by heavy winds. Worries entered my head. Without the warm straw, where did he sleep? How could he defend himself from a hungry wolf? What about other monsters? I sobbed in the blanket.
“The next day, ignoring ma’s stern warning, I went to the bamboo grove with small sweet potatoes in my pockets. Look! He saw me! He ran to me quickly, smelling my shoes from right to left, wagging his lovely tail again. I gave him all the sweet potatoes and watched him enjoying the food and my presence. I knew he missed me as much as I missed him too.
“After a while, I was ready to go. He ran after my heels. I dared not bring him home. And I also didn’t want to leave him alone in the dark bamboo grove. I turned back and looked at him. Tears started in my eyes. He stopped and stared at me. What should I do?
– 197 –
“He followed me home, just behind me. Quietly. Happily. Step by step. When ma noticed him, she shouted from a distance and accused me of being thoughtless. If the two adult pigs were infected with the disease, we would have no money and no meat for the coming Spring Festival. I cried loudly. Ma and pa were chasing him away. The piglet was running and grunting. No! No! I saw him escaping into the straw. How silly, I thought! He didn’t do anything wrong to us.
“The whole straw was quaking and shivering. Ma and pa surrounded the straw stealthily. They pulled out the frightened piglet. He cried loudly.
“This time, he was sent to a deep gully far away, near the bank of a river. He would never be able to find the way home. I was so sad and ma promised me to bring him home if the spots on his skin disappeared.
“Each day I went to see him and took him a small basket of vegetables and sweet potatoes. The gully was so steep that I couldn’t get down and he couldn’t climb up to greet me. I threw the food to him from the top. He ate less and less day by day. Maybe he had lost his appetite. Maybe he was ill. And slowly no more grunts. It seemed he had stopped fighting. He just gave up and gone forever!
“One day ma returned from the gully and brought me a piece of news: the piglet was adopted by an old villager. I knew that old man, a kind man. He took away my piglet. I didn’t feel angry. I was so happy my piglet had a new home! He is alive!”