Bright Culture Weekend: Go to school

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Author: Zhang Hu

In 2001, I was admitted to Shandong University, the first in the village to be admitted to a key university child. In order to raise tuition fees, his father wanted to go out to work, and his good friend advised him: “Our ancestors have lived here for generations, and no one has been starved to death? If there is no money, why do you let him go to school so far away?” Hearing this, I walked out of the house silently. In the end, my father went out to work. Before leaving, he asked my brother in Yinchuan to send me to the school to report.

August is the harvest season for rural areas in the northwest. That day, my mother sat on the head of the kang and sewed the bankbook of 8,000 yuan that I had borrowed on my underwear, stitch by stitch, telling me again and again: “Don’t lose the bankbook! Study hard, and strive for success!” The next day, before dawn, just like when my father went out to work, I used a plastic woven bag with fertilizers to pack my clothes and bedding, and set out on the road to study. At the entrance of the village, I got into the car to the county seat, and my mother and my brother who suffered from polio followed the car for a long distance.

Arriving at the county station, I got on the private passenger bus to Yinchuan again. The big brother who sold the ticket was a senior in my first year. Seeing how embarrassed I was, he asked me why I was going, and I said that I went to university. He left a sentence: “You don’t buy a suitcase for college, and you carry a plastic woven bag! I thought you were going to work!” He turned to the driver and said, “This baby doesn’t need to buy a ticket!”

After a nearly seven-hour drive, I finally reached Yinchuan. However, my brother couldn’t take me to school for various reasons. After buying a train ticket and taking me on the train, he entrusted me to a stranger next door, please. He reminded me to change trains after arriving in Nanjing. At that moment, I felt that the whole person was like a piece of scrap paper floating in the air, with nothing to rely on. The train started, and everything in the future had to be faced by me alone. During the nearly 40-hour journey on the green leather train, I was accompanied only by the woven bag, the simple clothes and dry food inside, and a collection of essays called “Empty Envelope”. My heart is depressed.

When I got to the school, everyone else had their parents to accompany them to report, but I could only solve all the problems by myself. At that time, the withdrawal network in different places was not very smooth, and I was unable to withdraw money for a long time and could not go through the admission procedures. The bank staff suggested that I try again at a bank near Jiefangge in Jinan. I asked and walked along the way, and finally reached the destination, but I still couldn’t withdraw the money, so I could only try again the next day. When I walked out of the bank, it was raining outside, my mind went blank, I walked back to the school in the rain, and I used the IC phone downstairs in the dormitory to ask someone to send a message to my father: “My brother has sent me to school, and the application has been completed. After the admission procedures, let my father rest assured!” Putting down the phone, the grievances that I had never felt rushed into my heart, and I went back to the dormitory after crying enough.

The next day, with the help of my classmates, I successfully completed the admission procedures. In view of my family situation, the college also coordinated the application of student loans for me.

Later, my father learned that my brother didn’t send me to school, so he wrote me a letter to express his guilt, saying he didn’t take good care of me. In fact, the real guilt is me, because of me, my elderly father had to go out to work. I remember my father said in the letter that he hoped that I would work hard and that he would live a little harder in order to give me a good starting point in the future. I haven’t been able to save a lot of letters that I exchanged with my father during college, but I still clearly remember the love, concern and expectation that my father expressed between the lines.

Guangming Daily (15th edition on July 29, 2022)