Story of Another Girl

by Lily Zhao
There was a woman who kept nagging at people around her. She was actually 46 but looked older than her age. She always wore a loose blouse and a slack which didn't suit her much but would do good on farming. "I don't have the time and energy to enjoy life", that's what she said.

Neighbors didn't know her much, considering her stubborn. Since she married here, it has been 25 years or so. Nearly all the Neighbors had quarrels with her. She could easily get offended and quarrel with anyone who is near her for she is a kind girl with high esteem. With no doubt, she didn't get on well with her husband's family. And that hurt her much. She was not well treated, neither was she well respected here. Her mother-in-law disliked her, talking bad words about her, viewing her as ill bred. She was asked to do all kinds of things right after the birth of her first baby. At first, she could still hold it and her husband could be of some consolation. As time went by, the disagreement between her husband's family and she grew more and more severe. Finally, she broke down. Her husband thought her hysteric, while she just wanted to get away from all these. And from then on, she and her husband had begun a drifting life, renting land far away from home, working on the rented land and barely go back to their home.

Speaking of home, they had two. Or rather,houses, exactly. One was the place writen on their ID card. The other was the land on which they had been working and farming for their half life. And they had been to that land not only once. Recalled the woman, "It should be another ten years since we settled down here last time, how time flies! "

The first time they came to settle down here they were still young and full of energy with one left-behind child getting her education at the first home. She can't retell the details about why they came here for the first time, only she is sure that they were stricken in poverty then. They didn't get anything from their parents-in-law when married. They had no place to live in but 200 yuan which was left for them to build a house. When she got pregnant the first time, it was probably the most relaxed and cosy period of time in her life. However things changed when the baby turned out to be a girl. Her parents-in-law didn't like girls, regarding girls as money-eating monsters. She was put into farm work just after the birth. And the baby girl was kept by her grandma's grandpa who looked after the ox while carrying the baby on his back without any sunburn protection. The baby girl was cute and obedient, which gave her much comfort. She thought of the future of their little girl. She wanted to give her the best she had. However, her husband was not mature enough at that time, playing cards, gambling, not taking care of their baby girl. As a result, they quarreled a lot. What's more, her parents-in-law blame all these on her.

It was a freezing cold winter day with piercing wind but no rain or snow, according to my memory. I was staying at home, with dinner prepared, waiting for my lovely daughter to come back home from school. She was a bit more than 6 years old, which is an embarrassing age for elementary school, and thus we sent her to study at the pre-class as to let her adjust to the tempo of elementary school life. It was quite inspiring that the teacher spoke highly of her, words like "adorable","active", "helpful", "kind", and "industrious" were what we often got from the teacher. I thought even though my half life has passed miserablely with a broken family of origin and now an immature husband, at least the little girl did delight me and give me some hope to go on living and struggling for a better future.

I waited and waited, but there was no sign of her return. I began worrying about her safety. Since it had been almost an hour from her school time, she should have arrived home, but where did she go? Wondering about all possible sites she may go, I went out of home searching her in the village.
No one knew how hysterical I was at that time wandering along the walkway and calling out her nickname one house by another but still got nothing in response. Fortunately, I found her at last at her uncle's. I got furious at once.
When I walked into that door,what come into my eye was a scene like this: She was standing beside a girl some years elder than her, and the girl was holding a pen and writing something. At once I realized that the girl was doing my daughter's homework! How could this thing happen! I can't help imagining what happened before the scene, why would the girl doing my daughter's homework? Suddenly, something hit me like a sting in my mind. I would give pocket money to her everyday, probably she may use the pocket money to ask others help her with the homework. This was the exact explanation that could fit the scene, I'm not stupid to yet be fooled by tricks of this sort despite the fact that I didn't receive much education from school due to poverty.
She uttered:"mom, it's not what you thought it was".How could I just believe her nonsensical excuses. I saw it with my own eyes, not from anyone else' allegation. And I believe that seeing is believing, which has always been an apothegm of my life and most of the time it is true.

Before her further explanations, I asked,"where is your pocket money for today? Show me your pocket money." On hearing this, she seemed to be in relief. As if grasping the last straw, she began to grope in her pockets trying to find the pocket money but failed in vain.