I was born in a secluded village of a mountain.
Day by day, my parents plowed the yellow dry soil with their backs facing the sky.
I have a younger brother, 3 years younger than me.
Once, to buy a handkerchief which all girls around me seemed to have, I stole 50 cents from my father’s drawer.
Father known about it right away.
He made my younger brother and me kneeled against the wall, with a bamboo stick in his hand.
“Who stole the money?” he asked.
I was stunned, too afraid to talk.
Father didn’t hear any of us admit, so he said, “Fine, if nobody wants to admit, you two should be beaten!”
He lifted up the bamboo stick.
Suddenly, my younger brother gripped father’s hand and said,” Dad, I was the one who did it!”
The long stick smacked on my brother’s back repeatedly.
Father was so angry that he kept on whipped my brother until he lost his breath.
After that, he sat down on our stone bed and scolded my brother, “You have learnt to steal from your own house now, what other embarrassing things you will do in the future? You should be beaten to death! You shameless thief!”
That night, mother and I hugged my brother.
His body full of injuries, but he didn’t shed a single tear.
In the middle of the night, all of sudden I cried out loud.
My brother covered my mouth with his little hand and said, ” Sis, now don’t cry anymore. Everything has happened.”
I still hate myself for didn’t have enough courage to admit what I had done.
Years gone by, but the incident still looked like it just happened yesterday.
I will never forget my brother’s expression when he protected me.
That year, my brother was 8 years old; I was 11 years old.
When my brother was in his last year of his lower secondary school, he was accepted in an uppersecondary school in the central.
At the same time, Iwas accepted into a province’s university.
That night, father squatted in the yard, smoking, packet by packet.
I could hear him said, “Both our children have good results? Very good results?”
Mother wiped off her tears and sighed,” What is the use? How can we possibly finance both of them?”
At that time, my brother walked out, he stood in front of father and said,”Dad, I don’t want to continue my study anymore, I have read enough books.”
Father swung his hand and slapped brother on his face.
“Why do you have a spirit so damn weak? Even if it means I have to beg for money on the streets, I will send you two to school until you both finish your study!”
And then, he started to knock on every house in the village to borrow money.
I stuck out my hand as soft as I can to my brother’s swollen face, and said, “A boy has to continue his study; If not, he will not be able to leave this depths of poverty.”
Me, on the other hand, had decided not to further mystudy to university.
Who knows on the next day, before dawn, my brother left the house with a few pieces of worn-out clothes and a few dry beans.
He sneaked to the side of my bed and left a note on my pillow; “Sis, get into an university is not easy.
I will go find a job and send money to you.”
I held the note while sitting on my bed, and cried until I lost my voice.
That year, my brother was 17 years old; I was 20 years old.
With the money father borrowed from the whole village, and money my brother earned from carrying cement on his back at construction site, finally, I managed to get to the third year of my study in the university.
One day, I was studying in my room, when my roommate came in and told me,”There’s a villager wait for you outside!” Why is there a villager looking for me?
I walked out, and saw my brother from afar, His whole body is dirty, covered by dust, cement and sands.
I asked him, “Why don’t you tell my roommate that you are my brother?”
He replied with a smile,” Look at my appearance. What will they think if they know that I am your brother? Don’t they laugh at you?”
I felt so touched, and tears filled my eyes.
I swept away dusts from my brother’s body and said with a lump in my throat, ” I don’t care of what people say! You are my brother no matter what your appearance is?”
From his pocket, he took out a butterfly hair clip.
He wore it on me, and said, “I saw all the girls in townare wearing it. So, I think you should also have one.”
I could not hold back myself anymore.
I pulled my brother into my arms and cried and cried.
That year, my brother was 20 years old; I was 23 years old.
The first time I brought my boyfriend home, the broken window had been repaired.
And it looked so clean inside the house.
After, my boyfriend went home, I danced like a small girl in front of my mother, “Mom, you don’t have to spend so many time cleaning the house!”
But she said with a smile,” It was your brother who went home early to clean the house. Didn’t you see the wound on his hand? He was injured while replacing the window.”
I went into my brother’s small bedroom and looked at his thin face.
I felt like there are hundreds of needle pricked in my heart.
I put some ointment on his wound and bandaged it,”Does it hurt? ” I asked him.
“No, it doesn’t hurt. You know, when I was working in the construction site, stones falling on my feet allthe time. Even that could not stop me from working and,”
In the middle of the sentence, he stopped. I turned my back on him and tears rolling down my face.
That year, my brother was 23 years old; I was 26 years old.
After I got married, I lived in the city.
Lots of time my husband invited my parents to come and live with us, but they didn’t want.
They said, once they left the village,they didn’t know what to do.
My brother also didn’t agree, he said, “Sis, you just taking care of your parents-in-law. I will take care of mom and dad here.”
My husband became the director of his factory.
We wanted my brother to get the job as the manager in the department of maintenance, but my brother rejected the offer.
He insisted on starting to work as a reparation worker.
One day, my brother was on the top of a ladder repairing a cable, when he got electrocuted, and was sent to the hospital.
My husband and I visited him.
Looked at the white gypsum on his leg, I grumbled,”Why did you reject tobe a manager? Manager will not do something dangerous like this. Look at you now, such a serious injury. Why you didn’t want to listen to us?”
With a serious expression on his face, he defended on his decision, “Think of brother-in-law? He just became the director, and I almost uneducated. If I became the manager, what kind of rumors will fly around?”
My husband’s eyes filled up with tears, and then I said, “But you lack in education also because of me!”
“Why talking about the past?” My brother held my hand.
That year, he was 26 years old and I was 29 years old.
My brother was 30 years old when he married a farmer girl from the village.
In his wedding reception, the master of ceremonies asked him, “Who is the one you respect and love the most?”
Without thinking, he answered,” My sister.” He continued by telling a story I could not even remember.
“When I was in primary school, the school was indifferent village.
Everyday, my sister and I walked for 2 hours to go school and go home.
One day, I lost one of my pair of gloves and my sister gave me one of hers.
She only wore one glove and walked for so far.
When we got home, her hand was so trembled because of the weather that was so cold that she could not even hold her chopsticks.
From that day on, I swore that as long as I live, I would take care of my sister and be good to her.”
Applause filled up the room. All guests turned their attentions to me.
Words were so hard to come out from my mouth, “In my whole life, the one I would like to thank the most is my brother,”
And in this happy occasion, in front of the crowd, tears rolling down my face again.
~ Small thing sometimes means a lot ~