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My Hometown Huainan, China

My hometown is a small town in the middle of China. There is a river going through the small town dividing it into two parts. My mom used to work for a concrete factory as a quality controller in the east part. And my family lived near the factory from 1980s until 1996. I spend my childhood there. The environment there is dirty and noisy, but that area keeps my sweetest memories.


There is a concrete factory in the east part producing smoke, and there is a coal habour in the west part sending out black water. The river sufferes a lot.


There are 600,000 people living in that small town. It is crowded, but it is fun to leave there, which is a small place near the river. At least it is interesting for me, because I always wanted to dress like a fisherman and live on a boat.


First Mural

Huainan, China 1993 In the summer of 2011, I paid a visit to my parent’s old apartment, where we lived from 1988 to 1996. I saw the drawings I did on the wall, using blue and red color pencils. My parents still kept the drawings. I was not punished at all when they came home from work and found that every wall in that apartment was covered by my drawings. It feels like another world, my own fantasy world.


Fire Extinguisher Huainan, China 1995

My mom used to work for a concrete factory as a quality controller. She took me to her lab sevral times. I love her lab because my mom was like a magician, she just had to mix some transparent liquid, then a glass of purple “water” would be created right away. I used to play with all kinds of equipment and even fire extinguisher in my mother’s lab. And one day I sticked with the fire extinguishers. Of course, I created a tiny “explosion”.


My Uncle

Huainan, China 1999 My uncle was poor and so quiet, and my grandparents showed less care to him than to their other children. After he came out to the family, people began to leave him and make the situation worse. The whole family had no idea about my uncle’s stomach cancer until his death. I don’t think it was the cancer that make my uncle die, it was the cold and hard way that people traeted him. He felt supportless and isolated. Although we bought him a nice cemetary, we decorated it beautifully, we burned incense in front of his photo; but why did not we show more support, love and careness before he died?


I still remember the day when my uncle passed away. It was 6 o’clock in the morning, we were all sleeping. Suddenly, a thunder storm followed by a phone call woke all my family up. We were told my uncle passed away, suicided himself.


My uncle was a very nice and quiet person. He was a Buddhist, he loved birds, trees, flowers. He cared about everyone in his life. And he loved me most.


Also, he taught me traditional culture and history. I love tea, because of him.


But my family began to hate him and prevented him to meet us kids, after he came out to us that he was gay. They treated him like a stranger.


My family know nothing about his cancer until we read his will. We bought him a nice cemetary, we decorated it beautifully, we burned incense in front of his photo; but why did not we show more support, love and careness before he died?


Motor-taxi Driver Huainan, China 2000

Motor-taxi is very common in my hometown and a lot of small cities and towns in China. I met this driver when I was in my middle school. My home was far away from school, so I had to take a “motor-taxi� every morning. Once he knew that, he would wait for me and just for me every morning across the street. Thanks to him I had never being late for school.


It is not expensive at all for taking a “motor-taxi�, just two RMB, which equals 40 cents in U.S. dollars.


He waited for me every morning from Monday to Friday, desipte the weather.


A Donation

Huainan, China 2001 Pipi was one of my best friends, and we were classmates in high school. One day she did not came to school; after two weeks’ absence, we were told that she got blood cancer. We were so sad and wanted to hold a donation for money to help her. But officers from the high school told us to stop. It is “forbiden”. We did not know why and I still do not understand the reason right now. The only “acceptable” reason could be she was not a good student. She cannot do well in exams. And our high school did not care about students like her. So we cannot do anything. She passed away six months after, and this thing was completely forgotten.


She was so ill and we could not do anything.


My Grandpa Huainan, China 2002

My grandfather was the person who loved and cared me most, his passed away was a signal that I was already a grown-up and my childhood was over. My grandparents and my parents were getting older; I should be prepared for their aging. And also, I had to take all the responsibilities myself, and fight for my family and myself.


He just spent all the afternoon siting in front of his house staring far far away, after my uncle passed away.


It was the son’s responsibility to take care of the funeral for his parents in Chinese tradition. But for my grandpa, all his sons passed away before him, my mom had to take all the duties. My grandpa’s life was so rough until the last moment.


One day, I was walking on the bridge. Then I discovered three trees in the riverside. All of a sudden, I felt that those three trees were my grandpa, they were slim, they suffered a lot from the smoke from the east bank and pol luted water from the west bank. But they were strong, never complained.


I want to hug him. I really owe him a hug.


The End



my riverside story