By Chloe Hong
Three years after the end of the Anti-Japanese War, he was born, as the second to last among six kids. His father was a farmer living off the land.
The People’s Republic of China was founded when number five was one year old. When he was in grade 6, he learned reading and to calculate on an abacus. His youngest sister was allowed to study. Only she had the privilege. His three elder brothers left for Chengdu for their work on the railroad.
To take good care of his parents and his sisters, number five found a job in the village, calculating the work-points in communes. He did the job for approximately 25 years. During that time, he participated in building roads, reservoirs and promoting the Communist Party.
He met his future wife in another village and through matchmaking, they got married. Their first daughter was born in the autumn of 1968. She was lucky enough. She had no understanding of the Cultural Revolution that started from 1966 to 1976. In her childhood memory, she was uninterruptedly attending the cattle, feeding the pigs, cleaning the room, and cooking. After graduation from grade 5, she never went back to school again.
Ding Xiaoping advocated China’s Reform and opening-up in 1978. When she was 19, she was introduced by an acquaintance to a state-owned silk company. Her job was twisting silk. One month’s salary was 100 RMB. She had to send most of her salary back home.
The year that changed her life was 1991. She was brave enough to travel to Zhejiang province, seeking better opportunities where she met him, the man who had a huge influence on her. Then she lived in another village in another province working in a clothing factory. In 1995, she gave birth to me.
In 2013, I came to Shanghai to study and became the first educated college student in my family. Now I am still in the fast-paced city and work here. I am the white-collar. I can speak English. I am a woman of knowledge.
Two generations are sacrificed for the hope of the family. There’s a saying: poverty doesn’t last longer than two generations, being rich doesn’t last longer than two generations. It takes two generations to get away from poverty, ignorance, and hopelessness. Two generations is more than 100 years. It is too long.
Now the time has changed. There is a bigger middle class. However, there are still people who might be just another me, with a similar story, or even worse. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Together we can change a kid’s life, and thereby a family’s future, gaining 100 years.
You can be the hero in other people’s lives.