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BaoLiang Xu

My Grandmother

By: BaoLiang Xu

Throughout the clouds, I was flying toward my beautiful dreamland. I saw a peaceful lake-like mirror surrounded by the trees. Behind the lake was the huge cropland, and there knelt an old woman who had white and gray hair; her face was blurred. She was there on the farm. I stared at her with the familiar feelings, and then I realized my eyes were growing wet. Later it became an unforgettable picture recorded forever in my memory and it affected me all my life. This picture was always active in the deep side of my brain and it reminded me of facing everything; it reminded me of my identity - who I am and where I came from.

From this black-white picture etched in my memory, I remembered being born and crying and soon thereafter placed in the rough hands of an old woman. At this moment, the way of my early life was decided. My father left me silently and went to the United States. Then my mother left me to make her business in other towns to earn more money to support the family. So, most of my time was spent sitting alone on the beach and looking at the ships that came along and went away. I was praying to my father more like yelling for him to hear the crying inside my heart. I expected my father's shadow to appear on any of those ships, but they never did. Then my grandmother would stand quiet behind me and put her dry, old, shaking hand on my head, and move my hair smoothly away from my face. I turned my head back, I saw her white hair being blown by the wind and two large crystal tears squeezing out of her dry, sad eyes. Then she would hold me and I cried out my heart at her breast. She did not speak because we knew and we understood. I knew my father left me because he had to move to the United States to create a better life for my family. I also understood my grandmother cried because she really loved me and was sad for us both. I felt my little world turning faster and faster and I thought I grew up a lot. From my grandmother's wet eyes, I considered there were many sad things that happened in her life and now in her old age she was missing the love of her son as I felt the lost love of my father. I rubbed away the tears from her face, and I promised myself not to make her cry anymore. It was then I decided to behave well and to please my grandmother for filling my sour world with her love. So, I studied really hard in learning Chinese and Math. Every term I was chosen among the "Three Good Students" which means I was getting high grades on my exams, good classroom participation and serious study attitudes. I also read some little stories or news for her, she was illiterate. Finally, I saw the smile from her old face as the golden sun rose on the eastern sky. Then I felt the hot blood overflow in my head and I almost cried out.

One day the clouds covered the moon and the cold winds were blowing outside of the door. Death comes quietly and quickly and was following my steps. I became sick, very sick, so sick that I looked like a dead fish, sick like a zombie. I felt so cold and the heat was cooking inside my body and my grandmother saw it. Then she rushed me to the doctor's house, knocking at the door harder and yelling the name of the doctor. Finally, the doctor's head was out the window to see what happened. Then he opened the door quickly and checked my body with his tools. He gave me a shot first and then he gave my grandmother some drugs and told her that she must watch me because the sickness was evil and may attack me again. When the sunny lights came through the glass of the window and passed its ray on the floor, I heard the sound of the wood cracking on the window floor, and then I finally opened my tired eyes. I saw her in front of the same Buddha statue and she said something that I didn't understand. But I just knew that she used the ancient magic to cure my sickness. Then she came to me and asked if I wanted something to eat. It was then I saw her swollen eyes and the sickness of worry on her dry, old wretched face. My heart was bleeding because I knew she had not slept at all but was watching me in the bed. Also, there was traces of her tears showing on her face. She cried because she lost her first son's life under the same circumstances as me. Then resentment began growing inside of my body because she was such a good person and why did she have to pay for these punishments. Then the fire was burning growing from my bones and I told myself I could not die because I couldn't let her experience the pains of the separation that death brings again. Through my sickness I opened my white shivering lips and told her to please not worry about me, I would be all right. So, I survived.

A message with the two wings cross the Atlantic Ocean and was flying to my homeland with lightning speed. It brought the news that my sister, my mother and I would immigrate to the United States. When I heard it, I was heated by the thunderstorm. I saw her frail body, and white hair as she raised her hands and said good-bye to me. Tears overflowed from her eyes and I realized I had broken my promises again. I felt the time was frozen; I couldn't hear anything and everything appeared in black and white. My blood stopped running and there were no more tears that came from my eyes. My body sat in the airplane but my soul remained with my grandmother.

I arrived in the United States without soul, I refused to exist and I began falling. As a result, my life became worse and I was unhappy in America. All I did was go to school, work in the restaurant and play the computer games. I repeated those three things every day. I had no thoughts about my future until that day I heard my grandmother's voice on the telephone. She told me tomorrow will be fine and if I was working hard she would never be disappointed in me. At that moment, I realized wherever I went she would always stand behind me. Then I took a deep breath and I really could feel I existed in the world. I told myself to explore the flowers of my life and to burn any obstacles on my road. My anger, my confidence and my memory of my grandmother would turn into the power of of the light. For my grandmother, I opened the door bravely. There was snow falling down, white and cold, but my heart was warm with the memories of my grandmother.