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Hand-passing “Ceremony”

Hand-passing “Ceremony”

                                                                         Hand-passing “Ceremony”
Fenglin Chen

The third Sunday of June is the Father’s Day in USA. On June 14th, 2014 ,while I was studying about this special festival, one thing happened long ago kept on knocking at my heart:

 

I was 13 that year. My father thought it would be a great idea if I could master counting with abacus. In that sense, I could be involved in the final counts of the group and be able to support myself imminently. He then faltered to find a well-matched teacher to teach me counting with abacus. I seemed to be in a favorable position and already knew the drill of Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication with ease. However, Division was another story. Yes, I had a hard time learning it. My father was anxiously worried about it and began to accelerate his search. He asked almostwhoever happened to come to his way. Far from being disappointing, he heard that there was an expert in our village. That expert was Wanfu Jiao who servedas chief assistant in charge of Finance and Grain in our district, which is equivalent to the Financial Director of the Township Government. My father was euphoric and desperate to take me to be formally apprenticed to Mr. Jiao. We went out with large snowflakes, walking for  more than 10 miles. To my intense surprise, this place was not full of life at all. The only sign of lives seemed to be thesmoke coming out of houses. Continued with our search for his house was the three houses around, And finally we found his house. The first thing I felt was an atmosphere of the Spring Festival when I stepped inside. Rice cakes and steamed buns lied on the oven preparing for the festival. Steamflowed around our and led us to his room. An old man whose appearance was by no means imposing sat on a heatable brick bed. My father said,“ He is your teacher ! ” I eventually saw the well-know Wanfu Jiao. It was nippy in his house, Mr. Jiao sat on the heatable brick bed with quilt wrapped firmly, coughing seriously. It was easy to tell that he suffered from Bronchial Tube Asthma, coughing with an eccentric sound and a blue-veined neck appeared every time he coughed. To be honest, Iwas rather frightened. My father explained our intention for this visit. Mr.Jiao straightly put it,” I can teach your kid but I need something in return. You will have to chop firewood for me for nine days as you can seethere is no one in my family who is available and capable of doing it. We can call it an exchange of deal.” My father gladly accepted without hesitation.

During those nine days of dead of winter, my father took me to Mr. Jiao’s home every morning and headed to chop firewood alone up the hills. The mnemonic of Division was called rules fordoing division with a one-digit divisor on the abacus. Mr. Jiao took an abacuscounting book from his box. He taught me about one  rule every day so that I could learn nine rules in nine days. Time passed by. I mastered the rules all and successfully ended the study. So did my father’s work. Mr. Jiao thought I was smart and gave me that book as a gift. We exuberantly went back home that day. The second day was the lunar New Year’s Eve so we began to prepare for it. In the early morning, my father woke me up so we can paste antithetical couplet together. Accidentally, Inoticed that his hands were red and swollen, making the antithetical couplet bloodstained. Naive as I was, I asked my father, “ Dad, what happened to your hands?” “ Just blame the cold weather. Nothing serious.” He answered with smile. I quickly turned to look at my hands, showing off on purpose, “ You really can’t with stand the cold weather. My hands are perfectly fine.” He kindly touched my hands, kissing them gently and said, “ My son’s hands are for doing exquisite work. Look at them! They are not only dexterous but can also with stand the winter. Go ahead and play thedouble voice crackers. Having heard his compliment, I went out to playfireworks without even looking back. What left with my father was merely thesound of the fireworks, “ Bang, bang…” The soundlingered at the bottom of  the west Mountain, accompanied by the cheering of us.

 

In 2013, I went back to He Yin Zi( my hometown) to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival passing the newly-built road of The HotWater and the mountain my father cut woods. There were still only two or three family living there. still there, but people had changed. However, I suddenly reflected to the past.The scene of apprenticeship unfolded before my eyes. My father’sbloodstained hands with callus came into my sight. With tear-filled, blurry eyes, I realized that I am a father of my own son and truly realized the story behind my dad’s hands. It was him who used his hands to exchange for the opportunities for my to learn. My hand was perfectly fine because of his hard work. However, it was found too late already when I got to understand it. He has passed away for fifteen years. I would never ever have the chance to make it up for him. Never !!! Dad, dad, I love you, I miss you…

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