A Hand for A Hand

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 supportmyself imminently. He then faltered to find a well-matched teacher to teach mecounting 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 almost whoever 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 serves 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 apprenticedto 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. Steam flowed 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 eccentricsound and a blue-veined neck appeared every time he coughed. To be honest, I was 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 fire wood for me for nine days as you can see there 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 for doing 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 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, I noticed 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 withstand 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 withstand the winter. Go ahead and play the double voice crackers. Having heard his compliment, I went out to play fireworks without even looking back. What left with my father was merely the sound of the fireworks, “ Bang, bang…” The sound lingered at the bottom of Xi Shan 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 Re Shui and the mountain my father cut woods. There were still only two or three people living there.Quite like before, there were only three to four families living up there. Things were still there, but people had changed. However, I suddenly reflected to the past.The scene of apprenticeship unfolded before my eyes. My father’s bloodstained hands with call us 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 me to learn. My hand was perfectly fine because of his hard work. However, i realized it 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, and I miss you…

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