This is a story about me and my friend Ying when we were teenagers. It’s when I realized how protective some kids are towards their parents, whether the parents deserve it or not. Ying’s father and my mother both worked for a university as English teachers, and both our families lived in the university living quarters for staff members.
I can’t say Ying’s my best friend because she’s always so busy. After school, Ying dashed home to clean and cook for her family of four. She never came out to play with the rest of us. Her mother worked outside of the university and had to take bus every morning to go to her workplace. Once I made the mistake of agreeing to do homework together with Ying. She begged me and I felt sympathetic. When we arrived at her home, which was two floors above my home, she started to busy herself at the kitchen, washing vegetables, chopping leeks, kneading flours to make dumpling skins. I was left alone. When I came to the kitchen to check on her, she told me that she had her hands full and I had to figure out the homework alone and explain to her afterwards.
I did the homework grudgingly and then I came to the kitchen to explain to her. She couldn’t understand what I was saying. We had to come to the living room where we talked while I drew on several pieces of paper to explain a math problem to her. All the time I thought to myself that I would never do homework again with her. It’s no fun. No wonder no other people wanted to play with her. She had no attention for her friends. All she cared about was her cooking.
After about an hour, I finally helped her finish her homework. I was getting ready to go home, but she asked me to stay for dinner. I refused, but she insisted that I should at least take a bowl of dumplings she made. I couldn’t say no. So I stayed. Her little brother, who’s a brainless tyrant, came home too. Since I had no desire to humor her brother, I came to the kitchen to talk with her. She was cooking with such quickness and energy that I was amazed. If she could use half of her energy in her study, she would be a much better student. She’s not very fun to talk to since she didn’t know any of the neighborhood gossips, and when I told her a story, I could see that her mind was just not there.
I went home and thought about Ying and her family. All the women in the neighborhood avoided Ying’s mother, just as much as we avoided Ying. Ying’s mother only treated Ying’s little brother as her child. Other women were horrified by Ying’s mother and her abusiveness towards Ying. This is a university after all and certain polite facade is to be upheld, but Ying’s mother made her abuse of Ying too conspicuous for general comfort.
About one or two years after this, one day we were thrown together again. I can’t remember for what. It could be a school activity or a mandatory trip to a museum. Anyway, we ended up having a lot of alone time together. I hate all mandatory activities, no matter how fun it is. If it is not something I choose for myself, I just won’t like it. Whenever there’s such an activity, I always tried my best to lag behind, be slow or inattentive. That day, she lingered behind with me, as if she was so badly in need of somebody to talk to. I was curious and sympathetic. I thought she’s going to tell me how much her mother abused her and I had already prepared my reply–she should fight back and kick her mother’s butt.
“I walked and walked whole night last weekend with my father. You know along the walk ways of the university. We talked for hours and hours.” She said.
I thought to myself that they must be talking about her abusive mother. Good girl that she got her father to her side. If her father was on board, they could fight her mother together.
“I finally convinced my father not to leave my mother. I like her more than I like my mother, but I just don’t think …” She said.
“Wait, wait. What are you talking about? Who’s ‘her’? What’s going on?” I was totally surprised with what I was hearing. Ying was not trying to fight her abusive mom, but rather the opposite was happening.
“She’s Wei. Do you know her? She’s my father’s student at the university. I feel guilty about this but I really like Wei. She’s better than my mom. My father didn’t come home for three days last week. He told us that he’s too busy with his work and had to stay in his office. My mother didn’t suspect a thing. However I suspected. I went to see him. He was staying in the university’s dorm for bachelor employees. He was about to leave my mother. I dragged him out to walk with me and we talked for hours.” Ying said and let out a long sigh.”I think I did it. I prevented a family disaster.”
I didn’t know Wei at all, but I knew that compared with Ying’s mom, 90% of the human race is more likable. My mind went blank and I didn’t know what to think. After being abused for fifteen years, Ying was called upon to rescue her abuser and she was so eager to do it. What a world we are living in?