Not Yet the End

Zhang Sanjian is back 2022-05-18 00:00 Posted on Beijing


A friend once suggested to me that I could write a book titled ‘A Thousand and One Nights’ and compile all the stories I’ve heard into it. I think this idea is feasible, as long as I have enough friends and captivating stories. I trust in my own intellect and everyone’s curiosity. So, let’s share a new story today.

Besides reminiscing about his father, a teacher I visited also spoke of his eldest sister. He has two elder sisters, and the story of the eldest sister particularly inspired me. I want to share this energy with everyone here

Recently, I’ve been writing stories at home, hoping to build up my stockpile. This way, when it’s time to let loose, I can do so with peace of mind. I really like a lyric from ‘Worship of Happiness’: ‘Leave today’s work for today, because tomorrow there will be plenty of time to go crazy together.’ I think this reflects some of the changes growth has brought me, a bit more responsibility. My mom used to say I always did things last minute, only doing my homework at the eleventh hour. But I’ve changed, hoping to become more mature.

Now, back to our main story, let’s continue with the tale of this woman, whom we’ll call ‘Big Sister.’ In her youth, Big Sister was a hotel lobby manager. She had a boyfriend of seven years, a high-ranking executive in a well-known company. Suddenly one day, this man suggested to her: ‘Let’s go live in Canada together.’

His plan was as follows — Big Sister was to first have a sham marriage with a Canadian man to obtain Canadian citizenship. Then she could reunite in Canada with her ‘spouse,’ after which the man would also find a way to immigrate to Canada under a different type of visa. Once Big Sister obtained her status and divorced her fake spouse, she could then marry this man and use the ‘spousal reunion’ method to secure his Canadian status as well. Together, they could live in Canada with legal identities.

Trusting in their relationship, Big Sister readily agreed to the plan. Everything proceeded as scheduled, but after Big Sister went to Canada and entered into the sham marriage, her boyfriend suddenly disappeared. No matter what means she used, she couldn’t contact him.

The older sister became anxious and sought her brother’s help to find her boyfriend. This brother, the teacher I know and the storyteller of this whole saga, was quite familiar with the boyfriend due to the close relationship between the two families, as they were discussing marriage. Consequently, the teacher quickly located the man and questioned him about his sudden disappearance and failure to follow the plan to move to Canada together. Initially, the man was reluctant to reveal the reason but eventually confessed under the teacher’s persistent questioning. It turned out that during the period his older sister was abroad waiting for their reunion, he had fallen in love with another woman and therefore decided not to go to Canada. Not knowing how to face his older sister, he chose to disappear as a passive way to deal with the situation.

Upon hearing this, anyone would feel indignant and upset for the older sister: how could she have encountered such an irresponsible man! The teacher informed his older sister of the situation and asked, “What now? Do you want to come back home? It’s unfamiliar territory there, but at least you have family to take care of you here.” However, the sister’s response was, “I don’t want to go back. Going back will just remind me of that man. I’d rather not return! Since I’m already here, I’ll stay. Let’s just consider the past relationship as food for dogs.” Consequently, the strong-willed sister began her independent life in a foreign land. Without any relatives or friends, she struggled on her own, working in various jobs such as cleaning beverage bottles, labeling products, serving as a waitress, and working at reception desks. Eventually, she found a relatively stable job: cultivating American ginseng for a brand company.

A few years later, the teacher received a large jar of American ginseng sent by his sister from Canada. She advised him to take it to a traditional Chinese medicine clinic to grind it into powder for consumption, as it was particularly beneficial for health. So, the teacher took the large jar of American ginseng to the traditional Chinese medicine clinic and asked for help grinding it into powder. The person at the clinic, after a brief glance at the jar, asked with an emphasized tone, “How should I process this?” The teacher, not quite understanding the implication, simply repeated, “Grind it into powder.” Throughout the grinding process, the teacher didn’t leave. His sister had specifically instructed him to keep an eye on the ginseng during the processing, to ensure no one swapped it with an inferior quality substitute. During the grinding, the teacher and the clinic staff chatted briefly.

Clinic Staff: “Where did this American ginseng come from?”

Teacher: “My sister sent it from Canada.”

Clinic Staff: “I’ve never seen such good quality ginseng being ground into powder. Usually, ginseng of this size is sliced and sold by the piece.”

Teacher: “How much would ginseng of this quality normally cost?”

Clinic Staff: “It could be worth tens of thousands.”

Only then did the teacher realize the depth of his sister’s sentiment contained in this box of ginseng, a labor of love from her hard work far across the ocean…

Years passed, and the elder sister established a stable life abroad. A family was looking for a Cantonese language tutor for their child and found her. The employer was a divorced man, raising two children on his own. The elder sister started teaching Cantonese to the child during her spare time after work. Unexpectedly, this connection blossomed into a relationship. The kind-hearted elder sister eventually became the lady of the house, finding a happy home. Later, the couple had their own child, and the family of five lived happily together.

One peaceful day, out of the blue, the elder sister called the teacher and asked, “Guess who I saw today?” The teacher had no idea, and was surprised when she replied, “I saw my ex-boyfriend.” The teacher asked, “What happened? Did you recognize each other?” The elder sister replied, “No, but I recognized him immediately, and I knew he recognized me too.”

Here’s what happened: a wooden plank on the staircase of her villa was broken, making creaking noises whenever someone stepped on it. She called a repair service to fix it. When she opened the door, there he was, standing at the threshold. They looked at each other but didn’t acknowledge their past. The man quickly repaired the plank and then left. They didn’t converse beyond the work at hand.

In the past, this man had some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. He liked everything, from dishes to laundry, arranged in a particular order. Even when his parents visited, their shoes had to be aligned perfectly. Now, the stair he repaired revealed that some things hadn’t changed – the replaced plank fitted flawlessly, and he had even aged it with sandpaper to match the old ones.

From a man’s irresponsible promise to a chance encounter in a foreign land, a lot of time had passed. Isn’t life’s fate mysterious? Though her youth was betrayed, it aligns with something I’ve said before: “If the current situation is not good, it means the story hasn’t ended yet.” Life takes many turns. Don’t mock others’ circumstances or envy their success. Walk your path steadily, and look up – even the sky is smiling at you.

As long as you are a kind person, true to yourself and your conscience, you will surely be rewarded. I firmly believe that life will give you the best, everything is arranged for the best.



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