Zhang Yangyang is one of my teenage students. Born in the country, she grew up in a family of four—parents, a younger brother and herself. Her mum suffers from chronic asthma, and when the weather is foul, the mother will have difficulty in breathing. She says that her mum has tried various remedies but none of them works well. “I wish every day it were a fair day,” Miss Zhang prays.


She herself is a bit plump, ending up with a nickname “Miss Koala”. We have two Koalas in the same class and Miss Zhang is one of them. She has a talent for languages. Learning English a breeze to her, her work is neat and tidy. She employs good grammar and rich vocabulary in her journal.


The other week, her journal entry featured one of her childhood friends. It turned out to be a tearjerker, but it was a true story.


Let’s give a name to this friend of hers. She is Cathy. Cathy was born into an unfortunate family.


There were four members in Cathy’s family—her parents, a younger sis and herself. Her mum has been mentally disturbed for years. So she cannot work. She cannot look after the family, either. She wanders anywhere anytime she wants.


One year the father left home to work elsewhere, leaving the girl, Cathy, with the burden of looking after the mother and the younger sister. Before and after school, Cathy had to do all the chores there were in a rural household—cooking, washing and feeding the pigs, for example. It was hard work, and added to her burden were the mother’s wanderings. Cathy often had no idea where the mum was when it was mealtime.


Through thick and thin Cathy managed to finish primary school. When she was in middle school, however, she was no longer able to carry on with her schooling. At the age of 14, she dropped out and joined the Chinese migrant workers. She went to a city and landed herself a job at a shoe manufacturer, where she started to work to help support the family.


One day one of her neighbours called her up while she was sweating at her workshop. She was told that the mother had been missing for over ten days. Cathy started to agonise over her mum. But she could not make it home. It was tens of hundreds of miles away.


She borrowed a mobile phone from one of her workmates and tried to contact the father, who was working in a different city. However, she failed to get through to the father. To make matters worse, on the way back to the factory, she had the mobile phone whipped.


The last straw overwhelmed the girl. Cathy found she could no longer bear what had befallen her. A Chinese girl of 14 or 15 years old, she lost any hope of life. It was too hard too hard.


She gulped a lot of liquor in agony. Over-drinking killed her, putting an end to all her misery in this human world.


God, have mercy on the poor. They do not deserve this serving of fate. It is not their fault to be trapped in poverty. Will you open your eyes and leave a crack in the door for the unfortunates to survive in this world?


Upon finishing reading Miss Zhang Yangyang’s special journal entry about her friend Cathy, I wiped a tear or two off and began to key the above into my computer.


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