Sharon is a student in Grade 2 senior high school. She is one of the girls that come from the countryside. Plainly dressed, she is friendly, warm and helpful.


Sharon has got an elder sister, who sat the National College Entrance Exams this summer but failed. I learned about her sister in her journal last term. She then told me that her sister would take the big exam and that she wished her good luck. So at the beginning of this term I asked her about the sister’s performance in the exam. And Sharon told me the bad news in the journal.


However, Sharon thought her sister was optimistic about her future. In fact the sister is redoing the last year of high school back in their county. She is one of what we call Grade 4 students. Sharon wishes her sister better luck in 2009.


When I read her journal further, I learned something remarkable about a younger sister. The younger sister is actually no longer a member of Sharon’s family. But why is the girl her younger sister?


When the girl was born, Sharon’s parents were disappointed by the birth of another girl, for they had for ages wished to get a son. So what did the parents do? The parents gave away the baby to a family in a nearby village. The child did not come back to Sharon’s family for a visit until she was six or seven. Sharon said that she had known all along that she had a younger sister out there but had no idea where she was and who she was.


In the summer holidays the young sister came back to her biological parents for a short stay. All the family members were excited to have her back initially. Sharon loved her very much. It was a happy time, I bet. A teenager feels responsibility when he has a sibling under him. However, a few days after the sister came back, the parents turned rather cold towards the little girl.


The younger sister had been living with her adoptive parents for a number of years, and she had been treated very well. So she was not very obedient in her biological parents’ eyes. She probably would not follow their orders, the way Sharon and her elder sis do.


Sharon adores her younger sis still. She knows her parents one day will bring a brother to the world. She wonders, “Will a boy be any better than my younger sister?”


A typical rural family with kids in high school live a hard life. Sharon’s parents have to pay all the expenses for the two girls’ education—tuition, meals and boarding. Why wouldn’t they give up the thought of having a son? I find myself asking the question.


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