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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Budding Writers
Saturdays at Little Home (I)
    2017-November-29  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

It was during a brief period of chaos — between the blissful days of Broadway shows and standardized test prep to the usual anxiety-filled school days — that I came upon Little Home, a two-apartment halfway-house that offers free housing for inner-city families with severely sick children when they come to Shenzhen for treatment. And before you read any further, I must warn you in advanced that this may not be a leisurely ride, but since the story’s expectation is nowhere near its end, anything is still possible.

It all started on the day of September 2. The sun was brighter than anybody asked for and there was an in-ignorable agitation in the air from all the anticipation of a new school year, or just Monday.

The outside of the building looked the same as every middle-class Shenzhen community: A few buildings colored in washed-out marble, with old people and toddlers playing under the shade and a middle-sized family mart that smelled just out of ordinary if one paid attention.

When we arrived at Little Home, it seemed that time was frozen and we both let out a breath of air that we didn’t realize we were holding. In fact, my mother and I were still fighting over a hot cup of coffee.

“Are you sure this is it?” I had asked, standing in a windless stinking hallway.

“What’s not to be sure of?” My mom replied, trying quite hard to conceal her eagerness to leave. “I’ll pick you up at lunch!”

The house smelled no better than the hallway, with its mixture of oil and dishwater and dust. There were only four kids: a brother and his sister, a boy who refused to talk to anyone other than his mother, and a girl in the backroom.

Jia Yi and Jia Qi — the siblings — took a liking to the cookies that I bought, so it started from there. The cookies were distributed around while I half read, half made up stories from a deck of picture books.

“I’ll give you another one when you’re done with this one,” Jia Yi said while we were reading, after she yanked the cookie bag out from her brother’s grip.

Jia Qi cried, so she handed him a cookie.

After a while, Chun Ni, an employee there, left, and their parents busied on with their lives. I supposed that I should be grateful for their votes of confidence in taking care of the children, but there’s always a tense, almost dangerous, awareness that I could not shake off when taking care of critically ill children.

At mid-morning, we were interrupted by furious thumps and scratches on the metal door. Two women stood outside, one fat, one thin. The bigger one said that she’s the first landlord, and if the second tenant doesn’t pay up right here right now, she will cut off the electricity and water supply. But the problem was, as Chun Ni later explained, that Little Home is actually the fourth tenant. So they sat there, with their nostril flaring like characters from a Disney cartoon, staring down the back of my neck while I read picture books.

Chun Ni got rid of them eventually, and my mom came to pick me up quickly after that. Before leaving, I was introduced to the girl in the back room. It was the brightest room, had two double beds in it with one and a half empty, and her name was Wan Qi.

She was sitting on her bed with a tiny bed desk in front and a copy of math exercise book spread on top.

“Um, hi my name is Helena.” (Okay, it wasn’t a perfect introduction.)

She smiled, “Wan Qi, you’re a Junior as well?”

“Yeah.”

She smiled again. “Nice to meet you.”

“Yeah, but most of them are at home.” She smiled again at the end of the sentence. I couldn’t figure out whether she was dismayed by that fact or not.

“Oh, okay.”

 

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