Two brothers – nine and ten years old

This true story is told by blogger hhlx69 (海合龙祥). I choose to publish this translation on the National Day of China.

The original title: On QiXi day, I met with coverless “NiuLang”s (七夕节遇见裸露的“牛郎”).

After 6 hours of walking, I finally stepped out of the mountain around midnight. The soles of my feet were covered by blood from cuts. As a result, my feet became slippery when I walked. My soles made a strange sound due to the slipperiness. I felt so relaxed and said to myself: I finally made it to get out of the mountains. The feeling of being alive was so good. Just when I felt lucky that I survived, my cell phone, which had not be functioning for a week, started to shack in with a message: “Happy Qixi (七夕) Day!”

Qixi? What is the meaning of Qixi?

While Qixi messages arrived one by one to my cell phone, I asked my friend who accompanied me about this Qixi day. He told me the story. (The details of the QiXi story is moved to another article.) After listen to the story told by my friend, I became wordless. The so-called Valentine’s Day is never stranger than ever.

After almost three hours of bus riding, I heard the driver’s voice while I was dreaming. I stepped out the vehicle and watched the sky full of stars. Cool breeze blowing over, I felt awake a lot more. I walked around the small town and asked about net bar (or Internet cafe). Finally, I found a small one. Inside, it is so quiet as there were only few people. I was going to organize and send the materials for education sponsor purpose to Beijing via QQ and to take a good nap. But QiXi greeting message from my QQ friends keeps popping up. So I ended up to feelingless replies: I do not have a girl friend nor lover. Therefore, I decided not to accept the nonsense greeting and express my regretful gratitude. Just at the the moment when I finished the replies, I saw the series of photos of “coverless NiuLangs”. Tears poured out right away!

After I reviewed the photos of two brother who I just interviewed, I felt pain deep in my heart suddenly! I kept thinking of those two who I will never forget. On this Chinese Valentine’s Day, will they have diner? will they see the Moon? will they know that it is some holiday! I am not even sure how long it will take for the website of Gan En China (感恩中国) to publish my reports of the old people and children who have just interviewed during the past month which may bring them new hopes! At this moment, I simply can not fall asleep, especially after I see these photos.

“哥,快点拔耕犁!要不然你动作慢了水牛就要吃玉米了!”今年刚9岁的弟弟马明海大声对哥哥马明洋喊道。他们没有可以思考的人生,对於他们来说,这是一天又一天的工作。

“Brother, hurry up! Otherwise if you are too slow, ox will eat corns!” shouted the younger brother Ma Minghai (马明海). They do not have a future for them to think of. For them, all they are facing is to work every day.

听到弟弟马明海的喊叫声,今年刚10岁的哥哥马明洋使劲全力拔起耕犁回答道:“不要喊好不好?你一叫牛就喜欢乱跑!”

The elder brother Ma Mingyang (马明洋) used all his energy to pull the plowshares out of the dirt and answered: “Don’t shout, Ok? You could scare away the ox!”

“把牛牵稳点!听到了没有?!今天我们两个要把剩下的两块旱田给耕完,耕完了就可以回家休息了!”哥哥马明洋催促道。

“Hold the leash! You hear me? We have to finished these two blocks of farmland. We can go home and rest after we are done.” Elder brother Mingyang pressed the younger one.

“跟你说了多少次,你要把牛给拉直!快点让牛停下来!要不然我们的耕犁就要被树根给弄烂了!”哥哥马明洋生气地喊道。

“I’ve told you many times, let the ox go strait ahead! Stop the ox now! The plowshare almost damaged the root of the nearby tree!” Elder brother Mingyang shouted angrily.

耕完耕地后,兄弟俩让气喘嘘嘘的牛儿吃草,哥哥马明洋吩咐弟弟马明海帮忙找牛身上的虱子,在这时候他们难得的休息了一会。

After they finished their work, they allowed the exhausted ox to take a rest and eat grass. Mingyang asked Minghai to find lice on the ox’s body. Only during this time, they could take a short rest.

牛儿吃饱了,兄弟俩把牛儿牵到牛圈拴起来,然后背起竹篓继续赶到山上割牛草。这时候弟弟马明海喊饿了,哥哥马明洋劝说弟弟:“后天我们俩就要开学了,爸爸昨天说了,过几天他要从外面背点玉米面回来给我们俩吃,我们只有今天晚上的粮食吃了!小弟,就算我们俩个没有吃的,我们也要让我们的耕牛吃饱是不是......”

The ox was full now. The brother took the ox to fence in. Then they took big baskets to collect grass for the ox. At this time, Minghai said that he was hungry. Mingyang replied to his brother: “Our school will start on the day after tomorrow, daddy promised yesterday that he would bring us corn powders for us. We only have food for tonight! Little brother, even if we don’t have food, we have to let the ox to have enough food, right? …”

Final note: it is 2 o’clock after midnight when I am writing this story in a net bar. People in net bar are leaving to sleep. I can not control my tears pouring out of eyes. I deep worry about the two brother in my diary. What I worry most is that the mud shelter they live may collapse at any time. The villagers told me that this family is too poor. Their mother could not stand the daily hungry and finally ran away with another man from a different province. After their mother left, their father went out to find food for himself. He seldom helps his son with food. Two other brothers (one at 13, and the other at 15) ran away and never came back. Now, all the farm work fall to these two little brothers Mingyang and Minghai. Their work includes: planting and harvesting corns and tomatoes and feeding their ox.

When I had to leave, I tried to say something warm. For example, “You will have a bright future.” or “The hardest of hardships can you hope to rise in society”. But I could find a word to start with. I asked them what they will do in the future. Mingyang said: “Uncle, we never have enough food to eat. Our cloths are bought before mom left. My brother and I have not eaten meat for years! Uncle, we are really scared when it rains. We are afraid that our shelter may collapse at any time when it rains heavily. The cowshed is in danger of collapse too. Could you help us find our mom and bothers? Uncle, please, if you can see our mom and two bothers, tell them that we are growing up. We can work to feed ourselves. We really miss them …”

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