China / Society

Musician versus masseur

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-26 08:47

Musician versus masseur

Guo's sister helps him eat supper while their parents are away from home. [Photo/China Daily]

In 2013, the story of Guo Bin, a 6-year-old who was deliberately blinded, shocked China and made headlines across the world. Now, three years after the attack, the school student is recovering and is determined to walk his own career path. Hou Liqiang reports.

In late August 2013, Guo Bin, then a 6-year-old school student, was lured into a field near his home in the northern province of Shanxi by a woman who blinded him by gouging out his eyes.

The motive for the attack has never been determined, but the police named Guo's aunt, who committed suicide after the incident, as the assailant. According to Guo's parents, his first words to them after the attack were, "Why is it dark all the time?"

Three years later, the 9-year-old has been fitted with prosthetic eyes, but he will never see again. Instead he has found solace in music.

"I want to be a musician," he said with a shy smile, as he sat with his hands on his thighs. "I would like to practice playing from 8 am to 8 pm every day."

In the years since the attack, Guo-known affectionately as Binbin-has learned to play the ocarina, the hulusi, a type of Chinese flute, and bass at the Wuhan City School for the Blind.

He is also a member of a school ocarina band called The Six Points. On Aug 11, the band, the only one to feature disabled musicians, earned the highest score among 38 ensembles and won a gold medal at a national ocarina contest held in Beijing.

Despite his passion, Guo's path to becoming a professional musician may not be easy. In modern China, the usual career path for a blind person is to become a masseur. Last year, more than 25,000 blind masseurs were trained to provide rudimentary healthcare and medical treatment, according to a report published by the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

However, Guo is fighting his "destiny", aided by a small group of teachers who, despite limited funding, are challenging the orthodox view.

In the weeks after the 2013 attack, several blind schools offered Guo free education, but eventually the boy's parents chose Wuhan City School for the Blind, in the capital of Hubei province, because it offered a range of music classes that catered to Guo's recently discovered love of music.

The spell was cast in 2014, when Guo enrolled at a school in Beijing. "We visited the school and happened to meet students playing the hulusi in class. Binbin tried the instrument and then told me again and again that he would like to learn it," said Wang Wenli, Guo's mother.

Zhang Long, Guo's teacher, said music has helped the boy change dramatically, bringing him happiness and helping him to overcome the incident that changed his life.

"At the very beginning, he was well-behaved, but silent, introverted and timid, and there was a lack of childish innocence," Zhang said. "Now he is just like other children of his age, listening carefully in class and playing happily with his classmates during breaks. You often see a smile on his face, and he talks a lot with the other children."

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