Humanity in the eyes of an orphan
Chevalerie smiles at a 10-year-old girl in her house with two local officials in the northern part of Qingyuan prefecture, Guangdong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
In my Chinese lifetime, I toured many places, all worthy of consideration. Beyond and above mere professional aspects, sometimes an unexpected human light arises amidst harsh business talks. Sometimes an unforeseen smile crosses the face of an uncompromising interlocutor as though to remind us that life is beautiful and everyone is doing his best to ensure that greatness.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by a surge of emotion. That is what happened last week.
This particular day, I went to the northern part of the Qingyuan prefecture, Guangdong province. After passing through the city of Yangshan, I reached a countryside ecologically significant and relatively untouched habitat. There, the nature is fascinating and wild. The roads are not very frequented. Seen from a distance, the landscape resembles as the Gulling magical scenery. The area is dotted with farmhouses. Behind rolling green hills, suddenly an outlying village appears, a local hamlet. Taiping is home to one hundred habitants.
For many years, local authorities provide basic necessities to the poorest families. They are doing the best to make their lives better. Compared to what I witnessed in Africa, the people didn't seem too poor. They live in painted stone houses, with a living room, kitchen and other rooms. The household appears well maintained, clothes are carefully stored, everything clean.
Despite this, an infinite sadness haunts this place.
Tears are words that need to be written.
Accompanied by local officials, I visited the home of one such family. We entered into their house discreetly, trying to cause minimal intrusion.
I immediately caught sight of a little girl, a slim silhouette, 10 years old. Seated behind a table, she looked at us with a deep gaze. She was silent, hidden and secretive. I was impressed by her freshness and purity but also the strength emanating from her eyes.
She seemed oblivious to our presence.
Nevertheless, one local official asked her a few straightforward questions such as: How are you today? Do you feel well?
She whispered softly that she was well.
"The weather isn't so good. If you're cold, we will warm you up," another official exclaimed.
Once again, she muttered under her breath. Everything was apparently fine but she wasn't smiling.
"She doesn't smile much anymore" pointed out the official.
She remained gazing for some minutes. We stayed silent, staring at her piously.
Outside, the sound of birds and the rustle of the wind.
For what seems like an eternity, her presence submerged us. I was shivering in all my limbs. My heart was pounding in my chest.
Then her lips quivered with emotion, she said with exemplary dignity, looking at me.
"I am grateful that you came from so far away."
Suddenly I saw that tears were flowing down her cheeks.
Her distress resounded as a cry for help, as a sign of genuine humanism. At this moment, since the apparition of the first human being on Earth, all the mankind history glistened in her eyes.
I placed my hand on hers, lightly.
The official waved me to leave the house.
Outside, the sky grew darker and the wind blew more forcefully.
The official struggled to find the words to tell her story. "Fate is sometimes cruel, too cruel. She lost both her parents one week ago" he said with a lump in his throat.
Crushed by a deep feeling of sorrow, I began to cry for quite a long time. Big tears shimmered also in the official eyes.
Night was already falling.
I glanced instinctively to the little girl house.
In my heart echoed the phrase: "Go out to the whole world and proclaim that she deserves happiness, ever".
A jùn mǎ tale 俊 马 故事 (François de la Chevalerie)
(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)