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Wife's love lifts blind husband out of darkness

By CAO YIN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-04 07:16
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Wang Yongcheng (right) gives a massage with a visually impaired trainee in his studio in Fujian province. CHINA DAILY

In 1985, when Wang Yongcheng lost his sight due to an accident at a construction site, he was just 18.

Now, the 56-year-old native of Sanming, Fujian province, is a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress, China's top legislature, speaking out for the disabled and traveling the country to discuss their problems and find solutions.

Recalling the initial period after he became blind, Wang said, "It was like falling into an abyss, and it was hard to climb back out."

On the morning of Chinese New Year in 1986, for instance, he crawled out of bed and groped his way to the family dining table to eat. But he accidentally hit a rice wine jar on the table when he lowered his head. He quickly changed direction, but his nose then bumped into the jar.

"The pain, along with the resentment due to the loss of vision, welled up in my mind causing me to lose control and push the jar to the ground," he remembered of the moment.

The sound of the shattering jar made an earsplitting noise and the whole family fell silent.

After a few seconds of silence, he stood up and rushed out of the room, but ran into a cabinet.

"I couldn't navigate my home, let alone go outside. So I didn't want to talk to anyone at that time and even wrote a farewell letter," said Wang, who is the oldest child in the family, and has two brothers and one sister.

He said his predicament was like a dark cloud hanging over the family. The first year after he lost his vision he was gloomy, even though his parents encouraged him to find something he was capable of doing.

However, his attitude changed in late 1986 when he heard a radio broadcast of Three Days To See by the late blind United States author, educator and activist Helen Keller, which encourages people not to take the gift of vision for granted. In the book, Keller describes what she would do if she had her sight back for three days.

"Her indomitable spirit was moving, and I was inspired," Wang said.

At about the same time, he met Zhou Jianfa, a woman four years younger than him, in his hometown. Unlike others who discriminated against Wang, she was friendly and spoke with him about interesting things.

The two eventually became romantically involved and decided they wanted to have a family. However, Zhou's parents initially opposed the marriage. "I was depressed, but I completely understood her parents' concerns, because no one would agree with their healthy daughter marrying a disabled guy," Wang recalled.

To his surprise, Zhou remained courageous. She persisted and convinced her parents to accept Wang, and expressed her strong desire to be with him.

"It was also at that time I made up my mind to prove myself and provide a better life for Zhou, as I wanted her to marry me without any regrets," Wang added.

In 1990, they got married and a year later their son was born. After a few months of studying Braille by himself, Wang went to Henan province in 1992 and was accepted to a massage school for the blind.

Over the next three years, while taking care of their child, Zhou found a job as a sanitation worker in Fujian. She earned 130 yuan ($18) per month, and sent 100 yuan to Wang for his living expenses in Henan.

Zhou's steadfastness inspired Wang to study harder, and in 1995 he completed his training and returned home with outstanding massage skills.

With the help of the disabled persons' federation in Sanming, Wang soon opened the first blind massage and healthcare center in the area. In 1996, he began offering free massage training for visually impaired people, helping lift them out of poverty and live better lives.

Wang and Zhou have since settled in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian. After being elected as an NPC deputy early this year, Wang's life has become even busier.

In the daytime, he goes to the Fujian Provincial Disabled Persons' Federation to solve disabled people's problems. In the evening, he visits his massage studio to tutor and talk with his students.

Sometimes, he arrives home late at night and Zhou is already asleep. But when he touches the food left for him on the dining table by his wife, all of his fatigue disappears.

"If I had three days to see, I would see my wife, the prettiest woman in the world," Wang said.

"She lifted me out of the darkness, so I want to be the light for other people. I'll continue to try and be a better man, because I don't want her to regret marrying me."

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