The Story of My Father（9-12) 我的父親（9-12）
The Justice Bureau in Mianyang had just been established. It had neither its own office building, nor dormitories for the staff. Instead, both its office and dormitories for staff were rented from a hotel building. My father lived in the male dormitory; my sister lived in a dormitory for female staff, whilst I became a boarder and lived in the student dormitory of Mianyang Nanshan High School. So the three of us lived in three different places.
Nanshan High School is located halfway up on a hillside, and is somewhat isolated from the world. It was said that in the Qing Dynasty the imperial examinations were held there, so it has quite a long history.
When I returned “home” on the weekends, I squeezed into and shared the same single bed with my sister. There were many other female colleagues of my father in the same dormitory room.
Occasionally, my father would cook some food for us in his office with an electric cooker, and this would be our special treat. My sister and I could only “fight” to get our food at the school canteen, which only supplied terrible food.
Thus, until I graduated from high school, for more than three years, my mother hadn’t managed to move to Mianyang and join us. We could only travel back and forth to visit each other during our school breaks. My mother often said, “It’s so hard to earn money, and we only end up spending it all on the road!”
The good news was, my father’s career seemed to have taken off. Firstly, I heard that a law firm was set up underneath the Justice Bureau, then I heard that my father was transferred to the law firm and had become a lawyer. Then one day I suddenly heard that he had been ranked as one of the “Top 10 Lawyers in Sichuan Province”!
I heard that my father’s most brilliant performance was that he fought three lawyers on the other side alone. The other party he had to fight was an Honored Teacher with national recognition and was very famous. That was why he was able to hire the three very good lawyers at one go to defend himself. However, my father defeated them all and won that case brilliantly.
These “legends” made me very proud. On the one hand, I really wanted to visit the court and watch my father’s heroic moments of debating with numerous persons at the same time. On the other hand, however, I could hardly imagine how a somewhat dull person like him, who could spend a whole day without saying a single word, could have become an outstanding lawyer, as a good lawyer was supposed to be very eloquent and good at debating.
Once I asked him, “I heard that you never lost any case. What’s your secret?”
He replied with a secretive smile, “I never take a case that I can’t win.”
When he said this, his smile was as innocent as that of a child. At the same time, it was also as cunning as would usually be seen on faces of Chinese peasants. It didn’t make him look like a “Top 10 Lawyer” at all.
After I finished my second year in high school, and was about to start the third and last year, I needed to choose between liberal arts and science as my future major. I was doing equally well with both courses.
Many people said that it was better for girls to choose liberal arts as female minds could do better in those fields. If girls study science, they can’t compete with boys. Apart from knowing that I wanted to go to Peking University to study, I really didn’t know what major to choose.
My father said with much determination, “Choose science. No matter who is the chairman of the country, 1+1 always equals 2.”
After saying “1+1 always equals 2”, my father once again bit his lower lip in that unique way with an expressionless face, just as he did when my mother had burned his literary works. This once again made me feel very scared. I silently obeyed and chose science without any second thought.
In 1984, my dream of going to Peking University came true. My major was of course science, and geochemistry in particular. At the time when I needed to leave my high school forever, I found that I had accumulated many things during the past three years. My father rode a tricycle to the school to help me move my belongings. It was very hard to ride uphill, and my father was soon wet through in sweat.
Drenched in sweat, he rode and laughed, “I am a happy pedicab-man!” And mixed in his laugh, was a very undetectable trace of effort to flatter me.
My father was a very typical Chinese peasant intellectual, who seldom expressed or showed his emotions. Nor did he ever say any sweet words such as “I love you” to his three daughters. However, his flattering smile at that moment, when he said that he was a happy pedicab-man, has been warmly engraved in my heart ever since.
For me, that was his way of showing his fatherly love and care.