I was born on July 15, 1993 in Shenzhen, China, a small town next to Hong Kong. You may wonder, what did my hometown look like at the time? Imagine a new city with a small population and limited public transportation, with an Soviet movie background or I should say, an 1980 Agfa film's color.
I started to remember things when I was 3. By that time, people are talking about Hong Kong returning back to China in 1997 and the crysis on the Taiwan Strait. But, I had no idea about these news at that time, all I care about were the toys and candies.
My family's condition was quite bad at that time; we lived in a flat with peeled walls, a roof that leaked when the rainstorms came, and power outages when Typhoon approach to our city. When the storm arrives my town, mom would light a candle in living room when the lights out, shielding us from darkness. Dad would walking through the flat to see if the wall leaks water.
There are four family members in my family: my father, mother, my older brother, and me. Mom works in a company as a clerk at that time. For my dad, he owns his own business - selling wooden furniture. My older brother was a first-grade student in the primary school across the street, which always playing music at 8AM on weekdays. And I, I'm taken care by a babysitter because the kindergarten only accepts children from age 4 to 6.
So the drama would begin when the school started to playing music. Although I'm at three years old, I already knew that my mother will leave the flat to go somewhere called "company", without me in thirty minutes. So, 8AM was the nightmare for my neighbors - the whole building heard that I cried and begged my mom to stay with me.
"Follow me my little Jin," my mom said. "Let's go to the balcony." She took my hand to the balcony. It's a small space with many flowers and plants in the corner. As we entered the balcony, she wipes my tears away and looking something can distract my attention. She shakes my arms. "Loot at that Jin; it's the ants!" She points to the gap between the balcony gate and its frame.
It was a group of the ants, moving a leaf slowly, on whom my eyes fell when I turned to the position. "They are moving food to their home, look!" While I'm focusing on the ants, she said, " ants are working for food to eat, as mama goes to working. Do you want to eat without any food tonight?"
I shook my head.
"So mama is going to work now, can you watch the ants and be a good boy at home?"
I nodded my head, and keep looking at ants.
It took me a few years to make sense of my mom’s many explanations/ I remember watching my mom walking up a hill with a bag four times her size. surrounded by other women. I have no perspective on what she did, or how. It took me years to realize that my conjecture was pretty close to the truth. Over the next few years I would learn many lessons from my mother, and these lesson became the building block for my life.
On the other hand, my father brings me an example of what I should look like when I grow up. He always goes around China for his furniture business and busying answers phone calls with his cellphone at home. And the most important point is, he keeps bring a big bag of snacks for my brother and me when he returns home. That’s fantastic!
Unlike my mother, my dad didn't like to talk with me when he's at home, but he prefers to bring me out of the flat to see the city. When he wants to explain something to me, he always used a declarative sentences like he is ordering food from the counter, which makes me feel nervous. When the weekend arrives, my father will bring my brother and me to the Donghu park by 20 minutes walk, and he will tour us through the whole park then return home.
When we arrived the park, I always feel very excited and start running around. My dad will yell at me and my brother in Cantonese. "Jin! Stop running or I will beat your ass! Li! Take care of your younger brother!" In the same time, my brother will run to me and take my hand, telling me to walk slowly in a faint voice. Then, we will walk to my father and start touring the park.
Donghu Park is the biggest park in Shenzhen, which contains a Shenzhen reservoir, the largest reservoir of the city. My father always set the top of the dam as the final destination when we are touring the park, where we can saw the view of the Wutong Mountain and Donghu lake. While we arrived the final stop, dad will ask my brother and me some question about basic math calculation such as five plus four.
Unfortunately, neither Li nor I were good at maths at that time. On the way we are going back home, dad would always walking ahead with a frustration face.
When we arrived home, it usually at 6 PM. Mom will finish cooking dinner; then we will have a competition about who will be the "king of the eaters." After meal, we usually will watch domestic soccer league on television or American Funny home Videos, and went to bed at 10 PM.
If my father is the sample of how I should become in future, my brother will become the pacemaker of the naughtiness. With the help of my brother, I’ve learned to using fan to cooling down the television before parents went home, I’ve understand how to prank my father by dialing home number from his cell phone when he was at home; he always plays games with me, and always let me win.
Li and I were the fan of the Chinese Soccer team Shenzhen, so mother bought us a tiny socker. Every time when my brother is free, we will play one on one soccer in living room by using chair as the goal gate. Li will be the captain of the oppose team, and I will be the captain of the home team, the police who will going to arrest the oppose team, and the referee who will only giving red cards to the oppose team.
Before the match, we will sit together and watch the soccer clip from the local sports channel, watching Ronaldo and Zidane flying in the soccer field. Then we will decide who will be Ronado, and who will be Carlos.
As the program ends, the match begins. Li will always become the team who starts kicking of the ball. He will pretend he is handling the ball so carefully and accidently made a mistake that passed the ball to his opponent, the glorious Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima(Me). Then, Ronaldo leads the ball and set the goal with a light kick. The goal was so impressive, even the opponents are clapping their hands at this miracle goal.
“Wow, that’s good goal!” my brother said, “you are kicking like Ronaldo!” Indeed, I can imagine the picture of me helding the world cup trophy, with my fans are throwing me candies and potato chips..
My brother also has talent with all kind of the sports in family. And he proved that he is a good athlete by winning a gold medal in the 2008 Special Olympics in bowling. His dysgnosia means that he can’t speak nor thinking in his age. Although my brother can’t express his idea with language, he still shows the responsibility of an older brother to me by doing stupid things with me all growing.
According to rough statistics, Li and I always engaged in mischief on weekday afternoons, especially when Li returned home from school. When he came home, he’d carry me to the windowsill of the balcony, and we would watching the view on the ground like kings in his castle. The view outside of our castle was a lonely four-lane road with two sidewalks, and a bus stop right next to our apartment.
While the king brothers are intoxicated with the peaceful view, the didn’t realized a crisis is coming. Suddenly, a mini bus stops at the bus stop. My Vigilant brother spotted the bus and the number of the bus route. He said: “ It’s No.422, they are invading us! No!”
In our view, there were only two bus routes that exist in the world, because there’s only two route that stopped next to our home: 403 and 422. We are familiar with route 403 because our family always taking that bus to restaurant, train station, hospital, and book store. But we never have a chance to take bus 422, all we know is those innocent passengers who took route 422 will going to somewhere unknown, and disappear from our sight.
After we identified the incoming bus is an hostile object, the king brothers quickly prepare themselves to engage the enemy by filling waters to our powerful, plastic water guns with water. By the time when I’m still filling waters to the water gun, my heroic brother already finish this step and start preparing the “genade” by using mud from the flower pots. After my brother finish his work and I’m finally fulfilled the water tank, we are fully confident that we can defend our castle and save the world.
By now whenever a route 422 bus arrives the stop, they will receive a muddy, ritual gift from my brother Li, and a free car wash service by Jin. I can’t remember this process in details anymore, but I still remember the pain from my bottom when parents come home.
I hate to write ending for my memoir, especially after I attend the college in United States. My childhood memories have brought me so much love to kept the loneliness away. I’m grateful for the memories that my family made for me. Even sometimes I would laugh at my memories when I was video chatting with my family. “What are you laughing my son? Are you busy?”, said my mom. “Yes mom,” I replied, “ I’m busing to grow up, and busing to being loved.”