【Survivors’Tales】 Survivors

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 短文摘抄 点击:

     ‘It’s good to see the sun rise every day’      The terrible earthquake still lingers in the memory of Li Yulin even after 30 years. Li, 72, at that time Vice Chairman of the trade union of Tangshan Coalmine, returned home at 11 on the night of July 27. He was awakened when the earth thundered. “The sound was so frightening that it still gets me trembling when I recall it,” Li noted. He said he realized it was an earthquake and immediately pulled his wife down, and they laid flat on their faces beside the bed.
  “We were tossed in the air because of the violent shaking, and our nerves were frazzled,” Li recalled.
  In less than 20 seconds, the house collapsed. A wardrobe supported the fallen roof, however, so Li managed to pull his wife and three children out of the house.
  Finding a safe place for his family, Li ran to the mine, wearing nothing but his underpants. He was worried about the 2,000 miners who were still working underground.
  “The night was dead quiet and I could even hear my heartbeat. I felt as if I was alone in the world,” Li said. “The railroad tracks were twisted into an S-shape, and some were two meters above the ground.”
  After seeing that the miners were all safe, Li knew the most urgent thing was to report the disaster to higher authorities. Li, together with three others, drove the only vehicle available, an ambulance, to Beijing and informed the Central Government leaders of the situation, enabling the government to send rescue teams to the spot at once.
  Due to the destruction of the transportation and communications systems, the outside world was blind to what had happened in Tangshan. The disaster broke out so abruptly that many rescue workers came to the site unprepared, with only their bare hands. This led to inefficiency in the rescue work and resulted in more deaths.
  “I should have asked for 500 more cranes, then many more lives in Tangshan would have been saved,” Li said, still feeling guilty about his “slip up” 30 years ago.
  Three days after the earthquake, when things settled down for Li, he found that 14 relatives had died in the disaster, including his eldest son, who was at his grandmother’s home when the quake struck.
  Li’s “indifference” to the lives of his own family members led to an estrangement. His deep sorrow also prevented him from explaining anything. Only after years had passed did the family members begin to understand and forgive him.
  Li and his wife now live in a simple house of about 50 square meters, supported by his 900-yuan pension. Two of his three sons have been laid off in the sweeping reorganization of state-owned enterprises and can’t afford to support their parents.
  “The past is past. I feel happy when the sun rises every morning,” Li said. His natural resilience helped him get through the disaster.
  
  A second life
  Wang Ying, 58, a teacher at the No.9 Middle School in Tangshan, weeps when her terrible experience in the earthquake is brought up again.
  Wang lost her legs during the tragedy but her husband and daughter escaped unscathed. Her body suffered from the aftereffects, so painful that she would bite her own fingers until they bled. She screamed or sang while crying when she was alone to comfort herself.
  However, the greater pain came from the hurt of her family. Several years after the quake, her husband had a new lover and wanted a divorce. Wang begged him to put off the split for the sake of their little daughter. But the husband disagreed and vented his anger on the wife and daughter. Several times, Wang thought about taking her own life.
  The depressed family atmosphere began to affect the five-year-old girl, who also revealed her suicidal thoughts in her dairy. “But what will happen to my mum if I die?” the little girl wrote in the dairy. Finally the love between mother and daughter overcame the impetus toward death.
  After 10 years, Wang let her husband go, and her daughter chose to live with her.
  Since the divorce, Wang has been working harder to raise her daughter, who now is her only reason to stay alive.
  “However much my body aches, I insist on cooking for my daughter and never let my daughter feel distressed,” Wang said.
  Wang’s wholehearted devotion pays off. Though she could have found a better job after graduation from university, the daughter took a job where Wang worked to take better care of her mother.
  Wang retired in 1998, and the pain became unbearable. She wrote a letter to a top city official. Unexpectedly, the local government responded quickly and arranged surgery for her in Beijing. Now the pain has been removed.
  “It’s like I have reclaimed my life. I have gone through the toughest time and am satisfied with my life now,” she said.
  
  Rooted in Tangshan
  
  Liu Hong was nine when his parents died in the earthquake. Liu doesn’t recall much about the quake. “It’s like a battle in a dream,” he said, adding that he woke up to find himself lying in the ruins.
  Liu then lived with his grandparents. His grandfather just told him that his parents had gone to a faraway place for a rescue mission and wouldn’t come back soon. Liu had a bad feeling about that, but he remained silent.
  Three months later, Liu went back to school. There was nothing left of the classroom except a piece of blackboard. Several of Liu’s friends had died in the quake, and more than 10 classmates became orphans.
  Liu devoted all his time to studying and barely spoke to others. It was not until he went to high school that he began to open his heart and try to communicate with people.
  Liu later went to the same college that both of his parents had attended, Hebei Medical University. After graduation, he went to work in Tangshan Workers’ Hospital, where his father used to work.
  “I don’t have much memory of my father except he was a serious man. But I feel we are getting closer to each other,” Liu said.
  
  In December 2001, Liu went to Duke University in the United States for further study in neurosciences, remaining until February 2005. During his stay in the United States, Liu had a son, who was born in the Year of the Sheep, the same as Liu and his father.
  Liu chose to return home and work in Tangshan Medical University instead of settling down in the United States. “I can’t live without Tangshan as I have too many memories there,” Liu said, smiling.
  
  Disabled but satisfied
  
  The earthquake left Wang Baozhan paralyzed. He was only 19. Wang had to be moved to a nursing home for earthquake victims. The disaster left 3,817 victims paralyzed like Wang, spending the rest of their lives in a wheelchair.
  Survival was not a problem for Wang in the nursing home. He managed to find a job outside the home and went to work in his wheelchair every day. “I don’t want to live a pointless life, I want it to be better,” he said.
  Wang’s life changed greatly three years later when met a woman, Zhu Deqin, who was five years older than him and had lost her legs in the disaster.
  Their love story was simple, more about mutual caring and encouragement. They had been in love for nine years and for a time they thought about getting married but did not because they didn’t have a house.
  In 1991, the local government invested 400,000 yuan, in addition to an additional 800,000-yuan donation, to build a community for housing earthquake victims. The same year, the Tangshan Civil Affairs Bureau held a wedding ceremony for 10 couples, including Wang and Zhu.
  The next year, Wang and his wife became the first to move into the community and began to lead independent lives. “Many worried about whether we could live all by ourselves. But when they saw we were living so well, people started to move in and the community was soon filled up,” Wang said.
  Wang was good at sports. He had often taken part in competitions, and in 1994, he won three gold medals at an international event.
  “I wouldn’t have succeeded if it hadn’t been for my wife’s support,” Wang said.
  Fate then played a trick on Wang again in September 2005. He was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He was immediately hospitalized, with all expenses covered by the government. Now the disease is under control and Wang is very positive when talking about his life, “Frankly speaking, I’m very content to see that I can have such a long and happy life.”
  
  ‘We have to face reality’
  
  Jia Xiuyun, 55, lost her husband and a one-month-old daughter in the earthquake 30 years ago. Having been buried in the rubble for 12 hours, Jia was barely alive when she was rescued. She reclaimed her life, but the disaster left her paralyzed.
  “For the first five or six years, I was so depressed and wanted to take my own life,” Jia said.
  She was sent to a nursing home for paralysis sufferers in 1981. There she met her second husband, Lei Qicai, who lost his wife in the same temblor. Their shared interest in sports brought them together. After a 10-year love affair, they formed a family in 1992.
  In 2000, Lei died of a heart attack, which again dragged Jia down to the abyss of grief and loneliness.
  Two years later, Jia met another paralyzed patient, Zhu Xiaozhang, who became her third husband. They lead a simple life now, spending most of their time at home reading newspapers and watching TV.
  As time goes by, the image of her daughter blurs in Jia’s mind. She is not that sad when talking of the earthquake 30 years ago. But speaking of her future life, “another couple of years is enough for me,” she said.
  “These past 30 years have been a tough time for us, but we have to face the reality somehow,” she added.

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