I was born in a secluded village on a mountain. Day by day, my parents plowed the yellow dry soil with their backs towards the sky. I have a brother who is 3 years younger than me. I wanted to buy a handkerchief, which all girls around me seemed to have. So, one day I stole 50 cents from my father’s drawer. Father had discovered about the stolen money right away. He made me and my younger brother kneel against the wall as he held a bamboo stick in his hand.
“Who stole the money?” he asked.
I was stunned, too afraid to talk. Neither of us admitted to the fault, so he said,
“Fine, if nobody wants to admit, you two should be beaten!”
He lifted up the bamboo stick. Suddenly, my younger brother gripped father’s hand and said,
“Dad, I was the one who did it!”
The long stick smacked my brother’s back repeatedly. Father was so angry that he kept on whipping my brother until he lost his breath. After that, he sat down on our stone bed and scolded my brother,
“You have learned to steal from your own house now. What other embarrassing things will you be possibly doing in the future? You should be beaten to death, you shameless thief!”
That night, my mother and I hugged my brother. His body was full of wounds from the beating but he never shed a single tear. In the middle of the night, all of sudden, I cried out loudly. My brother covered my mouth with his little hand and said,
“Sis, now don’t cry anymore. Everything has happened.”
I still hate myself for not having enough courage to admit what I did. Years gone by, but the incident still seemed like it just happened yesterday… I will never forget my brother’s expression when he protected me. That year, my brother was 8 years old and I was 11 years old.
When my brother was in his last year of secondary school, he was accepted in an upper secondary school in the central. At the same time, I was accepted into a university in the province. That
night, father squatted in the yard, smoking, packet by packet. I could hear him ask my mother,
“Both of our children, they have good results? Very good results?”
Mother wiped off her tears and sighed,
“What is the use? How can we possibly finance both of them?”
At that time, my brother walked out, he stood in front of father and said,
“Dad, I don’t want to continue my studies anymore, I have read
Father swung his hand and slapped my brother on his face.
“Why do you have a spirit so damn weak? Even if it means I have to beg for money on the streets, I will send you two to school until you have both finished your studies.”
And then, he started to knock on every house in the village to borrow money.
I stuck out my hand as gently as I can to my brother’s swollen face, and told him,
“A boy has to continue his studies; if not, he will not be able to overcome this poverty we are experiencing.”
I, on the other hand, had decided to further my studies at the university. Nobody knew that on the next day, before dawn, my brother left the house with a few pieces of worn-out clothes and a few dry beans. He sneaked to my side of the bed and left a note on my pillow;
“Sis, getting into a university is not easy. I will go find a job and I will send money to you.”
I held the note while sitting on my bed, and cried until I lost my voice. That year, my brother was 17 years old; I was 20 years old..
With the money father borrowed from the whole village, and the money my brother earned from carrying cement on his back at a construction site, finally, I managed to get to the third year of my studies in the university. One day, while I was studying in my room, my roommate came in and told me,
“There’s a villager waiting for you outside!”