NO New Nuclear Weapons... NO New Nuclear Targets... NO New Pretexts For Nuclear War... NO Nuclear Testing...
NO Star Wars... NO Weapons In Space...
NO All Types Of Weapons, War & War Culture...
We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?

Old Wei & Young Wei - End

by Robert J. BAUMANN


We walked with Gao along the road until we reached his home. Grandfather waited while I helped Gao into his house with his packages. It took a few minutes as Gao asked me to help him store away his food. He would need to know where it was placed, so he could find it again easily. I followed his every direction.

We did not have the chance to make conversation on the way home. Grandfather was silent, and neither I nor Gao knew where to begin to chat without seeming to disturb the atmosphere of thought that Grandfather seemed so absorbed in. Nothing was said about the second melon or the money to be refunded from it. As we stored the groceries away, Gao spoke first.

"That Bin Su at the marketplace, Wei, what does she look like?"

"Oh. She has a good smile. I do not think she is so young, but I am sure she was very pretty when she was my age. Are you in love, Gao?"

"Hah. A blind man like me does not fall in love, Wei. If you fall in love, you get hurt by reality easily enough. Beautiful or ugly, no woman wants a man like me, Wei. I know I will always live alone this way."

"You're afraid to love her, aren't you?"

"Hah. I should have asked Old Wei to help me inside. At least he has no questions for Gao."

"He has no questions for anyone. The way he walked towards home is just the way he walked to the market. We never talk. He is almost as silent at home. I think words bother him. If they were like Yen, he'd be rich because he'd save them all and never use them."

"He is a very quiet man. He thinks but does not speak. I find that more uncomfortable than you. I sense people by their sound, and I am comforted by that sound. If they are silent, then they are like living in the company of ghosts, and how can a blind man know when a ghost is in the room?"

"A ghost would find a way to make some noise, Gao. Grandfather will give me another ten minutes of silence until we reach home."

"And then?"

"I think I want to ask him why we went to the marketplace today. We bought nothing to carry back."

"Maybe he just wanted some exercise, Wei. Too bad the melons he bought were no good. Didn't he want you to get good melons?"

"No, I was just supposed to get his money back."

"Ah, but you never asked Bin Su for a refund. Why?"

"He did not buy them from her. I am sure of that."

"Then why did he want them to be returned?"

"That is another one of my questions Gao. I wonder if he will ever tell me."

Gao nodded his head and we continued to unpack all the groceries onto his shelves. When we were finished I held Gao's hand and made my farewells.

Grandfather began walking away as soon as he saw me close Gao's door and I had to run to catch up to him. I called out to him and he paused for a moment and then walked on. I reached his side and was breathing heavily.

"I did not return the second melon. I threw it away."

Granfather grunted and walked on, staring down the road and doing his best to ignore me. I did an unpardonable thing. I touched his sleeve and repeated myself.

"I did not return the second melon. I threw it away. Are you angry with me?"

"What did you learn today?"

"Wh---? What did I learn today? I---I am not sure what you mean."

"Think about it. You tell me what you learned and I will tell you if I am angry."

When Grandfather said to think about something, he was serious. Grandmother had to think about things for days before answering him. When Grandfather asked questions they were not the kind for immediate replies. Anything that could be answered simply did not require a question. What a terrible old man he was. I was a boy and he treated me like a man. He did from the very first day we moved in to live with him. He treated mother the same way... she was not his child, just his daughter. In all the days we lived in his house I can honestly say I never knew what he felt about us. I did not know how he felt about us. It was one of those maddeningly simple questions that were never asked. On that day, by the road as we entered home I wanted to ask him if he loved me. I didn't. I was supposed to know the answer.

The next day at school I saw Chen Guo. His mouth was still shut because of the punch I had landed. The talkative Chen Guo, silenced by a lucky punch that I had thrown at him when he began to taunt and annoy me. Now, seeing him suffer so much at not being able to talk, I felt nothing but shame.

I had hit him first and he never saw it coming. I was very remorseful. I was wrong.

"Chen," I cried out, "wait a minute." He turned to see me running toward him. " I know you cannot speak. I just wanted to apologize to you. I did not mean to do this to you."

Chen's eyes rolled in disbelief and he shook his head and began to walk away. "No, really, Chen. You have to believe me. I am sorry. I want to apologize to you. I---I have been thinking about what happened. I cannot undo what was done to you, but please give me the chance to make it up to you.''

Chen looked straight past me. " I---I was thinking that I might go to help your family after school. If they will let me, I will ask them to let me do your chores. You will be free to read or rest. It is up to you. I will come to your home every day, until you are better. I will not go home until your work is done. I asked our teacher if this would be a good idea and he said to ask you."

Chen shook his head back and forth. At first I thought he was refusing my offer and my heart sank. When he looked up at me, there was a smile on his face.. or at least the best smile he could manage. I knew it hurt him, but he was amused at my offer. He gave me his hand and we shook on our agreement.

For two months, after school was out, I did all of Chen's cleaning, farming chores, and family errands. When they were done, I arrived home to begin my own. The day was late when I finished. Some nights I had no energy to study, I'd just collapse in bed.

When the two months were over I told Grandfather exactly what I had learned that day we went to the marketplace. He put his hands on my shoulders and nodded his head. It was one of the few moments that I think I really pleased him, even if he never said so.  

- . -

For part9
For part 8
For part 7
For part 6
For part 5
For Part 4
For Part 3
For Part 2
For Part 1

E-mail to Robert J. Baumann >rbaumann@nyc.rr.com

This issue is dedicated to the Peace Process of SRI LANKA & prominent Turkish author Yasar KEMAL

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