EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN
Wei & Young Wei:
Jwo and Min had teased me for a time but I ignored them and, since they had shopping to do they left me alone.
It was starting to get warmer. Grandfather and I had left for the marketplace early in the morning, so I did not feel the heat at that time.
Now, even in the shade of the tree I had found, the Summer sun was making things quite hot. I hoped Grandfather would return quickly, but I knew he would not. If he took too long I would simply melt in the heat of the sun and he would have to carry me home in a bottle.
I looked out on the road to the market and saw Gao. He was walking everso slowly with his stick, sweeping the ground back and forth with it. If Gao had started around the same time we did, it took him a lot more time to get here and it would be longer for him to go back. How would this blind man carry his food and walk with a stick I wondered.
"Gao," I cried out. "Nee How Mah?"
"Wei, Nee How."
"How did you know it was me?"
"Who else would be you?", said Gao as he approached the shade of the tree.
"Ah, you have found a way to escape the sun. I am not so lucky today. I should have begun my journey earlier."
"Why didn't you?"
"Too dark outside," laughed Gao. He was such a strange blind man. He knew me just from a few words. He laughed about being blind. He often joked about it. I wondered how he could do these things. If I was blind my eyes would still be good for tears.
"You always joke with me, Gao. What did you come to buy today?"
"The usual things: rice, fruit, vegetables. A good thing that I can smell the difference, eh? A good thing I can feel the difference. My guests would be upset to eat rice and steamed fruit. Ha ha."
"Well, if you are not in too big a hurry why not join me under this tree.
When Grandfather returns I can help you to carry your food."
"Help? Hah. I am not buying enough for an army, Wei. I am buying only enough for myself. I can manage that, but I will sit in the shade for a while to rest."
Gao put down his stick and rested beside me with his back against the tree.
"Where is your Grandfather anyway? Why did he leave you here? Are you guarding the entrance from demons?"
"He asked me to walk with him to the marketplace, but when we got here he told me to wait for him. I don't know why."
"You didn't ask?"
"Grandfather and I did not make conversation along the way. He makes it very hard to ask questions. He does not expect them. He does not like them. I have found he often ignores them."
Gao stroked the small beard that was growing out from his chin.
"Aha. You will just sit and wait then. Too bad. Waste of time, I think.
What would you be doing today if you did not go to the market with him?"
"I guess I would help my Mother to do some errands or to do some work around the house. Mother does not let me waste my time. She says I have to learn to use my time well since there is so little of it. If I am too slow she pulls my ear. She says if she pulls often my ears will grow big enough for me to hear her. Your mother was this way too, Gao?"
"No. My mother died when she was young. My Grandmother raised me. She died too, eventually. Now it is just Gao and Gao alone who is the master of his destiny."
I looked at Gao when he said this. Some of the humor was gone from his voice. He was not an old man, but he had some years behind him. They showed on his face. All his laughter could not hide the truth. He had been given a hard life no matter what his good nature was. It must have been frightening to be left alone. It ran through my thoughts. I wondered if I would be alone someday. It was bound to happen. I felt a ghost trying to enter my thoughts, and ghosts are best kept away. When I began to listen to Gao again he was in mid-sentence.
"...neighbor. Good man. So kind and helpful, but how could I impose on anyone? They are not responsible for me or my circumstance, are they?"
"You don't want help from anyone at anytime? Everyone needs help sometime Gao. People who can see need lots of help."
"I don't argue that. I just know if I do not help myself then I will become weak and helpless. Now I can live on my own and be a man. What would they do to me if I was weak? Put me in a home for the blind? No. I would not want that. I would rather be on my own, even if it is difficult. Do you understand? I cannot be weak. I cannot."
"Neither can I, Gao. Neither can I."
We stopped talking for a while. I could feel a light breeze across my face.
It was cool and gentle. Where had it come from? Gao felt it, too.
"Ah. Grandmother is fanning me. She wants me to be strong and finish my shopping. Enough rest for me, Wei. I must move on. Say hello to Old Wei when he returns."
"I will ask him to wait for you. Maybe we can all walk back together."
Gao smiled and waved goodbye. I watched him until he disappeared into the marketplace. If I had to wait for him I would, even if Grandfather had to leave without me. I was determined to walk home with Gao. At least there would be conversation on the way home. I did not realize how much I missed it.
TO BE CONTINUED
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