By Jennifer Hao
The taxi dropped off me at Xi’an elementary school, in front of Mr. Wang’s apartment, on the southern side of town. After years abroad and obtaining my doctoral degree, I came back to pay him a visit. My memory of this place is so heartfelt that I know it will never fade.
I knocked on the door nervously, unsure what I would say to him the first. I waited, and waited, no one answered. Looking around at the grass and the trees, nothing seemed changed. I took a closer look: his door was locked with dust on the door bell and door steps; spider nests stretched from one side of the door frame to the other. A neighbor’s boy told me that Mr. Wang passed away.
Mr. Wang was my language teacher. He was tall, one third of his hair were grayish. Top of his head was baled. There were wrinkle clustered around his eyes. He spoke with southern accent. He was stern, so stern that very few students ever saw him smile. The most of the students were scared of him.
Yet, he was always starting class on time, and ending his lessons at the exact moment when the bell rung. What is more, everyone were attracted by his black board marks, and his accented voices. Often at the end of the class bell rung, students would complain that bell man rung the bell too earlier.
That year, my father died of lung cancer, my mother remarried and left us. I had to drop out of school to work in order to support my little brother and little sister.
One extremely cold winter evening. T he wind was howling and snow flaks were falling. While we were crowed at a table having our noodle soup as dinner, the door sounded. Who would come at this cold snowy winter evening? It must be wind, I thought. Then another knock came. When I pulled open the door, I was startled to find myself face to face with Mr. Wang. He asked me to go back to school second day, informed me that I had been granted a very small school scholarship to help me to continue my education. He also told me that his wife and family would be happy to see us that weekend.
After that, we visited his family many times. During every visit, we would read next to his brownish wooden book shelf. Then sitting on small stools around a knee high table eating delicious rice, pinnacle with tofu, C abbage with glass noodle mixed with tinny pieces of meats topped with green onions. Every time we returned from his house, we all had satisfied protruded stomachs which had nothing but watery soups for most other days during the week. We always looked forward to visiting his family.
We had looking forward for visiting him. Not only because of the books, the mouthwatering food, but also to see him smile, to feel warm by the kindness in his heart, the compassion and caring that were missing from our otherwise dreary lives.
Mrs. Wang passed away suddenly. Mr. Wang followed his wife not long after because he could not bear to live without her.
My taxi left the elementary school. Nothing seemed changed there, but Mr. Wang was gone. I know in my heart that without his help and his kindness, I would never have becomed the doctor and inventor as I am today.