Editor: Wahnsinniger Herrscher
The morning’s lesson passed by smoothly. But Zhou Yuan found that Little Miaomiao would sneak quick, furtive glances at his hand from time to time. He couldn’t comprehend the reason behind her odd behavior.
The first class during afternoon was physical education and it comprised a simple routine for children.
The physical education teacher who would be teaching them had a tall and strongly-built body. As soon as he entered class, he said, “The first task you are going to do today is to familiarize yourselves with our routine for P.E. class.”
“After today, everyone has to gather themselves in the playground for physical education, instead of just waiting for me and dawdling in the classroom.”
The moment the teacher entered the classroom, Little Miaomiao turned her head and the sight of him made the blood in her veins freeze.
Little Miaomiao thought that their P.E. teacher had an aggressively loud voice, just like her biological father…
Noticing that the students were still chatting with each other, the P.E. teacher slammed the table loudly and roared, “Students, stop talking! If you don’t stop talking, then I won’t lead you all to the playground. I will just let you sit in the classroom.”
As soon as she heard the P.E. teacher’s loud and sonorous voice, dark reminders of her troubled past began to resurface in her mind again.
Do you like to cry? Have you cried enough! You have cried enough for me today!
Little Miaomiao felt as if someone was tugging on her eyelids again.
“I was wrong. I won’t cry anymore!”, Little Miaomiao abruptly screamed and hid under her desk.
Little Miaomiao’s actions startled the teacher, who was standing baffled on stage. She also startled Zhou Yuan, who stood near her.
Zhou Yuan quickly bent down to his knees and saw Little Miaomiao hunkered in a corner. Her body trembled in fright.
When a fellow student from P.E. class strode over, Little Miaomiao became even more frightened and cried, “Don’t hit me…I won’t cry…won’t cry…”
All the students stood up, craned their heads and curiously watched this scene unfold.
In a hurry, Zhou Yuan said, “Teacher, you should lead the other students to the playground. I will coax her to do the same.”
The P.E. teacher felt a sense of bewilderment at what just happened. But he considered Zhou Yuan’s opinion, as he was very well-known in the teacher’s office – all the teachers chose him as someone whom they both love and hate, both admire and despise.
Of course, the P.E. teacher was cognizant of Little Miaomiao’s precarious situation.
The P.E. teacher then scanned the other students, before uttering, “Everyone, let’s head to the playground.”
Under the teacher’s lead, all the children departed from the classroom, one after another, to proceed to the playground. When they passed by Little Miaomiao’s desk, they all threw weird looks in her direction.
When everyone retired from the classroom, Zhou Yuan pushed back his stool in order to sit under the table. He settled himself next to Little Miaomiao and called out to her in a muffled voice, “Miaomiao, Miaomiao…”
Under the desk, Little Miaomiao was scrunched up and faced the interior of the desk. Her back faced him, and she was tremulous with fear.
“The teacher who came to teach us is our physical education teacher. He got scared, as soon as he saw you hiding under the desk,” said Zhou Yuan.
“Little Miaomiao, look. What is this?” Little Miaomiao turned around and noticed the packet of dried meat in Zhou Yuan’s hand. “Was this dried meat made by your aunt? It’s so delicious.”
Although Little Miaomiao still shuddered with fear, as soon as she heard Zhou Yuan praising her aunt, she whispered, “Auntie…took a lot of time to prepare this.”
She busied herself in the kitchen for extended amounts of time and had to work strenuously to prepare this feast.
As she thought of her aunt, tears began to spring in Little Miaomiao’s eyes. If she was struck, her aunt would become crestfallen and cry…
The first few days when Hua Miaomiao spent time in a hospital, Aunt Hua would often weep in secret. A crimson tint would dye her eyes. Little Miaomiao, who cried frequently, could tell with a single glance, that Aunt Hua wept.
“Little Miaomiao’s aunt worked hard.” Zhou Yuan said, as he fed a piece to Little Miaomiao.
Little Miaomiao took a bite. The familiar taste evoked memories of her Aunt and the security that she provided.
She remembered how her aunt cooked savory food for her. How she helped her with her homework. How she healed her by applying cream on her wounds and feeding her medicine.
Zhou Yuan heaved a sigh of relief, when he saw her emotions returning back to normal.
It appeared that Little Miaomiao’s aunt was a genuinely kind person. Little Miaomiao could even recall a certain sense of security and certainty just by tasting her aunt’s food.
But she had to eventually understand that the P.E. teacher is not the same person as the one who struck her. He would never strike her. She had to slowly accustom herself to the ways of the world.
Zhou Yuan gently stretched out his hand and held Little Miaomiao’s hand, “Miaomiao, you just startled the P.E. teacher.”
Little Miaomiao cast her eyes downwards and remained silent.
Zhou Yuan touched her head and quietly said, “He’s a teacher and cannot raise his hand against any students. If he does, he will lose his job. Does Miaomiao know what a job is?”
Of course, Little Miaomiao knew what a job is. Both her aunt and uncle were required to go to work everyday. She just doesn’t know what kind of work they do.
“If you don’t have a job, you won’t have anything to eat,” Zhou Yuan said, “Then you will be hungry.”
Little Miaomiao knew what being hungry is. Her stomach would cause her discomfort, when she felt hunger.
“The teacher is afraid that some of the others will complain to the principal that he beat students.” Zhou Yuan continued, “He was called to the principal’s office and was scolded by the principal.”
Little Miaomiao dilated her eyes at Zhou Yuan and said, “But…but…he didn’t beat me…”
Little Miaomiao now realized that adults could starve. She was far too frightened before this, but now, she received awareness that the teacher didn’t strike her at all.
“Then the P.E. teacher cried and replied, but…I didn’t beat Little Miaomiao…all the other students were talking in class…I was shouting at them…Little Miaomiao was the most obedient one and didn’t cause any trouble…I didn’t even yell at her.” Zhou Yuan imitated the P.E. teacher, while pretending to cry.
Little Miaomiao observed him. His acting affected her and tears began to fall, “Don’t cry…it was me who was wrong…”
“During this time, the principal is persuading him to stop crying and said if Little Miaomiao comes to P.E. class and talks to you, the P.E. teacher, then it means that you, the P.E. teacher, didn’t strike her and you don’t have to starve.”
Little Miaomiao hesitated for a moment, before replying, “Let’s go to P.E. class.”
Little Miaomiao was incognizant of what they taught in physical education.
Zhou Yuan emerged from under the desk, straightened himself up and took out a tissue from a drawer and wiped Little Miaomiao’s tear-stricken face, “Then, we will go to P.E.”
When they exited the classroom, they bumped into the head teacher, Teacher Li. Earlier, when the P.E. teacher left the classroom, the first thing he did was to contact Teacher Li. When Teacher Li reached the classroom. she overheard Zhou Yuan cajoling Little Miaomiao inside. Considering Zhou Yuan’s kind attitude towards children, she decided not to intervene for the time being. She also heard the story that Zhou Yuan told her.
When she saw Little Miaomiao emerging out of the classroom with her hand in Zhou Yuan’s, she said with a straight face, “Student Zhou Yuan, did you see the P.E. teacher? The principal has something to talk to him about.”
Zhou Yuan said, “No, no!”
With Little Miaomiao’s hand in tow, he raced towards the playground and said to Little Miaomiao, “The principal has already called the P.E. teacher to meet him.”
His sobriety and earnestness affected Little Miaomiao.
Due to Zhou Yuan’s persuasion, Little Miaomiao began to wonder if the powerful, vicious and muscular P.E. teacher was about to become a pitiful, starving and gaunt vagrant.
After they arrived at the playground, they eyed all the students, who indulged in their playtime. Zhou Yuan searched around with his eyes, before his eyes finally fell on the P.E. teacher who squatted in the corner of the playground.
Zhou Yuan: “…” Needless to say, he knew that the head teacher must have called him.