First School Day

A boy hurried toward the school gate, dragging a school bag one third of his body size and possibly too heavy for his size, panting and sweating. He was late for school. The very first day of the semester. He was probably panicking. But things were even worse than he could have dreamed. Instead of being scolded by his teachers for being late, he found himself captured, besieged and attacked by a gang of news wolves. (Yes, we news people in Hk are as cruel as wolves, if not tigers.) Intimidating grown-ups with their recorders, cameras, and poisonous mouths. One reporter kept asking him with an amused smile, “Why are you late on your first school day? Did you sleep in? Are you ashamed of being late?” He looked at the man and his smile, dumbfounded. He probably hated this man’s smile, and others’ smiles. Amused and gloating smiles. He was enclosed by them. How intimidating! I wondered if a nightmare had started awaiting him.

I wish I could punch the reporter who kept asking the boy those cruel questions. Doesn’t he understand the pain of growing up? Doesn’t he know the difficulties at school in Asia? Well, he is probably one of those people who yearn to go back in time and be a kid again because they want to escape the struggles as grownups.

While I sometimes yearn to be a happy and innocent child, I never want to relive my childhood. I particularly don’t want to go back to school in China. I will never forget the summer before my first elementary school year. I was so eager to go to school. I was looking forward to it every day, every hour, every minute. I kept asking my father, “when does school begin?” After a wait as long as for ever, finally came my first school day. My heart was pounding when my father took me to school, the best one in town, with his old 28-inch bike. Sitting at the front of my father’s bike, bathing in the morning sunlight, riding in the wind, touching my school bag, I was full of dreams. But by the end of the day, when I got home from school, I asked my father, “can I not go to school any more?”I was never a teacher’s favorite in China. Among so many teachers and professors I had in China, none, except one professor during grad school years at Jinan University, genuinely appreciated me.

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