Fortune and Misfortune
By Dujuan, Japan
I was born into a poor family in a Chinese rural village. Because my family was poor, I sometimes did not even know if I would have my next meal, let alone snacks and toys. And from a young age, I would wear what my older sister used to wear. Her clothes were usually too big for me. As a result, my classmates would laugh at me and they would not play with me. My childhood was very bitter. From that point on, I resolved to myself: Once I grow up, I will be somebody and make lots of money. I won’t let others look down on me again. Since my family had no money, I was forced to drop out before junior high school graduation. I went to the county town to work in a medicine factory. In order to earn more money, I would frequently work until 9 or 10 PM. However, the money I earned was little. Afterward, when I heard that my sister was able to earn in five days what I earned in a month selling vegetables, I quit my job at the medicine factory and went to sell vegetables. After a period of time, I found that I could make even more money selling fruits, so I decided to start a business selling fruits. After I married my husband, we started a restaurant business. I thought that now that I had a restaurant, I would be able to earn even more money. Once I could earn a considerable amount of income, naturally, I would win other’s admiration and regard. Other people would start looking up to me and at the same time, I would be able to live a better life. However, after managing the business for a while, I found that we couldn’t make much money running a restaurant. I started getting anxious. When would I be able to lead a life that others would admire?
In 2008, a random opportunity came up. I heard a friend say that in Japan what you earned in one day was roughly equal to ten days’ wages in China. When I learned this news I was overjoyed. I thought that finally I had found a good opportunity to make money. Although the agent’s fees to go to Japan were expensive, I thought to myself: “There’s no gain without pain. No matter how much the agent’s fees would be, as long as we have jobs in Japan, we’ll be able to recoup the money quickly.” In order to realize our dreams of leading a better life, my husband and I decided to go to Japan immediately. After we arrived in Japan, we were able to find a job very quickly. Each day, my husband and I worked for over ten hours. Work stress was quite significant. I was completely exhausted all day long. After work, all I wanted to do was lie down and rest. I did not even want to eat. I found it difficult to endure such a fast-paced lifestyle. However, once I thought about the money I would have after I struggled for a few years, I encouraged myself: Although it is hard work now, life later on will be beautiful. I definitely must stick at it. As a result, each day I worked my fingers to the bone as if I were a money-making machine. By 2015, I collapsed under the heavy work load. I went to the hospital for an examination and the doctor told me that I had a herniated disc and that it was pressing against a nerve. If I continued to work the way I was working, I would eventually be bedridden and unable to care for myself. This news hit me like thunder from a clear sky. I became extremely weak right away. My life had just begun to be better off, and I was getting closer and closer to my dream. I never would have thought that I would get sick. I refused to give up. I thought: “I’m still young. If I just grit my teeth I’ll be able to put up with being a bit unwell. If I don’t earn much money now, and I go back to China with little money, won’t I lose even more face?” And so, I gritted my teeth and dragged my sick body to keep working to make money. However, after a few days, I was so sick that I literally could not get up.
I felt very miserable as I lay on a bed in the hospital with nobody to take care of me. “How do I end up in this situation? Could it be that I will actually be unable to get out of bed?” I really hoped for someone to be by my side. Unfortunately, my husband was at work and my son was at school. My boss and my colleagues were only focused on profit. They basically did not care at all about me. When I looked around the sick ward at an assortment of patients each in their own pain, there was a sentiment in my heart that I could not express, and I couldn’t help pondering: For what purpose do people live? How can one live a meaningful life? Can money really buy happiness? I reflected on what I had after 30 years of struggling. I worked in a medicine factory, sold fruit, ran a restaurant and came to Japan to work. Even though I did earn some money all these years, however, I endured much sadness. I had thought that once I reached Japan, I would be able to realize my dreams very quickly. After a few years in Japan, when I returned to China, I would be able to start a new life as a rich person and be envied by other people. However, now I was lying in a sick bed, even facing spending the second half of my life in a painful existence confined to a wheelchair…. At the thought of this, I started to regret that I had risked even my own life in order to earn money and get ahead in life. The more I thought about this, the more bitter tears began flowing down my face. In agony, I couldn’t help calling out in my heart: Oh, God! Save me! Why is life so cruel?
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