Dream of Ding Village
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locked. There were weathered funeral scrolls pasted to the lintels of every door. He knelt in the middle of the courtyard, clasped his hands together and bowed three times. Then, although there was no one alive to hear his announcement, he said: ‘Brothers, you brothers and your wives, I came to give you some good news. My son Ding Hui is dead, and I killed him.’ When Grandpa arrived at Jia Genzhu’s house and saw the black coffin in the courtyard, he fell to his knees and touched his head to the
these healthy young men, like the middle-aged women he had encountered on the street, had forearms pocked with needle marks. Each bare arm revealed a patch of tiny dots like dark-red sesame seeds left to dry in the sun. After a while, my father left the club and rejoined his friends from Ding Village. They stood together along the broad concrete expanse of Longevity Boulevard, basking in the sunshine and enjoying the warmth and fragrance of Cottonwood. They rolled up their sleeves, exposing
task force on HIV and AIDS. He and my father had had many dealings and negotiations in the past. ‘Dozens of people have already died,’ the deputy governor said to my father. ‘Why didn’t you come to me sooner? Don’t you know how much I care about Ding Village? You and your father, Professor Ding, should know that Ding Village will always have a special place in my heart.’ ‘The county government,’ he added, ‘is providing free coffins to anyone who dies of the fever. Hasn’t anyone in Ding Village
realized he was hungry. Because of his trip to the county, he’d hardly eaten that day. His hunger set his nerves on edge and made his heart feel tight in his chest. With each pang of hunger, each tug of his nerves, Grandpa’s shoulders trembled. His mind drifted back to springtime many years earlier. One by one, the events appeared before his eyes as if it were yesterday. Like freshly budding leaves, the images unfurled and rose up before him, as crystal clear as the full moon in the sky.
tell a story, or a boy hearing tales about things he had done long ago and forgotten. ‘I’ve been so good to you, Daddy. So why do you keep saying you’re not going to make it? Why do you keep telling me you’re not going to survive? Of course you’re going to survive. Think about all the people who’ve died from the fever. It’s always the ones with liver problems who die first, then the ones with bad lungs or stomach trouble. If all you have is a fever, it takes a long time to die, and with bone