Bang, Bang, Bang. Someone knocked on the door.
Lotus’ heart was beating like a jackhammer. She glanced at her Dad nervously. Since her brief conversation with Gao Sheng, Lotus was tortured by a longing to go out and see the boundless, fabulous big world. In her heart of hearts, she didn’t want to stay, grow up, and bury her youth in this wild, dry village with limitless yellow dust. All she wanted was just an opportunity to receive a good education, and help her parents live better lives. She was a little absent-minded these days, looking for an opportunity to talk with Dad about it, however, she didn’t know how to start it. She feared her parents would be too prejudiced to be convinced. She swallowed her words at last. If only someone could bring this topic to her Dad instead of herself.
Dad noticed Lotus’ nervousness and excitement as she heard the knocking on the door. He spotted something dubious in Lotus’ eyes. He gave her an inquisitive and dissatisfied glance. Ma dropped her needlework and got up to open the door.
It was Gao Sheng. A trim, crew-cut, diplomat-like boy stood outside, the boy whose appearance was always like a breath of fresh air to Lotus. He went inside, and grinned at Lotus. Then he said to Ma and Pa, “Aunty, and Uncle, I have a good news for Lotus.” On perceiving Papa’s stern look, he cringed a little, licked his lips, and smiled flatteringly, “it’s a really good news for Lotus.” Lotus raised her head, and saw Gao Sheng was sincere. She felt that there was an iron hand clutching her throat, and she had a sudden premonition that something big was going to happen in her life.
“The new semester is coming soon. There is a famous junior middle school which invites all good and hardworking students to enroll. It is the government policy to offer free tuition. We only need only to cover our costs of living. I heard that you have done in all exams, and have good achievements at school. You could also get scholarships. I think this is also a very precious opportunity for Lotus. Lotus? If you want to study with me, I can ask father to help you enroll. That’s is the best middle school in my city.”
On hearing this unexpected news, Lotus was too happy to be guarded. She never thought she could get an opportunity to live a different life from the one most girls in the village had, living in a vicious circle, staying at home, waiting to bloom, marrying a husband for money, after getting married entangled in an eternal war with the mother-in-law, raising a dozen of children until they died. Lotus was longing for a change, but she could never expect that her prayers would be heard by God. Gao Sheng was the messenger which was sent by God to open the door to the new world for her. She looked at her father who was too shocked to hear this news, her heart torn with excitement and fear, lest Dad would refuse.
“Ha, ha”, after a moment’s pause, Dad burst out into a hoarse laugh. “Tut, tut. God- damned school!” he spat on the floor rudely, “Son, what’s the use of studies to a village girl? Ridiculous! A little education is good enough for a village girl. She should marry a good husband and raise children to continue the family line.”
“Father!” Lotus could not help uttering a cry. After hearing her own voice, she was nervous, and excited. She wanted to be independent in the future, and had a strong desire to speak out. Father stared at Lotus in an utter disbelief.
“You surprise me, kid.” Father said with a suppressed anger.
“Uncle, girls can make more money if they get more education.” Gao Sheng hurriedly added.
“Father, I want to go to school! I want to have great expectations. I heard that A Hong’s sister who graduated from university last year is working in a big company now, with a salary of six thousand yuan a month! A Hong told me that she would go to the city to study too next month.” Words flew out successively.
“But they are not wholly villagers. They have relatives in the city.” Dad howled.
“But I can become a townswoman in the future too!” Lotus begged. Tears lingered in Lotus’ eyes.
“Father, let the girl go to the city to study.” Seeing the tears in Lotus’ eyes, Mum’s heart was softened.
Lotus’ heart was jumping out of her chest, waiting for the judgment. Gao Sheng kept persuading papa by dwelling on the benefits of going to school. Father drank a sip
of wine, looked outside. with a deep sigh, he said, “Ok, I agree.” then he warned
Lotus again, “Great expectations, then! Remember! You must go to a good university in the future and bring glory to our ancestors.”