July 10, 2010

Once upon a time in Beijing High School Four

I’d like to share a few stories that happened during my years in high school, this being the first one.



The senior year was obviously the most busy and stressful of all. Three days after the final exam of the First Semester, the scored papers were returned to the students and the total score rankings released. Inevitably there are students complaining about poor performance once again and others cheering, mostly silently to themselves.

The school days always ended early after major exams; and since this was only less than a week before the winter vacation, students only had morning classes; by noon, even some students living on campus had gone home, leaving less than a handful of students in each classroom. A few friends who had not performed well gathered and decided to eat out and have a drink for lunch.

People in China count days after the Winter Solstice in nine-day intervals to endure the long bitter winter waiting for the coming of spring. And at this time, it was right in the beginning of the Fourth Nine Days, the coldest of all. As the old saying goes: In the Third and Fourth Nine Days, on the ice people walk their ways.

Saddened for the result of the exam, and at a lost about what to do merely a little more than three months before the College Entrance Examination, or Gaokao, the students easily got drunk. Having finished the meal, against the roaring wind that scratched the face, they stumbled their way back to the school through a narrow lane, with their necks covered by heavy cotton scarves and hands tucked tightly into the pocket.

The Academic Building was almost empty. Eventually they made it to their warm classroom on the Third Floor, and sat together and continued their chatting, with one tired from the day and went back to the dormitory and another student, Ming, leaving to stay alone for a while in the hallway for the fresh air.

It was only a while past midday, yet the winter sun seemed distant and chilling. Upon opening the window, the piercing wind soared onto Ming’s sorrowful face. He stood, staring out of the window at nothingness. The view was blurred. His mind was addled by alcohol and he could not concentrate to think, to think of what he will do with this messed up future, what to do with this grinding life.

Gradually he began losing his conscientiousness. He couldn’t catch his breath and climbed onto the sill seeking the cooling air; he felt that he was lifted, high and out of the open window, and then he lost it, hearing people shouting, “He’s falling!”…

Am I dead, he thought. He felt the pain in his back, and slowly opened his eyes; the sky was blue, and there was not a piece of cloud. He struggled to get up, only to see the small circle of people standing around, totally amazed. He silently stumped away.

Luckily Ming was saved by the grassland, and was actively discussed on campus for his somewhat amazing experience of falling from the Third Floor while landing almost intact; however, he was also openly and seriously criticized by the Head Teacher of the Grade in the Grade Assembly on the next day.

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