From the Front Page Sections, translated…
A family of six, crowded into a small, thirty-square feet space, the mother took the graveyard shifts for work, the sixth grade girl took on the role of the mother, took care of ALL the household chores.
In the dimmed lights, in the Dong’s living room, other than a table, a refrigerator, a rice cooker, there was nothing else; the eleven year old eldest sister, “Ducky”, took her four younger siblings, crowded around the ONLY small table they owned, doing their homework assignments.
This “scene” had played over and over through the years, in the Dong’s household, the surrogate mom, the eldest sister, “Ducky”, has just ONE wish, that she will be like a protective hen, watching over and taking good care of her four younger siblings; and this wish, she’d kept hidden, inside the cartoons of “Hen with Ducklings” she’d drawn.
Why Hen with Duckling? She said, “because mom works very hard, like how a hen is trying to feed the chicks, pecking, nonstop”, and “the younger kids don’t know any better, are acting like ducklings, quack, quack, quacking, all day long.”
The way too mature words had shocked the kindergarten teacher, Huang, who was in contact with “Ducky” surprised, what sort of family background would make this small body, filled with such mature thoughts?
The mother of “Ducky” was only thirty-nine years old, and yet, she’d already gone through THREE bad marriages, the five kids at home has a total of three different last names. The family of six relied solely off of her measly paycheck of $20,000N.T per month, along with the checks for underprivileged given out by the government. The family of six are cramped in a thirty-square feet compound, they’re having it hard from day to day.
As the reporters visited the Dong’s house, they’d found that there are so many cracks on the walls, there was NOTHING more than a couch, a tea stand, and a refrigerator that was donated by someone kind, there’s NOTHING else.
“It pays more if I took the graveyard shifts”, Ducky’s mother told, she would take the graveyard every single night, wanting to make a little more, so the family could survive, it’s just that this had become too hard on her eldest child, “I’d feel heartache for her, every night I’d gone to sleep, I’d start to cry.”
“Ducky” and her family originally lived in Pingdong, but, they couldn’t withstand how the neighbors would call them bad names, so they’d moved away, and, maybe it’s because of this experience, that’s made “Ducky” even more mature, and even more silent.
Last year on September 21, there was a fire, and one disaster came after another, “Ducky’s” mother had once thought about ending it all for herself and the children, but when she’d thought of how children are the innocents, she’d let go of her thoughts for suicide.
“Ducky”, who knew a lot at such a young age, would wake up at six thirty in the morn, when the mother was still at work, she’d dropped her youngest siblings off to the kindergarten, then, took her younger siblings to school with her; after school, she would bathe her youngest brother, then feed him.
Last week, someone kind donated a refrigerator to the family, and “Ducky” was ecstatic, “With this refrigerator, I will be able to take my free lunch from school home, to give it to my siblings.”
After the meals, she’d started working on her homework with her younger siblings; the five children crammed into a small table, which is NOT even close, to a good place to study, but “Ducky” had always kept her grades up, she’d maintained the top five places in her classes, the home is filled with certificates of achievements from school; but, she’d never talked about her home life at school, “I do my best, to protect my younger siblings, from getting bullied and picked on.”
“I wanted to work, to make money for my own graduation trip”, Ducky said, that she’d regularly see how her classmates would get to go shopping, to eat out, and she’d be envious, more or less. She’d never gone on trips, and had hoped that she could go on this graduation trip with the rest of the class, to put a perfect ending to her own elementary years.
So, this, is the story of a big sister, being a MOTHER, to her younger siblings, because she’s from a single-parent household, and the mother has to work, to keep them all, and because she’s the eldest, the weight of her household landed on her, and yet, she still held tightly, to that positive outlook on life.
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