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Zhao Xia Shandong Province
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My name is Zhao Xia. I was born to an ordinary family. Due to the influence of dictums like “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” and “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” reputation and face became particularly important to me. Everything I did was to earn other people’s praise, compliments, and admiration. After getting married, the goals I set for myself were: I will live a wealthier life than others; I must not let anyone say negative things about how I treat the elderly or about my behavior and conduct; and I will make sure my child gets into a famous university and has good prospects, so as to add more luster to my face. Therefore, I never quarreled with my in-laws. Sometimes, when they said harsh things to me, I would feel so aggrieved that I’d hide and cry rather than give them attitude. When I saw others buy clothes for their parents during Chinese New Year and other holidays, I would immediately go buy some for my mother-in-law, and it would be of the best quality too. When relatives came to visit, I would help buy food and cook. Even when it was a little tough or tiring I would still be completely willing. Afraid I would be less well off than others, I left my baby daughter behind a month after giving birth to her and went straight back to work. As a result, my daughter suffered from malnutrition and became only skin and bones because she couldn’t drink my breast milk. Her situation improved only after 100 nutritional injections, while I was so tired that I had a sore back every day. Though it was difficult and tiring, I endured the hardship and gave tirelessly for the sake of earning a good reputation. In just a few short years, I became a famous daughter-in-law in the village, and my family became wealthy and envied by people around us. As a result, my in-laws, neighbors, relatives and friends were all full of praise for me. In the face of praise and compliments from those around me, my vanity was greatly satisfied. I felt my hardships over the last few years were not in vain, and I was very flattered inside. However, my serene life was interrupted after my brother-in-law got married. His wife always spoke to me sarcastically, saying that I had ulterior motives in treating our mother-in-law well because I just wanted her assets. She always said that our mother-in-law was biased since she gave us more things than she gave them, and we often argued as a result of this. I felt very aggrieved and wanted to argue with her in public to protest my innocence, but it would ruin the good image I had built up in people’s hearts. Hence, I would force myself to hold back, and when I could bear it no longer I would have a big cry in private. Afterward, the sister-in-law pushed her luck by occupying the land distributed to my side of the family, which made me shake from anger and not eat or drink for days. I even wanted to fight it out with her. However, thinking that it would make me lose face, damage my reputation, and make those around me look down to me, I swallowed it all up, but inside I felt so suppressed that I was in torment. I looked sad and sighed all day, feeling like it was too painful and tiring to live and not knowing when there would be an end to such a life. Continue reading