Student gives lesson in care

Updated: 2011-11-10 07:52

By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

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 Student gives lesson in care

Song Jinping (left) uses a handkerchief to dry the hair of his teacher Zhong Bingkun at his home in Beijing on Oct 31. Wei Wei / for China Daily

BEIJING - Song Jinping sat near the dining table, staring at a braised fish and carefully picking out bones while his wife was busy cooking in the small kitchen.

"Dinner is ready," said the 69-year-old loudly and slowly to a much more elderly woman lying in bed.

He carried the fish and a bowl of rice to the bedroom.

Song helped her sit up and passed her the bowl and a spoon. He watched by her side, ready to offer help.

For the past 28 years, Song and his family have been taking care of Zhong Bingkun - his former primary school teacher who is now 99 years old.

It was Zhong who was in charge of Song's class when he moved to Beijing in 1956. At that time, he lived with his harsh father, who was a soldier. His mother had died of illness when he was one year old.

Zhong loved this clever and docile boy very much, and treated Song like her own child even though she was unmarried, bringing him breakfasts and taking him to the spring outing with other teachers.

"I believe there is a special bond between us, maybe it's destiny for us to meet each other. Though she was my teacher for only one year, I found her love and care just like that of a mother," Song said.

Zhong's care continued after Song graduated from primary school. She visited him frequently and provided financial support when he needed money.

"When I was in university, I visited her one night, bringing my university classmates. She was very happy and wanted to throw us a big feast, even though she wasn't rich at that time," Song said with a low voice, immersing himself in that precious memory.

On her way to the market, she fell into a 3-meter-deep hole, breaking her collarbone.

"I still don't know how I got her out of it," Song said.

He later found her knocking her head against the wall in great pain. Then he was told his teacher had glaucoma in her left eye, which needed to be removed.

"My father always told me stories about filial people in ancient China, teaching me to be a kind and filial person as well. So from then on, I knew that I needed to take care of her," he said.

When Song and his wife, Yang Huifang, got a 50-square-meter apartment in 1983, they immediately took in his old teacher, who lived alone.

"My husband told me their stories before we got married and I understand his feelings and support his decision," Yang said.

There are two bedrooms, one for the couple and the other for Zhong, and their daughter Song Yang lived in the decorated balcony until 2008 when she shared the room with Zhong.

"I don't complain to anybody because she is my grandma," Song Yang said. She moved out after marrying this year, but still visits her grandma often and brings her gifts.

To keep Zhong happy and not feel lonely, the Song family bought her a radio and keeps it on all the time.

Though she can't hear clearly and her mind is sometimes not clear, whenever she catches something good for her former student, she yells out.

"Once she called my husband in the morning, saying the government had issued a policy to raise his salary. She was so happy and told him several times. But she took the news wrong," said Yang.

When Song sat in the bed near her and combed her hair, Zhong said loudly, "I'm very happy."

"Without them, I don't know where I would be now," she repeated and repeated with a big smile on her face.

China Daily

(China Daily 11/10/2011 page2)