Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang

by Alice Giusto

Xiao Jiu is a nice man. Every morning he wears those funny dark blue ear covers that make him look like a pixie. And then he smiles to people. Oh my God, he has such an infectious, overwhelming smile. It seeps deep into your bones and you cannot forget his smile. It gives you that kind of energy that starts your day on the right foot, your hard working day in Shenzhen at 7.30 a.m.

I know this because I am part of him. We are close to each other. We never separate. Or this is what I once thought.

The winter came. A typical windy and hard winter hovering over the city forced his clients to stay home. At the beginning he couldn’t understand. How could people not need a shoe repairer? A worn down sole, a heel wedged into the wooden floor of Li Shui lu 171 hao, one lost lace. What was wrong with them? Where did they go? “I think I do my job well,” he said once to the ayi sitting on the big stool, who was waiting for her favourite Hello Kitty slipper to be fixed quickly. “And I haven’t heard about any new xiuxie dian here around”. Then he understood. Soon starting to feel his legs dizzy and weak, he coughed, and this is when I was born. Actually I cannot say born, I was designed. The pregnancy didn’t have so many complications. It wasn’t 9 months and he didn’t have to open his legs to get me out.

The flu made him darker and serious, more worried than ever before. Zenmeban ne??

Ticket to Shenyang of course! Maybe visit the family, eat some homemade zhongyao, see how the business is downtown and bringing the hoard of money he had saved to his ama. Mm… 34h, 24min, 3149km, 539rmb, a hard seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang in the beginning of February? “Definitively, I’d say a brilliant idea my darling Xiao Jiu!”

Shenzhen 20:18, T186 on Track 9. On time.

29 stops in 3 days travel. It doesn’t sound so bad. We are together, always one soul, this is what matters in life. Again, this is what I once thought. But destiny had planned something different for me, and after the 4th stop, the man that had carried me like a child in his womb for such a long time just decided it was time to separate.

He coughed. So noisily and consistently that the beautiful lady sitting close to him suddenly felt it was time to urinate in order to escape the situation. The lady asked Xiao Jiu gently to let her walk through. She grimaced, difficult to imitate, and with nonchalance ran to the next compartment, never coming back.

And I find myself outside in the cold air. Out of his chest, out of his soul, out of his heart, out of the circle of his friends, out of his life. I wrinkled my nose and sobbed deeply. This was my first real trip with him and that man already decided that we didn’t fit each other. We spent so much time together in Tianshui lu reading newspapers, gluing soles and scratching the family jewels from dawn till dusk. How can everything end so quickly at the speed of spit? I love you, Xiao Jiu.

I guess I can understand. When you are sick, your brain and thoughts jumble-up. You can easily feel confused or touchy, but I love you. Don’t do this.

Mei banfa, his eyes whispered to me. I found myself lying between a couple of old farmers from Foshan who didn’t agree to move their ass from my frothy Sunday afternoon dress till Liaocheng station. Xiao Jiu was gone and in front of me. 1946km of terror. Aggressive burps, convulse laughs, zesty farts broke the wind at regular intervals and I realized that my life was in danger. I had to do something. With all my strength I played it clever, and using the floor’s natural slope, I reached a more comfortable position; I stretched my body between Wen, Jiabao and “censored” characters of the daily newspaper. I decided to hide myself there, waiting for my uncertain destiny, waiting for more liberal times. Bu zhidao. Finally Tianjin station. Ayi and Shusu finally moved their countryside ass, and Wen Jiabao left with them.

When I fell onto the floor I happily realized that they had left me the most beautiful creature on earth. I saw her. A harmonious black and white striped muse who lay on her back in front of me, such a charming guazi from Shenzhen. For the umpteenth time, life confirmed that the beauty of my country definitively comes from the south. Zhen de. I tried to tidy myself up as much as possible. I cleared my throat and started my seduction technique, lots of eye contact. Granted, I was not sure if I was gazing into her eyes or at her round breasts, but I kept a steady focus on the beauty that lay before me.

I was about to go in for the kill, and then all of the sudden I was cock-blocked.  I got squashed. I got smashed and pulverized like a sweet and soft mashed potato winter dish. What the fuck! That child cannot be more than 6 years old, maybe a 34 or 36 shoe size. Those shoes are huge, not feiyuan nor buxie, but a massive black pair of Lining of the last generation equipped with 2 aggressive shock absorbers that hurt me seriously. I began to cry. Well, I imagined I cried. And I started to tremble. Outside the northern dry temperature reduced quickly and then it hit me. I wasn’t going to make it past my 3rd day of life. No more Xiao Jiu, no more countryside asses, no more lovely pumpkin seeds, not even a chance for true love. I’m too young. And too frozen. Frozen to death, at the dawn of the 3rd day.

Time of death: January16, 2010. 6:56 a.m., Shenyang North Train Station.

It’s a hard life being spit on a train from Shenzhen to Shenyang.

But I will always love you, Xiao Jiu.