This story happened to my grandfather, and this incident totally changed the fate of my family. At that time, our nation was going through a rough passage, the Cultural Revolution, and people lived in a situation of social unrest.
My grandfather was a businessman when he was young. One day he went to the market to do some business as usual. Everything was running in a normal way. When it was getting around noon, few people walking on the street, he started to pack up the good[s] and was going to go back home. However, he didn’t go far. A voice came from behind, “Stop here, and put up your hands.” My grandfather was shocked and was going to turn around when a gun was pointing at the back of his head.
Time was running. My grandmother was waiting for his coming back but no one returned at the end of the day. [The] next morning my grandmother went to the market to inquire [as to the whereabouts] of my grandfather, but no one saw him after the market. After a few days, news came that my grandfather was kidnapped by some criminals, and they asked for 200,000 [RMB] to redeem my grandfather.
The news surprised my grandmother and caused a discussion in my family. Some relatives insisted that it was too much to afford it. If so, our family would decline. Others held that we should report the incident to the police. However, my great-grandfather said, ”He is the only son for this generation, and we can’t abandon him. Also, reporting to the police may make him in danger.” At last, he decided to redeem my grandfather with 200,000 [RMB]. This was really a heavy incident in my family, and since then, my family had been living a poor life [in the village].
This semester, I asked students to call the oldest person in their families and to ask that person to tell them a story that they had never heard before. They then translated and told the story in English. While we’re away traveling, I thought I’d let my students tell their stories. To preserve their privacy, I have not credited the authors, but I have gotten their permission to let you listen in. The stories vary—sometimes simple, sometimes Earth shattering, sometimes otherworldly. I have not edited their stories unless I needed to help the flow. My edits are in brackets. [ ] Check back for more. There will be a new one posted each Wednesday through Feb. 23.