When I was born in a small town, I lived with my [grandparents] for my parents were busy with their own work and business. Therefore, I had no other choice but to stay with my older parents. Of course, I was too little to have the right to choose. With the passage of time, I grew to the age [that I could] go to a primary school, and the relationship between my grandpa and grandma confused me. [They spoke few words], and they seldom had [anything to talk about]. Sometimes I really doubted whether there was a love between [them]. Everyday, they were very busy trying to earn money to support the big family. They didn’t act in any [of the] romantic ways [that I saw] on television or read [about] in books. In their opinion, “I Love You” was too luxurious for them to say. Buying a gift [for] each other or [for] one’s birthday was even more out of the question.
My grandpa had a bad temper, especially when he was tired from [his] hard work. It was easy for him to lose [his] temper. However, my grandma accepted everything without any complaints. She only shared her tears with darkness and never showed any sadness in front of me.
One day, my grandma was sewing. I silently sat down beside her and looked at her. Finally, I worked up my courage to ask her the questions [that had been] haunting me for a long time.
“Grandma, I have a question to ask you,” I said with an uncertain tone.
“What?” she replied with a smile and stopped doing her work.
“Is there a love between you and grandpa?” I asked with a very low voice. I dared not to [look] into my grandma’s eyes.
My grandma thought [for] a while after hearing it and raised her head to look at me. She did not answer the question immediately. Then she bowed her head and continued to sew.
I was so worried because I thought I had hurt her [feelings], and I was scared [that] my grandma wouldn’t forgive me this time. [I was embarrassed] and did not know what [I] should do next. At last, my grandma said to me the following words, [words] I will remember for a lifetime.
“Look,” she said thoughtfully, “This is a thread. Sometimes it appears, but most of [the] time it [is] hidden in the cloth. If life is a cloth, love should be a thread. It can hardly be seen in many places, but it is here, surrounding us. Love is inside. You can’t touch it, but you can always feel it.”
I listened carefully [but I could not] understand it until my grandpa was sick in the hospital. My grandma had to take care of my grandpa day and night. No matter how tired [she was], she insisted in going out for a walk with my grandpa every morning and [evening]. She thought it was the best way to [help him] recover from this sickness. When my grandpa got well, my grandma looked pale but she was full of happiness for my grandpa’s recovery.
Several years later, my grandpa told me at my grandma’s funeral, “I liked walking with your grandma. I like this comfortable life. That [was] the most beautiful time in my life.” On hearing those words, I eventually got the meaning of the words my grandma [had told me].
Like last year, 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. [ ]