As the popular saying goes, a daughter is her father’s sweetheart. I doubt it. After my accident, you acted like you didn’t care. You just made a brief phone call. When I asked you to pay for surgery on my broken leg, you said you were still in college and had no income. But I know you are on a scholarship and make good money by tutoring every weekend. The doctor said it would take me three months to recover. When I asked you to take a leave from college to take care of me, you refused, saying that your brother was at home and that he could look after me. I was so angry that I yelled at you.
Filial piety has always been a traditional Chinese virtue. The ancients said, “Of all virtues, filial piety comes first.” This sentence tells us that filial piety is the most important virtue. If we want to be respected by others, we must first respect our parents. You are a college student. Did the many years of education you received not teach you this basic Chinese tenet?
When I tried to contact you again, I found that you had blocked me on WeChat. I never thought I would raise such an ungrateful daughter. When your mother called you, you said you did it because I kept abusing and cursing you. Ridiculous! As a father, I don’t have the right to lecture my daughter?
I decided to sue you, but your mother has been begging me not to. She tried to reason with me, saying that taking three months’ leave would affect your studies, and that it would be inappropriate for a girl to accompany me in the men’s ward. Now I know why you are so selfish—your mother spoiled you and made you so! Did I ask you to go to college? Didn’t your brother just graduate from high school? And look at your cousin. She worked in a factory right after middle school, earning 6,000 yuan a month. She paid for all her brother’s college tuition and living expenses. When she got married, her family received a 200,000-yuan bride price. If your mother and I get such a bride price, we will give your brother a down payment on an apartment in town.
Our neighbor Mr. Wang’s daughter is capable and beautiful. She runs two Chinese-style baked-roll shops all by herself. She gets up at 4:00 a.m. and stays in the store until 10:00 p.m. She works all year long. She sold three thousand baked rolls a day at her peak, all made by herself. She works so hard just to buy her brother a car and an apartment so he can get married. After all these years of hard work, she earned 1 million yuan. Except for buying a car and an apartment for her brother, all the money she earned is in the hands of her parents. She is in her late twenties now. I asked her if she had thought about her marriage. Guess what she said? She said she would wait until after her brother got married. What a fine girl! I have a sad fate and don’t know how to educate children, so I have ended up raising an ungrateful daughter.
Look at you. You’re twenty-two years old. If you weren’t in college, you’d be working by now and helping to support your family. But how much money have you given to your family over the years? Barely! After graduating from college, you will get married. A married daughter is like pour-out water. You will be no more a member of our family. Can I expect you to support your parents’ family? No, you won’t. Then the hard-earned money we spent raising you will be wasted.
To make money to raise you, your mother and I run a restaurant every day from early morning until late at night. We often work more than sixteen hours a day and only have a few days off during the Spring Festival. Now you won’t even pay for my surgery! It will be your fault if I drive to the market and have a car accident.
Although I know harmony at home brings prosperity, you’ve carried it too far. People who do not support their parents violate the provisions of the civil law of China that “adult children have the duty to support their parents.” If an adult child refuses to support his or her parents, this violates criminal law and constitutes a crime of desertion. In anger, I decided to take you to court. I demanded that you come home to look after me and pay me 1500 yuan a month in alimony. But the court dismissed my suit and said I had misinterpreted maintenance obligations.
Although I cannot punish you legally, I can condemn you morally. When I told my relatives and friends about your unfilial behavior, they were all outraged. They said today’s young people are poisoned by Western ideas and have become less and less respectful of their parents. They encouraged me to make an example of you. The eyes of the masses are sharp. So, I decided I would post what you did on the Internet and let millions of people criticize you.
Suppose you come home immediately, kneel down, apologize, take care of me until I recover, and promise to pay me 1,500 yuan a month. In that case, I can consider not posting your unfilial behavior online. If not, you will suffer the consequences.
Huina Zheng holds a M.A. in English Studies degree (Distinction) and works as a college essay coach. She also serves as an Associate Editor (Review Reader) for Bewildering Stories. Her stories were published in Baltimore Review, Variant Literature, Midway Journal, Tint Journal, and other journals. Her fiction “Ghost Children” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Guangzhou, China with her husband and daughter.
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