Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 15

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Fifteen        Good Time, Short time

For the first two years, we were all very happy at the medical school. Then some trouble began to emerge. First, the building project of a small hospital was cancelled. In the shortage of funds, several appointed medical professors declined to sign on the faculty. From the fourth semester onward, we were all very worried and depressed. My spiritual life began to backslide again. Although we had a few more students attending our prayer group, but the mood was dull and dreary.

Our principal was Dr. Zheng Yan-Xiu (郑彦修医生), a doctor trained in Germany. When he started the medical school in Xikang (西康), he had a great vision and wanted to serve our country. However mounting hardships had made teaching almost impossible. There was only one Catholic hospital twenty miles away from the campus. With the transportation constraints, students could not possibly receive any practical training. We concentrated on biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and German etc. for our programs in the past two years. For all classes except German, we had guest lecturers. Close to the end of the fourth semester, we heard that the medical school might cease operation altogether. This was a devastating blow to me. All students were trying to look for alternative paths during the summer. My dream and hope was evaporating all of a sudden.

My two classmates who were financially more stable left our school immediately to apply for first round of admission to Chongqing University (重庆大學). Although our government funded program issued non-transferable credits, they were willing to apply to other faculties to start all over again. Usually, applicants for the first round admission had better chances of being accepted. Soon we received news that they were accepted. This good news encouraged all of us to start seeking for entrance to other colleges. As for me, I had no money, but I also wanted to try. If my fellow classmates could be accepted, I should have a fairly good chance since my grades were better than theirs. But I forgot that they had high school diploma, I on the other hand never graduated from high school. I didn’t care for any diploma before, now I found out this attitude was totally wrong. Chongqing (重庆) was the second capital city during the war time, and university qualifications were much stricter than in Xichang (西昌). Once again my pride had sent me to a blind alley.

At that moment, I received an unexpected sum of money from my older sister from Kunming, five thousand franc. This was a moderate amount sufficient for me to leave for Chongqing (重庆). I had not contacted my family, and I did not know how she found out I was in Xikang (西康). Nevertheless with this money on hand, I decided to leave for Chongqing two weeks later, to apply for the second round of admission. This was the end of June. I had made a very risky move, because good universities usually do not have second round of admission. Even if they do, the number of admission would be very limited. Besides, I had no high school diploma, and the credits from the medical school were non-transferable. But I was headstrong and reckless, and had not considered the consequences. I knew no one in Chongqing, and I only had a departing document from my school with a non-transferable credit stamp on it. My friends gave me a farewell party with tears in their eyes. Our friendship was genuine like brothers and sisters, but our future was uncertain, and my path was set for no return.

During the Sino-Japanese War, it was not easy to get any transportation. Especially from Xichang (西昌) to Leshan, there were obstructions all along the highway, and usually only truckers would take this route. I knew the air force base always have trucks loaded with goods traveling from Sichuan (四川) to Xikang (西康). After unloading at Xikang (西康), the trucks would be returning to Leshan with empty load. Truckers often picked up passengers en route to earn extra cash. So I took my luggage and went to the air force base to enquire for a ride. I had my ride immediately; cost of transportation was three thousand franc. From Leshan I planned to take the river route to enter Chongqing. There were more than ten passengers sitting back to back on the truck, I was happy for my smooth journey. Nothing pre-planned, yet everything worked out just fine. Little did I know that the Lord had better plan to train and discipline me for His service. This trip I encountered great troubles and sufferings once again.

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