Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 7

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Seven           Discharging Mother


News about the war within China was getting unfavorable between 1938 and 1939. Guangzhou (广州) was in critical situation and people in Hong Kong began to panic. My brother in Kunming wrote home and suggested to send me there to study. Since Hong Kong seemed to be unsettled, my mother felt that it would be a good idea to move the family to Kunming for safety sake. So she took my two younger brothers and sister, and me, we took the same route as my elder brother, through a boat, then a train, all the way to Kunming.


My elder brother and I did not want my mother to stay in Kunming with us, but it was inevitable. My mother had a hard time adjusting to the new environment. She was brought up in a well-to-do family where she had never toiled or labored physically. The living standard in Kunming was poor, streets were built with rocky slabs, and rain just drizzled endlessly. Since we could not afford any luxury living during that time, we persuaded our mother to move back to Hong Kong while the railway route was still accessible.


My mother finally decided to return to Hong Kong. It all happened in a night with a clear sky. The moon was shining bright. All of a sudden, complete black out in the whole town. Many people were on the street and someone yelled ‘Japanese planes attacking! ’ My brother and I took the opportunity to create a panic scene. We gathered some clothing in a bag and ran out of our house. Actually it was just some mechanical problem at the hydro company that caused the blackout. Everything returned to normal after an hour. The Japanese planes had not come near the city of Kunming at all, nor had the warfare of the Pacific Ocean started. Vietnam was not conquered by the Japanese yet. To attack Kunming, the Japanese warplanes had to attack the coastal regions, entered Vietnam before entering Kunming. But that night had frightened my mother tremendously. My elder brother and I could not protect her, the other siblings were still young, and father was in Hong Kong. So she decided to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible. She stayed in Kunming for only two short weeks and went back to Hong Kong with my younger siblings.


There was a drastic change in my life from then on. I turned away from God and went on my own way. I had said goodbye to all the painful memories of my childhood, not realizing more afflictions and poverty were waiting ahead. Now as I recall my past, I cannot help but thank God for His discipline and protection. Through hardship He let me see the reality of this sinful world, encounter all types of human malice, and ultimately realized my own evil behavior and corruption. This was the summer of 1939, I was about to turn fifteen years old.

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