Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 9

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Nine     Tickets for Sale

I left my eldest brother’s home with a few ten dollar bills in my pocket. As I wandered on the street, I passed by the Nan-Ping Cinema (南屏戏院) and saw many people lining up for tickets. In those days, most tickets were bought by scalpers who had their own territories. Intruders could be severely persecuted. I, unaware of such hidden hazardous situation, squeezed in line to buy four tickets and sold them all in the evening in front of the Cinema. I was happy to earn enough for two meals. My Lord had mysteriously protected me.

On the third night of my ticket sales, I saw a couple who were disappointed at the sold out sign at the cinema counter. I approached them saying, “My friends didn’t come and I have two extra tickets, but I have to sell them to you at black market price because it was my cost.” They stared at me for a while, bought my tickets and said, “You look fairly decent and educated, how dare you selling these tickets at black market price here? Do you know these sales are illegal?” I felt so ashamed of myself as I watched them walked into the cinema. So I decided to quit this game. In hindsight, I realized I had been very foolish. I had to line up really early in the morning for tickets, wait at the cinema door in the evening shortly before the show began, sold my tickets to the late comers, in exchange for two bowls of vegetable with rice! If the tickets were not sold, I would have lost all my money.

I lived in Kunming for over three years. Though I was not a very social person, I had many good close friends that I could randomly sleep and eat at their homes. My classmates and friends were very sympathetic, but their families were not. Worst of all, I had only one set of clothes, including my underwear. My clothes were getting really worn, and my body odor became more and more unpleasant.

I blamed God for abandoning me. “O God, what sin have I committed that I sink to such misery? There were so many comfortable families in Kunming but I had none.” I remembered Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” But my suffering had nothing to do with Jesus’ gospel. It was what I asked for myself. I continued to roam around in the streets of Kunming. There was no shelter to hide from the sun and rain. When I saw an empty train car, I wished I could sneak in for a rest, but afraid the train would drive away. I was homeless and in absolute destitute, but still refused to go home, or return to my brother’s home. I blamed everybody for my misery, but never self-reflect.

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