Earlier this week, China Daily published my latest column, Every grain of rice reflects virtue of hard labor along life’s path. Here’s an excerpt:
One evening in May, while spending a summer break at my in-laws’ home in their village in Zhejiang province, I returned from a walk to discover a dusty brown water ox tied to a tree just outside the gate of the house.
It stood perfectly parallel to the road, much like a parked vehicle, apart from grazing on the grass at its hooves, and eyeing me with a stony gaze that suggested I best keep my distance.
The ox signaled to me, long before I entered the house, that we would be having dinner that evening with a distant relative long appointed as my husband’s godfather, a man I simply referred to as “uncle”.
A tiger in the Chinese zodiac, this uncle had often joked of how much he embodied the sign, calling himself “fierce”.
You could believe it, given his thunderous voice, which even the ox minded, his ability to move beehives and the fact that he made a living slaughtering livestock. Some dubbed him the finest butcher in town.
Upon settling onto my stool at the table, I soon learned why the uncle had brought along his bovine companion. He had spent the afternoon leading the ox, pulling a plow, through my in-laws’ square plot of land in the terraced fields, to prepare for growing rice.
This uncle never shied away from grueling tasks, such as working the rice fields, and his face bore witness to this “fierce” side of him, weathered and tanned from years of labor outdoors in all sorts of conditions.
Watching him and the ox trundle through the sunny fields, as I did later on, proved fascinating.
Enjoy the full piece here — and if you like it, share it!