Translator: 曾凡玲 (my daughter)
This is my attempt in translating dad's story: Story from dad's childhood.
The year was 1959. One day, I walked home from Community Primary School. I shepherded the geese home when I reach the village. There were about two hundred households in the village. Everyone lived a simple life, and we take care of one another. Stealing livestock such as chickens, ducks, geese or dogs are unheard of.
The geese would forage fresh grass during the day just outside of the village entrance. If you don't shepherd them, one of the goose would still take the lead. We didn't keep these geese for profit, keeping only 3 to 5 geese at a time. This gave us the opportunity to have geese during the holidays and I liked collecting geese eggs. The mother goose would take care of the eggs sometimes.
I noticed something was different immediately when I got home that day. My older sister whispered to me that an unknown soldier turned up in the village today. He said he's from the same division as dad, the 41st Division. A lot of people were wounded after the artillery battle last year and they've been staying in the army hospital of Jingmen Island. They didn't have enough food to eat or clothes to wear and have been living in deplorable condition. He was on holiday and brought news to families in Taiwan from the soldiers. Hopefully, everyone could prepare some clothes, food, and money so he can take those things to all the fathers (soldiers).
It was Saturday the next day so I only had to go to school in the morning. We might see this man again after school tomorrow, so my sister told me to come home early.
I always started the fire going when mum cooks dinner. Normally, I would tell her about my school day, but today I was too scared to say anything. I noticed mum crying when I added more firewood to the fire. I kept my mouth shut after this. After dinner, I quickly washed the dishes and finished homework. I told my younger brother and sister not to talk and be extra good tonight because I was afraid mum wouldn't be able to hold it together. I was really worried about dad when I went to bed. Mum took the supplies out of the soldier letter box and wrapped them up carefully with thick soldier uniform, she just sat there not saying anything for a long time. I waited up until mum went to bed. I thought that my classmates and neighbours would be going through the same thing like us.
I couldn't recall what happened in the morning the next day. I ran home quickly after school finish and yelled: "Mum, I am back!" I wanted to comfort her. She was happy to tell me that the man had been captured. My brothers and sisters came home and the seven of us sat around mum to hear what happened in the morning.
She said: "Mr. Wang, the military police who lives at the back of the village came back this morning. He contacted the police station and the man was comprehended. He was a scam artist." Then she said: "This man wouldn't own up to it, but Mr. Wang asked him in front of the police how did he get civilian clothing straight after getting off the boat? They handcuffed him and took him away." Mr. Wang also said he will return to the division to investigate. Normally, the military police would bring the news to us, not just anybody. If we see someone like this again, we should call the police immediately.
I didn't go out to play that afternoon. I wrote a family letter to dad as mum asked. We would receive dad's reply in a month's time. Dad and I had an agreement, he would send 5 cents note with his letter, which is illegal. He would ask his superior to let it go safely to his family so I would get the money from every letter he sent.