I was born in a secluded village on a mountain. Day after day, my parents plowed the yellow dry soil with their backs towards the sky.
One day, I wanted to buy a handkerchief, which all girls around me seemed to have. So, one day I stole 50 cents from my father's drawer. Father discovered about the stolen money right away.
'Who stole the money?' he asked my brother and me.
I was stunned, too afraid to talk. Neither of us admitted to the fault, so he said, 'Fine, if nobody wants to admit, you both should be punished!' Suddenly, my younger brother gripped Father's hand and said, 'Dad, I was the one who did it!' He took the blame, and punishment, for me.
In the middle of the night, all of sudden, I cried out loudly. My brother covered my mouth with his little hand and said, 'Sis, now don't cry anymore. Everything has happened.' I will never forget my brother's expression when he protected me. That year, my brother was 6 years old and I was 11 years old. I still hate myself for not having enough courage to admit what I did. Years went by, but the incident still seemed like it just happened yesterday.
Mother wiped off her tears and sighed, 'What is the use? How can we possibly finance both of them?'
At that time, my brother walked out, he stood in front of Father and said, 'Dad, I don't want to continue my study anymore, I have read enough books.' Father became angry.
'Why do you have a spirit so weak? Even if it means I have to beg for money on the streets, I will send you two to school until you have both finished your studies!' And then, he started to knock on every house in the village to borrow money.
One day, while I was studying in my room, my roommate came in and told me, 'There's a villager waiting for you outside!' Why would there be a villager looking for me? I walked out, and I saw my brother from afar. His whole body was covered with dirt, dust, cement and sand. I asked him, 'Why did you not tell my roommate that you are my brother?'
I felt so touched, and tears filled my eyes. And told him with a lump in my throat, 'I don't care what people would say! You are my brother no matter what your appearance.'
From his pocket, he took out a butterfly hair clip. He gave me and said, 'I saw all the girls in town are wearing it. I think you should also have one.' That year, my brother was 20 years old; I was 23 years old.
After I got married, I lived in the city. Many times my husband invited my parents to come and live with us, but they didn't want. They said once they left the village, they wouldn't know what to do. My brother agreed with them. He said, 'Sis, you just take care of your parents-in-law. I will take care of Mom and Dad here.'
My husband's eyes filled up with tears, and then I said, 'But you lack in education only because of me!'
'Why do you talk about the past?' he said and then he held my hand. That year, he was 26 years old and I was 29 years old.
My brother was 30 years old when he married a farmer girl from the village. During the wedding reception, the master of ceremonies asked him, 'Who is the one person you respect and love the most?'
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