By Michelle Loyalka
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Additional info for Eating Bitterness Stories From the Frontline of China's Urban Migration
Besides that, he has to stay put; otherwise they would have to close shop completely in his absence. 30 / The Veggie Vendors “No doubt he’d like me to learn how to drive. It’d be a great advantage to him,” Shuanghai says. But she is not ready to go down that road just yet. As they pull out of the parking lot, she lets out a belly laugh. “I know my idea’s not right, but still . ” Another thing Donghua hadn’t anticipated when he chose this retail market six years ago was the advent of the superstore.
Before long, the navy-blazer lady is back, this time under the guise of buying tomatoes— though she’s clearly still eyeing the cauliﬂower. “8 mao? ” she asks hopefully. Donghua merely shakes his head. “Don’t regret this,” she warns, starting to turn away again. Donghua wonders sometimes if people like her understand, if they’ve ever even thought for a moment how hard people like he and Shuanghai work for each and every mao, and if they have any idea what those mao mean to them. It took almost ten years for them to save up enough to pay back all the people who helped him cover his medical bills.
As he heads downstairs, his mind darts for a moment to his younger brother and sister, who both went to school and stayed in school. Along with most of the other village kids of their generation who actually made it through junior high, his siblings eventually became teachers in neighboring villages. Now they’re retired, with pensions, and have nothing to do all day, while Quanxi is still out pounding the pavement looking for dull cutlery. “I started regretting my decision a long time ago, but it was already too late for me,” he says.