Double-edged 真理報雙語版


A bilingual and bicultural Christian young adults blog //////////////// 青年華裔基督徒的博客

Figs and Olive Trees: A Story

Written and translated by Linda

“You’re a spy for the American Empire! How can you believe in a foreign devil’s God?!” spat out the pock-faced village gossip next to her ear, as she knelt on the cold dirt floor. The jeers of the rest of the villagers who turned up were rising up in volume on the threshing ground, used for larger meetings. Tears threatened to break free, but she bit her lip and kept her head down, waiting for the participants of the “struggle session” to get tired of “re-educating” her. She began going over her favourite song in her head in an attempt to fade out the angry voices. “Even though the fig trees have no—” Suddenly, a thick wet glob fell onto her neck—someone had spat on her. This was not the first time it happened, and she knew better than to wipe it away then—it would provoke them to spit again.

The night finally drew to a close. She and the three others being “re-educated” were allowed to go home. Slowly picking her way along the path by moonlight, she sees, illuminated in the distance, the shack in which she and with her five children. She traced her right palm with her fingers; the hand that once held chalk as she taught her beloved students now were thickly calloused from working the hard soil on her own to feed her children. Life had dealt her a cruel hand: the new government had sent her husband to a forced labour camp, leaving her with five young children to raise. Then she herself was relieved of her job as a schoolteacher and sent to her husband’s village to live on whatever they can grow.

That wasn’t all. When they found out that she was a Christian, they forced her attend those struggle sessions in the evenings. They falsely accused her of absurd charges, spat on her, and yelled at her. If it wasn’t for her faith in a God who loved her and her children, suicide probably would have been an attractive option.

She quietly opened the door, not wanting to wake up the three younger ones. Her oldest son and daughter were away at school in the neighbouring town and only came home on the weekends. Being an educator herself, she knew that education is the only way for her children to escape this physical poverty someday. So no matter how hard she worked, she would not let them stay home to help her with farm work.

“Mama, thank God you’re back,” whispered a small girl’s voice from the direction of the kang.

“What are you still doing up?” the mother asked, surprised.

“We were waiting for you,” said another girl.

“And praying!” said a third voice, a boy this time, not wanting to be left out by his older sisters.

She smiled into the darkness and moved toward the bed where the three were huddled together. Sitting down on the kang, she opened her arms so that they could snuggle around her.

“Mama is all right; thank you for your prayers, my children.”

“Guess what I found today on the road? A whole potato!” one of the girls exclaimed, eager to share the news.

“That’s wonderful, my dear. I will make soup with it for all of us tomorrow.”

“Mama,” said the little boy.

“Yes, dear?”

“Can you sing us that song again?”

“Certainly, dear.”

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”

With the steady breathing that came from the corner of the bed, she knew that all three of her children were sound asleep.

Note from the writer: The song is from the Book of Habakkuk in the Bible, chapter 3, verses 17-18. This woman is Li Huiyin, my paternal grandmother, who went to be with the Lord after one of these struggle sessions from heart failure. My father is her youngest and was only thirteen when she died. The potato story is one that my father loves telling; and his love for potatoes remains to this day


Filed under: Fiction, Personal Story, , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


"Double-edged"is bilingual blog in affiliation with Truth Monthly, a Chinese Christian monthly print publication based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This blog features mostly original writings as well as comics, poetry, and other works of art by local Christian young adults.

For more information or to submit your own writing, please email

%d bloggers like this: