八里根 / 英语广角 / 【双语阅读】地震灾区:两个中国老百姓的...




2009-01-06  八里根
        Li Wanzhi and her husband, Wang Zhijun, were trapped together in the rubble of their apartment building for 28 hours after the earthquake in Sichuan Province. (Shiho Fukada for The New York Times)
        四川大地震,李婉芝和她的丈夫王志军被困在房屋的瓦砾下,整整28个小时。(纽约时报Shiho Fukada拍摄)
By Edward Wong
Published:December 31,2008
  LUOCHEN VILLAGE, China: Li Wanzhi has learned to do certain things with just one arm.


  Dressing herself, for example. That was easy. Washing clothes was something else entirely. For that, she needed the help of her mother-in-law.



  Her husband, Wang Zhijun, was in good shape, by comparison. He had all his limbs, even though he and his wife had been trapped together in the rubble of their apartment building for 28 hours after the earthquake in Sichuan Province last May. They had lain with their arms wrapped around each other, their faces only inches apart. His right hand still aches, but he can hold chopsticks now.


  "Sometimes when we think of that night, we say, 'Let the past be the past,"' Li said with a faint smile. "We feel we've already started a new life."


  Like the stories of many survivors, the journey of Li and Wang after the earthquake has been one of steps taken by the inch. They are slowly piecing together a future after a disaster that left 88,000 people dead or missing and five million homeless in the rugged hills of southwest China.


  The two sat on wooden chairs by a field of garlic on a gray afternoon, sipping tea with visitors. The empty left sleeve of Li's brown winter coat was tucked into a pocket. Wang rubbed his aching hand. They listened to their 14-year-old daughter playing with girlfriends in a makeshift tent.


  This is Wang's home village in Sichuan, where irrigation canals line fields and a cement factory belches fumes.


  Li and Wang now live in a flimsy wooden hut with a dirt floor.

  Their disabilities prevent them from working. Besides missing an arm, Li has problems with her right foot. But they say they consider themselves lucky to be alive, and their spirits are much higher than when they were in a hospital room just three days after their harrowing ordeal last May.


  Before the quake, Wang, 40, had been traveling across China doing odd jobs, and his marriage with Li had been on the wane. Since their rescue, it has proved sturdier than the thousands of buildings that crumbled to dust.


  The night they were trapped beneath the rubble, they made promises to each other: They would rededicate themselves to each other if they made it out alive; together they would raise their daughter, Xinyi.


  "He won't travel for now because he has to stay home to take care of me," said Li, 38.


  Wang grinned. "Yeah, I have to be here to take care of her," he said.


  Li glanced at Wang's hand. "My father often jokes, 'Look at this couple - one has a third-degree disability, the other has a second-degree disability; they're made for each other,"' she said.


  They spend their days doing simple exercises to get back into shape. At night, they eat dinner with Wang's younger brother at his home, a large, wooden shelter where villagers gather around four tables to play mah-jongg. Then they return to their cold hut to sleep.


  The hut has a stack of quilts and a cardboard box that serves as a table. Its one luxury is an old television set and DVD player that Wang's older sister rescued from her home.


  The sister and her husband sleep next door in an even flimsier shelter, made of plastic tarps.


  Each day, all across the village, survivors mix cement and stack bricks atop bricks to build new homes. But Li and Wang are in no condition to do such work.


  "This year, we'll do our best to recover," Li said. "Next year, we'll live on our own and maybe start a small business."


  Like other earthquake victims, they get a government subsidy of $44 a month. An American couple who read the tale of their survival last May in The New York Times gave them a small donation. And although Li no longer works, her employer, a chemical production company with a factory in the nearby town of Luoshui, continues to pay her a monthly salary of $150.


  The couple had been living on the fourth floor of a workers' dormitory when it and the factory collapsed on the afternoon of May 12. More than a hundred of Li's co-workers died.


  "My colleagues often call me to ask if I'm doing well," she said. "In my department, several died. Some others are fine."


  Wang says he wants to buy a small truck next year to transport goods. Li may try her luck at business.




  "I want to start a clothes shop," she said. "I often say to my husband, 'I want to feel like a beautiful woman, and to look at beautiful clothes every day.' I want to get my confidence back."


  Li's arm became gangrenous after being crushed in the rubble. After it was amputated at a local hospital in May, she was flown to Shanghai for more surgery. Doctors gave her a plastic arm for upper-body balance and cosmetic purposes, but she rarely wears it.


  At a recovery center in Shanghai, she saw other amputees outfitted with metal prosthetic arms. Someone told her the price for one: an astounding $4,400. Her dream now, she said, is to have an arm she can use again.


  On weekends, Xinyi, their daughter, comes home. Most days, she stays at a friend's home close to her school in Shifang. Poorly built schools collapsed across southwestern China during the earthquake, killing as many as 10,000 children, but Xinyi's remained standing. The school was later torn down, though, and the students now go to class in a prefabricated schoolhouse.


  "It's not bad," Xinyi said of life after the earthquake. "Baba and Mama are here. I don't think about the earthquake much."


  But for Li, the hours she and her husband spent buried in the rubble are forever seared into her memory.


  "I still think often of the earthquake," she said. "Sometimes when I see a high building, I think, 'I was buried after falling from the fourth floor, and I survived. How lucky I am!' The other day, I saw a six-story building and I thought, 'How did I survive?"'


  Li fell quiet and looked at her husband. The pale winter light was fading. They got up from their chairs and walked into the tent where their daughter had been laughing all afternoon with other children.





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