Leyi ,do you miss daddy and mommy these days? You are on daddy’s mind day and night. Daddy misses you so much, especially this morning.
This morning, something exciting happened to daddy. Some fragments of the past with you appeared before daddy’s eyes during that time, and daddy can’t help writing to you again.
(Photo: 2nd from left: Leyi’s father, Xu Guoyong)
Daddy and mommy returned to where we three used to live. Ever since then, some men would come every weekend and sit in front of our door in order to keep Daddy at home on Sundays. During these three weeks, daddy has always longed to go out on Sundays, yet daddy did not ask God for it. It seemed to be a wrong request to God, after all, daddy had promised those men in uniform to stay home this Saturday.
Today is Sunday. Around 1 o’clock in the morning, daddy went to the washroom. When walking through the living room, daddy stopped to open our front door. To daddy’s surprise, nobody was sitting there waiting (Daddy thought that maybe after three weeks, those men were starting to slack off and would rather sit downstairs outside of the building.) Daddy tried so hard not to be overwhelmed with joy and went back to bed again, waiting for the dawn and the opportunity to go out.
Leyi, is daddy too emotional? Ever since you left, there’s moments when daddy feels very excited and then soon after the sadness comes back again. Just one minute ago daddy was so excited, then daddy thought of you and cried again.
Around 4:00 am, daddy got washed up and hurried outside. When walking out of the elevator, Daddy noticed there was a police car on the right hand side near the gate (They were here to watch daddy.) Without a second thought, daddy got out of the gate and walked towards the opposite direction of the police car. When daddy was about 10 meters away from the car, daddy heard a car door slam and caught a glimpse of a man in a red t-shirt who starting following daddy. Daddy sped up and ran towards east gate. When daddy finally reached the street outside of east gate, about 500-600 meters away from the block, daddy noticed that the man in the red t-shirt was not following me any more, so daddy began to walk.
Freedom! Daddy was finally free! Today daddy would be able to go to that place and worship our God freely!
Joy filled and flooded daddy’s heart, and daddy began to hum a hymn “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”. This is the exact same hymn daddy hummed on the way to the theatre to worship God on November 15th, 2009, after getting rid of those men.
There was hardly anyone walking on the street. Some trucks whizzed by. Neither bus nor metro started running in the wee hours. Daddy had to wander around on one of the streets nearby. Daddy removed the cell phone battery so that those men would not be able to track daddy by cell phone. Daddy would only put it back in when daddy wanted to know what time it was.
Early morning fog rose. It was very hot and humid. Daddy was sweating a lot after all the running. Although it was very uncomfortable wearing a wet T-shirt, daddy was very happy and hummed some more hymns while walking.
Then daddy thought of you. Everyday after breakfast, you would ask daddy and mommy to take you outside. In the wintertime, daddy and mommy would open the front gate so that the room would not so hot when we dressed you in snow pants and a coat. Sometimes, daddy and mommy would turn around to get your coat, and when we turned back, we found you out the front door and bare footed. Every time, daddy would run after you in a hurry to the stairway and sometimes even catch you at the front of the elevator. It was dangerous of you to walk by yourself on the stairs. That is why daddy and mommy were so worried every time you ran away. Daddy would carry you in the arms after catching you and take you back to the sofa in the living room. As you can tell, it would take some time for daddy and mommy to dress you before going outside. After getting your snacks and water bottle ready, daddy and mommy would place you in your stroller. When we went outside, you would always raise your shoulders with a smile and cheerfully repeat the rhyme you created: “coat on my body, panda on my back”.
Leyi, for you, outdoor time was the happiest time in a day. As a toddler, it was very natural for you to long for freedom, and daddy knows for sure that you can feel the joy that daddy felt in this escape. Leyi, daddy really envies you now! You were very carefree during your two years on earth. Now you must be free as a bird in the heavens, enjoying much more freedom than this world could offer, for the God we believe in is the one who gives us freedom and set us free from our bondage.
Daddy remembered the time when daddy and mommy took you for a walk in your stroller. When there were not so many people on the street, daddy and mommy would push the stroller faster, and you would always open your arms to the sky, and cheerfully yelled “Ah…ah!” Every time when you did this, people walking by would notice you. Some of them even asked their friends next to them to look at this cute little girl, and they all smiled at daddy and mommy. Daddy felt very happy inside at that time.
It was so hot and humid by now. Walking on the same street and thinking of the moments with you, daddy opened arms to the sky in the fog, just as you did before. Tears were falling down daddy’s face. Near the bus stop, several passer-bys stared at daddy. They must have thought daddy was mad. Yet daddy still kept hands raised as if no one were there.
Daddy entered KFC and sat there for a while as it was too hot outside. Around 5:30am, buses appeared on the street. After getting on the bus, daddy found out that the transportation card was left at home. Daddy paid 2 Yuan for a bus ticket.
“Too expensive!” daddy muttered when receiving the ticket from the bus conductor.
Daddy remembered that with the transportation card, we paid only 0.8 Yuan for three passengers: daddy, mommy, and you, including the stroller.
When we entered the bus, almost every time, we would lock the stroller wheels and put you back in the stroller. You were always very exciting right after getting on the bus and sometimes played with other passengers by making faces. One day, daddy and mommy found that an old gentleman kept on smiling to you on the bus. After a while, he became very delighted and asked us to look at you. Daddy and mommy turned and found that you were winking at him while wiggling your nose.
Sitting on the bus, daddy looked out of the window and saw colorful flags on the street. After staying in the bus for around 15 minutes, you would feel uncomfortable, and mommy would hold you in her arms so that you could see the colorful flags outside.
“Colorful flags!” you would exclaim to mommy in a sweet voice and show her by pointing where they were.
Daddy put the battery back to the cell phone to find out the time. As soon as the cell phone was turned on, daddy received a call from the police. Hesitating for a while, daddy answered the call; after all, daddy had promised them never to hang up if they called.
“Are you on the metro or bus?” he asked, obviously annoyed.
“On the bus.”
“Bus number?” he asked.
“Sorry, I can’t tell you.”
“Where are you now? Believe it or not, we will go after you and take you back here right away.”
Daddy saw two police cars passed by the side of the bus. “Maybe these are their cars.” daddy thought. “Maybe not. It is also possible that these police are on another duty.”
“Sorry, I still can’t tell you. If you want to come, that’s fine. It is a big place. I really doubt if you can find me at all. ”
“Just tell me where you are, now!” he kept on urging daddy.
“But I am almost there.” Daddy looked out of the window and saw three Chinese characters that spelled: “The Vista Building”.
“Fine. Behave yourself and call us when you arrive.” he hung up angrily.
“I should never call you!” daddy was enraged and removed the battery again after turning off the cell phone.
Daddy looked out of the window again and saw another three Chinese characters “Old Story Club” it wrote.
“Old Story Club”, what a familiar place! This had been the gathering place for daddy and mommy’s church for more than a year. Daddy and mommy had brought you there so many times!
If the walls could talk, it would tell others how you had grown from an infant with curious eyes in a stroller to a toddler. It would tell others how you learned to walk by holding daddy’s hand and later how you ran around that place with daddy chasing after you.
Daddy remembered how, under the big mulberry tree outside the club, you would bend down and pick up the mulberries one by one and eat them. Near that same tree, Daddy had washed your hands under the water tap. There was also a wooden swing on which daddy and you had enjoyed swinging back and forth together.
Leyi, do you remember that friendly security guard? He was thin and suntanned. Whenever he saw you in daddy’s arms, he would ask daddy to let him hold you and invite you to manage the parking lot of the club with him. Do you remember? He would always put his security cap on your head which was a little bit old and dirty. Do you remember? Every time we approach the club, he would spot you from a distance and would always call out “little cutie!” in a loud voice.
How time flied! Then winter came. We did not take you to the club as often as before for it was too cold for you. It was not long before daddy and mommy’s church was forced to leave that club, and you left us shortly after.
This “Old Story Club” had already been torn down, and a new building will take its place. Yet daddy and mommy’s church is still wandering outside without a proper place to gather. Last year, that friendly security guard had quit his job and left Beijing to return to his hometown. Now he is far away from the little cutie that he had loved so much and invited to manage the parking lot together – not knowing that the little cutie had already left this world for two months now. Would he ever have imagined this would happen?
When daddy thought of this question, tears came to daddy’s eyes.
The bus slowly approached that place, and daddy got off at the bus stop.
Then daddy began to walk around that place. A strange feeling seized daddy’s heart. Feelings of nervousness, mixed with a little bit fear.
Daddy kept on walking around and around. There were police cars patrolling on the street, looking for the people who escaped from house arrest. Sometimes, daddy would stop and quickly hide behind buildings to avoid being seen by the police.
While walking, daddy noticed that daddy’s own shadow was very long and it had been following daddy all the time. This reminded daddy of how cute you looked as you tried to chase your mother’s shadow last year at a church leader’s retreat.
When this thought came to daddy’s mind, daddy smiled. The fear in daddy’s heart disappeared all at once.
Fog was still there in the air, and it was still hot and humid.
Daddy knew that it would not be long before the fog would be driven away by the rising sun. At that time, daddy would joyfully step out and be there.
This is the place where God is.
This is the place where daddy’s brothers in faith are.
This is the place where we worship God together.
This is a different translation version of the same article, “A letter to Leyi (No. 11)”.