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True Story
I only Have Eyes for You (2)

15 November 2006

I only Have Eyes for You (1)

Yanzi had been in a full-on vegetable coma for two months. During this time, with constant talk, gentle touch and tender kiss, Zhang Jian did his best to wake her up from deep sleep. Yet for all his effort, he knew he was failing. And gradually his will to battle for Yanzi’s life, for their future, and indeed for his own mortal existence melt like ice and break like tiles.

Then one day, a story in a magazine was like a ray of sunshine in a stormy sky that renewed his hope. It was a report about how a famous Hong Kong TV presenter in a similar condition regained his consciousness and eventually mobility after bone replacement in head surgery done by Dr. Ling at a Beijing hospital.

Taking the magazine with him, he jumped onto the northbound train to Beijing.

He failed, however, in his attempt to see Dr. Ling. Eventually he went down on his knees by a gate where he learned Dr. Ling was most likely to go through, holding a large sign that read "Please save my Yanzi!"

Beijing in February was still chilling cold. Zhang Jian’s head bent against biting wind, but he did not move away from the spot, nor did he get up from his knees. When night set in and some people eventually found out that Dr Ling went overseas and wasn’t expected to return in a near future, he could not even say a word in reply. He was totally frozen.

He returned empty-handed to Hunan. But his confidence in the bone replacement miracle did not wane. When two months later the local doctors all gave up on Yanzi, he decided to bring her home and take care of her himself. And he began to save money for the surgery.

In the following two months, he nursed Yanzi during the day while worked as a motor taxi driver at night. One early morning, when he spoke at Yanzi’s ear about the events of the past, he noticed her lips were dry, so he got a wet cotton tip to apply water to them. As he did so, he registered a motion on the lips. He thought it must be his imagination, and kept moistening her lips. Yet her lips moved again, accompanied by a swallow sound from her throat.

Zhang Jian started to his feet and was for a while gasped for air in disbelieve. Then he burst in exclamation, "Yanzi, my baby!" He cried out and was wild with joy.

This time Yanzi's eyes moved in response.

"Yanzi has waken up!" He roared, and eventually chocked with tears on the shoulder of Yanzi’s mum who hurried in on hearting the shout.

Over the next few weeks, Yanzi made a fast progress. She no longer needed feeding tube, drainage tube and infusion line, and patch memories began to emerge in her mind that previously was like a gaping black hole. Zhang Jian could clearly feel her eyes bore into him with intensity, following him around, and her sight became more serene and tender by the day. When Zhang Jian read or spoke to her, she would keep a tight grip on his hand.

One day, Zhang Jian said to her, "Yanzi, you remember me, don’t you? Do you still love me? If you do, raise two fingers; and if don’t, raise one."

There was an unaccustomed light in her eyes. With an effort, she slowly raised her left hand, and, in a deep sound gasped from her throat, two fingers were stretched out.

Zhang Jian was rendered mute and immobile. It was after a long while that he was able to hold Yanzi’s hands close to his heart, letting happy tears dropping down silently.

Another year had passed, and Chinese New Year 2004 was fast approaching. On the New Year’s eve Zhang Jian’s mother called. Yanzi clearly recognised her mother-in-law-to-be’s voice, and signaled that she wanted to listen.

Her in-law-to-be wept on the other end of the line, and kept saying "My dear …… dearest daughter…" Hearing that, tears streamed down from Yanzi’s cheeks. As the past stories slowly unfolded from the fragments, she sounded a sharp scream that was full of sorrow and agony.

Observing these, Zhang Jian felt the surgery could not be delayed any further to prolong that pain. But he still had a long way to go before he could save 40,000 yuans for the operation.

Then one day, phone rang, and he heard a familiar voice coming from the receiver: "Ar Jian, How are you? Haven’t seen you for four years …"

It surprised him greatly. The voice was from Rong.

"I heard about you in online chat room, and got your phone number from a friend. I wish to do something to help out," said she.

In the follow up calls, Rong elaborated how she was going to help. She would take care of Yanzi’s medical bills, and if the surgery did not work, she would pay for her nursing costs for the rest of her life.

"Why do you want to do that?" asked Zhang Jian.

"Because I want your love, and want a life with you," replied she. "You’ve done enough for her, now let me heal your wounds."

That wasn’t what Zhang Jian wanted to hear.

"But wait, don’t hang up," Rong urged. "Listen to me, Ar Jian, she needs that special medical treatment. How are you going to provide it for her?"

Zhang Jian chocked up.

"Ar Jian, please think carefully, if you really love her, you wouldn’t deny her an opportunity to a possible recovery, would you?"

This time Zhang Jian fell into a long silence. Finally he agreed to meet and talk.

The day for the meeting eventually came. Before leaving home, Zhang Jian got a pan of warm water, and gently washed Yanzi’s face and hands. When he finished, he heard Yanzi squeaking. Before he could figure out what was going on, she rolled off the wheelchair, and when reached the pan she thrust a hand into it. After some fuddling under the water, she produced a silver ring and, with her shaking right hand, placed it on her left middle finger. Having done that, she emitted a push of breath, grinning broadly at Zhang Jian.

The scene struck a chord in Zhang Jian’s heart. He brushed away a tear at one point. It was an engagement ring he gave to her at her 20th birthday. After accident, she had forgotten so many things, but did not forget this ring.

He realised that without his love, recovery to Yanzi might well be pointless. Broken down altogether, he held her in his arms. "… My daring … daring … Yanzi …." thick sobs chocked his words back, and it was until relief came in a flow of tears, he could then resume, "I won’t go anywhere … I’m going nowhere …"

It was all beyond Rong. Just who or what was there to press a healthy young man to make a sacrifice for a near vegetable girl? She decided to see it for herself.

Once entered the room, she was shocked to notice just how poor they were. They almost had nothing, which made Yanzi’s quality wheelchair stand out.

And she scanned the girl in the wheelchair. With a piece of bone missing from her skull, Yanzi’s face was distorted beyond the recognition. Sitting in front of her was Zhang Jian, still young and still handsome, talking to her while massaging her legs. As he looked at that disfigured face, his eyes were glistering with tenderness and affection.

He never looked at Rong like this, and at that flash moment, Rong knew, he never would. He only had eyes for one woman, whatever she became.

Realising her battle for his heart had been lost, she wept soundlessly as she walked out of Yanzi’s home.

And Zhang Jian walked into the office of a local newspaper. He wanted to place an advertisement to sell ten years of his youthful labour in exchange for the operation fees.

When the story spread through the media, there were strong responses both in Changde city, where Yanzi and Zhang Jian lived, and Pei County, where Zhang Jian’s parents waited for the young couple to return. A large number of people contacted the newspaper to find out how to make a donation.

With the help from many quarters in the community, including a hospital, Yanzi at last submitted to the surgery.

On learning the news, the students at a primary school near her home crafted 5000 paper birds. They believed once the number reached 10000, Yanzi would be able to stand up, side by side with her beloved Zhang Jian.

Zhang Jian and Yanzi at home after her operation.

(The End)


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