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Free media tool
When I was only six and my younger brother was two, our father passed away.
Since then, my mother and we were dependent upon each others.
My mother had to work very hard to keep our family together.
Until one day, my mother ushered a man into our home.
She asked us to call him - FATHER.
No, he was just our stepfather.
I was nine that year.
My stepfather became the economic backbone of the entire family.
The impression of my childhood, he was extremely industrious man.
He also adored my mother very much.
Moreover, he took full responsibility for the family and never let my mother worry too much.
He was a kind of reticence and relaxed but very spiritual.
He had a long lanky head and the deep small eyes on his brown face.
He had a pair of rough big hands in his early forty.
He also had a wont to carry an ancient tobacco pipe with a brown smoothly body around.
He would suck a few mouthfuls of it whenever he was free.
I had always against smoking.
I called him behind his back – A TOBACCO FIEND.
I remembered that he had moved in with us about a year later.
I secretly hid his beloved pipe one day.
He was like the ants in his pants and his eyes were red over the next few days.
Surprisingly, he gave a good slap on my face because of that tobacco pipe.
I was so frightened to cry, my mother held me in her arms and said,
‘ Never ever touch his pipe again. This is his life !’
Henceforward, that tobacco pipe was a great mystery to me.
I always wondered if it could make my stepfather to shed a tear.
Perhaps, that slap had brought out my hatred to my stepfather.
It liked something had stuck in my throat.
I was very cool and ignored him.
Let alone call him – FATHER.
However, one thing let me begin to have a good impression on him.
I came home after school one day.
I found my mother screamed painfully and rolled on the floor as soon as I entered the house.
The big drops of cold sweat dripped from her pale face.
The stomach sickness took her down again.
Me and my younger brother cried to find my stepfather.
He stopped his work at once. He even forgot his shoes and ran home barefoot.
He madly carried my mother to rush to the hospital after he walked in the door.
They returned home at midnight. My mother fell asleep on his back.
When he saw us to wait in the doorway, he breathed heavily and smiled,
‘ It’s alright now! Go to bed ! You have to go to school tomorrow, kids !’
I noticed that the sweat was like a broken string of big beads dropping on his big feet, which were full of soil.
which had made me understand the hardship of life.
I requested to my mother, ‘ I’d like to try for once more year.’
How many people can go to university in our village ? You’ve better to give your father a hand.’
‘ Mom, the only way to improve our family situation is to get a better education and seek for a prospective career in the future. I won’t give up.’
My stepfather smoked his beloved pipe in the backyard and did not say a word that night.
My mother said to me next day, ‘ Your father agrees to let you to try for once more year. You must study hard !’
My stepfather shouted loudly as he entered the house one day.
He had collected an acceptance letter from university in the post office.
He said excitedly, ‘ Our son is going to the university !’
When my mother and I rushed from the kitchen, she took the letter in hands.
Although she was an illiterate person, she watched it from top to bottom again and again.
Or said, I wanted to express my gratitude to him.
My stepfather stared at me amazedly with joy.
He drank it up and said, ‘ It’s worth ! It’s worth !’
I had to face a major problem next day.
Where could I get the 4,000 dollars to pay the annual tuition fee ?
My mother had taken out all her savings and borrowed the money here and there.
It was still short of 500 dollars one day before the school began.
My mother moped as she prepared the dinner.
My stepfather was clam as usual. He bit his beloved pipe when he repaired the tools.
Of course, no one had the appetite at meal.
‘ Right, I don’t go to school. Are you satisfied now ?’ I said piqued and ran into my room.
I bent over my desk and wept.
A strong hand patted on my shoulder a few minutes later.
He stayed in the backyard until very late that night.
My stepfather was lost in thought with his beloved pipe.
Certainly, no one knew what he was thinking.
I guessed that he surely was not calm in mind.
Next morning, my mother told me that he had gone to visit a friend in town.
Perhaps he could borrow some money from him.
I asked, ‘ What does his friend do ?’ My mother shook her head.
I spent all that afternoon waiting for my stepfather at the entrance to our village.
It was the very first time that I had an impulse to see him.
It was also the very first time that I felt my stepfather was the most important and
greatest person in my life. Yes, my future was truly in his hands.
He came back finally with a smile on his face.
My hanging heart was settled down eventually.
My mother hurried and presented him a basin of hot water.
I took a good look at his face and realized that he was no longer a strong man as he used to.
The big hands were gone, the veins was exposed.
His forehead was filled wrinkles and the straight short hair was messy.
I did not understand why he looked so pale, his lips were colorless.
My stepfather was an old man indeed.
He extremely tired that night.
My mother took off his nearly broken shoes carefully.
A big blood blister was found on his toe under the dim light.
My heart was sunk.
I turned my face away but the tears slipped quietly.
I was ready to leave for university that early morning.
She saw me off at the train station. She said, ‘You’re a big boy now. You have to rely on your own. Your father always loves you very much. He dearly expected you could call him – FATHER. But, you……’ She was a bit choked up.
I nipped my lips slightly and whispered, ‘ Next time !’
My stepfather would go to borrow the money from his friend in town every time
when I needed to pay for the tuition fee.
Though I rarely talked with him, he rarely asked after me.
When I left home, my stepfather would always see me off at the train station.
He still smoked his beloved pipe. We walked along silently.
There had too much I would like to tell him, but I did not know where to begin.
As a matter of fact, I had already accepted him as my father.
LOVE – Why did it too hard to say sometimes ?
In that way, I had never fulfilled my promise to my mother.
My family was very lively at the New Year’s Eve night.
My stepfather sat next to my mother, he pounded the tobacco leaves and
I was a third year student in university that year.
I mentioned about many students in university who would have the cell phones, computers…….
I glanced at my stepfather’s face twitched lightly.
I felt sorry for that speech instantly.
I was so used to that way. He called my name several times on the way.
When I responded, he seemed to swallow his words.
He looked like to have a heavy heart.
I really hoped that my stepfather would be the first to break the ice.
I could have a good talk with him, then.
I disappointed at last.
When we said goodbye at the train station, he said,
‘ I don’t have much skill to make you all happy.
Remember to respect and take a good care of your mother in the future.’
Suddenly, I wanted to call him gently on an impulse – FATHER.
That word had been sitting in my heart for many years.
I swallowed it up again while it was almost come to my lips.
My stepfather was still standing there motionlessly like a rock.
I secretly swore that I should sincerely call him – FATHER when I returned home next time.
However, that day would never come.
The last goodbye was a farewell forever.
I got a message of a sudden death of my stepfather two months later.
I was in a daze as though the entire world had halted.
Greeted me home, which was that lonely tobacco pipe hanging on the wall.
‘ His last regret was he shouldn’t give you a slap that year.
He always wanted to say sorry to you, but he couldn’t make it. In fact, you can’t blame him.
You never understand that pipe was the pain in his entire life.’ said my mother as she looked at the hanging pipe.
I took it down gently from the wall.
Then, a heartbreaking story was revealed for the first time.
My mother and my stepfather were the sweethearts in the village some thirty years ago.
But, my grandpa was very against their romance.
The only reason was my stepfather’s family was penniless.
My stepfather lived with his father.
Therefore, he started to work in a coal mine in order to earn some more money for his only son.
His father and some seventy miners had been trapped underground in an accident.
He overwhelmed with sorrow on the death of his father.
He left the village with that tobacco pipe one day. No one knew his whereabouts !
My stepfather came back two years later.
My mother was already forced to marry my father one year earlier.
He never wanted to have his own child.
He said, ‘ These kids are my own flesh and blood.’
It was not just a circuitous love story in that pipe.
It was also a heavy memory of his entire life.
My eyes were brimmed in tears after my mother completed their heartbreaking story.
She handed me a wooden box, ‘ Your father had a sudden stroke. He was unable to speak before he died. He stared at me and pointed toward that wooden box. I assumed that he wanted to give it to you. There have some debts in it. Maybe, he hoped you to manage it. He never wanted to owe anyone anything.’
I gently opened the box with my tearful eyes.
The eight papers were simply not the IOU.
A brand new watch was dropped when the box fell on the floor.
‘ Father, father !’ I knelt in front of his grave.
When I was away, I took that brown tobacco pipe with me.
I would cherish the memory of my unforgettable stepfather forever and ever.
Such two speeches cannot wait :
I LOVE YOU and I AM SORRY.
Elsewise, you may live with regrets to the end.