On the glory road home

By Pauline D.Loh ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-02-14 07:20:35

For the migrant workers at all levels, the annual Spring Festival holidays offer the only chance each year to connect with family and friends back home, and to show off the results of 12 months' hard work.

Some might have gone home with gifts of imported delicacies the folks back home have never seen before. Others would be showing off a fat bank balance in their little account books. Yet others would have driven home in a brand-new motorbike or a car, with a prospective spouse on the passenger seat or riding pillion.

Our nanny has gone home, too, with three huge bags of clothes, shoes and other household necessities that she intends to distribute to her family and village neighbors.

This is the first time in three years she has returned to her village in Henan, and she is going home with her son, a strapping young man who works as a security guard for a Beijing bank.

Our nanny (or ayi) has a specific mission this Spring Festival.

She's looking for a bride for her son, and if she succeeds, he will stay home, get married and work the land they own while she saves enough to build them a house.

Ayi has had a hard life, and her marriage has not been happy, so I understand perfectly why a good wife and a solid union for her son command such priority.

My nanny is illiterate, having grown up in tempestuous times when "culture" meant learning from farmers, soldiers and factory workers. In her rural home, she grew up on the farm with very little education apart from her own innate common sense.

She would have been counted among the "lost generation" of Chinese, but her spunky determination saved her.

When her marriage failed, she left home for Beijing on her own, working as a caregiver in a hospital where her good sense and pleasant disposition made her a popular choice among patients.

Related: Looking back, looking ahead

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Moon landings and Chinese grandmas

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