The cost of medical care in China is staggering.
中国的医疗费用高得惊人。
I’m a Singaporean based in Beijing for the past eight years, reporting on a whole range of issues including health care. The stories of desperation are plenty: A 19-year-old woman trying to sell her virginity on a subway in eastern China to help her brother with leukemia. People hawking smiles, hugs and flowers to raise money for hospital bills. A father proposing the sale of one of his daughters to pay for her twin brother’s cancer treatment.
我是新加坡人,过去八年来一直在北京工作,报道包括医疗在内的一系列问题。有很多绝望的故事:中国东部一名19岁的女孩试图在地铁上出售她的童贞,以帮助患白血病的弟弟。为了筹钱支付医院账单,人们沿街叫卖微笑、拥抱和鲜花。一位父亲打算卖掉自己的一个女儿,来支付其双胞胎兄弟的癌症治疗费用。
But the incomprehensible tragedy that befell Tang Gongwei’s family resonated with me in a way the rest had not.
但是,发生在唐功伟家的一场让人无法理解的悲剧,在我身上引起了其他故事未曾引起过的共鸣。
Mr. Tang, a 26-year-old Chinese pharmacist, left home in February after he was told he had stomach cancer. Soon, he disappeared. Before he did, he wrote a letter to his parents: “If I leave my parents not only overcome with the grief of losing their son but also struggling financially in their twilight years, then it’s a sin that can’t be forgiven,” he said. “Even if I die more than 10,000 times.” His parents have searched for him ever since.
唐功伟现年26岁,是一名中国的药剂师,在被告知患有胃癌后,他于今年2月离开家。不久就失踪了。出走之前,他给父母写了一封信:“如果让父母在晚年面对丧子之痛的同时还要有经济上的负担,那将是我万死莫辞的罪孽!”他离家后,他的父母一直在寻找他
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My editor, Carlos Tejada, first alerted me to an article in The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, about Mr. Tang’s plight. I decided to pursue the story after hearing that Mr. Tang’s parents were still walking the streets of Zhangjiajie in central China, looking for him.
我的编辑卡洛斯·特哈达(Carlos Tejada)最先让我注意到香港《南华早报》(South China Morning Post)上一篇关于唐功伟困境的报道。当我听说唐功伟的父母还在张家界的大街小巷里寻找他时,我决定对这个故事进行跟踪报道。
I wanted to understand what it was like to go on that search.
我想体会这样的寻找是什么感觉。
When my colleague Elsie Chen and I arrived in Zhangjiajie, it was pouring. I met Mr. Tang’s father, Tang Chunwu, and his mother, Liao Mandong, in their rented ramshackle inn, where they were drying their shoes off. There was a weariness about them. They had crisscrossed the city earlier, asking same question over and over again: “Have you seen my son?”
我和我的同事埃尔西·陈(Elsie Chen)来到张家界那天,大雨倾盆。我在唐功伟的父亲唐纯武和母亲廖满东租住的简陋旅馆里见到了他们,他们正在那里晾鞋子,一幅疲惫不堪的样子。那天的早些时候,他们曾往来于城里的大街上,一遍又一遍地问路人同样的问题:“你看到过我的儿子吗?”
The elder Mr. Tang showed me the dozens of text messages that he would send his son every day. One read: “It’s been three months, don’t you miss Mom and Dad? Dad and Mom miss you so much. We cry out to your photo every day, with tears in our eyes.”
唐纯武让我看了他每天发给儿子的几十条短信。其中一条写道:“三个月了,难道不想爸妈吗?爸妈非常想你,每天对着你的照片呼唤,泪水汪汪。”
The next morning, Elsie and I met up with the Tang family to continue their search. “What time did you set off from your inn today?” I asked Ms. Liao. She bristled, thinking that I was implying that she wasn’t putting in enough effort to look for her son. And besides, why was I asking all these questions?
第二天早上,我和埃尔西与唐家人再次碰面,一起和他们继续寻找。“你们今天是什么时候从旅馆出发的?”我问廖满东。她被激怒了,她以为我是在暗示她没有在寻找儿子上付出足够的努力。再说,我为什么要问这些问题呢?
“I’m more worried than anyone else,” she said. “You won’t understand how much I’ve suffered for the past three months.”
“我担心的比任何人都多,”她说。“你不会明白我在过去这三个月里吃了多少苦。”
I decided to give her some space, so I followed Mr. Tang instead. He carried a red tote bag with 50 missing-person notices that he had printed the day before and held a glue stick in one hand.
我决定给她一些空间,改为跟随唐纯武。他提着一个红色手提袋,里面有他头一天打印出来的50张寻人启事,他的另一只手里拿着一根胶水棒。
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We walked together with the Tang family for about nine hours, stopping cleaners, commuters, shopkeepers.
我们和唐家人一起走了大约九个小时,在清洁工、上班族和店主们面前停下来。
Many people they approached had no interest in helping. They pushed the couple away without a word.
唐家人接触的许多人都没有兴趣帮助他们。这些人一句话不说就把这对夫妇推开了。
Others were sympathetic, agreeing to circulate the missing-person notice on WeChat, a ubiquitous social media tool.
也有些表示同情的人,他们同意在微信上发布寻人启事,微信是一个无处不在的社交媒体工具。
Mr. Tang stopped at a noodle shop and asked the shopkeeper whether he could put a poster outside her restaurant. She agreed. Then she saw the poster.
唐纯武在一家面馆前停了下来,问店主能否在她的餐馆外贴一张启事。她同意了。然后她看到了启事的内容。
“Hey, this is the boy with stomach cancer, right?” she said. “I saw this on the internet. You’re his father? You mean he’s still missing?”
“嘿,这不是那个得胃癌的男孩吗?”她说。“我在网上看到过这个。你是他的父亲?你的意思是还没有找到他吗?”
“Yes,” Mr. Tang said. “He still hasn’t come home.”
“是的,”唐纯武说。“他还没回家。”
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Our article was met with a strong reaction. Chinese readers saw the story as an indictment of a society that values filial piety — it is expected that children will support their parents in old age. Many in China understood how easily they could fall through the country’s broken social safety net. Some said they would have chosen the same path as Mr. Tang.
我们的文章引起了强烈反响。中国的读者把这个故事解读为对重视孝道的社会的控诉,孝道指的是孩子要在父母年老时赡养他们。许多中国人知道,国内残缺的社会保障系统很有可能无法成为他们的保障。一些人说,他们会选择和唐功伟一样的道路。
But much of the reaction was along the lines of an email I received from Sydney Casale, a 21-year-old student at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
但大多数人的反应与悉尼·卡萨勒(Sydney Casale)发给我的一封邮件一样。卡萨勒今年21岁,是美国新泽西州拉马波学院(Ramapo College of New Jersey)的大学生。
She wanted to know how she could help.
她想知道她能做些什么。
“My heart is heavy for the parents and the fact they have spent their savings trying to find their only child,” Ms. Casale wrote.
“我为这两位父母痛心,他们花毕生积蓄寻找自己唯一孩子的故事令人心碎,”卡萨勒写道。