On April 10th, 2009, a senior middle school student in Dalian City committed suicide at home. There was a short letter of less than 50 words on the desk beside his bed, which was full of spelling mistakes. Yet, through the brief letter, we could learn great desperation and helplessness of this teenager. At the news, his parents rushed back home. Never had them imagined even though they had countless wealth, they could by no means revive their son. Only after their son’s death did they begin understanding him.
Before senior middle school, affected by his parents, Jiang Hao upheld the notion that study was useless.
Jiang Hao’s father, Jiang Chunyang, and mother, Liu Lan, only finished middle school education. They came from countrysides in Dalian. But as the pioneers of raising
sea cucumbers, they fast reached over one million yuan when their son was born in 1992. When sea cucumber raising became prevailing afterwards, they entered into another profession and began property renovation. To be specific, they undertook the work of arranging water, electricity and gas inside a building after it was finished. Jiang Chunyang had a flexible and outgoing mind, which helped him a lot in communicating outside, while Liu Lan was iron-willed and industrious, which made her responsible for management and finance. With property industry increasingly blooming, they could hardly find a day off. One month after Jiang Hao’s birth, he was left in the hands of his grandmother and the babysitter.
Without too much time to stay with their son, the couple could only meet his demand in money. Under the indulgence of his parents, Jiang Hao enrolled a group of students in the kindergarten with money and often bullied little girls or other students, so much so that some parents united to boycott the school and claim that if Jiang Hao was not dismissed, they would never let their children study in the school any more.
Confronting all these complaints, Jiang Chunyang and Liulan did not feel the least sense of irritation. According to their business experience, they thought that it was better for their son to be strong rather than to be bullied by others. Therefore, each time Jiang Hao made mistakes, he would never get critism but encouragement from his parents.
In Septermber, 1998, Jiang Hao went to primary school. After half a semester, he did not know to do the calculation within 10 and was arranged to other classes for three times. All teachers felt a headache when seeing him. At the end of the semester, the principal called Jiang Chunyang to his office and showed him his son’s final paper with 21 scores in maths and 37 in Chinese. The principal said seriously, “Your son did not listen to the teacher in class and was extremely playful. If it goes on, his future will be ruined. To tellyou the truth, I have been teaching for 30 years, but I did not see a student like him.” Jiang said frankly, “Dear principal, thank you for your kindly care. But to be frank, we have earned enormous money these years, which could support our son all his life. So we do not want him to feel painstaking. What’s more, going to college is nothing wonderful. After graduation, it is also very difficult to find a job. His mother and I only have middle school qualification, but in business world, none of the college students can stand in line with us.”
Hearing his words, the principal felt stunned and speechless. But it was the couple’s authetic thought that school was only a place for Jiang Hao to stay in, not for his future.
With his parents’ great support, Jiang Hao hated study’s guts. Finally, the teacher arranged him to sit solely on side and allowed him to sleep, play games and even go to the playground in class, as long as he did not affect other students. Since the second semester in grade three, he did not attend any exam. All these priviliges were gained with his parents’ money. Over time, the idea been deeply rooted in Jiang Hao’s mind that study was useless and money was everything.
In the autumn of 2007, Jiang Chunyang sent his son to private senior middle school with money.
In July, 2008, a senior school in America invited 20 students in Dalian City to participate in a summer camp activity in America. The competition was extremely fierce and only the students with exceptional academic performance and personal qualities could be selected. However, at last, Jiang Chunyang gained a place for his son by sponsoring the flight tickets of 20 students and 5 teachers. It was this journey that changed Jiang Hao’s life radically.
The team of 25 people set out from Dalian in 19th, July and firstly took a train to Beijing. Among the 20 students, except Jiang Hao, all the others were exceptional learners. Jiang felt he did not belong to them. When they were heatedly discussing the upcoming Olympic Games and naming one by one the potential gold medal winners, Jiang Hao did not want to be left alone and said, “ How many grams does a gold medal weigh? Can we buy it in Beijing? I will buy one after I come back.” All of a sudden, he was attacked orally by others without any resistance. At last, the teacher stopped the “war”.
After a while, Jiang Hao found two students chatting in English. He felt uncomfortable and said ironically, “It is nothing glorious to speak English. Why do you show off?” a student blamed him in English contemptuously. Jiang asked sensitively, “What are you saying?” the student replied in Chinese, “You are so cool!” Jiang felt happy, but soon he realized that other students were trying to hold back their laughters. Then Jiang became downright annoyed and shouted, “You villains! All your fees are on my own, but you treat me like that! Get out of the plane and walk to America!” his statement irritated all other students. They all opened their wallets and gave money to Jiang, saying, “It is your father who begged for paying our tickets. Now we do not need it any more! please get our money and get off the train ! You are not welcome!” Feeling something went terribly wrong, Jiang had to sit down and kept silent. After that, he could sense that others repelled him.
But the realy humiliation occurred after they arrived in America. In order to receive friends from China, American students did full preparation and listed all the questions on as many as 4 or 5 pieces of paper of A4. The content was very abundant, ranging from Ethnicity to the current society. The other 19 students had a good command of English and chatted with local students happily, only leaving Jiang standing there helplessly.
During the 5-hour communication, Jiang did not understand even one sentence. Finally, an American student came up and asked the teacher politely, “Is he dumb? I know sign language.” The teacher explained, “No, he just felt sick due to plane sickness and the time difference.” The student patted Jiang’s shoulder and showed great sympathy. Jiang asked the teacher what the student said. The teacher told him that the student asked him whether he felt uncomfortable. At this moment, another Chinese student came to Jiang and said to him, “The teacher told you a lie. The American student asked whether you are dumb or not,. If yes, he would chat with you in sign language. You should have received sign language training before you came here.” Hearing this, Jiang held out a fist and heavily beat him in the face. The student’s nose was bleeding nonstop. This event humiliated all the students in America.
The most shameful thing was still waiting ahead. There was another important activity, named living challenge. Specifically, every student should go out to make a living without taking any money within given time. Soon after the activity began, Jiang met his trouble. He wanted to go to the toilet, but as he did not know English, he could not find it. So he had to do it around the street corner. At last, he was sent to the police station by local citizens. The Chinese teacher, along with American teacher came to the police office to get him back angrily. All the students saw him as a shame.
During those several days, Jiang felt terribly depressed and did not eat well. One night, he went to the supermarket on the first floor of the hotel to buy something to eat. After coming back to the dormitory, he ate the food silently. After a long time, his roommate told him that what he bought was dog food. Nobody laughed any more. everyone felt disgusted at him. Jiang finally knew that the greatest apathy was not ridicule, but being ignored. That night, he covered himself with quilt and cried miserably.
On the way back to home country, everyone was heatedly discussing what they have learnt through this journey. Only Jiang maintained speechless. When the train was approaching Dalian, the teacher, Mr Li had a talk with Jiang before the restroom and said, “Jiang Hao, do you still think that study is useless?” Jiang looked at him bemused and said, “I don’t know.” The teacher kept saying, “Without knowledge, you could not even find the WC and food instruction. Without knowledge, you don’t know how to think and communicate. You can only talk with those illiterates about weather. Money is very significant, but it cannot buy everything such as happines, friendship, etc. You are still young now, so it is not late for you to learn now. Don’t put yourself into a place without anything but money.” Jiang felt enlightened after hearing the teacher’s words and decided to study hard in the future.
After coming back from abroad, out of responsibility, Mr Li reported to Jiang Chunyang his son’s performance and hoped that he could seize this opportunity to motivate his son to study hard. However, surprisingly, Jiang Chunyang felt terribly impatient and said casually, “I did not imagine you were so bad. I afforded your trip but you rendered my son so much trouble.”
Coming back from America, Jiang Hao changed a lot. His headteacher remembers clearly that one day in September of 2008, Jiang Hao came to her office and asked her sincerely, “Teacher, I would like to study hard, but I cannot understand what the teacher said in class, so could you give me some advice?” The teacher felt surprised as well as delighted. She said to him, “There are many ways for you to study hard. First of all, you need to foster a good study habit. Your foundation is very weak, so I hope your parents can employ a tutor to help you with middle school courses. But I need to tell you ahead of time that this journy is very tough and great perseverance is needed. If you come across some hesitation in the future, do not hesitate to come to me! I will cheer for you!” Jiang listened to the teacher carefully and nodded sincerely. After he went out of the office, he came back again and presented a big bow to the teahcer, which made her tear uncontrollably.
After going back home that day, Jiang told his parents that he intended to invite some tutors to help him with his lessons. His parents felt very happy, but they still left a way out for their son by saying that if he did not want to study, he could give up. But to Jiang Hao, such statements seemed distrust on his ability. Therefore, he said angrily to his parents, “How do you know I cannot study well? I will!”
Jiang Hao had great ambition to make progress, but he lacked self-discipline. His father invited five tutors responsible for Chinese, Mathmatics, English, Physics and chemistry respectively for him. He also employed two nursemaids, one was a veteran chef in a five-star hotel and responsible for cooking for Jiang ,the other was a retired teacher in Grade three of high school and responsible for his study.
All teachers could see that Jiang was trying his best to study. Sometimes when he felt tired in class, he would ask the teacher to pinch his legs. If the teacher did not do it, he would do it by himself. But sometimes even though he did not feel tired, he could not understand what the teacher said. One day, he felt discouraged and said to his physics teacher, “Seeing these formulas I just felt like going to America and listening to English. I could not understand at all!” The teacher could only comfort him and explain to him again.
Among the five subjects, Jiang learnt English most industriously. Every day the teacher would teach him letters and phonetics as well as one sentence. Jiang studied very hard. In Spring Festival, he went to visit his grandparents with his parents and took the initiaitve to talk with his cousin in English. But his cousin laughed at his strong-accent English. It deeply struck Jiang’s confidence.
During those days, he did not play wildly as usual in his grandparents’ home. Instead, he went back home very early and held the book silently. Sometimes he felt weary, but he did not go to bed. The once playful boy then turned more and more speechless. Jiang Chunyang and Liu Lan witnessed their son’s changes and felt heartbroken. Each time Jiang Chunyang went back home, he said to his son, “My dear son, if you need money, just tell me! You have been studying so hard these days, so take some money out for a relaxation!” Liu Lan, on the other hand, said in an indirect way, “Your father and I merely graduated from middle school, but we also do well in business. So why do you need to trouble yourself in study?” She even said to every tutor, “You should not push my son too hard! Otherwise, if he is ill, I will attribute the responsibility to you.”
The most striking thing to Jiang Hao was the departure of his physics tutor, Mr Zhang. He told Jiang that there was something happening to his family, so he could not continue teaching him. Jiang asked him, “Is it because I am too stupid?” Zhang said, “No. You have made a lot of progress. You should keep on!” Jiang Hao wanted to say goodbye to his teacher. At that time, his father came home. Seeing his son not want the teacher leave, he said loudly to the teacher, “Mr Zhang, how much money do you want?” Zhang replied, “It is not a problem of money. Jiang Hao is ruined by your money.” Then he left. Jiang Hao teared at that time. His father felt irritated and said, “Why do you such a man cry so easily? I hate it! If you cry, I will kill you!” Jiang had to hold back his tears, but he said to himself, “ I also want to kill myself.”
After Zhang’s departure, the other teachers left Jiang Hao with various excuses one by one. After Jiang saw the last teacher away, he also dismissed the two nursemaids. He said to them, “You do not need to stay with me any more. I am a useless man.” Jiang did not go to school, because he felt that no one would miss him there. He became addicted to internet and wanted to register a blog. But the complex formalities kept him outdoor. Without anything to do, he played computer games all day. He also tried to make friends online, but when others knew that he was only a middle school student, they refused to talk with him on QQ.
One day in March, 2009, Jiang went out to have lunchand met Mr Li in KFC, a teacher who went to America with him. Jiang wanted to say hello to him, but he did not do it for there were a lot of students discussing the current event with him. Seeing Mr Li, Jiang felt like meeting a very close relative and felt very delighted. But thinking of the experiences in America, he dare not talk with him. He ordered some food and asked the servant to deliver it to him. When he was about to leave, Mr Li caught up with him and said, “Hi Jianghao, why don’t you chat with me before you leave?” He replied, “Mr Li, my study performance is still so poor and I feel shameful before you. What’s more, no one wants to listen to me.” Mr Li said, “But now I feel you are far more mature than before. Now I leave you my phone number. Please contact me if you have any confusion!” Then Jiang noted down Mr Li’s number and said goodbye to him.
From Li Lan’s memory, Jiang Hao did try to communicate with her. But maybe because she was very tired after work, and there was a lot of chores waiting for her to do, so she did not have time to talk with him. One day, Jiang Hao asked her, “Mum, if you had not given birth to me, you would not be so tired now, right?” “No,” she replied, “if so, I could travel globally with your dad. It is so wonderful!” As usual, Li Lan kept teaching and complaining. But she never imagined that after the talk, her son would terminate his own life in a radical way.
Liu Lan suffered from neurasthenia and she had sleeping pills at home. At around 9 o’clock on April, 10th, 2009, Jiang Hao swallowed 100 sleeping pills. Afraid that he could not die, he cut his wrist with fruit knife. In the letter he left, he said, “ Dear mum and dad, I am gone now. please forgive me. If I can have another life, I will surely study hard and spare your concern and become your pride. I really cannot go on living.” The letter is of fewer than 50 words, but is full of mistakes.
After burying her son in Qiaoshan Cemetery, Liu Lan put down her business and visited her son’s friends and teachers. She wanted to know why her son would leave this beautiful world.
Half a month after Jiang Hao’s death, Jiang Chunyang came down with acute pneumonia. Though it was not deadly disease, it was hard for him to recover. Lying in bed, he often murmured, “Without my son, all money is useless paper.”