Vasant 2023 Stories - Huina Zheng



By Huina Zheng

“Yu, your father fell in the washroom and broke his leg,” Yu’s aunt said over the phone.

“I know. He sent me a message.”

“Why didn’t you come back to see him?”

“I have to work. I’m very busy.”

“Your dad is 68 years old and needs someone to care for him. He was lucky to have his phone with him when he fell; otherwise, it would have been unthinkable.”
“He can hire a caregiver or go to a nursing home.”

“Yu, I still don’t believe it when your dad told me you were ungrateful. Your mother died young, and your father raised you all by himself. You should be grateful.”

“You know how he raised me? After my mother died, I had to run home after school to work. A few minutes late, my father would beat me and scold me. I couldn’t cry when I was beaten, or he would beat me even harder. I had to do all the housework and farm work, and my father? He just idled.” Yu paused to compose herself. Her father’s beating and scoldings were still vivid.

He smacked her and shouted, “What time is it? You lazy girl! Do you want not to work? You’re a piece of garbage. You waste my money raising you.”
“But your father put you through college anyway.”

“He?” Yu sneered. “I didn’t ask for a penny from him for four years in college. I took out student loans and part-time jobs to earn tuition and living expenses, with occasional help from relatives. I was exhausted every day.”

“But he is your father. It’s been six years since you graduated from college, and you haven’t been back to see him once. It broke his heart. You have a stable and well-paid job now. Whatever he did, he is your father, and you should be filial to him.”

“I will pay for the caregiver or the nursing home. I have done my duty. You want me to visit him and take care of him? No way. I’ll never forget the pain and suffering he gave me.”

Yu hung up without waiting for her aunt to respond. She was shaking, tears streaming down her face.

He was the father, so he had the right to hurt her any way he wanted? She had lived in the cold and dark world of helplessness, fear, and anger for so many years and decided to leave there. She didn’t need people to understand her; she didn’t care that her friends and relatives thought she was a heartless and selfish daughter.

She needed time to heal herself; she decided it was alright that she was heartless for a while.


Huina Zheng from China holds a M.A. in English Studies degree and has worked as college essay coach. Her stories were published in Baltimore Review, Variant Literature, Evocations Review, The Meadow and other journals. Her fiction “Ghost Children” was nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Guangzhou, China with her husband and daughter.


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