Oranges

oranges

It was the end of winter, snow was melting away.  Stands were lining up along the sides of streets to sell various fresh fruits and vegetables.

One day a guy arrived at this small town.  His ragged clothes and messy hair were covered by dust.  His weary look revealed lack of sleep and foods.  He stopped in front of a stand selling fresh oranges.  Starving and thirsty but also penniless, he stared at those fresh picked oranges and tried to decide whether to beg or to rob.  He had only one valuable belonging – a dagger on his belt, and he was considering to use it.

At this very moment, a big orange was handed to him.  The stand’s owner had been watching him for a while.  “Take it, don’t worry about money,” said the owner.  Without any hesitation, he grabbed the orange and ate it as quickly as he could.  Then he left without a word.

Three days later, the same guy came to the same stand again.  Before he said anything, the owner handed him several fresh oranges.  As before he finished the oranges and left without a word.  By the end of the day, while the owner was cleaning up the stand before going home, he suddenly noticed a outdated newspaper laying besides a pile of oranges.  A picture on the very first page caught his eyes, – it was the guy who came here twice for oranges.  It turned out that the guy was a brutal murderer, escaped from the scene of crime a year ago, and still on the list of “Most Wanted”.  Even with some sympathy the owner decided to inform the local police officers immediately.

During the following few days, the police officers were hiding around the fruits stand, waiting cautiously.  Three days passed and the guy appeared again, dressing in the same way as shown on the newspaper.  He seemed to be more alert than before, watching each movement of the stand’s owner.  The heart beating of the owner accelerated.  It was the rush hour, the police officers were also worrying the safety of the people around.  What if the murderer held anybody as his hostage?

Finally the guy reached to his belt, pulled out the dagger and threw it on the ground.  He calmly dropped on his knees and put both hands behind head.  He was then handcuffed by the police officers, without any struggling and fighting.

“Wait a minute, I would like to have a few words with him,” the guy pointed to the stand’s owner and requested.  He turned to the owner, “Just want to let you know, I purposely placed the newspaper there,” he nodded and smiled to the stand’s owner, and left with the police officers.

The stand’s owner was deeply shocked, and picked up the newspaper to scan page by page, line by line.  He found, on the opposite page, there were some handwritten words. “I am already tired of rough running around to hide myself.  I am truly touched by your hospitality and kind heart.  The reward of thirty thousand Yuan for capturing me is my pay back to you.”

This is a true story, in a small town at Northern China, on March 23 2006.

 

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15 thoughts on “Oranges

  1. HI Yan,
    this amazing story is something which I feel is quintesssentially Chinese. Would it happen elsewhere?

    It seems to encapsulate the sense of duty to family and community that is so entrenched in the Chinese psyche that even a murderer would feel compelled to return a kind favour. They guy was probably – obviously – sick of life on the run – but its hard for most people to imagine what life in a Chinese jail might be like. More than probably, the man might have lost his life. Maybe he knew that. Maybe he knew he would be murdered or “punishment by death” for his crimes, and maybe his giving himself up was his choice of that rather than the awful life he was living. Maybe as his last act he wanted to help a person who had shown him some kindness. Whether death or imprisonment was his punishment, he was certainly choosing to give up his liberty.

    In some ways the simple kindness of the orange seller gave him enough faith in human kindness to give himself up. Maybe he felt it was some kind of redemption for his crimes.

    Who knows? Its not so much that this is a moral story ” do good deeds and you will be rewarded” – because every Chinese knows that in modern day China that is often far from the case – its more a very touching account of life, its struggles, and how generousity can have lasting impacts.

    Anyone who “does good deeds” because they expect rewards is not likely to find them. Anyhow, great post. Who would have thought by its simple title, ‘oranges’.

    Again, great post.

    Liked by 2 people

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