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Bunk bed

Updated on July 7, 2008

I flipped through a home furniture category book last night, a children bunk bed caught my eyes, and revived my memories of nearly twenty years of life in school and college dormitory. All those dorms equipped with Wooden or steel framed double-decker bunk beds, those bed cramped in the dark, filthy room.

A bunk bed is a type of bed in which one bed is stacked on top of another. The nature of bunk beds allows two people to sleep in the same room while maximizing available floor space. This leads to them being used in places with limited floor space, such as on ships and in garrisons or in places that wish to maximise bed space such as: dormitories, hostels, children's rooms, prison cells, or university residence halls. These kind of bunk bed was widely used in Chinese school or university dormitory.

Middle School dormitory

At age 12, I went to Hesheng Middle School. Hesheng Middle School was located in Hesheng Village, where was, and still is the township government located, beside that there was a post office, a department stores, and a medical centre. Now there is police station, too.

The middle school provided canteen and lodging facility for non-local students. So all students from nearby villages had to live in school dormitory, they were called boarding student or boarders, but local students lived at home with family.

I can still remember the smell of steamed rice and shredded dry sweet potatoes, mixed with smells from the dirty socks and human body. The salty, sour taste of pickled vegetables,

the noises of roommates and other pupils all around the school. Among those dim light, bad smells, and sour tastes, there are also some sweet sounds, such as that from chirping birds and and cicadas on the French Wutong (phoenix tree) during a hot summer afternoon and the bright moonlight in the late evening.

It seems not accurate to call a Chinese Middle School "boarding school", because in western country, a boarding school is usually a fee-charging school where some or all pupils not only study, but also live during term time, with their fellow students and possibly teachers. The word 'boarding' in this sense means to provide food and lodging. But in China, all middle school were government-run public school, we came to school in the Sunday afternoon or in the early Monday morning. We went back and stayed at home at weekend. Although we pay a tuition and lodging fee, but very little.

In Hesheng Middle School, our dormitory room was originally a classroom, about 15 to twenty bunk beds cramped together, every bunk bed was for two students, so there were more than 30 students lived together. A bunk bed should has safety rail for top bunk, and a ladder for climbing up. But our bunk bed hasn't. The upper bunk students have all kinds of creative methods of climbing into them. In order to save space, or might be of safety reason, a row of four or five bunk beds moved together and fastened, so we could rolled over from this side to that side. One night due to power failure, the school went dark, we went to bed early, every body seemed very excited. we jumped from bed to bed, rolled over and did somersault, and ever wrestled together. I chatted with my classmate, laughed and wrestled together, suddenly, I have a strange feeling, and then I wet pants. This was the first time wet my pants.

The dorm room was dark and messy, even muddy in rainy day. There were not dustbins anywhere around the school, so the students just dumped left-over food out of the windows, although we were all very poor, food was far from abundant. I had never seen anybody cleaning it up, it just left there gathering flies and attracted mouse.

Every student had a straw mattress, or a bamboo one for summer, a cotton quilt, or another one under the straw mattress for cold winter day, and a wooden book box which kept books, cup, toothbrush, towel and other necessaries. My roommate stole my enamelled cup one day, I couldn't find it anywhere, then I started to cry, my friend reported the incident to my teacher, he came, and let everyone opened his box, and found my cup hid in one classmate's rice bag. Although I found back my cup, but had a bad name of crying, it seems that I had lost some priceless treasure.

College Dormitory

I went to high middle school in county town, and then went to the city for my college study. College dormitory was much better than middle school's. There were only eight bunk bed, we also had a small desk, and a space built on the wall for suitcase and another small space used for bookcase. The second year of my college, the Tiananmen students movement outbroke, most of my classmate went out to the street and the people's square to protest and demonstrate for democracy and anti-corruption. But this movement was cruelly cracked down. One of my classmate were expelled by college authority, there were an extremely tension atmosphere, all students were feeling very low. Many student started to drink and smoke their sorrow away. One of my roommates always vomited in the dorm, and never cleaned it up.

I became a middle school teacher after I graduated from the Normal College, but four years later I went University again for my postgraduate degrees. Another 6 years plus bunk-bedded dormitory life in universities and hostels. Many stories happened, and left with me many sweet and sad memories.


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