We visited Catherine Macphail today and she told us some unsolved mysteries. One of these involved a train accident during the 1st World War. A train packed with soldiers, crashed. Three children were found on the carriage, two boys and a girl. They didn’t even know their names, ages and where they were from. The train was supposed to be for soldiers only who were sent to the frontline, and nobody else was allowed. Since nobody claimed the children, the government took care of them. Another story was about a group of girls Scout, who went for a field trip, three of them left the group with one of their teacher and never came back. The third story was about a boy, whose grandmother sent him to fetch a pail of water and went missing. People trace his footprint halfway to the well, and disappeared. He was never found either.
I told theses story to my father at tea time, and asked if he had any unsolved mystery. He said, “Actually, yes, I have one of my own. “ So here is his story:--
I worked as a Chinese teacher in Baiyun Middle School. But I wanted to go to university again and get my Master's degree, so I gave up my teaching job and left for university. I rented a room in a large kind of cottage, which was located at the mountainside. I lived there alone with my books, and I never told anyone except my best friend, Mr. He Keyong. I didn't even tell my family or relatives, so even my parents had no idea where I was.
One day, Mr. He Keyong came to visit. I offered him lunch and we ate together, talking about some general subjects until we heard the bell ring. I rose from my seat and walked to the door, I opened it and saw a young girl who looked like she was from a nearby village. "Your father was looking for you." The girl said. I was very confused because my father stayed in a mountain village far away from where I lived. I didn’t know this girl, even had no idea how she should know my father and how she knew where I lived to send me a message from my father. "Um, okay. Where is he?" I asked her, without asking any questions about her identity. "He's at Shangtang Street No. 283," the girl answered back. I said thanks and the girl left. I just simply believed her that my father was looking for me, there was no question that that plain looking village girl could possibly take a piss on me. I lived a quiet life busy preparing my entrance exam, so there couldn’t be possible that anybody would be playing a practical joke to me. Mr. He keyong was confused too, but more concerned. Nevertheless he took me on his motorcycle to Shangtang Street, 283.
When we arrived at Shangtang Street, looking for the number. The biggest house number was 99, at the end of the street all we saw was a wheat field. There was a farmer around the age of 60, working on the farm. Mr. He Keyong and I went to the farmer to ask where 283 Shangtang Street was. "Oh, it’s here!” the famer said, “This extended street has been planned, but not built yet!" said the farmer in a much crackled, laid back voice. "Where is No. 283 then?" I asked very confusedly, "Oh, number 283! Its round about here, roughly this spot, where I'm working on it!" I looked around and I could see markups, and diggings here and there, new roads and houses not far away.
I gave up and went back home, Mr. He Keyong went back to his house, too. I sat quietly all afternoon in my study, reflecting what had happened, couldn’t make any sense of it. So I went to Shangtang Street again, looking into any shop or pen door, in case my father was there. Because it was possible that the girl told me the wrong address, or I heard it wrong.
I wrote to my youngest brother, who was studying in Yongjia Middle School, and told him where I stay. Then my father came one day, my friend Ms. Xu Sujun stays with me. She made lunch for my father. While we eating, I told my father the story. My father changed his colour on his face, and spoke after long silence. "I didn’t came to Shangtang Street, and didn’t asked any girl to send you the message, because I have no idea where you were. But I did go to Baiyun Middle School to ask your head teacher, colleagues, and anyone if they knew where you were," my father said, “Your mother even considered an advertisement of missing person on the County Broadcasting Station”.
I stayed in that mountainside cottage, until attended the exam. Mr. He Keyong came to visit quite often, Ms Xu Sujun came to stay sometimes. I went back my village before Chinese New Year, in the New Year’s Eve, We had dinner, my father ask me to relate the story again, he listened carefully and asked every detail. The next day was New Year’s Day. My Uncle came to visit, my father told my uncle the story I had told my father twice, and my uncle asked me to tell a third time. Then he said the young girl would have probably been the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin Buddha, who helped father find me. Or my ancestors, who are watching over me, helped my father find a lost child.
I passed the exam, and was admitted to Shanghai Normal University, study for my Master’s Degree under the supervision of Prof. Pan Wuyun for three years. I seldom came back home. My father must have been missed me so much. But he now knew at least where I was, and sincerely believed that I was working very hard for my Master’s degree.