Life resumes in 'isolated island'

Updated: 2013-04-24 07:18

By Tang Yue (China Daily)

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A kind of blessing

"Many thoughts jumped into my mind the second the earthquake came. 'Am I going to die at such a young age? I still haven't seen much of the world'," recalled the 18-year-old.

"I was crying with my younger sister for a long time after we ran out of the building."

In the last year of senior high school, students from her school have to attend classes seven days a week to prepare for the exam. Asiman should have been making her way to school when the earthquake struck. Instead, she was late and still in bed.

Life resumes in 'isolated island'

Students in final year of senior high school prepare for the upcoming college entrance exam.

She considers it a kind of blessing. "One of my classmates was on the way to school and saw a man die right in front of him after he was hit by a rock that fell down the mountain. It was so horrible."

Asiman's family wants her to become a public servant, but she thinks that will be tough because so many people are in competition for each job.

"I just want to go to Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan province). Neither too far from, nor too close to, the family," she said.

For some, life in the tent city is better than the normal routine in some ways.

Zhang Xuan, 9, had been playing chess since 4 pm on Monday, before turning to Chinese chess after dinner. He didn't finish playing until at least 10 pm. Usually, he has to go to bed at 9 pm during the school week.

"Students at primary school have a lot of homework to do and not much time to play together. So, as long as he doesn't have to go to school, it's kind of a bonus for him," said his mother, Wei Chunlan.

She stood with a group of several adults who advised Zhang and his friend on the game. "There is not much else to do," said Wei.

Meanwhile, Xiao Yinzhou had no interest in chess. The 81 year old had decided he would spend the following day constructing a makeshift shelter beside his house and then leave the stadium.

An aftershock hit the county seat as Xiao spoke to me, but he continued talking as if nothing had happened, as did every one else at the shelter.

His decision to return home wasn't prompted by a lack of creature comforts, because "the elderly can endure a lot of hardship", he said. Neither is there anything of value at his home for him to watch over.

He told me that one of his neighbours had already returned home. "Old people just get used to their homes over tens of years, and it is the only place where I feel safe," said Xiao.

Midnight reflections

It was almost midnight, and the temperature in the mountain town was falling rapidly, as was the number of people in front of the TV.

Most of the residents were asleep, but a few doctors were still on duty, ready to receive new patients at any time. The reporters were writing frantically to make their deadlines and an electricity repair crew had just returned to the stadium.

Life resumes in 'isolated island'

Yang Xuxue, 5, reading in the tent that now serves as his home.

The stadium was almost silent, except for the noise of the generator and frequent aftershocks.

A few hours later, the sun would rise and the hustle and bustle would begin all over again. In a few months, Su's baby will be born and Asiman will go to college.

But no one has any idea when they will return to the stadium simply to watch sports rather than to sleep. For now, the battle continues.

Wu Wencong and Peng Yining in Beijing contributed to this story.

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