Oh, I carried water often enough when I was alive. Not looking like this, though. Wear a posh robe to water the fields? Me, a peasant farmer? Hoicked-up grubby hessian'd be more my style.
Maybe I shouldn't have encouraged him to go off and get himself educated, but you always want better for them, don't you? By the time I died we didn't really have anything in common. Didn't see him more than once a year, and even then I made him feel uncomfortable. After all, I couldn't read, more than a bit.
I wasn't always a farmer. When I was fifteen or sixteen I was a soldier. We all were, then: well, it was the time of the Long March, wasn't it? We were going to change the world. And we did, I suppose. Though what I remember most about that time - apart from the comradeship - was the sheer bloody hardness of it. Torn feet and aching muscles. Hunger. Dragging carts with ropes across our shoulders (we'd eaten the buffaloes by then). Weariness and endless labour and forever moving on. I don't really remember any fighting, just marching. You could say I lived through famous times. And survived. A lot didn't.
There's one memory which comes back to me vividly. It was night, and we were camped near a river. The weather was filthy just then, with driving rain. Me and Chen were out scouting for food (something you always did every time you stopped) so when we caught a kind of bleat on the wind, we scrambled down the river-bank to have a look. We were hoping it might be a trapped animal. It wasn't, though. It was a baby.
Pretty new, to judge by the tied-off cord.
It's usually girls that get put out, but this was a boy. Nobody around (we looked) so it had definitely been left. The mother must have had some reason - rape, maybe, and family shame, stuff like that. What you're supposed to do when you find yourself in that situation, is just turn your head away and pretend not to have seen anything.
I couldn't, though. I mean, he was open-eyed and looking at me. And kicking.
There was a woman in the cooks' train who helped me sort out how to feed him and what to do to keep him alive. As time went by (because he did stay alive; as stubborn as me, maybe) he became a kind of mascot for everyone: our good-luck charm, people said. But it was accepted that he was mine.
He must have been three years old by the time that piece of history was over and we all scattered. I found us a bit of land to work, and we settled. If anyone wanted to know, I let them think I'd been married but she died (it was common enough) so that was that. I did get a wife later but we didn't have any more children. And no, I didn't tell him - why would I? He never asked. Maybe somebody occasionally wondered why he wasn't potato-faced like me, or where his brains came from, but they could always assume it was from his mother's side, couldn't they?
He's done well for himself.
And now there's this stilly statue. It's a symbol of his status, of course, not mine. Like I said - twat.
Kind of ironic, though, that it's all about water.
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