The Price Paid for My Dream – The Heart’s Voice of a Guest Worker Abroad – Return to God
Lin Liang, Japan
A Word of My Child Distressed and Saddened Me
One day in December of 2016, I opened the computer as ever, preparing to have a webcam chat with my child. After it connected, my mother-in-law pointed at me and said to my child, “This is your dad. Call him quickly.” However, she avoided the webcam, unwilling to see me. Then my mother-in-law tried again to persuade her to chat with me, and I also called her in front of the screen. But suddenly, my child said, “No, I don’t know him.” At the moment when I heard that, I was stunned. I simply felt my nose twitched and tears nearly started falling. Fearing that my family would notice, I tried to be casual about it, saying, “No matter; maybe next time.”
After finishing the webcam chat, I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer. It had never occurred to me that my three-year-old child actually said such a word as “I don’t know him.” In that instant, I felt really grieved. In order to create a happy life for my family, however hard my work and however great the pressure, I had never cried. But today, my child’s word … her word shattered my dream, and I felt these two years of hardship and toil became totally meaningless. At that time, lying on the bed, I feebly thought back on every bit of these years …
Recall the Time When I Came to Japan With Dream
I don’t know when, and there arose a craze for working abroad in my hometown. Seeing my relatives and some friends around me had earned some money through working in Japan, I was unable to resist the temptation, thinking to myself, “I’m no worse than them. Moreover, I have a skill. I need only to endure hardships, and I will surely make a fortune after several years of struggling. Meanwhile, as a man, it’s my responsibility to give my family a happy life.” So, after discussing with my family members, I chose to work abroad.
In May of 2014, I had made all the arrangements for it. Then, with my family and friends’ expectations for me, I boarded a plane to Japan. Looking at the blue sky through the cabin window, I was extremely excited. It was the first time that I fought abroad for my dream. I thought: As long as I’m willing to work hard and manage to repay the housing loan in a year, then I will be able to save money beginning from the second year. Afterward, I can buy some storefronts for rent or to start a restaurant business myself. Gradually, our life will become happier and happier.
Two hours later, the plane arrived at Hiroshima Airport. I was dumbfounded immediately as soon as I landed. The surrounding men all spoke Japanese, and I couldn’t understand any of their words. It was not until I saw my boss at the exit that I breathed a sigh of relief. Seeing my boss drive a BMW to pick me up, I was somewhat excited, thinking that my working place should also be good since the boss was so rich. At that time, those flourishing and bustling cities, like Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya, began to flicker in my mind, dazzling and inimitably brilliant. What will my working place be like? I suppose it, at the very least, should be a building with hotel suites. … I was dreaming excitedly in the car.
So Great Was the Distance Between Dream and Reality
After an hour and a half or so, my boss told me with gestures that in front of us was the city where I would work. Looking up at everything around me, I didn’t see the expected high buildings or flourishing cities of feasting and revelry. Instead, the street grew constantly narrower so that I just felt myself entering a remote county town. At this time, my heart sank. When the car stopped, I was stunned. I was greeted by a store over 100 square meters. Is this the place where I’ll realize my dream? I was at a loss whether to cry or to laugh, but I had to face the reality. After I was settled, I was informed that I would be paid only 180,000 yen every month. Excluding the rent, living expenses, the utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses, there would be not much left. At that moment, a sudden chill overcame me. However, thinking that I left home with my family’s expectations and with high aspirations, in order for my family to live a happy life, I determined to keep it up anyhow.
After coming to work, because I did not know Japanese, many problems in my work and life defied solution. I was thus very worried. I couldn’t understand what others said nor make myself understood. These practical difficulties I confronted pained me a little. What’s more, seeing the goods in supermarkets were all priced at a few hundred or over one thousand yen, even a handful of leeks priced over one hundred yen, I felt more distressed. I often pedaled my bicycle, traveling long distances, just for finding cheaper ones. When resting from my labors, I would take food home from restaurants, and then simply make some noodles for dinner. At times, having worked hard for a whole day, I had no appetite and didn’t feel inclined to eat after a few mouthfuls of food. Occasionally, when I was busy with work, I even missed meals. My weight was reduced by 10 kilograms in two months. Later, I began to have a stomachache. Sometimes I suffered so much that sweat dripped from my face; yet I could only grit my teeth and persevere. In order to earn more money, I usually worked overtime. Having stood for over ten hours every day, I was so tired that I had a sore back. Moreover, as time went by, the veins in my legs became swollen and painful. Despite working like hell and living frugally, I still failed to earn much money when half a year was over. I hence got somewhat discouraged: If this continues, I will be unable to repay the debts, not to mention living a happy life. The language barrier, the pressure of being in debt, and bodily discomfort—all of this assailed me with pain and depression. Many a time I was desirous to return home, but whenever I thought of my child to be born soon and my wife full of hope for me, as well as the debts to be paid, I had no choice but to grit my teeth and carry on with the work.
For My Child’s Sake, I Expended With Willingness
In November of 2014, my child was born and I was finally a dad. I felt exceedingly excited, itching to fly back home to see her and keep my wife company. However, as a new worker here, I didn’t have a vacation to go back yet. Therefore, I could only bury my yearning for them in my heart and stay here to continue making money. After my child was born, I watched her photos every day and felt myself full of juice. I told myself that I had to strive to earn money so she could grow up happily and joyfully since birth. Hence, I requested to work overtime on my own initiative. The boss said I would break down if I went on like this, but I thought it was nothing for me to suffer the pain and exhaustion, as long as I could earn money. Thus, from the time when my child was born until when she was able to creep and then to walk, never had I gone back. In this way, I had been striving hard for my dream and never stopped my steps. But today, when she said, “I don’t know him,” I really felt all the painstaking effort I had made appeared meaningless. All the price I had paid actually brought me pain and no happiness to anyone, including myself.
Reflections After My Child’s Word Striking My Heart
In the following days, my child’s word echoed inside my head every day. Besides, my wife also blamed me for not having accompanied her when she needed me most. Thinking back, since I came to Japan, my thoughts were all fixed on how to earn money and my heart was entangled with sundry cumbersome things, such that I was in no mood to consider my family’s feelings at all. But I, as a husband and a father, had done my utmost to give my family a good life. There was nothing wrong with what I did, but why such a result of today? I felt myself limp and weak, losing my life direction. Just then, I was told by my colleague that our store would change hands. The news hit me like another thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Can I continue to work here when we have a new boss? My work visa will expire before long; can I extend it? If not, I will have no choice but to return home. What should I do then? All of this was beyond my control, and I suddenly felt somewhat at a loss. Only then did I perceive the fact that actually I merely possessed dreams, but nothing more, and I could control nothing in actual life.
One day in January of 2017, as I was surfing WeChat, feeling bored, a friend who believed in God sent a message to me and asked what had become of me. Thereupon we started to talk and I poured all my distress out. Then my friend asked me, “What have you gained in the process of obsessively pursuing happy life? And what have you lost? Even though your dream comes true, will you feel real happiness?” My friend’s questions spoke to my heart instantly. It is true! I work so desperately, but what have I got? And what have I lost? In these three years I have skimped and saved, worked overtime, and thus got some money in return. Nonetheless, my health has been deteriorating. I have lost health and missed the chance of accompanying my family, and my life has also become increasingly stressful. Now even my own child disowns me. Over these past few years, I not only fail to obtain happiness but have been plunged into deeper misery.