Blind farmer faces life head on with a smile
When asked whether he would still come to this life if he knew the hardships that await him, Zhang Xiping, a 58-year-old blind egg farmer, smiled and said, "Of course I would come! I accept what is mine. Even if I know what it's going to be like beforehand, I would come and live it to the fullest."
Zhang was selected to be one of the 2022 Chinese Filial Piety figures during the 8th Chinese Filial Piety Cultural Festival held in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province earlier this month, according to chinanews.com.
He has been raising chickens and selling eggs to support his adopted daughter and now 87-year-old mother for the past 38 years.
For nearly four decades, he has maintained a single daily routine, waking up at 5 am in the morning, riding a bus for two hours, and walking from street to street to sell his farm produce.
A photo shows Zhang Xiping being selected to be one of the 2022 Chinese Filial Piety figures during the 8th Chinese Filial Piety Cultural Festival held in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, on Aug 13, 2022. [Photo/chinanews.com]
Zhang was born in 1964 in the village of Mawang, Chang'an district of Xi'an city, Shaanxi province. He was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at birth and darkness accompanied him his entire life.
"Ever since I started to understand my circumstances, I have always been thinking about what I can do to lighten the burden of my family," said Zhang.
From doing manual labor on construction sites to gathering sand at the bottom of river beds, Zhang recounted that he had already done many jobs before he turned ten.
"My father passed away early and it was hard for my mother to raise me by herself. I wanted to make big money so that my mother could live comfortably, but my disability affects my options," said Zhang.
In 1984, Zhang, barely in his twenties, heard that his sister-in-law was raising chicken and selling eggs, so Zhang decided to learn and master the trade himself.
Every night, he would spend three hours sorting out the eggs for sale the next day, stacking each one carefully on top of another inside two baskets.
Every morning, he would get on a bus carrying the two baskets, weighing over 90 kilograms, and head to a market street more than 30 kilometers away from home.
The back-and-forth trip was not as easy as Zhang's relaxing and joyful demeanor make it out to be. He told a reporter that he often ran into electric poles and had fallen into sewage systems and even deep wells before becoming familiarized with the new areas.
"Every day I walk more than 30,000 steps, pass by hundreds of streets. I know where to turn and where to find regular customers. It's all imprinted in my mind," said Zhang.
Through Zhang's effort, he has made a good living for himself, taken care of his mother, and even afforded to build a two-story house for his family to live in.
In 1990, Zhang adopted an abandoned baby and named her Zhang Xiaomei.
"When I think about how a baby was abandoned by her parents, my heart aches. Though I live on a tight budget, I still wanted to help her," said Zhang Xiping.
By selling eggs, Zhang Xiping provided for his adopted daughter. She was eventually admitted into a college, got married, and had two sons.
Zhang told a reporter that although his physical disability made him inevitably experience more hardships in life than normal people, he felt kindness from those around him.
One time, a group of students from a school designed a cart for Zhang to hold his egg baskets, so he no longer had to use a carrying pole.
"As a disabled person, I don't have much to give back to others. When I die, I will donate my body to the hospital for scientific research and contribute my own strength to society," said Zhang.
In the meantime, Zhang expressed his desire to continue his routine, "I am used to it and the sales can support my family's living expense. Not to mention, many customers only want to buy their eggs from me because they want to support me. I know they will be there waiting for me to come every day."