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Grandma returns to school, to teach love

By An Baijie,Sun Ruisheng (China Daily)

13:23, May 22, 2012

Chen Pei'e, 63, helps her epileptic grandson Chen Zhengshan study at home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on May 11. (China Daily/Sun Ruisheng)

Thirteen-year-old Chen Zhengshan has a special "classmate", his 63-year-old grandmother who has accompanied him to every class for the last three years.

Chen Pei'e has been taking care of her grandson, who suffers from epilepsy, for nearly 10 years.

The boy, a fifth-grade student at Bingzhoulu Primary School in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, developed symptoms of epilepsy when he was about three.

His mother left the family several months after the diagnosis, said his grandmother.

After his wife left, his father was so sad that he tried to commit suicide. He was prevented from doing so, but lost the ability to work.

The boy's grandparents have been taking care of him ever since, living in a 60-square-meter apartment in a residential community where gambling and other crimes are rampant.

It proved to be tough work for his grandparents, as he used to experience dozens of seizures a day.

"He could not control himself and twitched on the ground with purple lips caused by lack of oxygen to his brain," said his grandmother. "He might even lose consciousness for a time and need artificial respiration."

Unlike most of his peers who can do things for themselves, he has to live with his grandparents for fear of the recurrent seizures.

"There are no porcelain bowls in my home, since all of them have been broken by my grandson," his grandmother said. "You may not believe that we use basins to hold food."

The disease has also affected the development of his speaking ability, and he can't say most words clearly.

"Some naughty boys mock him and call him a fool, but he is not foolish, and his studies are at an average level," said his grandmother.

The boy said he felt sad being called a fool, but restrained his emotions in front of the other boys and never cried in public.

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