How poetry heals the soul

08:21, March 12, 2010      

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Wu Liguang reads his poems in front of Zhengzhou Orthopaedics Hospital on March 2. Photo: Courtesy of Wang Yong

Last Tuesday outside a hospital in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, a small crowd collected around Wu Liguang as he stood, weakened by illness, bravely reading poems he had penned during his hospitalization.

Through this exercise of courage, Wu expressed his fears, hopes and gratitude for his family's sacrifice while at the same, hoped that he could encourage people to help his poor family cover the tens of thousands in medical bills.

Free verse

Though initially discouraged by his father, Wu, a 22 year-old mechanics science junior at Henan Quality and Engineering Vocational College in Pingdingshan, suffering from a fatal degenerative bone disease, stood in front of Zhengzhou Orthopaedics Hospital for half an hour reading poems he wrote during his treatment with titles such as "Choose to be a Strong Man", "My Father" and "Memory Given by Life."

"Reading poems is a way to encourage myself to be strong. Seeing my strong will, my family will be less worried about me," said Wu.

"While reading, I found myself tearing up and had more confidence in myself," he said.

As he read, a crowd collected around him including hospital security and staff.

"All of them showed sympathy to my son. On one hand, I feel guilty that I can't earn enough money to help him; on the other hand, I'm grateful for the help of such warm-hearted people and am very proud of my son," said 50-year-old Wu Jinfu, Wu's father.

After local media covered Wu's story, a group of five local residents came to visit and make a donation.

"The ladies said they have sons my age in college. They comforted my family and encouraged us to be strong, and didn't even leave their names," Wu said.

Money woes

As of Thursday, Wu Liguang has received more than 8,000 yuan ($1,172) in donations. But the money is still far from enough to cover his medical treatment, which amounts to at least 500 yuan a day.

Wu's family comes from a small village in Xiaping town, Xihua county, Henan Province, where they live on agriculture and day labor, only able to earn 10,000 yuan a year. The family of six still manages to support its three students including two attending university.

"Every year, my father has to borrow money to support the family. Although he's happy to see us healthy and safe, he gets anxious whenever our new terms start, " Wu Liguang said.

To help reduce the economic burden on his family, Wu Liguang worked as a machine operator in a factory in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province during the winter holidays. However due to his illness, Wu would often feel his limbs would suddenly give out. Even when walking on flat roads, he would fall from lack of strength.

Road to recovery

Before this Spring Festival, Wu consulted doctors at a local hospital who referred him to Zhengzhou Orthopaedics Hospital due to the severity of the disease. He was diagnosed and hospitalized on February 14, forcing his father to borrow 37,000 yuan from relatives.

"After I was checked into the hospital, I was worried about how my illness would burden my family. I can't fall asleep at night, so I write poems to distract myself. I've written more than 10 poems, editing them again and again," Wu said.

"But I've never though of publishing them, they're not good enough."

Learning about his illness, Wu's classmates visited him offering small donations to his family, but he thoughtfully declined.

"They have no income and like me are supported by their families who have no much money also."

As the new semester has already started, Wu looks forward to recovering and returning to campus.

"On the day I check out of the hospital, I'll read my poems here again as a token of my appreciation to the people who helped me through this unforgettable experience," he said.

Source: Global Times/Agencies
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