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Published:April 2nd, 2006 19:21 EST
Black Umbrella, Red Umbrella

Black Umbrella, Red Umbrella

By qing ye

Twenty years ago, an ordinary black umbrella could be something very precious for a child like me.  My family lived in a coastal city in southeastern China where it rained a lot, especially in spring.


I did not know how much it would cost to buy an ordinary umbrella.  However, I did know if I lost my umbrella, my parents would blame me.  There were four people in my family: mom, dad, my brother, and I. We had four umbrellas, which meant there was no extra umbrella in my house.


Everyone in my house needed an umbrella when it rained.  Mom and dad needed them to go to work; my brother and I needed them to go to school.  There was no school bus at that time.  It took us about fifteen minutes to go to school on foot.


My mom used bright red thread to embroider my first name “Qing” on the umbrella.  Many people had black umbrellas and they looked almost the same; my mom didn’t want me to take my classmate’s umbrella by mistake.


 On rainy days, after I arrived at my school, I always put my umbrella on my desk: my umbrella had a curved handle and I could hang it on my desk.  I tried to be very careful not to lose my umbrella.


One day, two boys in my class fought at recess, and one of them used my umbrella as a “weapon”.  When I saw my umbrella broken, I was so sad and upset.


I did not want to report the event to my teacher, as I did not want the two boys to be scolded.  Our teacher was a very strict woman and I did not know what kind of punishment they would get if I reported to her.  However, I didn’t want be scolded by my parents, either.


“It is not my fault,” I said to myself, “Maybe my parents will not blame me for that”.  However, I knew either buying a new umbrella or having the broken one repaired needed money.  I really didn’t want my parents to spend money on it.  


That day, I was on duty, which meant that three classmates and I needed to clean the classroom after class.  As I began to clean the classroom, I was a little glad to see the rain had stopped; at least I would not be wet in the rain with a broken umbrella.


Soon, the work was done.  As I was locking the door, I saw SOMETHING in one corner of the room.  It was an umbrella!  A black umbrella!  One of my classmates left his or her umbrella.  It happened a lot to little kids—whenever it was time to go home and the rain had stopped, some of them would forget to bring their umbrellas home.  


I opened the umbrella and looked at it carefully.  It looked the same as mime if mine had not been broken.  “Maybe I can take this one home and tomorrow I can use it if it rains again,” I thought to myself.
I snatched the umbrella tightly and ran home.  No one in my house noticed that I was a little different that day; I tried to be calm, though I could hear my heartbeat clearly.


My teacher asked me to go to her office the next afternoon.  One girl in my class reported her loss of umbrella.  I did not know how my teacher knew that it was me who took--I would never use the word “stole”--her umbrella home.  Maybe it was because the classmates who did the cleaning with me saw me take the umbrella.  Maybe it was because my broken umbrella was still hanging on my desk.


My teacher told me that I had made a very serious mistake and I was expected to come to school with one of my parents the next day; my teacher wanted to talk about my mistake.  My face was completely red when I came home that day.  I had no choice but to tell my parents the truth.


Neither my mom nor my dad scolded me.  They just told me not to take others’ stuff home anymore, and they promised to buy me a new umbrella soon.  I wished my mom gave me a hug, but she did not.
I returned the umbrella to the girl and I was too nervous to remember the words she said to me.  Maybe she did not say word to me.  However, I do remember that she did not say anything bad to hurt me.  She was still one of my best friends after that.


I remember the name of the boy who destroyed my umbrella.  Sometimes the picture of him haunted my mind.  I decided to keep his name as a secret since I had already forgiven him.


My parents bought me a new red umbrella and I became happy again.