Grandmother, Er Su W. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Almost everybody has a hero – someone to admire and to emulate. Heroes always think of others before themselves. They give the best to those they care about and are always willing to do what’s right. They work to the best of their abilities and never back away because they fear failure. They always offer assistance, knowing that even the smallest word of encouragement can make a big difference. But most importantly, ­heroes are strong people who never give up, even when their life is hanging by a thread. My hero is my grandmother, Er Su.

When the Japanese attacked China during World War II, my grandmother was about my age, but compared to me, she was a much stronger and more determined person.

When my grandma was eight, her parents sold her to a rich family to work as their maid. They did not have enough money to raise her, along with her two siblings, so they had to give two of their children away. But she did not whine or throw a tantrum. She understood what she had to do, and so she entered a whole new family.

Four years later, that fateful day came.

“Run! Go!” one of the villagers cried. My grandmother, shocked and scared, trampled across a weedy field in her old cloth shoes. “Quickly,” the woman urged. My grandmother did not know this woman but chose to do as she said as other women followed too. She didn’t have time to think.

Japanese soldiers were piling into the village and, as the men tried to fight back, everybody else ran to hide. It wasn’t as if hiding helped though. With their guns and knives, the troops rummaged through every house, searching for treasure and food. Everybody was scared, for nobody wished to meet death. However, the women of the village were especially frightened.

At the top of a hill, my grandma saw a girl kneeling next to the village well with her hands in the moist, soft dirt. Her fingers dug into the ground and with handfuls of dirt she soiled her clothes.

“What are you doing?” my grandmother asked as the girl covered her legs and spread the brown earth over her skin.

“Do this or the Japanese will get you,” she whispered as she rubbed moist soil on her face. “Quickly. They’ll be looking for girls.”

My grandma furrowed her eyebrows as the girl ran her muddy fingers through her hair. “What do you mean?”

“They’ll rape you,” the girl replied and she hastily returned her focus to making herself look filthy.

My grandmother looked into her eyes. They convinced her that she was telling the truth but, even more, showed immense fear. Grandma dug her fingers into the soft ground and clutched a handful of dirt. She closed her eyes and smeared it on her face, feeling a cool sensation as the dirt touched her skin. She grimaced as she wiped her hands over her legs, staining her pants brown.

When she heard hundreds of soldiers marching in the distance, she lay on the ground as others scurried elsewhere, fearing the worst as she closed her eyes.

Heroes are people who are determined, hopeful, and strong-willed. They don’t choose to be brave but just are. Against all odds, they stick to it, no matter how scary or puzzling a situation may be. Heroes are ordinary people, just like my grandmother, Er Su.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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SaveToday said...
Sept. 13, 2008 at 9:58 pm
I love this article! It's amazing!!
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