LI LIU SHENG: I had quite a scary dream this year. I dreamt I was ploughing the field with a hand tractor. There was a water basin next to the field. I was ploughing and ploughing and suddenly I fell into the basin. The hand tractor fell into the water as well. It sank down immediately. I can swim so I was able to get out of the basin. But I was so scared that I woke up. That’s my dream. It always scares me when I dream about ploughing the field. Ploughing can be dangerous sometimes, especially when you have to walk along the narrow paths between the fields. So when I dreamt that I was driving the hand tractor, I got so scared that I woke up.
In 1987 I started working in other cities. I’m from the city of Zhangshu. At that time the economic situation in Zhangshu was very difficult, so many villagers went to other places to find work. Some went to Shenzhen, some to Ningbo, or to other places. I chose Shenzhen. Wherever you go, you always need to know somebody who lives there to introduce you to people, and you need a place to stay. You can’t go anywhere without having a place to stay. So I chose Shenzhen because my brothers were living there. At first it was hard to find a job, so I wasn’t doing anything at the beginning. In my hometown I had always heard other people say good things about Shenzhen, so I thought it must be a good place. But I changed my mind when I went there myself.
In Shenzhen, they check whether you have a residence permit and a work permit. If you have no residence permit, no work permit and no identity card, they call you a “three lack” person. It was quite scary. After I had been there for some time, I found work at a factory and worked there for three years. I don’t have a good education, if I had a better education I could have become production line manager. I worked very hard and gained a lot of experience during those three years, but I couldn’t become production line manager without a higher education. I realized that there was no great advantage to working in a big city because I could only earn about 1000 RMB per month. Later I heard that I could earn the same in my hometown, so I quit work at the factory and went back to my village.
At first I worked in construction. My brothers wanted to build houses for themselves in our village but they had to work in the city and couldn’t go back to the village. So they sent me back to build the houses. When I finished the construction of the houses, I started doing other things. Now I’m working on a lot of different projects but I don’t earn much money. At first I worked on the fields, then I started keeping fish and ducks, I have a pedicab and an engineering truck, and I’m also cultivating plants. I do all these things. Last year was a good year for keeping fish and ducks, but this year was not so good. I lost 20.000 RMB this year on my ducks. After the Olympic Games, all the prices went down. My partner and I are keeping the ducks together and each of us lost 20.000 RMB. The price for fish has also gone down this year. We don’t know what will happen. So we stopped keeping ducks for now because the prices are not stable yet and we don’t want to lose more money. I had to look for something else to do, so I bought the engineering truck. I had my own reason for buying it, because the village is planning to build 25 new houses next year. I don’t know how much work I can get but I will tell the villagers that if they give me work I will offer them lower prices than others because we are from the same village. At least that’s what I thought when I bought the truck, but then I found out that some of the villagers’ relatives also have trucks, so I don’t know how much work I can really get. It may be a little more difficult than I thought.
I don’t know what to say about my situation. I have the truck and I work wherever someone needs it. I hope to get more work next year. I also have the pedicab, which is like a taxi, if someone needs it they call me and I go there. The villagers need to go to the market sometimes, some of them go to the market every three days and they can take my pedicab. Sometimes I just stay at home.