XIA JIE: Most of my dreams are about my mother. I had always been living with her, almost without interruption, so I had a very deep relationship with her. When she died, I always dreamt of her, especially when I missed her. Sometimes I dream that she is cooking, as she did in real life, sometimes I dream that she is living in a house that’s all broken and run down. Here in China we burn paper money for the dead, or invite them to eat dinner with us, so I do that in order to get some consolation. That’s what I usually dream about.
    I’ve been living under pretty bad conditions ever since I was a child. I always hoped I could change my situation and that of my family through my own effort, and I often dream about that as well. Here people believe that when you dream about a flood, or about going to the toilet, that means money will come, it’s a good sign. So every time I feel this desire to change my situation, I will dream about these things. Once I dreamt I went to the toilet and there was a lot of shit coming out of it, I almost drowned in shit. When I woke up, I felt that things would change for the better. Sometimes I don’t dream anything like that for a while. But every time I feel this desire, the dreams will return, especially when I’m in a difficult economic situation. I don’t know if this is instinct or inspiration, but I have such dreams quite often.
    I remember one dream about going to the toilet. Usually, a toilet is quite a small space, but in my dream I was in a big bathroom. At first, I couldn’t find the toilet, and when I found it I saw that it was full of shit. It almost spilled out over me. But I didn’t panic because I knew this meant that things would change for the better. I stayed there, swimming in the shit, doing whatever. I have lots of dreams like this.
    Since my mother passed away, I dream about her maybe once a year. I’d think that dreaming about my mother should be a pleasant thing, but I’m always unhappy before I dream about her. Then, when I wake up afterwards, I always feel that she’s taking care of me, even though she’s gone. I feel her soul is taking care of me, I can feel that. That’s why I’m optimistic about my life.
    After all, I have quite a happy life. Even though I’m disabled. But I’m never pessimistic. I got disabled when I was about a year old, I didn’t know what misery meant or what would happen in the future, so I didn’t know what it meant to be a disabled person. As time went by, I went to school, then I got a job, and later I started my own business. At the very beginning, it was pretty difficult, but that’s normal of you want to achieve something. There are always problems and obstacles on the way, but I keep a good attitude, even though sometimes I may be sad about some aspect of life. Sometimes things get worse, sometimes they get better, but all in all, life is treating me well.
    I used to think that I’d never find a wife, but I was wrong. I used to think that as a human being, and as a man, I had to be responsible. If my economic situation wasn’t good, if I didn’t have a house, if I couldn’t support a woman and provide for her life, then I wouldn’t marry, I thought. There is an old saying: “If you marry a man, make sure he has food and clothes.” If a woman married me and I had no food and no clothes, that would be my problem. I always thought that. Many people wanted to introduce me to women, but I rejected all of them.
    Later, when I started my own business, I really felt it was too hard for me to do it on my own. Then I met my wife. She did it with me. Another person means more strength, and another brain. She helped me a lot, especially while I went through the most difficult time in my business. After that, it always went quite smoothly. Then we had a child. We live with my mother-in-law. We’re happy.
    When our situation was more stable and we were happy as a family, I felt I should do something to satisfy my spirit. I wanted to help other people, so I joined the association for the disabled. It’s a non-profit organisation that helps disabled people. I’m still working for them until this day. If I look back on my life, I think I’m happy. I get confirmation from my colleagues and from my supervisors. My economic situation isn’t perfect, but I’m happy. As you said, I don’t look like a disabled person. After all, whether you’re happy or not depends on your attitude. I always keep a positive attitude, no matter what I do, I believe I can do it well. My son is in high school now, he is 1,80 tall, he’s a healthy boy and a good pupil. My wife is working at a school and I have my rickshaw business, so we have a certain income. As long as it’s enough to keep us alive, it’s all right. In my spare time, I do things to help other people and that also makes me happy. So I’m happy every day. You always see me with a smile on my face.