A 7-year-old girl will never forget the 5 years of kindness she received from the owner of a noodle restaurant. When she returned after 25 years, she treated him like a father and protected him for the rest of his life.
65-year-old Dong Nianhe formerly owned a noodle restaurant that he has been operating for decades. He is not married and does not have any children. He’s been receiving $7,855.00 (50,000 yuan) a month from an unnamed sender for 5 years. Since he saved all of the money, he now has more than $100,000.00. Dong Nianhe’s neighbors were envious of him because of this anonymous gift, yet no one knew who sent the money until a woman came forward one day.
Dong Nianhe had a noodle restaurant 25 years ago. Every afternoon, he’d see a young girl, about 7 years old, standing in front of his restaurant, hungry. She would stare at the pot where he cooked, and Dong Nianhe would give her a glance that meant he understood.
One day, when there were not many customers in his store, he saw the small girl again in his shop. He cooked a bowl of noodles and went up to her. “Hungry? Come, eat while it’s hot.” “Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with this, I’m not a bad person,” he said when the little girl hesitated at first. “I, I…have no money,” she said, raising her hands in the air. Grandpa once told me that you can’t accept other people’s things if you don’t have anything to give back. Even if you accept it, you must exchange it for something of equal worth.” So she refused.
He noticed that Yin Canlian, the little girl, had nothing to offer in exchange for the noodles. Her clothes had patches all over them. So Dong Nianhe put the noodles on the ground and reminded her it was free. Not need to pay. However, the young girl did not take any of the free food that was offered to her. Instead, she ran. Dong Nianhe was curious and went around asking for anyone who knew the little girl. It turns out that 5 years ago, her parents went out to work and never came back. She’d been living with her grandfather since then, and they were dependant on one another while living in a dilapidated house. She worked on the farm and cooked dinner when she got home from school. Dinner is usually only a pot of white porridge.
Dong Nianhe was heartbroken, so he came up with a plan he knew the little girl would like. When he saw Yin Canlian again, he said, “As long as you teach me to write a word every day, I could give you a bowl of noodles.” “Can I write two?” she asked timidly, as she couldn’t believe he had come up with such a fantastic idea. I’d want to exchange for two bowls of noodle soup.” Dong Nianhe knew she had to give her grandfather the other bowl of noodles, so he cheerfully said, “Of course, you can.” When the customers saw this, they mocked him, saying, “Hey, Boss Dong, let’s get us ten bowls of noodles first, then we’ll show you how to write a hundred words.” Instead of retaliating, Dong Nianhe just kept silent.
Since then, every day for a bowl of noodles, Yin Canlian has come to teach Dong Nianhe some new words, and this exchange has lasted for 5 years. Though after she graduated from elementary school, Dong Nianhe noticed that she no longer passed by his restaurant. Her granddad and she have disappeared. He discovered that Yin Canlian’s distant relative took them in and brought them to the city.
Fast forward 25 years later
Dong Nianhe’s small noodle restaurant has grown into a local speciality snack shack, and he has also reached the age of 60. His 2 marriages ended in divorce because he couldn’t bear children when he was young, and he never had children. He’d grown up without a family, and it was lonely for him. But he has been wondering who has been sending him US $7,855.00 (50,000 yuan) per month for the past 5 years because no letter or note is included. Neighbors have noticed and are jealous of his money, though they have told him to close his noodle shop and stop working.
Dong Nianhe never mentioned to them why he was still working at his noodle restaurant. He was still waiting for the girl he saw across the street in the early afternoon. Although the establishments across from his noodle restaurant have changed, she may still wait there. “Because I’m waiting for someone,” he muttered to himself. I’m afraid she won’t make her way here if the noodle shop is closed. Dong Nianhe still waited in front of his restaurant every afternoon for the little girl with the red schoolbag. Even though it’s been a long time, he remembers her like it was yesterday.
The establishments in the neighborhood where the noodle shop was located were about to be demolished recently. At this point, Dong Nianhe has become absent-minded when he was working. “The batter is batter, boss, the batter is batter,” they told him often. He would always stare across the street to the spot where the little girl stood. When he looked one day, he was surprised. The tableware and chopsticks he was carrying fell to the ground. She was right there! She may have grown older, but he knew the little schoolgirl with the red bag as her. The woman entered his noodle shop with tears in her eyes and said, “Dad, I’m back!”
Dong Nianhe ran over to her. In his heart, his daughter has returned. He then discovered that she has been returning to his neighborhood every month since she started working, secretly watching him at his noodle restaurant and sending him money when she gets her salary. She gladly paid him back with a bowl of noodles for the kindness he has shown her over the five years. He was willing to help her during her most difficult time as a kid.
Adult Yin Canlian had a reason to return now that Dong Nianhe is an elderly man in need of someone to care for him. She said to him, “Dad! For five years, you were kind to me. When I was starving, you fed me. I will now protect you for the rest of your life!”