On June 14, 1982, the Falklands War ended. Under the Prime Minister’s Order signed by Margaret Thatcher, British troops travelled all the way from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere to fight the war with Argentina, which was defeated, and the British Empire declared that sovereignty over the Falklands belonged to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In September of the same year, with the aftermath of her victory in the War of the Falklands, Margaret Thatcher visited China. The Chinese leader made it clear that there was no room for manoeuvre over the sovereignty of the Hong Kong River, and thus the Chinese and British sides were at an impasse over the Hong Kong River.
“Even if you really want to go to Hong Kong, you should not have chosen this time. Hong Kong is very unstable right now, and many young people are very much against inland stowaways. You two children…” said Zhang Bingkun with a face full of disapproval.
“Uncle Zhang, Dad has left. My sister and I don’t have any family in Qinghe Town anymore, and now that my sister has run into this kind of thing, she’s not in a very good state of mind right now, we want to go find our mother.” Li Zheng lowered his head and looked a bit lonely.
He certainly wasn’t trying to find Zhao Qihua, but if he told Zhang Bingkun that two minors wanted to live alone, Zhang Bingkun would never agree.
Zhang Bingkun opened his mouth and couldn’t say anything, yeah, the child had no father, he couldn’t stop someone from finding his mother. Not to mention that the child’s mother was still the one he helped run away, even though it was unintentional, he couldn’t hide the fact that he had caused the separation of someone’s family.
“Have you thought it through?”
“Thought about it.” Li Zheng replied affirmatively.
Zhang Bingkun sighed, “Alright, my boat will arrive at the bend on time at 10:30 p.m. The boat will stay for ten minutes, so come if you guys are determined.”
The corner of Li Zheng’s mouth hooked up and his smiling eyes completed a nice curve.
“Thank you, Uncle Zhang.”
When Li Zheng returned home, Zhou Sitian had already prepared lunch, sitting at the table she looked a little restless, seeing Li Zheng return, Zhou Sitian immediately welcomed him.
“Little Zheng, did you really go to see Uncle Zhang?”
Li Zheng nodded, “Sister, there’s a wider world out there, so pack your things. I’ll leave a message for Uncle Zheng and that kid Li Chaoyang.”
Zhou Sitian’s eyes were filled with emotion, in her heart, it was for her that Li Zheng had decided to leave her hometown with determination. She heard that the salary in Xiangjiang was very high, she would definitely be able to take care of her younger brother, Li Zheng was still young, and Teacher Liu even said that his grades had improved last time, Zhou Sitian made up her mind that even if she went to Xiangjiang, she couldn’t let her younger brother fail to learn!
Li Zheng didn’t like the scene of parting, so he didn’t tell anyone when he left. After stuffing the signed fishing boat lease agreement into the door of the Zheng family, and writing a note in Li Chaoyang’s desk saying “I’ll be in touch”, the two left in the night.
Li Zheng and Zhou Simian looked at each other and chose an empty boulder to stand by.
Time passed and not a single person on the shore spoke. Someone took out a cigarette and smoked it in silence, the smell of poor quality nicotine filled the air.
”Here comes the boat!” Suddenly someone shouted in an excited low voice.
Only a short distance away, on the surface of the sea, someone repeated three times with a flashlight in the air, bright and clear, and someone on the shore also pulled out a flashlight to reply accordingly.
A not-so-big motor sailboat stopped at the shore, and several people came down from the boat, led by Zhang Bingkun.
The people on the shore rushed to welcome them.
“Brother Kun, you’ve finally come.” Someone obsequiously handed a cigarette to Zhang Bingkun.
Zhang Bingkun looked in askance at him and casually took the cigarette and threw it behind him, and the boatman behind him, who was as strong as a black tower, took it laughingly and said, “Thank you, Brother Kun.”
“Go up, the old rules, pay first and then get on the boat, if you want to muddle through, it’s best not to be found by us, otherwise the sea is short of food.” Unlike the usually mild Uncle Zhang, today’s Zhang Bingkun had fury between his words.
The crowd responded in succession.
After a warning, Zhang Bingkun walked straight past the crowd towards the two siblings.
“Alas, you guys are still here.” He appeared helpless, “Alright, come with me.”
Saying that, he led the two of them towards the motor sailboat.
The motor sailboat was small, and could only fit fifteen people at full capacity, so excluding Zhang Bingkun and the boatmen, there were only twelve slots left for stowaways.
“Why is there only one slot left, I thought there were three, I can’t leave my wife and children to go by themselves!” A big man suddenly shouted anxiously.
Zhang Bingkun, who had just stepped onto the boat with one foot, just furrowed his brow, he disliked this kind of shouting guest the most.
The black strong boatman saw the situation and slapped the big man in the face, “Shut the fuck up, there’s only one quota, you can go if you like!”
The big man continued, “Two years, I waited two whole years to get three slots!” His voice seemed to come out of his teeth as he looked around, as if he wanted to find the person who took his two slots from the crowd.
Zhang Bingkun side-stepped Li Zheng and Zhou Sitian behind him, “You guys get on the boat first.”
Li Zheng nodded and said sorry to the big man in his heart, and quickly got on the boat.
Due to changes in government policies in China and Hong Kong in recent years, it had become increasingly difficult to do business with the black ferry industry. Many black boats had gone out of business, which made it difficult to get a ticket to Hong Kong, and many people had to wait for months to get a seat. It was not uncommon for people like the big man, who wanted to get three seats at once, to wait for a year or two.
As people gradually boarded the boat, the black strong boatman took a look at the big man and indifferently spoke, “Are you going to board the boat or not?”
The big man had a struggling look on his face.
“Ah Lin, why don’t we not go, the house is fine.” The woman who covered her face with a mask tugged at the big man’s clothes and said, holding a child in her right hand, who looked to be five or six years old.
The big man known as Ah Lin looked at the son in his wife’s hand and didn’t say anything.
The black strong boatman saw the situation and walked back to the boat with a smile, “Brother Kun, you can start the boat.”
Zhang Bingkun nodded and turned to the bow of the boat.
The roar of the engine sounded and Ah Lin looked up sharply, he pulled his wife’s hand away with all his might while quickly running towards the boat.
“Yue’e, I’ll be back for you! I’ll be back for you!” He said as he got into the boat without looking back.
Yue’e let out a mournful cry, and the child’s cries rang out in the night….
Zhou Sitian tugged tightly on Li Zheng’s arm without a trace of expression on her face. Ever since the Zhou Deqing incident, Zhou Sitian had lost her innocence had matured all of a sudden. There were some things one just had to fight for, and even if you’re not living comfortably, why should you be more sympathetic to others.
Looking at the slowly disappearing lights of Qinghe Town in front of her, she secretly said, I will come back, Dad, when I come back, I will prove your innocence and let those people know that you are not a murderer but a hero who saved a life!
Li Zheng didn’t know that after the accident, his cheap sister was changing from one extreme to the other. He turned around on the boat’s railing and pondered what would happen after his arrival in Hong Kong.
Prior to October 23, 1980, the Hong Kong government had imposed a “hard-line policy” that allowed illegal immigrants from the mainland to stay legally in Hong Kong if they could evade capture by the Chinese and Hong Kong governments and reach downtown Hong Kong. However, with the change of circumstances, after 23 October 1980, the Hong Kong Government announced the abolition of the Barrier Policy and adopted the policy of immediate deportation upon arrest. All illegal immigrants were repatriated immediately upon discovery.
In other words, even if Li Zheng and the others arrived in Hong Kong, they were all illegal immigrants. Obtaining a legal Hong Kong residence permit was the first problem he had to solve before he was found to be deported.
Zhang Bingkun came over, he patted Li Zheng’s shoulder, “Hungry, Uncle Zhang has a midnight snack here, you guys can go down with me.”
The motor sailboat was just this big, so naturally the cabin could only hold seven or eight people. However, ordinary passengers were not allowed to go down to the cabin, and normally only two crew members besides Zhang Bingkun could come down, so it was quite spacious.
“These are the two younger members of my family, you guys also help keep an eye on them.” Zhang Bingkun introduced them to the two shipwrights in this way.
The two boatmen nodded smilingly, on the shore it was dark and they couldn’t see clearly, now upon closer inspection, these two boatmen had dark skin and slightly curly hair, they should be Vietnamese.
“You guys just call them Ah Da Ah Er.”
Li Zheng and Zhou Sitian nodded and called out “big brother Ah Da, big brother Ah Er”, causing them to curl their mouths with laughter.
After eating some of the ship’s midnight snack, Zhang Bingkun brought the two of them to a small compartment in the cabin and opened the door.
“Don’t be put off, Uncle Zhang has already gone through the whole thing once, but it still has a smell. Sitian, you live here, Little Zheng, you can sleep outside with me.” Zhang Bingkun showed two points of embarrassment, he was a big man, not so refined, plus the cabin was not well ventilated, the smell would naturally not be good.
Zhou Sitian smiled, “Uncle Zhang you are really good at joking, this is already clean.” Compared to the passengers who could only sleep on the deck in the cold, they were already very happy.
Zhou Sitian slept in Zhang Bingkun’s room, while Zhang Bingkun and Li Zheng slept outside. In the middle of the night, Li Zheng was woken up by a pressing need, looking around, he didn’t see any place where he could conveniently go, he sighed and resignedly put on his jacket and walked to the deck.
As he was preparing to relieve himself, a cold voice suddenly sounded behind him.
“It’s you guys, isn’t it! You’re the ones who took my spot.”