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Chinese vlogger Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想) posted a short film on Bilibili about his disabled uncle living in a poor rural area of ​​China. This portrait of his resilient and resourceful “uncle” touched the hearts of many netizens and went viral overnight.

A The video posted on Chinese video platform Bilibili on Monday July 25 has gone viral on social media for the inspiring story it tells about a resilient villager who became disabled as a teenager. The video was uploaded by vlogger ‘Yige Caixiang’ (@衣戈猜想) and received over ten million views in one day, becoming the number one video on the Bilibili platform.

“He’s my uncle,” the vlogger can be heard saying at the start of the 11:30 a.m. video, captioned “How my uncle healed my mental friction after being back in the village for three days” (回村三天,二舅治好了我的精神内耗), featuring his elderly uncle and grandmother standing in front of their home “built in a time when the United States didn’t even exist yet”.

While showing footage of family and village life, Yige Caixiang narrates his uncle through a voiceover, recording his own journey to his family’s village by detailing the life of his mother’s brother.

His uncle was the brightest kid in school, he says, always getting top marks. One day, when he was a teenager, he fell ill with a high fever. A doctor from a nearby village “treated” Uncle with various injections in his back, after which Uncle could no longer use his leg and ended up permanently disabled. Depressed and desperate, he did not return to school and spent weeks lying in bed. The village teachers failed to convince him to return to class.

After three years, the uncle came out of the house yard for the first time on his crutches. He was inspired to become a carpenter after seeing one at work in the family yard, and so he also started doing the same job, and was able to earn a living by moving around and doing carpentry work for the villagers. . Never officially diagnosed, he was unable to obtain a disability certificate.

Wanting to visit the Mao Memorial Hall in Tiananmen Square, the uncle once traveled to Beijing and ended up staying with a cousin who worked in the army, doing carpentry work for the soldiers, with whom he s is quickly befriended. A military leader even rubbed his back in the public baths (“Peking people are good at rubbing their backs,” he would say later).

But the uncle eventually returned to his village and was able to attend his sisters’ wedding send-offs and gave them complete furniture sets personally made by him – a rare commodity to have for a rural bride in the 1980s.

Uncle made complete furniture sets.

Besides taking care of his sisters, the uncle also took care of an abandoned village girl named Ning Ning, whom he adopted. By the time she got married, he was able to help the young couple with the down payment for their new family home, for which he invested half of his savings.

“It is only when they are nearing the end of their life that people realize that the greatest regret in life is always to regret the past.”

When the uncle was in his thirties, he met a married woman from a neighboring village. Although she had a husband and two daughters, she spent a lot of time with her uncle and even cooked and cleaned for him. Treating her as if she were his own wife, he handed her his weekly salary and was happy to have a bowl of rice and a warm home waiting for him after a hard day’s work.

But over time, she never divorced her husband, and other family members began to see her as an intruder who was just looking for her money to support her own family. Young Ning Ning even called her an “old fox”.

The end of this particular love story remains a mystery to this day, says Yige Caixiang. The woman and her husband died in a shed due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The uncle never talked about it again and never married another woman.

Over the decades, the uncle cared for his aging mother while doing carpentry work, often taking her with her around the area. Years before, he once met the doctor who tried to “cure” him. If it had happened now, the doctor said, I would have been sued and lost a lot of money. But it would never have happened then, and it never happened later either.

Grandmother, 88, is now struggling with her health and no longer has the energy to continue living. “In aging and illness, we find a necessary exercise between life and death,” the vlogger explains (“老病是生死之间的必要演习”), suggesting that the pain of aging also facilitates peace when one must. gone with life.

Now caring for his elderly mother has become a full-time job for the uncle, who cooks for her and washes her face in the morning and washes her feet in the evening. On top of that, he’s also more than just a carpenter; he’s the village handyman, fixing electronics, door locks, radios, stoves, and even fixing the neighborhood kids’ broken toys. When necessary, he can also be an acupuncturist and a painter.

Whenever there is a problem, Uncle will find a way to solve it. There are only three things he can’t fix, says Yige Caixang: smartphones, cars and computers, because uncle never owned any. Although the villagers sometimes jokingly call Uncle “crooked” because of his leg and his crutches, they all know how much they care about him and how much the whole village depends on him.

In the final part of the 11-minute video, Yige Caixiang reflects on what his uncle’s life might have been like had he not received these injections in the 1970s. went to college and might have become an engineer with a good income and a secure financial future. But uncle doesn’t want to think like that. Refusing to look back, he is happy with his life in the village.

It’s only when they’re nearing the end of their life that people realize that the biggest regret in life is always to regret the past, says Yige Caixiang. What matters in life is not the cards you have been dealt, but how you play them. Uncle received a bad card, but played it beautifully thanks to his continuous improvement and persistence.

In an old notebook under the uncle’s bed, a line of text scribbled on the first page shows a quote from Mao Zedong: “Be determined, fear no sacrifice, and overcome all difficulties to achieve victory” (“下定决心,不怕牺牲,排除万难,去争取胜利”).

“Let the uncle live quietly with grandmother in the small mountain village – this is the most beautiful ending this story can have.”

A day after it was published, the resilient uncle is a hotly-discussed topic on Chinese social media. The overall tone and setting of the video is so uplifting and humiliating that it’s no surprise netizens and state media are jumping on it, as they have done before with stories shared by Ding Zhen, Fan Yusu or Zhong. Jitao.

A hashtag for the short film – “How my uncle healed my mental friction after being back in the village for three days” #二舅治好了我的精神内耗# – received an impressive 630 million clicks on Tuesday. The hashtag “Why did uncle blow up like that” (#二舅为什么突然火了#) received over 140 million views on Weibo.

The vlogger who made and posted the video is best known by his social media handle, Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想). The manufacturer himself did not reveal his real name or that of his uncle. The vlogger was apparently an instructor, as several netizens claim that he was their old history teacher.

Yige Caixiang is no newcomer to Bilibili. As a creator, he has previously uploaded over thirty videos. They are mostly related to science popularization and none of them have exploded like this.

After the video flooded the internet, Yige Caixiang responded to the hype on Tuesday and posted the following on Weibo:

“Hi Weibo friends, many of you have messaged me after seeing Uncle’s video suggesting that I let him go live on a major streaming site. Thank you all for your attention, but now that the uncle is gaining attention online, you want to persuade him to broadcast live what for? Repeat his suffering like Xianglin’s wife (t/n: this is a reference to an old woman in one of Lu Xun’s famous stories), then playing games with a group of people who don’t know anything, kneeling down and begging them to support them, and then suddenly start convincing them to buy paper from Uncle has seriously lived half his life already, I shared his story now, you heard it and it touched you, it makes a nice little story, and it should have a nice ending. Haven’t we seen enough good stories with a rotten ending in the last few years?Let the uncle live alone Howl with grandma in the small mountain village – it’s the most beautiful ending this story can have.

Responding to rumors that the video was inauthentic, Yige Caixiang said of the video that “every word is true” and that none of the details surrounding the uncle’s life have been edited or altered from any way.

The video speaks to internet users for different reasons. Many are inspired by the life lessons it contains about perseverance and not looking back at things that could have been different. Others praise how the uncle was able to save so much money for his daughter’s down payment on her new home despite her struggles. Many applaud the uncle’s unparalleled strength despite their disability. Others appreciate the perspective the video gives on rural Chinese life.

There are also those who worry about eager netizens visiting Uncle in his sleepy hometown. Hopefully, the creator’s wish to let the uncle and his grandmother continue their quiet life together will be the happy ending to this viral story.

To see the video (no subtitles yet), state media China Daily posted it to YouTube on Tuesday (embedded below):

By Manya Koetse
With contributions from Miranda Barnes

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