Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late | 来日方长并不长

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After I signed, the director said to his assistant doctor, “Please switch my shift. I’ll perform the surgery for this young lady.”

His family name was Zhang. His hands left me with a deep impression, as they were the nicest male hands I have ever encountered—long, slim and straight. I joked with Director Zhang, saying it’s really a pity for his hands not to play the piano.

He laughed, musing that he took to the scalpel instead.

I was injected with a bit more anesthetic during the operation. Director Zhang asked me if I was still awake.

“Sure, I am. If you don’t believe me, I will recite a poem by Li Bai to you.”

“Ok, how about ‘Quiet Night Thought’?”

“That’s too simple. I will recite ‘Hard Roads in Shu.'” All the present medical staff was amused by me.








Photo by Xuan Duong on Pixabay


After my operation, Director Zhang was on duty the entire week. He would visit me and chat with me for a while every day. When he finally changed a fresh dressing for my surgical wound, I was amazed to find that there was no trace of stitching around it. I asked him, “Was it glued?”

He replied, “For a lively girl like you, I won’t allow an ugly scar to be left on your ankle, so I sewed your wound with catgut. Once healed, your body will absorb the catgut. I set two nails into your ankle to fix the two bones so that they grow well as if not broken. But remember, you need to come back to me again in a year to take the nails out. “

We became friends after I left the hospital. Only then did Director Zhang tell me, “You know? I was not on duty that week. I just changed my shift. It seemed that you were my patient during the week, but actually, you were my doctor when I chatted with you. Your optimistic spirit could help people recover.”




Photo by Karl Egger ? Enns on Pixabay


Time flies, and three years had passed imperceptibly, during which I lived a hustling and bustling life. Director Zhang kept reminding me that I should have an operation to take the nails out as soon as possible, or it would be too late. I was too busy during that period and was always on business trips. I even wondered how it could be too late to take out the nails. After all, they won’t get rusty. Without thinking much of it, I went to Nanjing on business again.

Four days later, after I came back from Nanjing, I heard the tragedy that Director Zhang had passed away. People all gathered around the gate of Xuanwu Hospital to send him off.

I was overwhelmingly shocked at that moment. A living person who still chatted with me a few days ago—cheerfully and jokingly—disappeared all of a sudden. Four days ago, the last message he left with me was still the same as before: “I will take out your nails as soon as you come back, or it will be too late.”

That day, at the gate of Xuanwu Hospital, I wailed. The running cars and crowds on the streets faded out at dusk. That moment, I understood distinctively a truth: Don’t wait until it’s too late.





Photo by Kampen on Pixabay


Today, the appearance of Director Zhang has blurred in my mind. But his hands always come into my mind. Those long and slim fingers, just like the ones of a pianist. It was the pair of hands that had sewn my wound seamlessly.

Director Zhang was one of the people whom I came across in my life but didn’t get to know deeply. However, it is him from whom I learned to cherish my relationships with others because I came to realize that once we miss something, there will be no turning back time.



Photo by Valentin on Pixabay


Excerpted from Special Focus, October 2016

Text: Yu Dan

Translation: Zhong Hua

Layout Design: Yang Ziyue


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