A Short Fiction – Dedicated to the late Apple father: Steve Jobs, and all other creative minds.
Apple products specifically Apple iPhone have become such important personal icons in China, not only to show that they succeeded commercially, but also to show that they are connected with our times and the world Technology trend. The extreme example is that: a 17 years old boy sold one of his kidneys for an Apple PC and an iPhone!It is usual that people with nothing need famous brands to cover their empty inside, while this boy is a special person who is growing and who has found a striking way to show his existence and value. He connected his precious life to this exquisite and exclusive Apple products no matter how in-exclusive Apple has become with its enormous sales numbers in China! I sigh and cry for the innocence of the boy, but congratulate Apple to have become the language of life for this young boy!
I visited China almost every year since 2001, mostly because my parents, my brother and niece are there. Also live there my ex-famlies, my ex and my brother’s ex families who have been very nice to us and who have been looking after my parents when my brother and I roam around the country and the world.
November last year, I went back to Kunming to accompany my dad because of his operation. Dad recovered quite well despite of his age! Soon, it would be the birthday of my brother. My father and I were talking about a birthday gift for him. Without conspiracy, both of us came up with the idea of buying him an iphone 4S.
That was at the end of January, in the Spring City, South West of China. Nice beautiful clear Monday when it is the only right time to bring my not completely recovered dad for shopping. Apple stores, there were 2 in Kunming! Do you believe it? When I heard of this, I just could not believe it. We have only 2 in Montréal, 2 in Beijing, and 3 in Shanghai, how come we have 2 in a medium-sized city of provincial level? My brother told me that Kunming was quite advanced in pursuing new trends…so it must be the reason! Still with doubt in mind, I suggested that we go to an authorized seller of Apple products rather than to any of these Apple stores. Out of curiosity, all of us went to have a look in the APPLE store.
It looked really like THE Apple store. On the top of the clean huge glass window wrote the simple clean letters in English: The Apple Store, and with its Chinese counterparts: 苹果专卖店 ( you know what should be there on the glass window, I am sure ). The store was also very clean and simple as the Apple image itself suggests to our eyes – a singular silver whitish apple with a bitten-dimp on the right side and a little lit-crack that starts from the upper side of the bite all the way down ovally to the left bottom. They applied the simplicity rule of apple so well that they seemed a bit over killed it. There are counters, spotlessly clean and shiny with blinding lights inside. There were only sales boys who were not quite just came out from its muddy countryside roads. They were extremely smily and diligent! They would follow us where ever we went, they just followed us. Surprisingly, the boy who rendered us his enthusiastic service really knew quite a lot about Apple products. With a geek like musician brother beside, the boy chatted away…of course, do we miss things to chat about on this Apple?
Google suffered in China. Yet Apple won! It won its customers by the easy functions for every one and by protecting the privacy of its users and non-ads policy besides the slick, chick, zen image of all its product, including its company logo – The Apple. The Chinese market might not have realized its more profound cultural side of it such as privacy, yet more and more Chinese are coming up with a sense of subtlety and cultural software among those busy, loud commercial advertisements and public images. Apple is wining its fortune in China, with ideas conceived in Silicon Vally, California, but with spare parts and ready-to-jump-on-it cheap and well-trained labour in China for China!
Following the suggestion of an expert of Apple products, a internet geek friend who has been using Mac since 1985, we stayed with an authorized seller for the birthday gift. We went to a store that was 50 meters away from the No.1 People Hospital.
” Dad, if you don’t feel comfortable, we can send you to the hospital!” I was joking with my dad, but I got no response. Ah, he had already an iPhone 4S in hand. With his reading glass on, he called out to my brother to come over.
Both my father and brother are not very talkative people, though both are very talented in arts, such as painting and music. They are not good with words, yet I can feel their feelings. Except their artistic talents, they generally have little in common. They seldom talked to each other. But this moment was the scare moment that they were truly together! They took their time looking into this crystal , unwearable glass shield; the not too big, neither too small gadget that has no buttons as other phones! They were so quiet listening to the salesman in a bright yellow sweater. They smiled at each other when they were enjoying the exclusive sound designing, as if they have been always great friends despite of the love and hate relationship in all their lives.
“what colour do you like?” my father asked my brother.
“mme, white is nice, but black is attractive, ehhh, and not easy to be stolen”. Yes, eh? That is a good point to own something nice in China, or any where else in the world.
Unfortunately, the store ran out of black colour iPhones 4S. My brother decided to wait for a special order. We would have to come back again.
Just when we were walking to my brother’s car which was parked behind the hospital, we heard the deafening ambulance cry. Oh, some urgent cases of life and death, some young or old life struggling to breath and survive, some heart strives to stay pumping…We quickly dodged aside, giving path to the ambulance, hoping the heart continues to pump along…
After a while , we totally forgot about the ambulance . We sat into the car and crawled home like a snail. What a city with so many cars on its narrow roads! In 1979, there were only much less than a million of population in Kunming, and now there are 6 millions all around us. Our buildings have expanded to the stinky shores of Dianchi and to the feet of the mountains…
My ex-sister came to check on my father’s situation after dinner that evening. It was her who sent my dad for a health check up and the Big C was found in his left lung. She arranged my dad for the best possible doctor for the operation and she nobly went through my parents fear and frustration, giving them the most care they would ever need.
She had barely came across the door threshold when she burst into talking.
“Do you know that we treated a very special 17 years old boy this afternoon?” We did not know what she was referring, but we felt that it might be the dashing ambulance we encountered at the entrance of the hospital around 11am. So what, what about it, we were impatient!
“You are not going to believe it! You just can not believe it!” Well, tell us the story quickly, you little drag queen with your many CANNOTS!
” A 17 years old boy sold one of his kidneys to someone for an Apple PC and iPhone 4S! ” she was tossing her head like a Bolang gu drum! Of course, no one could ever believe what she just said!
The boy was discovered having high fever of 42 degrees in the classroom after 3 days not coming back to home. He simply passed out in School when his mom rushed in. He was operated some where else with non-professional conditions and skills for an exchange of this slick symbol of his life! And now, his life is at the mercy of heaven!
Life is dumb and numb without colours and sound! Life is dark and death-like silent without shapes,shades and music! If we say that using tools is the historical breaking point of Humans from animals, then I say that Language is the blade that cuts between mundane space and the exquisite world! One sad and troublesome thing for us humans is that we grow complicated, sophisticated and sometimes, or most of the times, inexplicable emotions and tangled thoughts. These emotions and thoughts get stuck there in our mind and they need to find ways to get out, to talk, to show to others the life that is burning them…
The 17 years old boy, his life just started. Yet he had made a choice to risk his precious life. Wen we hear the voice of the Hungarian poet Petöfi Sántor say:
Life is precious
Love is with costly price
Yet for the cause of freedom
both, I will leave behind.
(Author’s translation version)
We, become silent, for this boy and for many other wonderful, yet seemingly stupid actions!
Yes, life is precious and the blood is hot and red! We live, because we are born coincidently who we are, yet we live over and over again, for the love of life, for the meaning of life, for our individual interpretation of life! This unknown boy has made his interpretation of the meaning of life by trading part of his body for the connection. He lived and consented that it was his will to do it and he was happy for doing so!
Apple apple, this silver whitish lovely, likeable nutritious fruit among fruits, is no long an apple. It has gained itself as a international language with golden words where they find no boundaries nor boarders, besides its shape, colour, smell and nutrients. In China, with the blood of the young life, this silver whitish apple is becoming RED.
Apple apple: the un-fightable winning icon for the supremacy of life!
Thanks to the inspiration of Valentino’s article about Apple and Alberto Forchielli’s Team for the red apple image.
Written in the West Village, New York