-By Chingchu Zoo Yuen
“Can you just be quiet for a little while?” I shouted at my cousin Xu, who just gave off a weird gasp again when we sit in front of the TV. It was the seventh time in last ten minutes. What the hell was that?
Xu looked at me silently, with timidity in his eyes. He pushed his fruits bowl to me, and moved a little further. I suddenly felt very regret. It has been a long time since I last saw him, and the summer holiday gave me this opportunity of reunion. But I just messed it up.
I asked my mom what wrong was with Xu the day after. “It’s a kind of illness called Tourette syndrome,” seeing my puzzled face my mom explained, “he would run into a burst of physical or vocal tics and could not control himself.” I was totally astonished.
Xu is three years old younger than me. He followed me everywhere since he learned to walk, just like my shadow. His ceaseless companion repelled me, so I tried to shout him away. Sometimes he was scared by me and run home in tears. But the next day, he would come to my home unsurprisingly, becoming my submissive little follower.
Xu does not have a harmonious family. His parents started to quarrel frequently since his age of six, which might be the main reason for his mental disease. The disease not only made him mocked by classmates because of the weird tics, but also brought him some troubles in focusing on his study. His worsening performance at school made his parents disappointed.
I decided to do something.
I walked to Xu’s home. It seemed to be the hottest day this summers, for the cicadas were too tires to sing. I felt like I was swimming in a bowl of boiling soup. Xu opened the door for me. His dog, Dore gave me a warm welcome and kept licking my hand. “Wait for a minute. I will turn on the air conditioner,” Xu said and disappeared, leaving me alone in the living room. I looked around. Xu’s family moved here not long before, and everything seemed very new.
“Want some water?” he asked politely. I accepted with thank. He disappeared again. Xu has not talked with me since I shouted to him for the weird gasp, so he seemed a little nervous for my uninvited visit.
“How is everything going at school?” after sitting on the sofa, I broke the silence. “Not bad,” Xu answered, “except my poor marks.” What a bad question. I searched in my head about what kids like at my cousin’s age. Toy? No that’s too childish. Book? Maybe something else.
“How is your life in the university?” Xu asked me. I was not ready for that, so I paused for a few seconds. “Just so so, not as good as I imaged.”
The boring dialogue continued for a while. Suddenly Xu looked at his watch and whispered, “Oh it is time for the game.” He turned on the TV and changed to the sports channel, where an NBA game was on. I felt kind of relief. Since I watched basketball game during the high school, watching NBA with Xu was quite an easy task comparatively. Luckily we were on the both side. We cheered for our team’s leading and sighed for the fault. “Garnet is cool!” Xu could not hide his adore. “Yeah he deserves the name of wolf king!” I said sincerely. His face began to shine, giving me the illusion that he was just a healthy boy like anyone else.
The game was over. Xu was totally lighted up. He told me he usually played basketball at school. “I am good at it,” said Xu with proud, “all my classmates like to be on the same team with me.” “Play more basketball,” I replied, “it is good for your health.” Xu seemed to realize my emphasis on health. “Sometimes I just cannot control…to give off those weird noise…” His voice was low, losing his previous vitality. “It’s OK. Your classmates still love you, right?” I hugged him.
I talked with Xu about his disease. I was not good at comforting people, but I still could tell that Xu was grateful and joyful to talk with me. Dore lay asleep between us. His snore made us laugh.
Finally it was time to go. Xu sent me to the door. “May I go to your home and watch TV with you?” Xu asked gingerly.
“Of course,” I was a little surprised, “we can do anything. And if you have any problem on study, just let me know. Don’t forget you have a smart sister.”
“I will,” said Xu, with his face drown in the sunset, shining.