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This very sad and vaguely metaphorical story is a bit long for beginner reading, but other than a couple of high-level words, the sentence structure isn’t too crazy and the basic language is simple.

Intermediate Chinese Reading Practice: Sister Come HomeThe story kind of goes back and forth between a younger brother, an elder sister, and a tree. In order to read and understand this story, you need to move away from the standard Western conception of a story – the things that my Western mind seized on as important points in the story (“What are the secret words the sister says to the tree?”) turned out to be ancillary. Like many melancholy Chinese prose, it should be read by just letting the ideas and images wash over you.

The story will be difficult to read if you try to follow some cohesive narrative – don’t bother. Just revel in the bleakness of the ideas.

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祈祷 – qí dǎo – To pray
挺拔 – tǐng bá – Tall and straight
疑惑不解 – yí huò bù jiě – Puzzled, doubtful
糟 – zāo – Rude word meaning rotting, wasted, worthless
赞叹不已 – zàn tàn bù yǐ – Be full of praise
对得起 – duì de qǐ – Not let sb. down, make sb. proud
噩耗 – è hào – Evil news, bad news
天堂 – tiān táng – Heaven


一个坐在树下的孩子他静静的祈祷着没有人知道,只有一棵大树了解他。

这是一棵几十岁的老树,但它依然那样的挺拔高大。村子里的人都知道它以前是一个树皮慢慢脱落将要老死的一棵树。但是被它主人用一句简短的话语而活下来了,别人都问这个小姑娘你是如何让它好起来的,女孩甜甜的一笑说: “这是秘密。”人们都疑惑不解

几年后,女孩为了弟弟的学费而去了一个遥远的地方。老远的地方。老树又静静的地下了头。又过了几个春秋,老树已经快死了,在他的旁边又有一棵新树。而新树总是瞧不起老树总是说:“老头,你看看你又老又脏切, 你看看我年轻呀!。”老树看了看小树叹了一口气。小树说:“糟老头看什么看。”老树不再说什么了。老树总是默默地在夜里哭泣。

又过了一年女孩回来了。女孩看到老树如此憔悴,心里也很难受。他又和老树说了几句话。老树居然又像以前那样的挺拔高大了。来往的村民都赞叹不已。一个星期后,女孩又要走了。女孩的妈妈哭着说: “闺女,我和你爹对不住你。”女孩也哭着说: “你们别这么说。能把弟弟叫来吗?” “当然可以.”

姐姐对弟弟说: “这棵老树姐姐送你了,你见到他就像见到我一样。一定要好好学习,对得起我,对得起爹和娘。一定要好好保管。姐可能一去又要3~5年了。照顾好爹娘,才算对得起我。”弟弟说: “姐我知道了我一定会用功的,我也会照顾好老树的。”女孩摸了摸老树转头就走了。日子一天天过去了男孩慢慢长大。 他白天在大树下学习玩耍,晚上,他靠着大树坐着静静的祈祷。又过了几个月男孩跑到山头大声地说了一句他很想说的话: “姐姐,你回来吧!”

几年后,突然传来噩耗,说女孩为了救一个小女孩而死了。这是几年前的事了,这几年的钱都是那个小孩的妈妈寄来的, 因为这是女孩临终前的最后一个要求。

人人都说好人死后可以上天堂。 我想那个女孩一定在天堂里看着弟弟呢吧!

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SHOW ENGLISH TRANSLATION »

A child sitting under a tree prayed quietly to himself without anyone knowing – only the tree knew.

The tree was several decades old, but it still stood straight and tall. The people in the village all knew that a while ago, this trees bark was falling off and it was dying. But it was brought back to life by a short phrase that its caretaker said, and when other people asked the young girl [caretaker] how she healed the tree, the girl said with a sweet smile, “It’s a secret”. Everyone was puzzled.

A few years later, the girl went to a far away place to [earn money for] her little brother’s school tuition. A very far away place. The tree once again began to calmly lower its head [meaning to droop]. After a few more seasons passed, the tree was about to die, and at its side a new tree grew. The new tree was always treating the older tree with contempt, and often said, “Rotting old one, look how old and filthy you are, and look how young I am!” The old tree looked at the little tree and heaved a big sigh. The little tree said, “Rotting one, what are you looking at?” The old tree still said nothing. The old tree was always weeping silently during the night.

After another year had passed, the young girl returned. She saw how haggard the old tree had become, and she was sad. She again said a few words to the tree. The tree unexpectedly became its old self once again, tall and straight. The villagers praised it as they came and went. After another week, the girl had to leave again. Crying, the girl’s mother said, “Daughter, your father and I have let you down.” The girl, also crying, said, “Don’t speak that way. Can you summon my little brother?” “Of course I can.”

The sister said to her little brother, “This tree I give to you, when you look at it, it shall be the same as looking at me. Study hard, make me proud, and make mom and dad proud. You must safeguard it [the tree]. I may be gone for 3-5 years. Take good care of mom and dad, and that will make me proud.” The little brother said, “Sister, I know I’ll be industrious, and I’ll take good care of the tree.” Touching the tree [one last time], the girl turned and left. As each day passed, the boy grew up. During the day he studied and played beneath the tree, and at night, he sat against the tree and quietly prayed. After a few more months the boy ran to the top of a mountain and yelled out the words he’d been wanting to say, “Sister, come home!”

A few years later, he suddenly learned some startling news. It was said that the sister had died saving a little girl’s life. This had happened several years before, and the money that was sent to the village was sent by the little girl’s mother, because this was the sister’s final request before she died.

People all say that good people go to heaven after they die. I think that that girl [the sister] is surely in heaven watching over her brother!


8 comments to "Sister Come Home!"

  1. Reply Dontarrious says: July 29, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Times are chnigang for the better if I can get this online!

  2. you create excellent website for learning Chinese.i hope that it will be richer in the future.

  3. Hi – just pointing out that the translation for 大树 in the first paragraph should be like “big tree”. It seems to have put it together to get Dashu as a city name :)

  4. Reply Philonovia Payak Peter says: January 17, 2016 at 7:54 am

    OH MY GOSH!!!! So Many Word

  5. Typo in the third sentence of the third paragraph. Should be 低下了头. Maybe this is a mistake in the original.

  6. Great story.

    I believe
    “他又和老树说了几句话”

    should be

    “她又和老树说了几句话”

  7. Reply Ashfaq Hussain says: July 7, 2017 at 9:23 am

    great and amazing story

  8. This story is very helpful to me and I love reading your posts.


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