Walks in the Apricot Forest: A Bowl of Fish Soup

Yi Feng

PureInsight | February 10, 2003

[In Chinese, "Apricot Forest" is another term for the medical community. For more details see: http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2003/1/23/1368.html]

[PureInsight.org] An old Chinese proverb tells us, "The chair in a carpenter's house often has three legs, the child in a tailor's family often has bare buttocks, and the sickness in a doctor's family often goes uncured."

I grew up in southern China, where fish soup is considered a delicacy. We had a large family with many children, and we could not afford to have fish soup very often. Other than major holidays such as the Chinese New Year, the only time that we the kids got to drink fish soup was when we got sick. It was given to us as a treat. Although I was the youngest, my brother who is 2 years older than me was the favorite of my grandmother. He got sick from time to time, and my grandmother often gave him fish soup to drink. When he drank the fish soup, he sometimes looked distraught as if he was drinking Chinese herbal medicine. But other times I could see the pleasure in his eyes when he was drinking it. I was always in the perfect health and so I never had the chance to drink any. I became envious of my brother and I decided quietly that I would intentionally get sick so I could get some fish soup for myself. I tried hard to get sick, but the best I could manage was a runny nose. After a long time of trying, I finally got a bad enough cold to be given the fish soup. Grandma boiled a bowl of steaming hot, fragrant, and wonderful looking fish soup. However, as soon as I smelled the soup, I began to vomit. My brother saw that. He said, "If you really cannot drink it, let me help you." I did not want to give it away, as I got sick for the sake of it. So I tried my best to sit up and drink the soup. But when I smelled the fish soup, I wanted to vomit again. I really could not drink it. I had to give it away and saw him drink the soup with gusto.

When my mother, who was a physician, came home that day, I asked her, "What type of cold makes a person lose appetite and what type of cold does not do that? How come my brother can eat and drink as usual when he is sick, and yet I do not want to eat or drink anything when I am sick?" Mother took one look at me and immediately knew what I had done. She said, "Because you deliberately got sick, you have caught a Feng-Han cold (according to traditional Chinese medicine, there are two types of cold, Feng-Re or Wind-Heat cold and Feng-Han or Wind-Cold cold), which upsets your stomach, makes your body ache and makes you lose your appetite. Drink a lot of hot water and you will be fine after you rest a little bit." Mother's tone was very tender. But I still thought I was not treated very fairly. How could my family give sick children fish soup to drink when sometimes it is not good for them?

After I recovered from the cold, I found that my mother had felt sorry for me after all and put fish soup on the dinner table more often. But every time I drank the soup, I recalled what I did before. It taught me a profound lesson: the more one wants something, the less likely he will get it [or enjoy it if one does get it].

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/1/24/20166.html

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