Misfortune sneaked into my family when I was thirteen. First, my mother fell ill and was hospitalized; then my father, in poor health himself, was afflicted with anxiety and worry. Both had to stay in the hospital, leaving my younger sister and me alone at home.
As the sun set in the west, far rose in my heart. In the dim of night, the hills beyond the village loomed in a ghostly silhouette on the windows of our spacious room; the shrill howls of wolves often startled us out of our sleep.
Our cries for help were unlikely to reach the villagers, for our home was located in the school some distance away from the village. Suddenly I thought of the whistle my mother used for PE classes. I took out the whistle and, drawing a deep breath, I blew it as loudly as possible. Before long, a bustle of footsteps and voices came nearer and nearer, and flashlight beams crisscrossed outside our windows. Hearing my name called, I went to open the door, and there in front of me stood a group of familiar villagers, each with a hoe on the shoulder. The very sight of their kind, swarthy faces and deeply concerned eyes drove the fear away from my heart.
Now go to sleep, kid. We are staying out here tonight! said one old man. Resting their hoes against the wall, they sat or squatted nearby, smoking Chinese pipes or chatting in loud voices…. Gradually, I fell asleep. They didn’t leave until daybreak; and at dusk they came again, banging their hoes on the flagstones as if to tell me: Don’t be afraid, kid, we are here with you. No one dares to hurt you!
Afterwards, the bustle of footsteps and the clatter of hoes could be heard every night around our home as if on schedule. The intermittent footsteps together with loud chatting would last the whole night. I knew that, in such darkness, they were neither hurrying on a trip nor tending to their crops. What they actually meant by making the "noises" was to rid me of my fear and reassure me: they were right outside our windows!
Every since then, I have been convinced that sound has "temperature" and that it can warm the hearts of lonely, fear-stricken people.