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Headmaster mourns his students
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Headmaster of Beichuan Middle School mourns his students

"My kids, I am so sorry for not being able to rescue all of you from this disaster. I'll memorize the date of your deaths and come to see you on that day every year. You were very united when you were alive so please look after each other in Heaven. I'm thinking of you every day," a middle aged man said as he knelt down nearby the collapsed buildings of the Beichuan Middle School and cried very sadly.

This man was Liu Yachun, headmaster of Beichuan Middle School. He told a China Photo Press reporter that he was so busy caring for the rescued students that he had had no time to pay a visit to the hundreds of his students who perished under the ruins.

On May 24, he came to visit those children. He lit several candles nearby the collapsed buildings, said his prayers in silence and then knelt down and kowtowed three times to students who had lost their lives in the destructive earthquake.

In his New Year's address to students in early March this year, Liu Yachun had said, "Safety guarantees everything else … I hope all of you follow your pursuits and fulfill your dreams with great confidence."

Suddenly, many students' dreams perished amid the unexpected disaster. Liu grieved for those who had lost their lives.

Liu is a short, thin Sichuanese. When asked about his family during the earthquake, he answered, "Everything is okay." But in reality both his son and his wife died in this earthquake. Yet after the earthquake hit, he decisively organized surviving students and teachers to help other survivors. They risked their lives and saved more than one hundred people. Sadly, his son was not included among the living. Liu said, "Of course I love my son but as headmaster I must shoulder the responsibility of rescuing as many trapped students and teachers as possible."

Liu said he was extremely sorry for his wife. Since they married over ten years ago his wife took sole responsibility for the family because he was very busy working. His wife's biggest wish had been to travel to Shenzhen and Hong Kong. She never had the chance to fulfill her dream, so now Liu felt great regret.

To his son, he said, "My dear son, you will have your mother to take care of you in Heaven and your schoolmates are there with you so you'll never feel lonely."

He also left a message to his wife: "My dear wife, apart from taking care of our son, I have to give you another mission: that is to take care of all those students who died during the earthquake. When you were alive you said you loved my students. So please do take good care of them and do not allow them to go to any dangerous places. They are not unable to bear any more pain. This is not only my own wish but also the wish of all their parents. My dear wife, I did nothing to bring you happiness when you were alive. But I have to entrust you to take care of those students in Heaven because I love them and only leaving them to your care can set my mind at rest."

As a husband, a father and a headmaster, Liu can get over none of them. "Look at his gray hair. It was black one week ago," a Beichuan Middle School teacher commented.

Liu swore, "We lucky teachers and students who have escaped the earthquake will carry on with our lives and remember those who helped us. We'll try to become useful members of society and we'll keep grateful hearts."

Liu Yachun is mourning his students

(China.org.cn by Zhang Ming'ai, May 26, 2008)

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