Time for school Twin sisters Yang Siyu (left) and Yang Silu attend a makeshift school mainly for Qiang people yesterday in Maoxian, Sichuan province.
Shen Jibin, principal of Renjiaping Primary School in Beichuan, lost his wife in the earthquake.
Now he is trying to rebuild his life without her, starting with holding lessons in a temporary tent school at the Jiuzhou stadium in Mianyang.
"I still miss my wife a lot, but I'm too busy to feel the pain," he said yesterday.
Of the 395 pupils at Renjiaping Primary School, all but one survived the earthquake. About 170 are now being taught at the Jiuzhou tent school; the others have been relocated.
Shen said he wants to move all of his students to a primary school in Qingdao, Shandong province.
"The school has agreed to accept us," he said, but added that not all of the children's parents have agreed to the move.
The parents don't want to be separated from their children, who might now be their only living relatives, the 38-year-old said.
"They told me that if I could save the students' lives, I should also be able to arrange classes for them in their hometown," he said.
"I can accept that, as I am a father myself."
Shen said he has yet to send his daughter Tingting back to school, as he wants to keep her with him.
"I'll worry about her if she's away, even though I know her temporary campus in Changhong is safe. I just want to be with her every day."
Almost 1,000 students and teachers at Beichuan Middle School, which 15-year-old Tingting attended, died in the earthquake.
Tingting was buried when the school collapsed, but she and a classmate kept their spirits up by singing along to songs on an MP3 player they found in the rubble.
"They encouraged each other and did just as they had learned in the 'Parents in the Earthquake' booklet," Shen said.
Tingting was rescued at midnight on May 13. While she suffered no serious injuries as a result of her experience, the pain of losing her mother, 36-year-old Wang Xiuhong, has been severe, Shen said.
For the first three days after the quake, Tingting did not speak a word. Instead, she wrote down her thoughts and feelings in a journal, he said.
"I didn't ask her anything, because I knew that doing so would hut her.
"But she needed an outlet, as did I. That's why I set up a cyber memorial to Xiuhong on the web portal Sina.com.cn."
On the website is a note Shen wrote to his wife: "Dear Xiuhong, your husband and your daughter miss you badly! We hope you live a happy life in heaven!"
He said he met Wang in 1991. They fell in love and married two years later.
The last trip the couple made together was to a thermal spring in Anxian county, about 30 km south of Beichuan, on March 8, International Women's Day, he said.
"I will never forget how happy she was that day. We had only 17 years together, but that's fate."
Despite the pain, he said he has to get on with teaching his pupils, who now need him more than ever.
(China Daily June 11, 2008)