A 12- course feast was what Li Jiqin prepared yesterday to celebrate his family's move back home after the Tangjiashan quake lake threat was eliminated on Wednesday.
His house is situated about 100 m to the west of the Fujiang River that runs through Mianyang. Li and his fellow villagers were moved to temporary shelters on hillsides on May 30.
In Mianyang, about 250,000 people like the Li family were evacuated to higher ground.
Most, if not all of them, are back home again eager to resume their normal lives after bearing up with difficult conditions.
Li moved his wooden dining table under some trees in his courtyard to enjoy the feast with his family.
"Natural air conditioning, is what I would call it. I love this place," he said.
His single-story house in which he was born and raised lies in ruins. Li his wife, Cui Xiuying, and family, are living in a tent in the courtyard. A kitchen has been set up in a storage room.
"Things are stable now that we've moved back, thanks to the government's work in disarming the 'time-bomb' (Tangjiashan quake lake) for us.
"I'm a born optimist. I've got no reason to be pessimistic because unlike the more severely-hit areas, water and electricity supplies are guaranteed here. Traffic too is very convenient," Li said.
His farm has also remained relatively intact, which Li said had boosted his confidence even more.
Three minutes' walk from the farm lies the upper reaches of the Fujiang River, where the water, air and soil is perfect for farming, Li said.
He said the unprecedented attention given by top State leaders to his native Mianyang, had enlightened its people and strengthened their determination to stand united in the wake of the disaster.
"All nine Standing Committee members of the Politburo visited here. Of them, Premier Wen Jiabao was here three times. For us in the quake zone, his promise: "If only there is the slightest hope, we will spare no effort' means behind us stand 1.3 billion brothers and sisters, our strong motherland and great Party," Li said.
"It was a most timely assurance from the very top."
Linyi, Li's youngest granddaughter, may not have inherited his outgoing nature, but at 10 years old, she already possesses a strong will.
The fourth-grader was not among the first students to flee her five-storey primary school in Qingyi Township when the quake struck. But she was one of the first to lend a helping hand.
At a playground, where the children were evacuated, some girls were crying. "I kept telling them: 'Don't be afraid, your parents will be here to pick you soon'," Linyi said.
Six km south of Li's village is the city center of Mianyang, where urban life has for the most part resumed.
"Most shops and restaurants have reopened. People and cars are on the streets again," policeman Zhang Jianyong said.
(China Daily June 13, 2008)