The Laundry Rod on the Balcony: A Story of National Unity and Friendship

  I reside on the sixth floor, and my garments dangle out to dry on the balcony, and they are frequently swept to the lawn downstairs by powerful gusts, which is very distressing. Descending to retrieve them, you have to ascend the stairs, which is very cumbersome.
  One day, I had a fancy: If I fashioned a clothes-drying rod out of steel pipes, soldered a row of small rings on it, and hung the hangers in the small rings, wouldn’t it be immune to the wind?
  This notion has been suppressed in my heart for a long time, but it is still a notion after all. Because after all, it entails a series of procedures such as soldering, cutting, and installing. How effortless is it?
  One day, I went to visit the paired households in the second group of Nantougong Village, Sangong Town, Changji City. The host is Chen Zhongxiao, Hui nationality, 68 years old, and the hostess is Ayili Aizezi, Uygur nationality, 65 years old. The elderly couple have both retired, purchased a small farmyard in this village, raised a few sheep, cultivated a little vegetables, and lived a very nourishing life. They treat people with sincerity and kindness, and we have forged a profound relationship over the past year.
  As soon as I entered the yard, I saw Brother Chen busy crafting something. He is always restless. According to him, he used to work as a skilled worker in a machinery factory, drawing blueprints, designing and manufacturing machine parts, which were commonplace. In his home, there are all kinds of tools such as welding machines, cutting machines, and operating tables.
  When Brother Chen saw me coming, he immediately put down his work and came to greet me with a smile on his face. He said he was helping a neighbor construct a barbecue trough. The angle grinder rotates at high speed, making harsh noises, the grinding wheel cuts flat iron, and sparks fly everywhere in an instant. It is precisely because of his excellent craftsmanship that neighbors often come to him to do some tinkering. Therefore, Brother Chen’s popularity and reputation in Murakami are very good.
  Seeing Brother Chen working, I suddenly thought of fashioning a clothes-drying rod on the balcony. So, I told him this notion, and he agreed without saying a word.
  We drove to the Bayi Iron and Steel Building Materials Market, meticulously selected a 4-meter-long steel pipe and ingredients, and he started crafting it after returning.
  According to my notion, he measured the dimensions of the steel pipe, marked it, soldered a small ring every 10 centimeters, and soldered two supporting legs at appropriate positions on both ends of the steel pipe. After crafting it, he brought tools such as electric welding machine and electric wedge, and came to my house for installation. After the two supporting legs were fixed on the steel pipes of the balcony, two holes were drilled on the wall with an electric drill, and expansion screws were inserted to secure them horizontally.
  After a lot of work, the clothes drying rod was finally firmly secured on the balcony. At this time, I saw many beads of sweat on Brother Chen’s forehead. After all, people in their 60s still have to climb up and down, which is really unbearable. If I knew it was such a hassle, I shouldn’t have opened my mouth.
  In order to fashion this clothes-drying rod, from buying materials to crafting, from hauling and transporting to installing, it took him several days, and the journey was nearly 100 kilometers round-trip. If you don’t have a good relationship, even if you spend more money to find someone else, no one may be willing to do it. Thinking of these, my heart is full of gratitude.
  Later, the organization adjusted my paired account. That day, I went to Brother Chen’s house for the last time, and before leaving, I had to tell them that I was leaving. After listening to my words, the elderly couple felt lost, but they never expected Ayili to say: “That is a matter of your organization, and we will still be relatives in the future.” I said, “Yes, we will always be relatives, and I will always come to see you.”
  Several years have passed, and we often keep in touch with each other by phone, and I will visit their home during the holidays. Every time we meet, they are so kind and warm.
  Now, the clothes drying on the balcony have never been swept away by the wind again. Every time I see the clothes-drying rod on the balcony, I miss Brother Chen and Ayili, and I really thank them from the bottom of my heart.
  The laundry rod on the balcony has become the best testimony of our national unity.

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