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My In-Laws’ Old House

My in-laws have rented an old house for 100 CNY a month. The place is surrounded by fields, and they get drinking water from a well.

29/08/2013

Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr

Author

My in-laws bought an apartment in their hometown, Siping, located in Northeast China’s Jilin province, four years ago. They should have been able to move into their new apartment two years ago. But the apartment had not been finished at that time and it still isn’t, two years later.

When my husband and I walk by the building site, I can see that the last rows of buildings are already finished, while the first two aren’t. My husband tells me that there’s an elderly woman living there – not in the new apartment complex, but in an old house located right where the new apartments are supposed to be built. She refuses to move out. She says that the compensation fee she would receive is too low to afford a new home.

In the meantime, my in-laws have rented an old house for 100 CNY a month. The place is surrounded by fields, and they get drinking water from a well. The water doesn’t have the chemical taste municipal tap water has.

But there are also downsides. The house doesn’t have any modern facilities for running water and will be torn down soon to make place for more bright new buildings. The old house lacks a toilet, so for the time being, my in-laws have to do with a bucket or the outdoors.

Except for these inconveniences, I like visiting their place. The place is stuffed with old things. The grey walls are decorated with the Chinese character for good fortune (福), calenders that feature Chinese saints, and an old mirror that seems to stem from the Mao-era, amongst others.

My father-in-law takes care of the owner’s little dog and breeds pidgeons, latter of which he sometimes sells on the market.

Song Yang Siping 宋阳 四平 - Ruth Silbermayr

When my husband and I walk by the construction site of my in-laws’ new apartment complex a few days later, there is suddenly movement on the site and construction work can finally continue.

I ask my husband what has happened with the old lady who used to live there. He says that her son got into a fight with two people and needed to pay a compensation fee. That’s when the old lady decided to move out.

I’m not sure if this is what really happened, but the old lady surely moved somewhere else.

Have you ever stayed at your in-laws?

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