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A pauper to a king

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-30 09:05

Deng's latest book, Yongge Yijiangshui. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Sometimes, having nothing to eat, he went hungry, watching secretly through the windows his uncle's family enjoying hearty meals. Sometimes, his father's sister came and, finding that he was starving, cooked for him.

"I remember when I was young, almost all the care and love that I got came from women," he says.

In his first semester of middle school, Deng stayed with the family of his mother's sister. Despite being treated with such kindness, as a sensitive child, he felt uneasy, unable to get along with other boys. He was a lonely child and his favorite activity was to read maps in geography textbooks, and maps of China and the world on a neighbor's wall, memorizing the locations of the cities, mountains, seas, lakes and rivers.

Gradually, just studying maps stopped satisfying his curiosity, so he started drawing maps on paper, first copying the existing maps and then created maps he imagined. He gave names to those worlds, seas, continents, countries and creatures, and imagined their stories, languages, wars, celebrities and books. As he acquired enough words, he tried to write down his imaginings.

At middle school, he had already started writing old-style poems, plays and works of other genres, and showed them to his teacher.

One night, he dreamed of a cobbler fixing a shoe, and he wrote it down when he got up. That was his first short story, which, after the teacher's revision, was published in a national monthly magazine that focused on running excellent compositions by middle school students.

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