Text and Photographs by Guo Tieliu
Li Linguo is the chief of the police station in Badi Township, Beichuan County in Sichuan Province. Five years ago, Li and his colleagues saved 30 students from Beichuan High School after the Wenchuan earthquake, but his 15-year-old son was lost. Maintaining a cheerful demeanor, Li considers himself lucky compared to those who lost even more. However, his wife claims that he weeps passionately when nobody else is around. Li rebuts that he only sheds tears on special occasions such as his son’s birthday and May 12, the anniversary of the earthquake.
Li says the first year after the disaster was hardest. However, his wounds continually healed over time. A veteran and military enthusiast, Li has summarized his five tactics for recovery:
First, stay close to family. Li tries to spend time with his wife every day after work. He will even visit her during the day if he can find time. However, he never rides in the same car with his wife. “Entire families died together in the earthquake,” he explains. “I still worry.”
Second, he tries to keep his mind occupied. After work, Li spends most of his spare time playing chess on internet. Over the five years, Li has played more than 20,000 games, averaging over 20 a day.
Third, spread love. During the earthquake, Li saved the lives of many children, who tracked him down afterwards to become like godchildren. Li and his wife put aside some money to reward the children if they excel at school. The couple has given away more than 50,000 yuan over the five years.
Fourth, escape. After the earthquake, Li requested a transfer to a remote Badi police station far from his original home. Also, he hides the medals he received for saving so many lives.
Finally, socialize. Most of Li’s colleagues are young men who hail from elsewhere, so Li often invites them over for dinner. “Dinner guests help increase my appetite and keep my home lively,” Li remarks.
Li Linguo hopes to purchase an RV upon retirement, so he can take his wife on road trips around the country.