May 26, 2014
May 17, 2014
A street vendor, in Western news reports named only as Mr Li, caught and saved a one-year-old baby who rolled off the ledge of a second storey window in Xiaolan town, Zhongshan city, Guangdong province, Southern China.
Mr Li’s hands outstretched:
Because the prospect of a baby’s head split open and raspberry coulis coming out ontothe pavement, piddling away in the warm rain, is unthinkable.
Because the promise every infant makes to each one of us, is too big to be allowed to fail.
Man Alive, Alive O! Wholly given over to the baby about to fall, he is the goalkeeper moving to meet the (otherwise) through ball; he is the wise old men in adoration of the Christ child (the last time any of them could have stretched themselves this far); he is young Romeo reaching for Juliet from below her balcony. He is all of these things.
Chicken wings for limbs, angel’s head and a bare bottom – down comes Baby. Mr Li moves into the flight path……
Falling, falling, fallen as he foresaw. But the sudden weight takes him by surprise; struggling not to let go he must swing lo and then arc the baby upwards to a level ofsafety.
He and the infant capsule are only coming to rest when the mother arrives plucking and clutching, cluck-clucking away with the future of the world in her arms.
Describing his actions afterwards, Mr Li said: ‘It was nothing but human instinct to do so.’
‘Hi! My name’s Stephen and I am pretty much like your average teenager – except forthe last three years now I’ve been battling cancer.’
This is how 19-year-old Stephen Sutton introduced himself on the Just Giving internet page which he set up to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT). Sadly, Stephen himself died of bowel cancer in the early hours of 14 May 2014. Later that day, charitable donations pledged via his site reached £3.6 million – more than the TCT knew what to do with.
Stephen’s mother Jane announced on Facebook that her ‘inspirational’ son ‘had passed away peacefully in his sleep.’
In a Press Association photograph featured in the Daily Mail’s coverage of Stephen’s death, she appears as a strawberry blonde wearing a strawberry-print blouse, half-smiling (her lips have managed the right shape but her eyes are struggling), standing next to her emaciated son.
Not that long to go now. His jaw too big for a frail neck, arms much thinner than the arm cuffs on the hospital crutches he’s using (lightweight walking forearm crutches, approx £50 a pair).
In Stephen Sutton’s eyes at that moment, I think I can see something not much noted: a touch of what might be adolescent anger; just a little bit Liam (LG); echo of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, declaring ‘a pox on both your houses’; in this case, the living andthe dead.
To do anything at all in the face of death, while looking down the barrel of the last syringe, surely calls for a do or die attitude; even a touch of the impious attitude ofJames Joyce’s Stephen Hero, who refused to re-enter the Church despite his mother’s pleading – and she on the point of dying of cancer. Likewise, our new Stephen Hero keeping death waiting for his dominion, must have been something of an act of teenage rebellion.