The man tried to lure the little girl into his shop with a cup of noodles. It was cold outside, and it had been raining for days. The 7-year-old girl stopped by on her way home from school to take shelter from the bad weather, even though the man gave her the chills.
She was clueless about the owner’s intentions. The girl was hesitating, saying that her grandfather told her not to accept gifts from strangers. And when he tried to get closer, the man was left speechless by the little girl’s reaction.
Yin Canlian was a 7-year-old girl who happened to stumble upon the noodle restaurant on her way home from school. She was a great student and an obedient child. When she first saw the owner, she didn’t think much of it.
But she would end up remembering her encounter with the restaurant owner forever. Even after 25 years, the experience would remain carved in her memory as if it had happened the day before.
65-year-old Dong Nianhe formerly owned a noodle restaurant that he had been operating for decades. He was unmarried and had no children.
25 years ago, while Dong Nianhe ran a noodle restaurant, he noticed a little girl standing in front of it. Every afternoon, he would see a girl around 7 years old standing in front of his restaurant, looking very hungry. She would stare at the pot where he cooked, and Dong Nianhe finally approached her one day.
Every day on her way home from school, the 7-year-old girl would stop in front of the noodle restaurant and stare at the man while he was cooking.
The girl never dared to go in, but she had made it a habit to stop by every day. She would watch the man work and get lost in the aroma of fresh-cooked noodles. The owner noticed her, though, and decided to do something about it.
One day, when there were not many customers in his store, he saw the little girl again. He cooked a bowl of noodles and approached her. “Hungry? I have something for you. Follow me!”
The girl froze on the spot. She sensed that something was wrong with the whole situation. She was also hungry. She stood there in front of the man, unable to decide until she came up with the perfect answer.
The little girl raised her hands and said, “I, I…have no money. Grandpa said that you can’t accept other people’s things if you have nothing to give in return. Even if you accept it, you must exchange it for equal value.” So she refused.
She quickly turned around and ran away. But the restaurant owner wasn’t about to give up so easily.
Curious, Dong Nianhe asked around for anyone who knew the little girl. It turned out that five years ago, her parents went out to work and never came back. She lived with her grandfather since, and they depended on each other.
The girl only had her grandpa left, and he did everything he could to take care of her. Would that be enough to keep her out of harm’s way, though?
The 7-year-old girl was living in a dilapidated house with her grandfather. She would do farm work and cook dinner when she came home from school. Dinner was usually only a pot of white porridge and nothing else.
She was constantly hungry and wished for something better sometimes. Sadly, her grandfather couldn’t afford anything else besides porridge most of the time.
The girl’s terrible home situation gave the restaurant owner an idea. He devised a plan to take advantage of this situation and convince the girl to accept his proposal.
Dong Nianhe knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he had to try anyway. He couldn’t get the girl out of his mind. He had to act, and he had to do it soon.
The little girl was standing in front of the shop. It was a rainy day, but she couldn’t resist the aroma of the cooked noodles. She was famished. There was never enough food at home.
The restaurant owner invited her in and offered her a cup of noodles. But this time, his offer came with strings attached. The 7-year-old girl hesitated at first but then did something that surprised the man.
The man came up with an idea he knew the little girl would not refuse. When he saw Yin Canlian again, he said, “As long as you teach me to write a word every day, I could give you a bowl of noodles.”
The little girl could not believe what he was offering, though she said timidly, “Can I teach you two? I want to exchange for two bowls of noodles.” At that moment, Dong Nianhe knew she was giving her grandfather the other bowl of noodles, so he cheerfully replied, “Of course, you can.”
Since then, Yin Canlian came to teach Dong Nianhe some new words each day for a bowl of noodles, and this exchange lasted for five years. After graduating from elementary school, Dong Nianhe noticed that she no longer passed by his restaurant.
She and her grandfather have disappeared. The restaurant owner discovered that a distant relative of Yin Canlian had taken them into their care and brought them to the city.
Fast forward 25 years later, Dong Nianhe’s small noodle restaurant had become a local specialty snack shack. The owner had also become an elderly man over 60 years of age. Since he could not bear children, his two previous marriages ended in divorce.
For him, it was quite lonely having aged without a family. But every day for five years, he wondered who had been sending him $7,855.00 (50,000 yuan) every month. No letter or note was attached to the money. His friends advised him to close the restaurant and retire since he had kept all the money he received. He had a small fortune he could then use in his twilight years.
The man didn’t close the restaurant because he was still waiting for the little girl he saw across the street in the early afternoons. He muttered to himself, “I’m waiting for someone. If the noodle shop is closed, I’m afraid she won’t find her way to me.”
Dong Nianhe still waited for the little girl with the red school bag who came in front of his restaurant every afternoon. He still remembered her like it was yesterday, even though it was long ago.
One day, when he looked at the street, he was speechless. There she was! She may have grown older, but it was definitely her. The woman entered his noodle shop with tears in her eyes and said, “Dad, I’m back!”
Dong Nianhe ran to her excitedly. In his heart, his daughter had returned. He then discovered that she had been returning to his neighborhood since she started working, secretly watching him at his noodle restaurant and sending him money every month. It was all because the man helped her in her most difficult time.