What can be more heartwarming this CNY (16 February 2018) than to hear the earnest plea of the "snowflake boy" Wang Fuman, only eight, crying for his mother?
Little Wang became famous when he trekked 5km to school in minus 9 deg C conditions. His plight (and his ice-flecked hair and eyebrows) stirred many hearts and also caused an outpouring of gifts to him and family.
Kunming Branch of China Construction Third Engineering Bureau gave "144 sets of winter clothing and 20 heaters to (Wang's) school."
But that's not all.
Even the Chinese Communist Party propaganda website, China Peace, "sponsored a trip to Beijing for the boy and his family."
Yet, all the gifts and donations could not fill the hole in little Wang's heart.
Although he lives in abject poverty and his sister (10) and father live in a mud house, built 20 years ago, with no running water or toilet, little Wang's CNY plea was not for more funds, but for his mother to return to him, to return to the family.
In South China Morning Post, little Wang posted this message to his mother, Lu Dafeng:-
"Mum, I don't want to wait any longer only to be disappointed again...can you please come back? Mum, I want you to beat me and scold me for my mistakes - the way other mothers do to their children. At least, then, you would be by my side. Please come back."
Beloved, the lesson cannot be more apt this CNY.
As we (as parents) doll up our kids for the ang bao "heist" today, and return home this evening to count the "loot", what truly counts at the end of the day is family.
The reunion dinner, the laughter, the tears of joy, the warmth of family, is what the new year is all about.
The senior Wang, 29, told Hong Kong daily that his wife, Ms Lu, "had left the family in 2016 to escape a life of poverty."
He recounted that she "came back to Zhuanshanbao in China's Yunnan province last July to ask for a divorce, but left the next day after Mr Wang turned her down."
He said that he "haven't been able to find her as she changed her mobile number and never called us after she left."
Before that, he and his wife were construction workers in Kunming, which is located more than 300km away from their two children. They would return home every three or four months to see them.
He pleaded: "I know she hated how poor we were and believed I was not capable (of making money to better our lives). We often quarrelled over this in the past. Then she left me."
Mr Wang said that after his wife left him, his children cried constantly, and kept asking for her.
Now, I have no delusion about poverty. It can tear families, destroy marriages and rob the children of love, hope and joy when parents go their separate ways.
I too have no delusion about how some media will take this opportunity to milk this story for what it's worth.
Poverty is not a publicity stunt. No child or parent opts to live in poverty as a lifestyle choice so as to milk the public for sympathies and funds.
Poverty is also not a fairy tale yarn. Most of them do not have a happy ending. It therefore cannot be spun by the rich and the media so that they can feel good about themselves.
And poverty is the way it is today because the "have" can't stop having even more, while the have-not has to contend with the scraps from the feasting table for their children.
Ultimately, poverty is a system problem. Most times, it arises not because of an individual's lapse as a father or mother.
In other words, it's not an attitude problem. Neither is it a genetic disorder.
It is essentially about dignity, that is, the inadequacy of a father to provide, and the broken heart of a mother for not being able to shield her children from the hurts they experience in a world where some kids are spoilt with everything they ask for and the rest are wondering quietly to themselves why their parents can't even afford.
I read (from Prof Teo You Yenn's book) that a young girl once visited her father who was behind bars in Changi and she happily described the big swimming pools in a condo where her mother works as a cleaner.
The iconic (and ironic) juxtaposition of the struggling parents and the excited, innocent child broke my heart too.
No parent wants to struggle to make ends meet, scrimp every cent just to buy schoolbooks for their kid, and walk away in self-reproach because they could not afford that toy their kid yearns for just because his/her classmate at school is flaunting it.
Be that as it may, the wish of little Wang and his family still inspires me this CNY morning.
This is one boy who has his head firmly secured on his small shoulders. And I learn deeply from this eight year old.
The senior Wang said this: "I'm still hoping for my wife to return to me. I want to tell her: please come back for the sake of our children, I may be poor now, but I believe, as long as we work hard, our lives can become better."
Surely, based on those words, I've learned about love, determination, hope and forgiveness.
And most of all, in his own simple words, that little Wang yearns for his mum to return, to beat him and scold him for his mistakes, "the way other mothers do to their children", because at least then, he said his mum will be by his side. I thus learn about family from him, that is, not to take anyone for granted, to cherish and to behold, to embrace and to uphold.
What little Wang has taught me is that he is prepared to walk 5km everyday in sub-zero temperature, be caned and scolded, and even live in poverty, with no toilet and running water, for as long as it takes, just as long as his mother returns to him and his family is made whole again.
What his heart's desire is what money (or donation) can never buy (or bridge). It is the richness of resilience, the abundance of priceless love, and the wealth of a good heart that are treasures of endless value.
Blessed CNY everyone. Cheerz.