Actually, out of the Li brothers, Li Heping is not the most inspiring one; it is Li Chunfu. Heping’s ancestral home can be described as poverty-stricken. When Li Heping and I were married there, the marital bed had no mattress; it was straw covered in a coarse cotton sheet. The year when Heping entered university, Chunfu was going into 9th grade. But the family could not afford to send two people to school at the same time. Chunfu, with his good grades, was the one who was sacrificed. I remember my mother-in-law saying that Chunfu lay in bed for several days. When he finally accepted reality, he decided to head South to find work so that he could help support the family and his older brother, Heping.
In work, Chunfu had his fill of a rough time. He slept in a cemetery, went hungry, was knifed in the stomach by someone, and had his pay docked or was owed wages. He said in the factory, when there were demonstrations by technicians, he never took his eyes off what was being shown and always thought he wanted to be able to do it. And then, he became the head of the technical group. He finally earned 10,000 yuan—that was in 1998. He wanted to return to his hometown to build a house, but his older brother told him: don’t build a house; use the money to do self-study; and take the qualifying exams to become a lawyer.
Chunfu was tempted. He used all of his savings and started his life’s big adventure in 1999. He went to Zhengzhou, Henan’s provincial capital, and rented a small room next to Zhengzhou University and began self-studying for the exams. It was a six-year ordeal, with countless defeats and economic pressure and the stress of the exams. No one thought he could persevere. On the basis of his perseverance through those six years, we all felt that we were far from being his equal. Therefore, the most visible result of his gaining a lawyer’s qualifications and getting through the difficulties of self-study was—he was losing his hair faster than he aged. At the age of 30, the hair on the top of his head was already thinning. I remember that Chunfu officially became a lawyer in 2005, and he treasures every work opportunity. One time I explained to my son: if one day we really don’t have the means for you to go to school, do not give up; you can study on your own—your uncle is a ready-made model right before our eyes!