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The Untold Story of a Girl in a Wheelchair

August 24, 2021
Paper art illustration of a girl in a wheelchair sitting at a table working on a laptop.
Paper art illustration of a girl in a wheelchair sitting at a table working on a laptop.

Xin Shen (沈欣) was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that confines her to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Since Xin was a baby, she endured more medical treatments than she could remember. Her parents once told her: “there is always hope for a cure, but you will need to remain strong in everything you do.” Since then, Xin always has a smile on her face no matter how challenging the treatments.

When Xin was twenty-one years old, she came to study at my mother’s university in Chengdu, China. Taking my mother’s linguistic and literature courses opened her eyes to a world of creative writing. It was also a time of learning and exploring for Xin. However, life had to put a brake on the happy college days. Xin graduated from the university with an undergraduate degree. Finding a job and making a living became life’s priority over creative writing.

Five years soon passed by. It was during the fall of 2020 that Xin returned to the university where my mother teaches. This time, she came to my mother and talked about her dreams. The dreams many dare not talk about; the dreams that were buried by the reality of life. Her words moved my mother so deeply that my mother decided to mentor Xin and bring her dreams to reality.

A month after their meeting, Xin and my mother began their journey of collaborative poetry writing. My mother writes poems, and Xin writes reviews and articles based on the poems. In the past year, they have published almost 50 online periodicals of poems and poetry reviews. They plan on continuing to publish together for the foreseeable future.

This is an untold story of a girl on a wheelchair. A girl who dares to dream despite life’s obstacles. Perhaps her poetic dreams will travel far and reach many in the decades to come.