A third-year student at Goizhou Forerunner College in China, Wu Huayan captured media attention last October all across the world for sisterly sacrifice. The 24-year old Chinese girl started leading a most frugal life on just 2.0 yuan ($0.30) a day in order to save money for her brother's medical treatment. Her brother with mental disorder required frequent medical visits that drained the major portion of the government grant of 300 yuan the siblings received each month after the death of their parents. She lost her father when she was in school.
Even at that tender age, the girl's sisterly instinct overwhelmed her to go for the ultimate austerity for her brother. Not only did she skip her breakfast often but also made her meals out of rice and chilli. As a result severe malnutrition stunted her growth to just 4.4 feet and before her death she weighed only 21.6 kilograms. Born into a poor family, she saw her grandparents dying of diseases. The death of her mother when she was only four and her father when she was 18 dealt a further blow to her already bruised psychology and left her traumatised. Wu did not want to lose the last remaining living member of her family. So, she decided to do whatever she had in power for the only brother. Thus the emaciated girl may have invited her own premature death but at least she has set a unique example of the sweetest relations between siblings and an utmost sacrifice by one of them for another.
Extreme poverty could not undermine the nobility of her heart. She has undergone the excruciating physical ordeal for the love and affection for her brother. The Chinese girl may have proved that blood is thicker than water but it appears she was made of virtues incarnated to the extent that she would have done the same for anyone winning her favour either way. At a time self interests are becoming blind and overpowering to make one commit the most atrocious crimes not excluding within a family, this departed girl has highlighted the mellowest heart pouring out to another -no matter if it is her brother's.
Wu is a hero in her own right. She has exulted in her sacrifice and made the human kind proud. Civilisation today has become penny-wise prudent and, more, devoid of compassion for the distressed. Opting for her own deprivation in the hope that her brother would come round from his mental illness, she has sent a message for the entire humanity.
Happily the message did not fall on deaf ears. When her story of ailment and the required surgery cost came into media, all-round sympathy poured in and good Samaritans collected more than three times the amount of $29,000. She had been in hospital since October before her death on Monday last week. She has not survived but will her brother get the treatment to recover from his illness? It was her sole concern throughout her life. Now the social group that has campaigned for her treatment should redirect its attention to her brother's medical care. That way all involved will be able to gratify Wu's departed soul.
In this connection, the issue of socio-economic inequality once again continues to gnaw our conscience. With a GDP of 13.6 trillion in 2018, China is the second largest economy in the world and still 16.6 million people were living under the poverty line there at the end of that year. The stark reality of grinding poverty -be it in Bangladesh, China or anywhere in the world -belittles human civilisation. That a noble soul like that of Wu had to be sacrificed at the altar of inequality does not elevate the present civilisation. In the same way the incident in which a father was compelled to let his employer violate his teenage daughter for about a year for his inability to pay a loan of Tk 6,000 in Keraniganj makes our heads hang in shame. Such outrages to humanity must come to an end.