"Mr. Chen, your daughter was in a fight today and she broke a student's nose. That boy is from her class as well." The class teacher Miss Lee looked and sounded upset, she had such high hope in Mr. Chen's daughter, Mui Lai, who was the brightest and the most well-mannered little girl in the class.
"Miss Lee, I'm so sorry for what she did. She wasn't anything like that usually." Mr. Chen jerked out a predictable and robotic answer to defend his daughter, which was expected of any parent.
"Yes, I understand. I would like to know what could have made her behave like this. I've asked some students who were also on scene when the fight took place. They said the boy took away the Origami Mui Lai was folding and would not return it to Mui Lai."
"That girl's mother, my wife told her to fold ten thousand Origami."
"Ah...yes. Mui Lai said that her mother would be unhappy when I asked her what happened about the fight."
"Miss Lee, can I talk to Mui Lai now?"
"Oh, of course. She's right inside the classroom. You should talk to her, as her class teacher, I'm very much worried about Mui Lai. I'll show you the room." Miss Lee brought Mr. Chen to the classroom door and she left him to talk to his daughter Mui Lai.
"Daddy..." Mui Lai tried to cover up a part of her right hand with her left hand, because there was a bruise due to the fight.
"Honey, does it hurt?" Mr. Chen gently rubbed the bruise with his thumb, in a circular motion.
"Yes. Today I could have had 400 of them, but that boy took away the 400th one, now Mommy would be unhappy about that."
"Sweetie, you don't have to fold papers anymore. Mommy would not mind." Mr. Chen appreciated what his daughter did, but he could not find a word to express himself.
"Then is Mommy coming home yet? Mommy said I need to make ten thousand Origami cranes. When I've finsihed, I can see her again.
"No...Mommy's not gonna come back, sweetie." Mr. Chen tried very hard to stay calm, but the tears still streamed down his face.
"Why, Daddy, why are you crying?" Mui Lai was too young to understand what happened, though, she reached out her tiny hands and wiped off the tears on her father's face, but that was it, only tears were wiped while the pain stayed.
"Sweetie, Daddy's fine." Mr. Chen put his hands on Mui Lai's shoulders while he was squatting down. "Promise Daddy you won't do bad things to your classmates again?"
"OK, Daddy!" Mui Lai said it almost instantly as soon as Mr. Chen had finished his sentence. It was as if the word "promise" was the trigger word for this response. Now she was smiling, innocently.
Mr. Chen had decided to keep the secret of his wife's leaving him for another man until Mui Lai was old enough, or never, he thought. In the meantime, he would like to spend more time with his daughter, to make up for the love she was supposed to receive from both her mother and father, and, to feel the happiness from his daughter's innocent smile in hope to ease the pain that seemed to be growing stronger each day. At least he was grateful about one thing: he still had his daughter, Mui Lai, around him, and that was all that mattered.