1:09 am PST

Days ago, my son walked home with one of his classmates after finishing school at 4pm. About halfway down  the street, a relatively young grandfather stood on a small wall to pick mulberries. Seeing the two children, he jumped off and moved toward them to speak.

The grandfather said, “You two must be fourth graders. One of you is 10 years old, and the other is 13?”

Unfamiliar with this grandfather who was neither family nor related to them, my son’s classmate replied, “Yes, I am 10”. Then my son said, “I’m 13”. They also confirmed they were fourth graders.

The grandfather also asked if they knew the English word for “electronic calculator”. My son’s classmate could not respond, saying “I have no idea”.

The grandfather therefore revealed the answer was “computer”, after walking with them for a short distance. On the way, he also told my son that “modern people think technological advances are very good, but advanced technology will bring humans destruction in the end.” Surprised to hear this, my son felt this grandpa was unusual.

At the crossroad, my son and his classmate turned left and the old man turned right. The man  said, “In fact, the English word ‘computer’ refers to a brain that calculates. Therefore, computers may be tools used by aliens to calculate and control human brains.”

My son and the grandfather then went their separate ways. Out of curiosity, my son turned around to look in the direction of the old man, and saw he was already gone. My son was surprised, but his classmate just felt the old man was odd and gave it no further thought.

In the evening my son told me what had happened. I also felt very surprised. Some ancient stories came to mind where deities would disguise themselves as an elderly person to give others some advice. Though technology is advancing and many may not believe it, my son had a special encounter. Even ordinary people would not tell something like that to a kid, especially a sheer stranger.

Then I realized something. A fortnight ago, I took out an old computer from the storeroom. There seemed to be something wrong with the computer, so I put it aside for two years without fixing it and just used another one. I  finally decided to have it fixed. When taking it to the computer store for further examination, it miraculously worked again without needing to be repaired. My son asked if he could put this extra computer in his room so I let him use it to surf the net for half an hour daily.

My son usually used the computer for half an hour before bedtime. Even on busier nights, he still insisted on using the computer before bedtime. Remembering my son’s encounter with the old man, I asked if my son thought there was anything unusual about his recent behavior. My son remembered my nagging about his addiction to the computer.

Looking at my son, I said, “Isn’t this a kind warning for you from the divine? Why didn’t the old man mention other things apart from the computer? Didn’t he hope you could let go of your attachment to the computer?” On listening to my words, my son also found it miraculous and knew he should not be addicted to the computer any more.


Author: Zhang Jimin
Translator: Amy Hsu