|Puppy Love (standard:Creative non-fiction, 6106 words)|
|Author: Mookoo Liang||Added: Feb 17 2006||Views/Reads: 2440/1324||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Can a puppy love a puppy and have his so-called "puppy love"? Read this story, and you'll learn something.|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story The point was that nobody would be able to keep an eye on our pet in the daytime. Except for weekends and holidays, Tony had to go to school and his parents to work. So the third reason was the most important: our busy lifestyle made it impossible for us to take good care of a dog. "Who will take responsibility for feeding and cleaning our dog?" I seriously stated, "Feeding a dog may be easy, washing it could be fun, but cleaning the dog cage every morning and every evening will be a heavy burden --- an extremely heavy burden!" That night the members of my family had another long talk about the possibility (or difficulty) of having a pet dog. In the end, when it was almost midnight, my solemn explanation seemed to have convinced (or frightened) our "innocent boy." He stood up from the living-room chair, looking at me and at his mother for a few moments. Then, he walked slowly toward his bedroom, in silence. ======== 2 ======== In the following week, I was busy with my job and Tony didn't bother me with his demand. That is, I didn't hear his complaint. I was pleased to have a "sensible child" --- who is, by my definition, very understanding and considerate toward his parents. When the weekend came, I took Jean and Tony back to Shui Changliu, my home village, where my parents lived. Jean, who formerly had hated to stay in a remote place for the night, was now much more interested in that small village in the mountains. And it goes without saying that Tony liked to re-visit the place very much. He had lived there with his grandparents until he was three years old. On the way to Shui Changliu, I drove fast but with care while Jean and Tony chatted aimlessly in high spirits. The beautiful scenes on both sides of the winding road in the mountains attracted our common attention, though. We passed by many different kinds of trees, taller and shorter ones, and we saw birds in various colors flying here and there. Jean and Tony began to talk about plants, birds, and animals. "What would you like to be, mommy?" Tony asked Jean. "A bird or a four-legged animal?" "Well, I . . . I'd rather be a human being!" she replied. "Oh, no! Please just choose from the two," he insisted. "If there were only two options, which would you pick to be?" "How about you?" I interrupted, "What do YOU want to be, Tony? Do you like to be a monkey? . . . Ha, ha, ha, you are either a boy monkey or a monkey boy!" Actually we were chatting in Mandarin mixed with the Taiwanese dialect. But I said "boy monkey" and "monkey boy" in English. I guessed our son couldn't tell the difference between the two phrases yet, though he had already learned the English words "boy" and "monkey." But Tony protested, "No, no, no. I am neither! If I were a kao-gin-a ("monkey child" in Taiwanese), both of you would be kao-tua-lang (monkey adults)!" Jean and I burst into laughter. We often teased our little child this way. Yet quite often we were made laugh by the "bright boy" fighting back. I thought of those years when Tony was attending a kindergarten near our house. Tony was three years old when Jean and I took him out of the mountain village Shui Changliu. Before that, Jean had worked full-time in her hometown, near the sea; and I had gone to National Taiwan Normal University, in Taipei, for further study. That's why I had asked my parents to help look after my child. When looking after Tony ourselves, Jean and I tried to teach him many things. This was how I taught him the Arabic numerals for the first time: I pointed at 1, 2, 3, 4 with my finger and wanted him to repeat after me, "yi, er, san, si." He just stared at me without saying anything. I instructed him again. He kept silent, staring at me in the same way. I tried a third and a fourth time and he still gave no response. All of a sudden, I became very angry and upset, thinking that I had got a "terribly stupid child." Then, something interesting happened. Returning from the kindergarten one afternoon, Tony told us he had been taught the lesson about "yachi baojian" (tooth-caring). He asked with a mischievous grin, "Why is the tooth related to the sword? Can the tooth be used to make a sword?" What a funny boy! He must have misunderstood the term "bao-jian" (meaning "health care") for another "bao-jian" (meaning "sword"). Our little boy was creative in language. As soon as he learned the Chinese words "ren" (meaning "man, person, or human being"), "da" (meaning "big, large, huge, or great"), "xiao" (meaning "small, tiny"), and "zhong" (meaning "middle, center"), he started to regard me as "da-ren," himself as "xiao-ren" and his mother as "zhong-ren." Yes, as an adult, I could be called "da-ren" in Chinese. But "children" should be "xiao-hai" instead of "xiao-ren," because the latter suggests "a villain" or "a mean person." Every time Jean and I heard Tony call himself "xiao-ren," we would burst out laughing. However, I thought he was very smart to call his mother "zhong-ren" --- He might have defined "zhong-ren" as "a person taller (bigger) than "xiao-ren" and shorter (smaller) than "da-ren." In actual fact, "zhong-ren" means "middleman, mediator, or intermediary" in the Chinese language. Whenever Tony found it hard to ask me for something, he would ask his mother for help. And his mother, or my wife, usually acted as an intermediary. For instance, during the previous weeks, he had failed to persuade me into buying him a puppy. He turned to "plead" with Jean, even though she was afraid of dogs! As Jean, Tony, and I were in the same car heading for Shui Changliu, I couldn't help thinking about the first few years after our little boy came to us from my parents' farm. He had been growing well. Now, at the age of nine, he remained our only "xiao quan" (sometimes as obedient as a puppy) and our unique kao-gin-a (sometimes as mischievous as a monkey). I slowed the car and began to teach our son a Taiwanese tongue twister. The tongue twister went like this: "Kao pua-luo kao, kao t'e kao-a lai kao kao. Si kao kao kao? Ya si kao kao kao?" [That means: A dog fell into the ditch and a monkey came with a hook. Is the monkey hooking the dog? Or is the dog hooking the monkey?] You know, in the Taiwanese dialect, "dog" is pronounced "kao" with a falling tone while "monkey" is "kao" with a falling-rising tone. The noun "ditch" is kao with a high level tone, sounding just like the verb "to hook." Jean repeated the tongue twister so Tony could say it correctly and quickly. The mother and son were very excited all the way, and so was I. ======== 3 ======== One night, Jean and I talked about our son's needs again. "I hate dogs myself," she admitted. "But, as you can see, our son likes the animal so much. How about giving him a chance? He's promised to take good care of the pet." "Well, you know what the problems will be, don't you?" I repeated my three reasons for not allowing him a pet dog. But we both felt that our "clever and well-behaved boy" deserved a good pet, anyway. I suggested we buy him a fish. Setting up an aquarium in the living room would cost us too much money, and we had never learned how to deal with those slippery water creatures as pets. Therefore, Jean and I decided to simply buy a dou-yu for our son. A dou-yu is a "fighting fish." Like a gamecock, it is a particular kind of fish that looks cute but is ready to fight all the time. You'd better separate two dou-yu in two different containers; otherwise, they are likely to fight until either is killed. However, our son did not like the single dou-yu we bought him. The brave fish, which we had put in a beautiful wine glass, died for no reason within a week. Several days later, Jean came home with a birdcage. "Oh, five white birds!" cried Tony. He and I were curious about the birds. Jean said they were called bai-wen-niao. The birds, together with the birdcage, were given to us by Jean's co-worker Miss Luo, who had kept them as pets. At first, we placed the birdcage at the living room. Tony was attracted to these new pets. He spent a lot of time watching them. The five birds were very much alike in size, shape and color. But, to my surprise, Tony was able to distinguish them. I suddenly thought of my own childhood. Unlike Tony, I had brothers and sisters. Together with our parents, we lived in a solitary farmhouse in the mountains. We had a cow, two dogs, and three or four pigs; we also raised chickens, ducks, and geese. It was pretty easy for us to distinguish those farmyard birds. We would name each of the fowls, divide them into groups, and then claim the "ownership" of one of the groups. That means, when "your bird" or "my bird" was killed for food, the feathers plucked from it belonged to you or me; by selling the plucked feathers, the "owner" could get some "pocket money." Now Tony had much more "pocket money" than I used to have. He even possessed some very expensive toys. Was he not lucky enough to have these white birds, bai-wen-niao? For the first two weeks, we paid close attention to the five pet birds. We moved the birdcage to the front yard in the morning, and took it back into the living room in the evening. Then we became less and less careful. Finally, about one month later, the birdcage was hung on the wall of our back balcony. We did not approach the birds except for feeding them. Hanging on the balcony day and night, the birdcage was not taken indoors any longer. One night, the weather became unusually cold. One of the five birds was found dead the next morning. Two days later, the weather being okay, two more were killed and another one was badly injured. Wondering if there had been a killer cat or something, I asked Jean and Tony, "Have you heard anything strange in the night?" "No," they replied. "Recently we haven't heard any meow at night --- What if the killer came in the day?" The injured bird died very soon. We felt sorry for all the dead birds, and also for the last one that was alive. "It is a lonely bird!" said Tony. "We should have taken better care of its brothers and sisters." However, to our great disappointment, this last bai-wen-niao disappeared the next day. Where was the missing bird? The door of the cage shut well. Checking the wooden birdcage carefully, I found that our last pet bird died on the wall of the cage. The dead body stuck in the corner near the cage-roof. Some nails were so long that their pointed ends came out from inside the cage; unfortunately, the victim had rushed into one of the long nails. ======= 4 ======= Were we destined never to have any pet again? Tony was now more and more interested in dogs. He wished that he had got a lovely puppy. One Saturday, I took Tony and Jean back to Dajia, Jean's hometown, where her parents lived. Now our son really wanted a puppy, Jean and I thought it necessary to take his "puppy love" more seriously. Jean learned from her parents that a distant relative of ours had just got some baby dogs. And I promised to get our xiao-quan a nice doggy, at last. Due to our xiao-quan, Jean changed her mind about dogs though she had never gotten used to getting close to such animals before. On the other hand, I made up my mind to help look after the future pet dog. But Tony was the happiest person in the car when we were all heading for Dajia. That afternoon, Jean and I enjoyed ourselves at home drinking tea and chatting with my parents-in-law while Tony followed his cousins to the relative's house to pick a puppy. In the evening, the children did not bring any puppy home, saying that the baby dogs were too small to be independent. "The puppies still need their mother's milk!" said the children (Jean's nephews and nieces). "What color are the puppies?" I asked Tony, "Have you found your favorite one?" "Yes, I like the black one best. The other puppies are either yellowish brown or spotted brown; I mean, brown spotted with white." "Is the black puppy male or female?" I asked. "Oh, I'm not sure," replied Tony. I told Tony to remember this: The male dog would be much better than the female. Jean laughed at me, asking whether I was a "male chauvinist." On the way home from Dajia, we chatted cheerfully in the car, and our conversation was all related to the pet dog. We talked and talked and talked. But, first of all, we felt we needed a good name for our puppy: "How about calling it Lai-Fu?" "No!" Although Lai-Fu sounds like either "Here comes good luck" or "Here comes wealth" in Mandarin, we thought we could possibly find a better name. "How about Kulo?" "No!" Many black dogs had been given such a name because "kulo" means "black" in Japanese. We didn't really like a name that was so common. What's worse, "kulo" sounds like the Chinese phrase "ku le," which means "(somebody) is crying." "How about Xiao Hei?" "Come on, be a little creative!" Such names as Xiao Hei, Xiao Huang, and Xiao Bai are based on colors: denoting black, yellow, and white respectively. I said, "It's a risky thing to call your dog Little Bai or Little Huang. If a Mr. Bai or Miss Huang comes to visit while your dog is angrily barking at him or her, what can you do? Can you yell at your dog by using its name?" Obviously, it is impolite to yell out "Get away, Little Black" when an honorable uncle named Mr. Black comes to visit. After a long discussion, we almost reached agreement on the name "Hei Pi," literally meaning "black skin". Suddenly Tony shouted out, "Happy!" And Jean said happily, "Oh, yes, let's call him Happy!" I agreed with them, hoping that the little animal would bring this family a lot of happiness. I thought of my childhood again. Living at a solitary house in the mountains, we did need one or two dogs to help us. One day, I heard our dog Vu-Lyung barking loudly in the nearby fields. [By the way, "Vu-Lyung" is the Hakka pronunciation of "Wu Long," literally meaning "black dragon." This name is pronounced as Wu-Long in Mandarin, and as Oo-Liong in Taiwanese. My "mother tongue" is Taiwanese, but my father actually speaks Hakka more often. It's a pity that neither my wife nor my son understands the Hakka dialect, which I regard as my "father tongue"!] Rushing up and down the terraced fields at breakneck speed, our dog Vu-Lyung seemed to have found something unusual. Was he chasing a rat or something? My father and my cousins, who happened to be working nearby, heard the barks and joined in hunting from all sides. Before long, they saw Vu-Lyung carrying the game in his mouth. It was not an ugly rat, but a big brown hare! How exciting it was! The rare game was cooked immediately. When eating the delicious food, we shared some with our real hero, Vu-Lyung. Now, two weeks after Tony saw Happy for the first time, I took him and his mother back to Dajia again. My father-in-law went together with Tony on a bicycle to fetch the puppy. When they came back, I was surprised that they brought a brown puppy instead of the black one. "Grandpa says this puppy looks stronger than any others," explained Tony. "Well, grandpa is right. It looks healthy, and pretty as well." Jean said. I asked if we should change the dog's name. This brown dog definitely did not have hei pi (black skin). But Jean and Tony said they would rather call it Happy. We came home from Dajia next morning, together with Happy, very happily. Happy was a pretty dog indeed. However, it was as timid as a mouse. When it was taken out of the carton (used as its movable bed), it quickly hid itself under the living-room chairs. It trembled seeing so many strangers around. All of us (including our next-door neighbors) were interested in such a newcomer. But Tony was obviously the first one that made friends with it. Tony started to "walk the dog"! He led the lovely puppy out of our front yard, with the leash in his hand. More and more people saw it in this neighborhood. "What a pretty dog!" they said, with a smile. But, seeing other dogs approaching, this timid doggy always tried to hide, sometimes even creeping under a car on the roadside. One day, after walking the dog, he came to me disappointedly, saying, "Aunt Lin (our neighbor) held Happy high up with her hands. She believed that Happy was a she-dog, not a he-dog. Well, I don't know, do you think so?" I examined our pet at once. To my surprise, Aunt Lin was right. Jean was also surprised by the fact, but she said, "No wonder Happy has been so shy!" "But it is still a good dog, isn't it?" Tony held the puppy closer. "Sure!" I commented, "A mishap could be a beautiful mistake sometimes." After we brought Miss Happy home, our life became more interesting. We enjoyed walking our dog in the neighboring woods, and we liked to talk about (and talk to) her. Of course we spoke highly of our dog. When our neighbor "Miss Show-off" compared Happy with her German shepherd, Jean and I comforted Tony, saying, "The females of the species should be more gentle than the males; you know, our Happy is a graceful lady!" But the graceful Mis(s) Hap(py) also brought us lots of "extra work" to do --- Our everyday chores included providing the dog with food and water, cleaning the dog cage, and dealing with the dog droppings. Fortunately, we had a responsible son, who kept his promise, doing most of these routine jobs. ======= 5 ======= I had almost forgot the following episode when Jean mentioned it again the other day: When our son was still a second grader, he didn't have any classes to attend in the afternoon. He walked home at noon and, as a "latchkey child," he usually stayed home alone until Jean and I returned from our workplaces in the evening. [By the way, our society seemed much safer in those years, so there were many "latchkey children" who carried their front-door keys with them when going to school.] One afternoon, our seven-year-old boy went riding his mini-cycle in the park. He saw a tiny puppy there, and thought it was looking for its mommy. But where was the mother dog? He began to play with this poor thing. Then he brought the puppy home, fed it with milk, washed it in the bathroom, and tried to dry it with towels. Finally, seeing it trembling, he took it to his bedroom and covered it with the blanket. He took it to our bedroom too. Anyway, he tried his most to protect (or rescue) the little animal that had lost its way. When Jean came home from work in the evening, Mrs. Xie (our next-door neighbor) said to her, "I heard your son talking to somebody all afternoon. Perhaps he had invited his classmates home, but I didn't see anyone!" Very soon Jean found out the truth. Seeing the dog's hairs all over the floor and in the beds, she got so furious that she spanked him on the bottom. She said angrily, "I'm exhausted after a very busy day. How come you couldn't be a little bit considerate to your mother? Did you want to tire me out? . . ." It took Jean quite a long time to clean up the house from top to bottom. This was one of the particular episodes in our family life. Jean told me that she regretted punishing Tony for what had happened that afternoon. If she had not been so tired after work, she might have been more tolerant --- She wished she had modified her words so as not to hurt the boy's tender feelings! "There, my dear, you have been a very good mother! Our son always understands that." I said to Jean, "But tell me, what happened to the little puppy afterward?" "Don't you remember? You told Tony that the mother dog must have been looking for her baby, and you wanted him to take the puppy back to the park." ====== 6 ====== Happy had brought us lots of happiness. Tony was happy most of the time, Jean was happier and busier than before, and I was busy with my business and happy about Happy too. Nevertheless, just as the Chinese saying goes: Hua wu bai ri hong; ren wu qian ri hao (= No flowers remain red for a hundred days; no men remain fine for a thousand days), trouble was creeping silently up on our little pet. It was a terrible skin disease, making Happy lose her true colors in just a few days! We took Happy to a veterinarian. The vet suggested that we use a certain kind of shower gel produced especially for dogs. He also advised that a dog should not eat too much, and that they shouldn't be given human food such as roast pork, salted fish, and scrambled eggs. "Dogs will be healthy if they are fed with dog biscuits only," he said. "She's been living on dog biscuits for months," I said, placing Happy on the stainless steel operation table. The vet examined her from head to tail. Then he applied some medical liquid and ointment to the diseased parts of the skin. Before saying goodbye to the vet, we got the recommended shower gel at that very clinic, hoping Happy's skin disease would be cured soon. In the following weeks, we took Happy to the veterinarian regularly, as we were told. Gradually, her skin became better, and her fur more beautiful. But another problem came along. One day, Tony was confused about the blood drops on the living-room floor. Jean told him that Happy had been "growing up." "Lock her in the cage for a couple of days," Jean urged. "Don't let her mess up our home." That week, there seemed to be more "wild he-dogs" trying eagerly to get close to our Happy. Jean and I discussed what to do with Happy. We learned that some female dogs had been sent to a vet hospital --- for a particular operation! And we also heard that some cruel owners had their pet dogs' vocal cords partly removed, so as to reduce the barking noises! We decided not to give our pet any "unnecessary" operations. Tony said to us, "A dog that cannot bark is a poor dog!" Then, about two months later, Happy got the serious skin disease again. In spite of busy careers in the daytime, Jean and I were compelled to take her to the vet after supper. Tony accompanied us in the car, helping with the dog carton in the back seat. The vet gave Happy a shot of antibiotics or something else every other night. When I put her on the vet's operation table again, she didn't try to escape, but sat there helplessly, with her legs trembling. "Don't be afraid," Tony whispered at the dog's ear. Then, one evening, he suddenly cried out, "Look, she's so afraid that she has tears in her eyes!" It was true. A teardrop was seen falling out of the dog's eye. We did all the veterinarian had told us to do, but this incurable disease kept troubling us for a long period of time. Now Happy had caused so much trouble to this family, the "da-ren" and "zhong-ren" began to make a secret plan: In order NOT to hurt the innocent, kind-hearted "xiao-ren" in any respect, the plan was called "Freedom Act" instead of "Abandonment." Jean said with great anxiety, "Tony will be very, very angry and sad if we give Happy up. How can we put her away without giving any reason?" I was very anxious too. "We must give him a convincing explanation, anyway." I said, "It seems that this ill dog is going to be sick forever. What if its skin disease does harm to our son? If the situation goes from bad to worse, . . . well, seeing a pet dog die will do a little boy no good." Suddenly I thought of my childhood again. One day, while our parents were both out, we children played together in the front yard. We heard a dog barking loudly high up on the hill, and we recognized the dog at once: It was our dog (I don't remember its name) crying with pain and running back home as fast as it could. No sooner had it got home than it fell to the ground just under the eaves of our house. We children squatted down and watched its body and legs shaking uncontrollably; finally, it died. Later on, we were told that our dog had loved our home so much that it would like to die home after it was poisoned. However, seeing the course of its death was by no means a pleasant experience. So Jean and I should not let Tony see Happy die. Nor should we let him touch a pet with such diseased skin. We gave him some convincing excuses, saying that we were not deserting Happy, but trying to set her free. This was our story: As we were either at work or at school, we couldn't afford to walk our dog in the daytime. And because our dog was confined to having little exercise, she fell ill easily. Now we wanted to make her strong again. Why didn't we give her a new environment so that she could live happily there? "Where is she supposed to go?" asked Tony. "Somewhere in the country . . . Well, we'll figure it out tomorrow morning." I suggested that we go to bed right then. Anyway, Jean and I had made an acceptable start. And it was Sunday the next day, when we would be able to carry our sick dog to a faraway place, a place that was truly suitable for Happy. That night, none of us had a sound sleep. We all got up early the next morning. Tony confessed that he felt so sorry for Happy; Jean suggested that we should cancel our "Act of Freedom"; I said I would go jogging for a while in the school nearby. O Lord Jesus, have mercy on us! Jean, Tony, and I encouraged one another: We should, and we want to, take better care of our pet dog, no matter how busy and how tired we would be. Another month passed. To our great disappointment, the miserable situation was not improving. On the contrary, Happy's skin disease became even worse, and her beautiful fur was completely gone. The veterinarian had tried various kinds of medicine, but he failed to put the horrible thing right. Once again, Jean and I thought of the Act of Freedom. We held another "family conference" on Saturday night. We passed the resolution that Happy be sent away. This time we made up our mind to carry out our "sensible resolution" without feeling any regret. "But where shall we see her off?" asked Tony. "Well, maybe we can take her to Shui Changliu, or somewhere else in the mountains. We'll discuss that tomorrow morning." I urged Tony to go to bed right away. Tony walked slowly toward his bedroom, Jean and I toward ours. O dear Lord, have mercy on us! The same thing happened again. None of us had a good sleep. We all felt too sorry for our "miserable dog." And we wished that we had never brought Happy home from Dajia. Without Happy, our days would have been less happy and unhappy. But that was fine, wasn't it? We went on keeping Happy with us for weeks. Then, Jean told me that she had called her parents talking about Happy's problem. "Is it possible for such a sick dog to return to her hometown?" I asked, a glimmer of hope coming into my mind. "They said Sister Gui-Ying (the distant relative) accepted her home." "Great! Strike while the iron's hot. Let's take action this weekend." I meant to take Happy back to Dajia on Sunday afternoon, but Jean's parents and brother visited us on Friday evening. My brother-in-law drove a car so they could take Happy back easily. Tony was filled with hope this time. I told him that Happy's hometown was the most suitable place for her because she was allowed to run freely in the vast expanse of pastureland over there. "Papa," Tony asked me, "could we bring Happy back here when her skin disease is completely healed?" "Well, let's see . . ." I turned to my wife, "What do YOU think?" "Why not?" Jean said, without a moment's hesitation. "The one condition is that her skin disease be completely healed." "Well, it might be much better for Happy to live in Dajia," I concluded. And I said to Tony, "When we visit your grandpa and grandma in Dajia, we can go and see Happy as well." The fact of the matter is Happy passed away one and a half months after she returned to her birthplace. None of us knows the real cause of her death. But I can assure you that Tony has no longer asked us for a pet dog since then. ====== 7 ====== In addition to the above story, I would like to show you how fast the time has flown. Jean and I took Tony out of Shui Changliu when he was three. He finished his kindergarten at six, and graduated from the elementary school at twelve. Six years later, he graduated from senior high and started to study at university. Having studying there for the third year, he is now twenty-one years old. As you can see, Tony is growing tall, dark, and handsome. He's got a girlfriend, whom he met when he was a freshman. Jean and I regarded the relationship between our son and his girlfriend as "puppy love" but, to our surprise, they've been going steady for almost three years. A couple of weeks ago, Tony and his girlfriend came back from the university with a little dog. I was so surprised that I asked them, "Where did you get it?" "It was given to us by one of the guards at the school, who had just gotten some baby dogs," they said. "Can you afford the time and space to take care of it?" I thought of their limited dwelling places and their situation as students. "It's she that asked for it," Tony replied. "I've been trying to talk her out of raising pet dogs. I said a tiny puppy might cause big troubles for us, but she wouldn't listen." Jean stepped forward and said, "Hey, Tony, do you forget how hard it was for us to look after Happy? --- Well, I don't really remember why your papa and I allowed you that troublesome dog!" "Don't you remember?" Tony smiled at Jean and me. "You said you would let me have a puppy if I was able to get into the top five in my class. I was number three in the second monthly exams that semester." My goodness! How could we use a puppy as a prize? Not only Jean but also I had forgotten this --- I had better put this matter into my "Puppy Love" story as well, so that I can celebrate more "happy and unhappy" things in the future. Tweet
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