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Kunming terror attacks leave 2 faces of sorrow

Even now, Xiao Shi and Xiao He, two students injured in Saturday's deadly terrorist attack at a southwest China train station, have no idea what their attackers look like.

The attacks came from behind, all of sudden. Shi was stabbed in the left side of his back and had his lung punctured, while He suffered even worse -- both sides of his neck were slashed, and he came within a hair's breadth of dying.

The two young men represent the human cost of the barbaric acts by the knife-wielding extremists who claimed 29 lives and injured another 143 people in Kunming City on Saturday evening. Sitting and chatting with Shi and He in their hospital beds, it's clear just what an impact the horror has had on them.

Shi, 18 and He, 20, share one ward at the No. 1 People's Hospital in Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan Province, lying in bed and watching TV inattentively.

"It still hurts," Shi mumbles, referring to the place where an intravenous tube is inserted in his chest. Pink liquid streams slowly down the tube into a bottle beside his bed.

"Less liquid came out of his body today. Doctors have said he is doing well. He may leave the hospital in a couple of days," says Chen Wentao, Shi's cousin.

Shi grins at his words and his weary face lights up.

"I want to go home. I have missed my grandma so much," says Shi, who was brought up from birth by his grandparents.

It's been 11 days since he left his hometown, Danzhai County of Guizhou, for six days of traveling in neighboring Yunnan Province with his sister, his nephew and Chen.

It would have been the perfect trip, but for what happened when they were waiting for the train back to Guizhou in Kunming station.

"The attack took only one or two seconds. I felt something put into my body, but it wasn't until I felt the coldness of metal that I realized it was a knife. It hurt terribly," Shi recalls.

Out of instinct, he started to run out of the station, where a bus picked him up and took him and other injured people to hospital. The rest of his family was lost in the terrified crowds.

"I told myself all the way 'don't be afraid, you can't fall down. If you do, you will never get up'," Shi says, with a smile of victory spreading across his lips.

The family reunited at around 8 a.m. on Sunday. His three traveling companions stayed overnight in the station, which was closed till around 7 a.m.

As soon as he could, Chen rushed to the hospital, where he found his younger cousin sleeping soundly in bed.

"It's such a relief. Luckily, he is so young and strong that he can withstand an injury like this," says Chen.

He explains, "We kept in touch via cell phone all through the night. He told us he was fine, but how could we set our minds at rest for even one second without checking on him in person?

"If something really bad happened to him, how would I have faced our grandma?"

Actually, the 76-year-old woman remains blissfully unaware about the drama her grandsons have endured.

"If she knew, she would have suffered an attack of her old illnesses," believes Shi, who waves a firm "No" to the suggestion then Chen talk to her.

"So, here's the deal. She's gonna playing mahjong as usual, and I will stay here to recover. I will live each day happily from now on," adds Shi.

And then he says carelessly, "About what happened that night. It's over for me. It had no impact on me at all."

Even this remarkable comment elicits little reaction from Xiao He. Listening to Shi's lofty talk, the Yunnan native has remained quiet all along with no expression on his thin dark face.

It's about noon time and the temperature in the room is up to 25 degrees Celsius. He's hair is sticking to his forehead with sweat, but he has been required to keep his movements to an absolute minimum until his wounds have healed.

"It's unbearable that I am only allowed to lie down. I can't feel my feet," he says.

The freshman in tourism management was on his way back to college in Dali, some 300 km from Kunming, with a classmate on Saturday night, when he was wounded.

His classmate, Xu Qichao, stayed in Kunming to take care of him in turns with He's father.

"He's getting better. At least he is able to chew food without feeling pain now," says Xu.

The patient himself declined to talk about the bloodshed.

"I won't think about that night, what little I can remember of it," says He, his brow furrowed. "What I want more than anything is to recover as soon as possible so that I can go back to my college and stay there quietly."

He and Shi's reaction toward the trauma they have gone through provokes concern from Li Jinman, a psychological consultant.

"They have chosen to wipe out the nightmarish memory. It's a classic manifestation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and needs to be addressed with professional assistance," according to Li.

"There are various PTSD symptoms. Some patients may behave surprisingly okay, while others may be depressed," she notes. "It's like two faces of sorrow buried deep down somewhere in their heart."

[Source: By Xinhua writers Yi Ling, Yang Yueping & Li Huaiyan, Xinhua, Kunming, 05Mar14]

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small logoThis document has been published on 06Mar14 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.