Snowflake Boy's Chinese New Year wish: A scolding from his mother

Far left: Wang Fuman with his hair and eyebrows encrusted with ice after a freezing, hour-long trek to school last month. Left: The eight-year-old is hoping for a Chinese New Year reunion with his mother, who walked out on her family two years ago.
The eight-year-old is hoping for a Chinese New Year reunion with his mother, who walked out on her family two years ago.PHOTOS: WEIBO, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Far left: Wang Fuman with his hair and eyebrows encrusted with ice after a freezing, hour-long trek to school last month. Left: The eight-year-old is hoping for a Chinese New Year reunion with his mother, who walked out on her family two years ago.
Wang Fuman with his hair and eyebrows encrusted with ice after a freezing, hour-long trek to school last month. PHOTOS: WEIBO, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ZHUANSHANBAO (Yunnan) • All "Snowflake Boy" Wang Fuman wants this Chinese New Year is a reunion with his mother who left him two years ago.

The eight-year-old received an outpouring of gifts and sympathy when photos of his ice-flecked hair and eyebrows after a freezing, hour-long trek to school went viral last month.

According to the South China Morning Post, the boy's message for his mother, Lu Dafeng, was: "Mum, I don't want to wait any longer only to be disappointed again... can you please come back?

"Mum, I want you to beat me and scold me for my mistakes - the way other mothers do to their children. At least, then, you would be by my side. Please come back."

His father, Wang Gangkui, 29, told the Hong Kong daily that Ms Lu had left the family in 2016 to escape a life of poverty. She came back to the family's village of Zhuanshanbao in China's Yunnan province last July to ask for a divorce, but left the next day after Mr Wang turned her down.

"I haven't been able to find her as she changed her mobile phone number and never called us after she left," he said.

"I know she hated how poor we were and believed I was not capable (of making money to better our lives). We often quarrelled over this in the past. Then she left me."

Before the estrangement, the couple had been construction workers in Kunming, located more than 300km away from their village.

They would head home every three or four months to see their two children, Fuman and his 10-year-old sister Fumei, who lived in a mud house with Mr Wang's mother. The house, built about 20 years ago, has no toilet or running water.

Mr Wang said baths, taken at the public bathroom a 10-minute walk away from home, were rare, with children and seniors taking them just once every year or two and adults once every two months.

Fuman became an online sensation last month when photos of him in class, red-cheeked and with icicles in his hair and eyebrows, went viral. He had walked nearly 5km to school in minus 9 deg C conditions.

His plight drew an outpouring of gifts and donations: the Kunming branch of China Construction Third Engineering Bureau gave 144 sets of winter clothing and 20 heaters to Fuman's school, and Chinese Communist Party propaganda website, China Peace, sponsored a trip to Beijing for the boy and his family.

His father, Mr Wang, has been given a job as a construction worker in his village so he can spend time with his children. He told the South China Morning Post that in the first few months after his wife left, the children cried constantly, and kept asking for their mother.

"I'm still hoping for my wife to return to me. I want to tell her: please come back for the sake of our children... I may be poor now, but I believe, as long as we work hard, our lives can become better," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2018, with the headline 'Snowflake Boy's Chinese New Year wish: A scolding from his mother'. Print Edition | Subscribe