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Amid white apricots

Updated: 2021-08-09 07:58 ( China Daily )
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The families of Sun Zhibao (far left) and Ahmat Kerim (second from left) enjoy time together.[Photo by Xing Wen/Wei Xiaohao/China Daily]

The white apricot that grows in abundance and flourishes in Kuqa, Aksu prefecture in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has become a local specialty.

It's a tradition for Sun Chengzhong and Wang Fuxiang, villagers in Kuqa, to grow the apricots in the yard and treat their guests to the plump, deliciously sweet ones in early summer when the fruit is at peak harvest stage.

By some quirk of fate, the fruit has also brought the couple a valued familial connection with someone who is unrelated to them by blood and even of an ethnicity different from theirs.

The story began more than four decades ago.

One day in 1978, an intruder snuck into the couple's yard to pick the white apricots and wolf down the fruit, one after another. He was soon caught by the owners. The intruder, Ahmat Kerim, 5, turned out to be a malnourished child at the point of starvation.

Ahmat and his mother suffered from poverty after his father died in 1976. The boy just wanted the apricots to fill his belly. He was treated to a bowl of savory noodles after the couple got to know the reason behind his deed.

"It's the most scrumptious noodles I've tasted in my life," recalls Ahmat, now 48.

After that, the couple started to offer him food to eat and clothes to wear. Wang, the woman, helped him to do laundry.

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