Filial 13-year-old is 'dad' to amputee father: "I will never leave him"
On school days, he gets up at 5am and prepares breakfast and lunch.
In the evenings, he rushes home to empty the bedpan.
And Xu Jiahao is just 13 years old.
The boy from Yiyang county in Jiangxi has touched thousands in China with how devoted he is to his father.
Mr Xu Jiangshan, who is in his 40s, lost both his legs and his right hand to vasculitis (a condition where the blood vessels are inflamed) over three operations in 2008, 2012 and 2013.
The only limb he is left with, his left hand, has just four fingers.
Life with his son is a struggle. Life without him would be impossible.
Jiahao refused to abandon his father even after his mother divorced Mr Xu and left the family following the first operation.
She has since remarried and did not seek custody of Jiahao.
After the Chinese media reported about the pair in April, several families approached Jiahao, offering to adopt him.
But he has turned down all the kind offers, he says. Even when his dad wishes his son will go.
Mr Xu says: "It is for my child's own happiness and his future. Another family will be able to provide my child with what I cannot do in this life."
But Jiahao remains adamant in his decision.
He says: "I will not leave my father and our home no matter how tough life is, not unless my father can come with me."
In a telephone interview with The New Paper on Sunday, both father and son take turns to speak.
There is light bantering as they pass the mobile phone to each other, often prompting: "Okay, this question you have to answer."
Mr Xu confesses: "If it was not for my son, I'd have long gone to another world."
Sadly, he had entertained thoughts of hurting himself in the past. Jiahao became so paranoid, he would jump every time his father reaches for a bottle of medicine.
Says Mr Xu: "He'd demand to see the contents and also the description label just to reassure himself that nothing is amiss."
In the background, Jiahao is heard saying: "But my father has become a strong man. He has promised not to harbour silly thoughts."
Mr Xu adds with a laugh: "My little big wonder boy."
Jiahao wakes up early every morning to cook for his father.
The daytime menu is relatively simple, says the boy. "It's usually congee or noodles."
He then wakes his father for breakfast and gets everything ready for lunch as well before setting off for school by 6am.
School is about 4km away from home, a 40-minute walk.
The journey home is quicker after class is dismissed at 3pm. He says: "I am worried about my father, so I walk more quickly."
After he greets his father when he reaches home, the first thing Jiahao does is to take the urine pot and bedpan out to empty and clean.
He admits that when he started doing that, he'd "hold his breath really hard and long" because of the stench.
"But now, I have got used to it," he declares.
When that is done, he sits down to do his homework until around 5pm. It is then time to prepare dinner, a meal that gets a little more attention from the father and son team.
It's also a chance for them to bond as Mr Xu teaches Jiahao how to cook new dishes.
He says: "I want to teach him all that I can because I don't know when I will suffer another relapse.
"What happens if I just drop dead suddenly?"
He stations himself beside Jiahao and watches over him.
Says Mr Xu: "When he first started to cook, he cut his fingers and also scalded himself with the splattering oil."
Jiahao's last call of duty before he goes to bed is to bathe his father. On weekends, he is busy with household chores that includes cleaning the house and doing the laundry.
He tries to find time too to take his father outside for some fresh air.
The pair depend on donations in cash and in kind from social welfare organisations and the people in their hometown for their daily expenses.
Almost everything in their home - from the furniture to Mr Xu's wheelchair - was given by "generous and kind souls", says Mr Xu.
Even Jiahao's iPhone, which also happens to be the boy's main form of entertainment.
He says: "I love to listen to songs and sing along."
A second-hand laptop connects him to the "big, big world" outside his home.
Mr Xu is saddened that their family situation has affected Jiahao's studies.
Jiahao has another year more to go before he finishes junior middle school.
He admits that he has not given his "future after school" much thought for now.
"It's hard to plan anything when we don't even know what will happen tomorrow, next month or next year," Jiahao says.
Mr Xu reveals that sometimes he feels that he is a burden to his son.
"Most boys who are my son's age are happily basking in their parents' love and don't have to worry about anything. But my son has lost his freedom and his childhood," he says in a dejected voice.
To which Jiahao jumps in to add: "I always tell my father that he should not feel this way. I am doing it all simply because I love my father.
"He is my pillar of strength, not the other way around. It is only when I have my father that I have a family and a home."
Life wasn't always so tough for Mr Xu Jiangshan and his son, Jiahao.
Mr Xu used to run a car repair workshop, with his then-wife helping him in the business.
He could even afford to buy a 150sqm house where the family of three lived together comfortably.
But in early 2008, Mr Xu lost his right leg to vasculitis (a condition where the blood vessels are inflamed).
And to raise money for his medical treatment, he sold their home for 200,000 yuan (S$40,500) - half the valued price.
By then, his wife had left him.
But Mr Xu did not give up hope.
A year later, he borrowed money to open a small grocery store, helping to make ends meet.
Just as Mr Xu thought that they could start life anew, he suffered a relapse and his left leg had to be amputated.
Still, he persevered. Winding up the grocery store, he took the money to invest in a three-wheel motorbike and provided transport services for people in his county.
He says: "I lost both legs but I could still operate and manoeuvre the motorised vehicle."
Until he was dealt another blow last year. This time, he lost his right hand and the middle finger on his left hand.
The hospital charges also left him with a debt of 80,000 yuan.
After their story was publicised, donations poured in from social welfare organisations and people who were moved by Jiahao's filial piety and courage.
Mr Xu says: "It has helped to ease our financial woes and that helps to give us more hope to move on."