Sad tale of our times: A goodnight message from a texting service is all that a cancer patient has to hang on to
Ten years ago, a young graduate in China, lonely and stressed by her job in a Shenzhen e-commerce company, found it hard to fall asleep, and thought of saying goodnight to just anyone.
She ended up running a service sending goodnight messages for a small fee.
Since then, Ms Weng Bi Ying, 35, known as Jiu Mei, has sent out some 30,000 text messages to strangers, Yang Tse Wanbao reported.
People order the messages, which can be personalised, to be sent to others.
There are also those who just want someone to wish them goodnight, and make the order for themselves.
After Ms Weng halted the service for a while, she got a heart-rending message from one such woman.
The breast cancer patient had undergone mastectomy, was in pain from chemotherapy and was desperately lonely and depressed.
“I have no parents, no lovers, no children, and no breasts,” the woman said.
“In the four to five years of battling depression, I've thought of attempting suicide countless times. On my birthday in 2021, I wanted to buy a goodnight text from Jiu Mei and realised the shop was gone. I do not even have a stranger's concern anymore.”
The woman later found out online that Ms Weng was once again offering the service, and told her: “I wanted to buy myself a year of goodnight texts but was afraid I'll be gone at any moment. Hence, I bought them on a per-month basis. The day I stop buying, it means I am no longer here anymore."
Ms Weng had taken a break for a few months when she opened a cafe in Guangzhou, and was too busy and unsettled.
She restarted the service after another regular customer got in touch with her on WeChat.
Ms Weng charges 1 yuan (21 Singapore cents) for each message. But she said she was not in it for the money, and cherished giving some warmth or comfort to strangers.
Sometimes she even shares little bits of her own life or mood.
She sends out about 40 messages a day, though the number has touched 300 at times.
Occasionally, her recipients have reacted negatively. Some have even threatened to go to the police if she messaged them again.
And this, she said, can put her in a spot if the person who placed the order wanted to remain anonymous.
Ms Weng, now a mother with another full-time job, said her family was supportive, but she would eventually have to close down the service.