Days away from being forcibly evicted, a Beijing family is praying to Buddha and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for help, but they know their stand in the face of the city's Olympic development is all but futile.
The plight of the Yu family is the latest in a string of disputes between developers and residents that illustrates just one of the tensions wrought by China's rapid modernization.
"We don't know what to do," said Yu Pingju, 40, as she stood at the kiosk selling nuts and dried fruit that is her family's business and that fronts their small home.
"We're extremely worried. We can't eat and we don't sleep at night. We're physically and mentally exhausted. But what can we do? This is our home."
Many shops demolished
Shops like theirs used to line the tree-lined Beijing street offering views of the sloped eaves of the Forbidden City. Nearby is the old courtyard house of late leader Deng Xiaoping, whose daughter they say occasionally stops by to pick up some snacks.
But most have long since been demolished in favor of broad paths of grass and flowers that are part of the city's efforts to reinvent itself ahead of the Olympics, which open on Aug. 8.
The Yus were warned that if they did not leave by June 26 they would be forcibly evicted. They say the local authorities have yet to show them a permit.
And their extended family of 14, who range in age from four to 71, don't know where else to go.
In a letter written to the local authorities by Yu's elder brother, Yu Changwang, and pasted on the wall next to their shop, he warns that if they do not bend, "our whole household will resolutely not accept it".
"This is a faint shout from the innermost hearts of our whole family," the letter reads.
Chinese media have seized on stand-offs between developers and so-called "nail houses", whose owners have held their ground, some becoming heroes feted for their plucky stance
against unfeeling corporations or local governments.
But as the Olympics approach, such hold-outs are treading sensitive ground.
"With the Olympics quickly coming up, it's not right to make more difficulties for the country. People should have more patriotism," said one woman, surnamed Feng, who paused to look
at their letter.
The Yu family know they are fighting a losing battle, but they are putting their faith in the spirit of the pictures that decorate their shop — Mao Zedong, Deng, Wen and several
Buddhist deities — to come to their rescue.
Like many in China who do battle with authorities, the Yus blame local officials, who they say destroyed a chunk of their house in March, and see hope in the power of the central government, particularly populist Premier Wen.
"He gives the greatest voice to us common people," said Yu Pingju.