Note: Today is Father’s Day. I was wondering early in the morning if my son would still miss his grandfather. Although I know it is a luxury. I myself grew up reading through my father’s bookcases, stealing his manuscripts, loving his strong handwriting, and inadvertently learning to write from him. I know that his blood runs through my veins, but he has cut off my bloodline with my hometown in Chengdu, and paradoxically, his longing for his grandson is so moving …….]
On May 20, 1991, I stood on the Golden Gate Bridge and cried bitterly toward Fangdong. Since then, whenever I have the opportunity to advise people, the first thing I do is, if your parents are still alive, do your filial piety before it’s too late, don’t be like me, tormented by remorse day in and day out, and you can’t live in peace for the rest of your life. I didn’t even have time to buy my mom a bowl of soy milk, a cake, or a dress.
The place where my mother fell into the streets of Beijing has entered my dreams many times. I knew that market place too well. The area east of the road is called Xihuangchenggen, a little south of Xidan in Beijing. There are two most well-known places in that area: Maojiawan, the former residence of Lin Biao, and Beijing Boys’ Middle School No. 4, one of the most famous schools. In the early 1980s, a dormitory was built at the east end of the courtyard on the street, and my father was assigned to a unit and lived there with my mother and sister. We later sent our son there as well. Su Shan lived in the same house with his grandmother and fell asleep every day listening to the “truth of being human”. After my mother retired, she went downstairs to West Huangchenggen North Street every afternoon to pick up milk, walked south to pick up milk, and walked north to Su Dan’s elementary school. If it weren’t for the June Fourth Incident, it would have been my grandmother and grandson who often walked along this quiet street.
Later on, my father bought a grave in the Tzuiziyu Mausoleum in Changxindian, a suburb of Beijing, to bury my mother’s ashes. I was wandering overseas, and from then on, I had a worry in my heart, being gripped by something 10,000 miles away, and it took me a long time to realize that it was my mother’s grave, a place where I had to go to pay my respects, but I couldn’t go. It was not until the end of the second millennium that I urged my son to go back to his hometown. I wanted him to visit my grandmother’s grave and asked him to place the black veil I wore on my arm at the Golden Gate Bridge on my grandmother’s grave. In Beijing, when the snow cleared, grandpa led his grandson to the mausoleum to pay his respects, and the traffic was still difficult. My son did exactly what I asked him to do, kowtowed to his grandmother for me, and took pictures to show me. I am eternally grateful to my son for completing a ritual that I could not afford to perform on my behalf.
Dad could barely see out of his right eye when he saw his only grandson because of cataracts, which was the second reason I urged my son to go on his way. I was very afraid that my father would not be able to wait to see his grandson before he was completely blind, and that would call me to make another big mistake that I would regret for the rest of my life. In fact, my father didn’t just want to see his grandson; he just didn’t say he missed me too. I said to my father, “I’ll invite you to come out to visit your family, but he refused. He began to correspond with me, telling me many stories about his family and home, as well as about his own pursuits in his youth, his loss, his repentance, and his breakthrough in his twilight years.
When I read my father’s letters, I often got teary-eyed. My father was old and sick in his old age, suffering from diabetes, minor cerebrovascular infarction, leg and joint pains, and most painful of all, cataracts, so that he could not even write letters. I couldn’t serve the sickness at my side, how guilty I felt. He said, “I am now older than my father’s and grandfather’s generations, so I should be content with that. These bleak words, he could only say to his son.
Dad’s words are slightly colder, with little warmth and ink, except for his mother’s sorrow and suffering. But once, unexpectedly, he wrote to me like this.
‘You said in your letter that you were a little sad when you said goodbye to Su Shan. This is a common human feeling. When you left Beijing to study, I can’t remember how I felt at that time. I am a hard-hearted person, probably not very emotional. The thing that sticks in my mind is that when I left home at the age of fourteen to go to school to stay at a junior high school (right in Chengdu), my father cried in front of me. I had never seen him cry before and was very surprised. When I asked him why he was crying, he said he couldn’t bear to see me leave. So, it has been like that for generations. So it’s been like that for generations.
The relationship between my father and his father, the Su family of Chengdu’s Zhong Lie Si Street, could be the subject of a separate book, so I can’t go into it here. But Dad was indeed a hard-hearted man who left home in his twenties, and only returned to Chengdu once in the early nineties, after a half-century gap. I never met my grandfather, who died in the early days of the Cultural Revolution after being criticized. My father broke his breath while calling my name,” my father wrote in his twilight letter, but he taught me not to have a psychedelic “warm imagination” about my hometown. “warm imagination”. However, there was another detail he told me that I could not forget: my grandfather had given me a name: Xiushi after he knew I was born.
Dad himself in his old age, but misses his grandson, his “hard heart” is no longer. In the second millennium, Su Shan made a trip to China and brought back a letter from my grandfather to me. “I have blurred vision, to write you this letter, can not be ominous, can only summarize …… after observation, everyone’s impression of Su Shan are very good, we feel that this child is heavy, introverted, very few arguments, more no wild talk delusion ……”. From then on dad’s letters must talk about his grandson, and the strokes are lingering:.
‘Received a letter. I was very happy to see the picture of Su Shan, he has grown into a robust little man. I remember when he was first born, your mother went to Zhengzhou to visit and when she returned, I asked her how the child was. She said, “The child’s features are that the eyes grow in the center of the face and the forehead takes up half of the face. I was impressed by this statement. I decided that he would not be a clumsy child. I can still see his broad forehead in the photo, and I feel warmth in my heart.
‘When I think of Su Shan I am happy in my heart and feel warm and full. I know there is a generation gap between us, and I don’t expect him to reciprocate, or even miss me (perhaps, it would be better to forget me), but still, I can’t stop myself from liking him. It’s one-way, and one-way is in line with the laws of nature. It’s the law of nature. I don’t know if Dad realized it.
I don’t know if my father realized that his description of himself as ‘one-way’ also describes his father to him. ‘Generations are like this’ – the father is also a cold glimpse of the long flowing trickle of humanity. The unspoken attachment of the previous generation to the next is like the eternal force of the long flow. Dad later wrote directly to his grandson.
‘I often miss you and look at your pictures. I am seventy-four years old, and there is a difference of fifty-eight years between us. I have watched you grow up and raised you with my own hands. For a few years, I took you to kindergarten every morning and picked you up in the afternoon. It was a life I will never forget. Your grandmother was so attached to you that she would not be able to see you for a few days. For us, these feelings were a blessing and a reward in themselves. I write to you on the old letterhead your grandmother left behind, and you think of it as if we both wrote to you …… You are the son of an exile, and your mother is severely disabled. Your road to exile is still confusing and bumpy. You need to love your parents and truly act like an exile’s offspring …… ‘