Remembering the years

After living in Shanghai for eighteen years, I didn’t know that there was such a station in the northern suburbs of the city. I heard that it used to be a coal station, but it was converted to the present use because of the influx of young people, and the station had no facilities and was all in the open air.

In the bright sunshine of May, there was a sea of people and chaos everywhere, with sweaty people looking for luggage, shouting and calling people, and elders wiping their eyes and wiping their tears. I stared blankly at the two black and shiny tracks, stretching forward, wondering where it would lead me.

With a train whistle, as an order, people cried in unison, holding hands in the car and refusing to let go, and even howling and stamping their feet. Mother has cried softly, was supported by siblings, father changed the majesty of the past, but also wiping tears. For the first time in my life, I saw my father crying, the train slowly moving forward, friends and relatives have trotted close behind, gradually getting farther and farther away, until out of sight.

With the sound of rumbling rhythm, the wheels rolled and sped, the carriage has been restored to calm, everyone was attracted by the scenery outside the window, in the discussion has arrived where, this is a wide river, the river in the brilliant sunlight with golden ripples, the slope of the two banks is very large, and the water level is lower than the Yangtze River. With my knowledge of geography, I knew that this was the Huai River, and that we would soon enter Huabei: the place where we would be re-educated.

The bus stopped at a market town – the site of the Sipu Commune – after more than an hour of bumps and bruises. I took the opportunity to look around while everyone was being concentrated: it was a small market town, except for the commune compound, which was a brick house, the rest were adobe mud houses, and the market was not long with small stalls of food, vegetables, eggs, etc. Some of the farmers were sitting on the ground, some were squatting.

The two-colored steamed buns are rolled with white flour and sorghum flour, and I was tempted by the chocolate-colored sandwich, and suddenly I thought it must be delicious. Yuck! I spit it out quickly. The old man in the cafeteria was shaking his head and sighing as he picked up the steamed buns in his basket, “This is a good meal that we can only have during the holidays!”

I, along with Yawen and Ari, was in the small Zhangjia production team, commonly known as “Southeast Zhang”; at the northwest end of the brigade there was another village called “Northwest Zhang”, because the terrain was very round, surrounded by a circle of dirt ditch outside the village, also known as “grinding plate Zhang “, and our village is called “chicken other Zhang”. In the early days, the village was very poor, year-round work not food and clothing, girls, daughters-in-law will go out in pairs, they wear wide clothes, walking the village set, every place where no one will steal chickens, the chicken head to the wings under a tuck, pinned to the waist of the pants, and then sold to make ends meet, so the “chicken be Zhang” infamous name.

When the three of us went out to the market or something, someone asked, “Student boy, what are you from?” “Little Zhang family” “What Zhang?” …… did not make a sound “is not the mill pan Zhang?” We then hmmed vaguely.

The first labor was to pull the plow, a group of a dozen people, arranged horizontally and vertically, each with a thick rope, one tied to the plow and one over the shoulder, marching to the sound of the slogan. I bent my head down and tensed the rope, my feet stepped on the soft ground, I always felt wobbly and unsteady, so I felt tired every time I took a step forward, and my shoulders hurt hotly soon. The lizards burrowed out of the sand that was turned loose from time to time, scaring us and making us shout.

The way home from work, the members of the community talk about: “youth dolls are under the force”, but I know under the tricky force is Yawen, although she bent over, but always hitch in the rope on the shoulder taut not too tight, A Li because of the short shoulder rope taut very tight, and indeed the night wipe, A Li’s shoulders are most red.

The wheat harvest, every family to improve the food, said to be improved in fact, but in the noodles mixed with more white flour, soup sprinkled with a few drops of sesame oil.

The captain gave us a small piece of land, three people lined up side by side, the left hand back to copy the wheat tree, the right hand close to the ground to swing the sickle. At the beginning of the cutting time feel fresh, but also smooth, time, hand sore to swing, especially the waist tired of stretching straight bent down, head down for a long time feel a burst of dizziness. I gritted my teeth and tried my best to persevere, repeating the mechanical action. Gradually they fell behind, the two are looking down and wiping tears. Ari lagged behind well, her sickle is the worst, but Yawen’s sickle is she picked half a day, compared again and again. It seems that manual labor not only depends on physical strength and strong will, but also the right tools for labor is crucial.

During the break I picked up a lot of bird eggs, as big as pigeon eggs, green and gray, white and white, covered with pockmarks, they said they couldn’t take them, they might be snake eggs, joke! Snake caves are located in the dark and damp ridge of the field, which will be in the dry wheat field to make a nest? Besides, it doesn’t matter what kind of turtle eggs they are, as long as they are edible. At night, I cooked these little bastards in salt water and ate them, and hey! In those days when there was no Nescafe, these Nescafe eggs really “tasted great”!

The wheat grass crushed during the wheat harvest was soft and fluffy, emitting a nice fragrance. The wheat straw was the feed for the team’s livestock all winter. Stacking wheat is a technical job, using a mulberry pitchfork to pick up a pile of wheat stalks and lift it high above the head, throwing it onto the pile with force, and the people above catching the pile.

I stood on the soft pile of wheat and had a lot of fun, the east side of the pile was good and the west side collapsed, this side of the code is good and that side fell, I sat helplessly on the stack of wheat dry eyes, then under the patience of the deputy captain guidance finally smooth, gradually some decent: the lower part is slightly smaller, the upper part like the eaves slightly outward, the top and then gradually gathered into a slope, the shape is like a magnified giant white mushroom, higher than all the roofs in the village. During the break, I sat on the tall white mushroom, admired my masterpiece, blew the cool wind at dusk, and watched the ever-changing fire clouds in the west of the sky.

Whenever we returned late from a night out and were tired, we would see the big white mushrooms on the wheat field from afar, and we would rush home with the wind at our feet and fast steps.

The three of us were sent to the team for our youth settlement money, but the team always diverted it to other uses. After I went to the commune many times to reason with them and broke my lips, they built a new house for us after the wheat harvest, adding beds, tables and stools, so it was finally like a home. The villagers said: “Shen, why are you so stupid? You show up in the affairs of three people and offend people.” I am tall, although I am willing to work hard, but I don’t know what to say, so people call me “stupid Dani”.

There was no rice in Huabei, but wheat, sorghum, corn, dried red taro, and so on. These grains had to be ground into flour, and the team had a mill, so they would put on a donkey, blindfold it, and take a small branch and whip its ass while yelling, “De’er …… drive” and it would go round and round along the mill path, and drink “phew! “It was easy and fun to watch, and the donkey was as obedient as my cat.

But not in our hands, how to drag it, it refused to step, it tilted its head with the intelligent and beautiful eyes squinting at me, long eyelashes flickering as if to say: “See what you can do with me?” I raised the whip before the whip, but it spilled out, holding its head up and shouting: “utter ……” sounded like a ship’s whistle, and then lowered its head and breathed backwards “crunch, crunch” to scream The first thing you need to do is to take back all the pain you’ve put in front of you. The three of us were laughing and holding our stomachs and screaming at our mothers.

It is easy to put it on, because we “have to child …… driving” will not curl the tongue, it pretended not to understand ignore. I was so anxious that I whipped its ass, and it was also furious that it pooped mischievously, walking and pooping to make the mill a mess and stink. In our hands and feet cleaning up, it has no qualms about stealing to eat the noodles, the mills a circle of noodles almost finished. The first thing you need to do is to get the best out of it. I can’t figure it out: you have to learn how to deal with livestock.

Although I am good in all aspects of performance, but the captain does not like me, always want to support me to go, the farming season he said: “Shen, you can talk, and good voice, let you go to the propaganda team.” I was so happy to hear it that I jumped up, right in the heart, then rushed to the brigade to report to the.

There were six or seven people in the propaganda team, responsible for the brigade group secretary, going to the countryside and villages, to convey the central documents (there were especially many documents in those days), but also some singing and dancing performances, because I have a clear voice, coupled with the singing and dancing foundation practiced in the Children’s Palace Art Group, so especially popular, on stage and off, the eyes of the villagers love to turn with me. I remember that the song I loved to sing and the folks loved to listen to was “Flower of Dazhai”, and the children in the village learned it as soon as they saw me: “A clear river water” ……

The propaganda team is to eat pie meal, the brigade to the proprietor to pay for food, so every day is white steamed buns, eggs pancakes to eat in different ways, a month down I have gained a lot of weight. At night I gave them the red dates and peanuts that folks stuffed into my pockets, and they said jealously: “You’ve been blessed by the disaster.”

The brigade’s support secretary is tall, black face, big mouth, open mouth full of yellow teeth, like a mouth stuffed with a stick of old corn, open mouth before talking first spray garlic stench. I am most annoyed with him, but he is always an excuse to approach me, every time I speak, the eyes of the thieves dripping around, look at me panic straight want to escape, once even put his hand on my shoulder. He said to me many times: “Shen, you have to receive good re-education, more close to the poor peasants, listen to the words of the poor peasants, I will definitely recommend you to recruit workers later,” the implication is first of all, close to him, listen to him. I was in a dilemma when the propaganda team was over and I was back under the captain’s nose.

The team sold some money from the sale of wheat, we discussed going out to have fun, where to go? I said to go to Suxian Prefecture, the Prefecture level is also considered a medium-sized city, certainly more lively.

The daily long-distance bus left, we had to walk on their own 11 roads to go, Huabei summer heat, especially in the hot sun, the hotter you go, throat dry smoke, feet on the hot tarmac, feel two groups of flame from the bottom to the top, burning the skin, so we really experienced the “red sun like fire “the taste.

I took off my straw hat while fanning the wind and thought, “I’m afraid I’m going to get heatstroke if this goes on, I have to think of a way.” Three people decided to hitchhike like boys, so I stood in the middle, they left and right, three people lined up in the middle of the road to stop the car. At that time, there were not many cars on the highway, the driver saw us from a distance to increase horsepower and a rush, so that we could not dodge, almost being crushed to death. Risking their lives again and again, finally someone sympathize with us, let us cheerfully get into the car, the cab can only sit three people, I once again carry forward the style of standing on top of the truck.

Suxian urban area is very small, residents and we live in a house similar to the mud walls and grass roof, the best building is the regional authorities building, green brick and red tile three stories high, despite this still let us over the city addiction.

In the not-so-busy stores and not-so-hip cinemas, we soon spent all our money, which was not much. The tickets to go back were sold out, we stayed in a small hotel next to the station, the two of them were so worried, no money to buy tickets tomorrow, how to do? I’m not in a hurry, what are you afraid of? I can go back as I came. No matter what, I half lay on the bed and sang a song: “A green mountain is closely linked” “A big river waves turn” ……

“Who is it? I can’t believe I’m singing so beautifully”! I was interrupted by a crisp and gentle voice, the visitor is a young woman, slender, elegant, dressed up, I can see that is not the local people, sit down to talk about it is really Beijing people, the original army literary troupe actor, because of his father’s involvement in the Lin Biao incident was knocked down and forced to demobilize, before his father locked in entrusted his own driver to take care of her, but to the Suixian District, as soon as the train, see the square puddle of foul water I cried when I saw the puddle in the square.

She admired my voice, and because of the Cultural Revolution, she wanted me to stay in the troupe and train me to be successful. But I shook my head like a rattle, because I didn’t understand Huangmei opera, I thought it was like Huai opera and Yang opera, which I didn’t like, and my father was against singing opera and so on. (Many years later, when I heard the soft, elegant and beautiful singing of Huangmei opera, I regretted it! Although I did not listen to her, she invited us to her house for dinner, talking to each other with the same feeling of compassion, more like a big sister like care.

The next day, we were put in the car driven by her husband. Before driving, she pointed at me and said with regret, “You! You, so capricious.” I held back my tears and bowed my head, and I didn’t even look up until the car drove away.

To this day I still remember her name “Wang Jingying”, her week-old son named “Zhu Chaoyang”.

The rainy season came without work, we rested in the house, I did not want to participate in their East girl handsome, the West daughter-in-law pretty discussion on reading books, soon the books brought are finished. I borrowed from the village’s private teacher, his surname is Zhang, a native of the village, just graduated from high school in time for the Cultural Revolution could not go to college, in the commune middle school to teach middle school language.

Mr. Zhang has a large collection of books, Chinese and foreign novels, world famous books, etc.. Every time he returns a book he always exchanges reading experience with me, lamenting the heroes and heroines of the book teenage ambition, but also talk about other issues: such as the captain and the accountant’s rivalry, he said the captain is brash, lack of heart, the accountant does not speak but the city is very deep. He portrayed the character of our three female youths to the bone, saying that Yawen is quiet and shy, and treats people with a shrewdness; that Ally is a bit mute, but has a good heart; that I am big-headed, unconventional, too frank, but more knowledgeable than them. He praised me for my receptiveness and adaptability, which made me feel that “the sky is like a neighbor, the sea is like a friend”.

I was surprised that he wasn’t satisfied with the status quo (he was already a prominent figure in the area) when he talked about his future despair. Looking at his dark, curly hair, large eyes with long eyelashes that looked a little deep (like his rich knowledge), straight nose and copper-colored skin (because private teachers often do farm work) could not hide the handsome and elegant. It’s amazing to think that such an outstanding talent and difference can be produced in such a barren land!

Gradually the village spread the word that “Xiaoshen and Zhang teachers talk about objects” and so on, one day the teacher’s sister came back to her mother’s house, and came to me after dinner, looking at Ally and Yawen squeezing eyebrows, giggling ghostly, I know there must be something, and indeed she came to talk to her brother, and promised to let me go to the commune elementary school teaching. (Her husband is a commune cadre.) Ari and the others jumped up and down with joy and praise!

I gave them a hard look and thought, “I don’t want you to make a fuss. You just want to squeeze me out, so that you can have one more recruitment quota and one less competitor.” At that time, I politely refused because I did not want to fall in love too early. When I left my parents, they told me “for the sake of the future, do not talk to friends in the countryside”. Besides, I just have a good feeling about Mr. Zhang, for what is called love is really hazy, do not know so.

The book was a pre-Soviet novel, “Among the Good People”. “The main character, Vasha, is a well-educated, elegant and noble woman born into a noble family. When she feels honored, the army is about to move out, and the officer can’t bear the pain of parting from her, and quietly leaves while she is sleeping with a happy and sweet smile. Vasya woke up and searched like crazy for her lover in vain, wandering the streets all day long, falling from heaven to earth once again.

The army came back, but the lieutenant did not return, and Vasya asked over and over again in the crowd, inquiring obsessively, not wanting to leave. Darkness fell, defenseless Varsha was surrounded by a group of hungry soldiers …… into a deep hell.”

I was in tears before I finished reading the book, thinking that I was younger than the heroine’s age, but also so much trouble, and then think of the unbearable labor, the aggravation suffered after leaving home, the village people’s gossip, I could not help but cry out, woke them up, probably remembering their own hearts, the three cried together.

A few days later, a child gave me a note, not headed and not addressed: “I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about what happened, please believe that it was not my intention, hope to cherish.” Of course I knew who wrote it, and I have not been to Mr. Zhang’s place since, and soon he was transferred to the county high school to teach.

Before the Cultural Revolution, my father was a major cadre in the district’s commercial system, but he was knocked down during the Cultural Revolution when his secretary revealed that he had badmouthed Jiang Qing as “a female opera singer” and was detained for a long time by the so-called “public prosecutor”. He was depressed and his condition deteriorated into bone cancer. I was rolling noodles when I received the telegram that I was in critical condition, so I was stunned and couldn’t cry for half a day as I looked at the white noodles.

The train slowly drew up in the “Shanghai is a heroic city” broadcast, and I returned to the “City of the East” that I had been thinking about for a long time, but I didn’t care to enjoy it all, and rushed to the hospital in a hurry. At the door of the resuscitation room, I saw that all my friends and relatives had arrived, I pushed them away, stumbled and jumped on my father, bawling: “Dad, look at me, look at me, I’m your daughter, I’m back.” I shook him desperately, but my father seemed to know when he was dying, and from his dilated pupils, two large teardrops rolled out to the sides and he slowly exhaled his last breath. I frantically stomped my feet and cried, desperately pulling the body cart to keep it from being pushed away. I looked into my father’s dead eyes and knew he had too much ……

My father is gone forever with endless regrets. That time the station to send off my father’s long-winded admonition: “Qin’er, the road ahead depends on your own, always remember: everything to use more brains, do not trust others with their own honesty.” These words were my father’s lessons and his last words to me, when I was just 18 years old.

Just after the Spring Festival I went back to the production team early, the captain personally pulled the cart to pick me up, dinner, the captain’s wife constantly to my bowl of food, said comfortingly: “poor baby, do not worry, after the team as your home, everyone will care about you.” I was in tears, and the captain also explained that the embezzlement of our settlement money was the team’s spring plowing urgently waiting to buy fertilizer, and praised me in the middle of the three youngest, but everywhere as an example, so I felt very relieved, the former suspicion is released.

As a result of the heavy work of repairing the earth, the overload of psychological load, the nutritional lag, I gradually feel physically exhausted, that day in the Huai River weed, how I desperately rush or behind. When resting, the community members said, “Shen, this child, from the back like a new person, do not talk much, and do not love to sing and laugh.”

Yes, I have indeed changed and become sentimental. At this moment, I was staring at the small mound of graves by the ridge of the field, where a girl named “Bottle” was sleeping, and she had three sisters: “Golden Flower”, “Silver Flower” and “Jade Leaf”. “The only boy in the family was called “Zagan”, which probably means “secure”.

Bottle is particularly handsome, melon face peach blossom eyes, small mouth always like tightly pursed, shy and do not like to talk. “Bottle” two or three days before the death of the stomach pain is very serious, the family is poor, and does not pay attention to girls, dragged until it really can not go to see, it is already too late, the appendix perforated, a beautiful and bright little flower died prematurely.

The god of fate is like throwing a small stone, throwing me to this barren and backward place. I am deeply sad for the “bottle”, but also for myself, looking at the endless yellow land, I do not know how long it will take to get ahead?

The day I planted the sweet potato seedlings, it was raining, the early spring rain with a gust of cold, drenched the day, I finally fell ill at night, the fever did not go down, in the drowsiness, I saw my father and grandmother, who died not long ago, they lovingly touched me, all three were in tears. When I woke up, I was immersed in a dreamy scene for half a day. After recovering from my illness, I never recovered, and the villagers said that my soul was taken away by the ghost.

The first condition of recruitment was good labor performance, but I couldn’t do it anymore, like a small oil lamp boiling dry, people were so thin that they lost their shape, loose clothes wavered on my body, and I was exhausted. My mother wrote to me that my sister-in-law had been transferred to a military factory in Jiangxi with my aunt’s husband and was willing to take my family with her, and the elders at home agreed that I should go and have a place to stay. At this point I had become numb, my mind was blank and I agreed without thinking.

In Nanjing when the transfer, I once again dumbfounded looking at the two no end of the tracks, do not know where it will lead me again this time ……