On the afternoon of August 26, 2016, Yang Gaolan, from Kangle County, Gansu province, hacked his four children to death with an axe on a road behind his house before taking poison and killing himself. Before and after the tragedy, the many villages and towns scattered across China’s vast landscape were still living hard and peaceful lives. People are still sharpening their heads and going to the city.
April 4, lunar February 27, Qingming festival.
Early in the morning, a light rain, I took a bus from Wushan to Tianshui, Uncle Jiang’s car stopped by the roadside waiting for me, ready to go back to the village together. I wanted to buy some fruit for my grandfather on the roadside, but I didn’t feel comfortable to open my mouth and let Uncle Jiang stop the car. In the paper bag, I only carried a few oil rings bought in Wushan.
Last Qingming festival, with my wife in Hainan, this year, no matter what, I will go home to see my ancestors.
Halfway there, my father phoned to say that the weather was cloudy and rainy, so they went to the cemetery first and asked us to go later.
For more than an hour the car drove along the dilapidated, pitted road. Ma On Shan, under the ditch, and then up the hill, to the ma village.
Ma Cun, an ordinary village hidden in the loess depths of the mountain. Apart from the 18, 800 meters of cold and damp, the surrounding locust and apricot trees, the wild strawberries sloped in May, and the grasshoppers in summer, are no different from any other village in China.
When we arrive at the old cemetery, our relatives have cleared away the weeds, and some young acacia trees have been cut down and piled aside. With new soil added to the tombs, Uncle Jiang brought back several baskets of soil to show his filial piety to his ancestors.
The graveyard is the same cemetery where my ancestors are buried.
The top, is the day grandfather, day grandmother; Then there was great-grandfather, great-grandmother… From top to bottom, the graves reach the edge of the cliff, another generation buried there is no place. A few years ago, my grandfather had to use feng shui to choose a new cemetery, and my grandmother was buried there.
My grandfather told me that our ancestors had moved to Ma Cun and settled there. Counting my cousin’s daughter, it is now the seventh generation. He did not mention where his farther ancestors were buried. Where did the visitors come from? No one can trace back to the source, and everything, came from the loess, eventually also returned to loess.
Fewer and fewer knees, just like the world is getting thinner and thinner missing. Fewer and fewer knees, just like the world is getting thinner and thinner miss. (Network diagram)
In my impression, every Qingming, our family to go to the grave, there are always a lot of people, old and young, noisy, good situation.
The adults were talking about farming, solar terms and the scenery in front of them. The children were holding long streamers, incense wax and kites. In the cemetery, grandfathers do light work, picking up weeds and weeds. The fathers took turns adding soil to the mound until it was completely covered with new earth. Sometimes, they would carry cypress trees around the cemetery, the children would fight to carry water, water…
Working in the grave garden, the clan feelings of a family here, blood flow in the meantime. A clutch of wormwood in my grandfather’s hand identifies our ancestors. Who are they? Who are they? Sometimes he would recite the memories of his ancestors, and most of them would be suffering, like a cloud hanging over the heads of his children and grandchildren.
As the years went by, fewer and fewer people visited the grave. Now, grandfather that generation can go to the grave, only three grandfather; In my father’s generation, there were five, the most numerous; In my generation, I seem to be the only one left.
When I looked at my grandfather, who was declining, and my parents, who were no longer young, and looked around me, there was nothing but the wilderness, the grass, the trees, and the late cold coming from the north.
Where once we had a dozen knees, now there are only six. I’m the only one left in my generation. What about the next generation? I can’t imagine.
Fewer and fewer knees, just like the world is getting thinner and thinner missing.
My village does not plant hemp, grow hemp, sell hemp, have no hemp face and hemp Wolf, have nothing to do with “hemp” at all.
In the early years, I have been for the ancestors of such a strange village name and angry, also ashamed to mention it in front of others, I think it is not western. Whenever someone asks, “Which village do you come from? I would say, “It’s behind Liang Village, just up the hill.” Or, “It’s in the Pear village.
Ma Village is not big or small, lying in the end of the Western Qinling mountains on the half of a depression. In the past, more than 90 families, with more than 400 people, depended on the weather for food. Now, it’s all part time.
In the early 1990s, except for a few sideline workers in Lanzhou, all the others stayed in the village, planting seeds in spring and weeding in summer, harvesting crops in autumn and storing up crops in winter, and spending their time in the ten acres of hilly land. The day is poor, even always all day for a few oil and salt money to worry about busy, but the village chicken and dogs smell, noisy.
In spring, all over the mountains and plains are people calling horses, busy ploughing, sowing seeds and spreading film; In the first month, the old and young together, can play black fire, horse fire, a play is about ten days; Teeth and wishbone table, the old people sit a pile, sun warm, said ancient and modern, every day not empty; Wheat field, four in eight village young people rushed over, playing basketball, always have to contend for a high or low; On the kang, the women sit together, pulling gossip, parents, knitting sweaters, soles……
The day is cold again, total somebody carries a basket to pick up dung, somebody is clip sole string of door; Day again drought, total somebody is on the hillside roar Qin Qiang, drive a donkey to graze.
By the mid-1990s, the village was experiencing a wave of young and middle-aged workers going out to work. The whereabouts and jobs of people are as follows: Lanzhou La Honeycomb coal, Tianshui city odd jobs, Yinchuan, Inner Mongolia construction, etc.
This time, a third of the village’s main labor force began to flow out. The city, for the first time will reach the hands of the ma village “pocket”, took out a part of the people.
By 2000, almost all the young people in the village had gone out to work, covering more than half of China. About 40 years old engaged in the construction industry, about 20 years old in the workshop processing parts, operating machine tools.
At this time, ma Cun, the first wave of blood, but also the most critical wave, was pumped clean. The “613899” team (a nickname for left-behind children, women and the elderly) began to take shape. Without a backbone, relatively weak women became the backbone of the family.
By the mid-2000s, however, the 38 group was losing a younger segment of its population. Many girls go to factories in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and other places after finishing primary school, engaging in the production and processing of clothing, toys and other commodities. By 2010, under the influence of the surrounding villages, almost all the women under the age of 50 in Ma Cun had gone to Beijing, Tianjin and other places. They work in hotel services or as domestic helpers.
Ma Village thoroughly entered a downturn. All the rural labor force has been drained, the old people and children have no one to take care of them, and the good farmland has been abandoned. The heavy work has to be done by old people.
In recent years, unit 61 has also begun to withdraw from the village.
Around 2000, there was a primary school in Ma Cun, with grades one to four and about 40 students in the school. By 2010, there were only seven or eight students left and the village had to close. Today, only one child in this village attends primary school in the neighboring village, while only five or six go to Study in grade four or five in Pear Village.
As long as the village has a little financial ability, the family will transfer their children to the school in the city. So what little life there was left in the village disappeared into utter silence.
Qingming is the time to plant melons and beans, and we hardly found anyone in the fields as we went along. Into the village, is still a quiet, meet people, is also twos and threes. Every family is “iron general” door, the village did not even chicken crow.
Qingming festival, there are people go to the grave ancestor worship, peacetime Ma village, you can imagine the situation.
My grandfather and I sat in the kang tou, talking about the topic of the increasingly sparse population in the village. He pointed to me and counted all the people who usually stayed behind in the village, about 50 in total. In his grandfather’s words, “nothing but rot and rot.”
By five o ‘clock in the afternoon the rain was over and the sky was still cloudy. We are leaving grandfather, aunt and so on, ready to return home. Ma Cun will only be lively (or even not lively) such a day, for a while, the time comes, we will be the city again by the big hand away.
We have become a complete traveler in Ma Cun.
People who receive yams come into the village at about three o ‘clock in the afternoon. They chugged along the narrow alleys of the village in their three young women’s cars. Finally, they parked the car at the wishbone table.
Toothed and wishbone table, the heart of Ma Cun, belongs to the east-west passage of a section of the road. Due to its width, the two-bed kang is the same size, and there is a hanging slope two meters high, just like an earthen platform.
In the past, the leisure people would gather on this table, the old and the middle-aged, gossiping and gossiping. The village affairs would be passed through here, and the village gossip would find its root here. Therefore, the wishbone table is not only an earth table, but also a convergence and divergence of all kinds of information.
It is a good year in Japan. It is a good year in Japan.
Today’s table is paved with concrete three meters wide, but it is much lower. Maybe I’ve grown taller, or maybe it’s bald from layers of people’s feet and gossip. Just like in Ma Cun, those who were once tall and tall people and things, now are short and thin down, exposed a humble, gaunt and weak nature.
The person who receives the potato pressed open the trumpet, the trumpet repeatedly shouted: “to receive the potato — to receive the potato –“, is the western Qinling this area native language accent, “to” and “to” the word Yang turned into three tones, “to” the word pull long, like a hemp pulled out from the disorderly thread head.
So, over and over, on and on.
In the past, as long as the table came up with a vinegar, watermelon, hair needles and thread, mends shoes, cuts, popcorn, pig hair, the table would be full of people. Big and small will come to see the fun.
There are few outsiders among the people in the mountain. When a stranger comes to do business, it is just like a festival. But now, this table only accept yams of people, empty. The past is like the autumn wind over the ear, disappeared, even once under the platform foraging sparrow, also seems to have gone to the city.
The person that receive a potato squatted on the stage more than an hour, also did not come, the person that asks a price is very few also. Finally, they walked along the laneway a circle, while Shouting “– to accept the potato – to accept the potato”, the voice in their mouth and the speaker is not the same, but the same tired drowned in the firewood, under the eaves.
After half an hour, and after half an hour, Ma village gradually into the evening, the people who accept yams really can’t wait. They drove a tricycle out of the village, at the entrance of the village met Zhao Pingping’s grandfather, an old man of more than eighty. They get off, hand him a cigarette, and ask, “Old man, who in the village has an potato?”
“Which still have what potato, you see, everywhere barren, no race of potato, even if planted, also a few minutes, their own to eat. ‘said the old man, stumbling and trembling.
“I remember your village before many of the yams are very, some people want to plant three or five acres.”
“That was before, there are people in the village, now no one, who kind of ah!”
“It looks the same everywhere. I thought your village was better.”
“How much better? How much is a kilo of potato now?”
“Eighty cents, the best piece.” The potato receiver put out a finger and shook it in front of the old man.
“Oh, or the price is low, an mu of land good harvest, that is two thousand yuan, not including fertilizer, manpower and what, so cheap, farming does not pay, also can not accept people’s heart. The old man suddenly remembered what, “rightness, you accept potato to do what?”
“When the seed, we that a boss contracted some land, want to plant some potato, send us to collect, did not think of a day even a potato buds have not received.
“Look elsewhere.” With that, the old man turned and staggered along with his hands on his back. Look at the way he walks. He’s been planting grain all his life, but now he can’t.
Potato people, a few finished smoking, a long sigh, put the butt on the ground, hard grind a few times, has got on the car. Three ma son “Tutu tutu” dry cough, out of the village.
Did not receive potato seed, that potato, how should kind? I thought in the car into the city, “no seeds, is it true that the potato is the grandchild?”
In the past, before and after the Qingming festival, Ma Cun, generally is a kind of potato.
To plant an potato, cut the seeds first. Take out old potato from the cellar, pick up potato nest on even, cut into several teeth. Each tooth should have a socket, which is the belly button of the potato, from which new buds will grow. Cut into seeds, pile on the side, as high as a small hill. The chopping board and the cutter were covered with white starch, glinting in the sun.
Once you have seeds, you can plant them. The adult carries the utility model, carrying a plow with a whip and carrying a dung bucket. The e child carried the plane. Head, shovel, arm with a bamboo basket, containing dry food.
The child is leading the donkey, the donkey is leading the adult, the adult is leading a spring breeze, after the rain of grass germinating in the sunny land.
Before entering the ground, one must first heave dung. Dung is last year in December dish new kang removed kang soil, after the spring equinox pulled to the ground, has been a nest. Has the kang soil been cracked and scratched? Head, a strong, damp mixture of weeds, wood, leaves, cow dung, donkey dung, horse dung after fermentation kang smell, blow on the face. The smell went into your lungs and made you feel like mustard.
Dung, also have orifice. Planting yams, corn, wheat and so on, dung generally evenly spread in the ground. Sow a sunflower and spread the dung in the furrow. If it cannot reach the ground, fill it with a bucket of dung and scatter it again.
Then plough the land and seed it. Bind the ass, the woman shall lead him, and the man shall take the plough, and lead it to the edge of the ground. With the first furrow, the donkey will follow the furrow, very sensible.
As soon as it was ploughed, the woman carried a basket full of seeds, followed by a litter of seeds left evenly. On ploughed land, the plough will turn up big lumps of earth, which we call “foundations”. The task of a child is to hold a plane or? Head all over the ground to beat the base, beat into foam. Otherwise, the base is pressed on the top, the seedlings will not come out.
Leave seed, begin to scatter fertilizer, what use mung bean commonly is big, gray soil phosphate fertilizer. Men with dung bucket, back and forth, after a while, the wet earth fell on a layer of gray phosphate fertilizer, phosphate fertilizer with the tide, black.
When all this was done, it was past ten o ‘clock, and the sun was standing on the top of the tree spouting new leaves. The whole family sat down on the ground and began to eat dry food, each with a steamed bun and no soup. They were all stirred by their tongues. Some people will carry a pot of pickled cabbage, sprinkled with salt, put pepper, eat.
When eating the dry food, the neighboring people, holding the dry bread, shouted to each other, “Baby, dad, come to eat the dry food.” “What’s good?” “Layers of oil cake, come and eat.”
Since the ground has been dried a little after eating, the utility model is used. The utility model, a person is high and elongated, it is unclear what cane is used to decorate the model. Anyway, the thumb is thick, the child can’t move on his back because it weighs about 30 or 50 pounds.
The utility model has the face suspended on the plow, when the donkey pulls the utility model and the person stands on it, holding the donkey’s tail with one hand and the whip with the other. The utility model itself is rolled by the gravity of the person and leveling the ploughed ground, just like a comb is used to comb it.
The utility model is a utility model, since the donkey dragged the ground on it, just like sitting on a carriage. It looks like an easy job, but it’s not the truth. Since the ground is flat and the station is unstable, you can slip into the trench and turn over if you hit the big foundation and cannot tread down the solid ground. Since a child likes the utility model, but because it is too light, a large base can be overturned, it will overwhelm the utility model and suffer a loss, so the child does not dare to utility the station.
The utility model can be planted when the ground is depleted. The sun on the back, warm swallowed, like carrying a half – face kang. When the donkey was tired at noon, they went back to their house.
On the way home, the men easily carry half the dead wood head, take back to the fire; Women along the ridge of the ground, pinch a few wild vegetables, go home with boiled water, clear green, sprinkled with oil and salt, then became a bright dish on the table; The children, unable to walk, sat on the saddle of the donkey and wagged their heads.
Let the donkey ride only if the child does well. Most of the time, the animals could not be ridden after work, and were worn out from the ploughing and planting in the morning. In the countryside, no one cares for the cattle. This pity is not worse than pity the child.
In ma Village, the general family, small households, have to plant one or two acres of potato. Potato, is inseparable from the staple food throughout the year, cooking, stir-frying, cooking, do potato noodles, even pulp water, also want to cut an potato, to eat steadfast.
But now, the field is a wasteland of wormwood. Planting yams also seems to be a thing of the past in Ma Cun.
I met Father Xi, a cripple in his fifties, one of the middle-aged people in the village who couldn’t leave their homes. Once he limped on one leg and planted crops all over the country. He rented land from others as well as his own. Now he has given up planting and is at home.
‘He said.’ My leg hurts badly when I can’t move a muscle; Two to plant some potato, was wild (wild boar, pheasant) spoilt all.”
Last winter, I saw a picture of a wild boar in ma Cun’s QQ group. It turned out that the boar had been poisoned by pesticides.
I’ve never seen a live boar. On the other hand, there was a cliff about three or four meters high, with holes as thick as buckets, and the holes were blackened by the smoke of firewood. The other boys said that it had smoked the boar.
Later, the boar did not appear again. People seem to forget that there is such a thing as a wild boar.
Pheasants, however, are common, and we call them quack, because they come and croak.
When I was a child, I went to graze cattle by the side of the road in the slope. A pheasant resting was startled and fluttered its wings, gung lala, and bounced into the sky. I scared the pheasant, and the pheasant scared me.
On the way to the grasshopper cage, was this pheasant scared me out of my wits, knees sour and soft. So, pick up a piece of dirt knot, toward fly far of chicken bottom throw go, scold a way, “go to die.” The knobs slide out of a beautiful curve in the air, fell into the sunflower forest, hit the leaves clattering.
One summer, I went to cut wheat with my mother and my brothers played hide-and-seek among the sheaves. The sheaf had been cut early, and was piled up to dry. I dived into the sheaf and found something black moving inside. I thought it was a snake and jumped out with a cry of “Ah!”
The brothers came running over, and we tried to lift the sheaf. A: wow! A clutch of pheasants, fist-sized and taupe, stood squawking in a haystack. We took off our sweats, lifted them up, and pawed at them. The pheasant boy didn’t pout on them, but he ate a mouthful of dirt and punctured his mouth with stubble.
We catch them all over the place, but these guys don’t run as fast as if they’ve been trained to run. Scoot, ducked into the grass and disappeared. We feel disappointed if lost, can only stand on the ridge of earth, continue to play.
When I was a child, there are hunters in the village, hunters have an old gun, can shoot pheasant.
They find prey, not in a hurry to hit, but throw a knot in the soil to chase. A drive, pheasant fly into a pile of sour thorn, they run to drive, drive again, pheasant timid can not bear to drive, nasty, head into the earth, buttocks up in the air. The hunter held his gun and aimed, spraying sand like a net over the past.
The nimble pheasant, hearing the latch, stretched his wings and soared into the air. Flying too late, the wing hit a sand, fell down, became the hunter’s capsule. And then there are those idiots who just pout and get pounded into the sand.
At the beginning, the old gun nobody tube, then the township government and the defense team to the people, guns confiscated. A hunter without a gun, just like a man without a hand, gradually more wild things.
Home Gansu: Empty the village pocket, drain the last blood
Three or four years ago, farmers tried to put in their fields corn kernels that had been mixed with poison, poison voles. Pheasant eat, also die, slowly, pheasant has become a rare thing in the mountains. But these two years back, listen to the old man in the village say, “the wild thing again”, that tone, and say “the Wolf” the same.
There are fewer people in the village, fewer cattle, more wastelands. Wormwood can now drown people in a field where maize was sown. In The village of Masun, large quantities of wild animals and plants were brought in with them.
We go to the grave, all the way pheasant startled fly, even some dare to call it, it is too lazy to reason. There are a few behind the ass led chicken baby, leisurely feeding and eating, like the owner of the land. Wild boars, on the other hand, prowled around the village, and a few were always seen strolling through the woods.
In theory, more wild animals means a better ecological environment, which is a good thing. But sometimes it’s not. The old people in the village always curse the wild things.
In spring, when akita enters the field, pheasants begin to party. They plough the earth in undisturbed fields, pulling out sunflower seeds and peeling them to eat. To grain rain season, luckily did not eat sunflower, corn seedlings from the earth drill out, and became a pheasant people’s meal. Pecked seedlings lose water and soon die.
And the yams planted in the fields are even more devastated. With their tusked mouths, the wild boars dug their way through the fields like tillers. Soon after the seeds were planted, the white flowers were exposed in broad daylight, and the mouths of the wild boars were watering and gobbling one by one.
The wheat waiting for the sickle is also ruined. The ears were eaten, the boar rolled over, crushed the stalks, pulled a pile of dung, dug about, and wrenched his tail away.
In the autumn, pheasants squatted on the corn cob, carefully peeled, grain by grain to eat, leaving a bare stick trembling in the wind…… Of course, in Ma Cun, wild animals, not just pheasants, wild boar. Rabbits, moles, squirrels, blackbirds, and so on, all joined in the race.
At first, people will carry shovels to chase wild animals, wild animals also know afraid, later found to be some non-aggressive old men and women, it is not a problem.
And medicine! Poison one, come another, keep on coming, their fertility rate is far higher than the mortality rate. These wild animals, so arrogant and crazy, around the village, swaggering, reckless.
The man who had intended to grow some grain did not want to feed them. Then, in ma Cun, the smooth relationship between man and nature was thus broken. When wild things and people fought for food, people began to lose.
I had left Ma Cun and was ensconced in a narrow corner of the city. I can’t go into the city or go back to my hometown.
My parents spent their life savings to make me jump out of the gate and into the city, hoping that I would become a person. With blood and sweat to provide me, let me have a coffin in the city like a small house.
I used 30 years of struggle, finally settled in the city, based on planning, have children. How can we go back? What can I do back there? The ability to do farm work is not at all, the quality of bitter poverty did not have, and the character to bear hardships and stand hard work has long lost.
Moreover, the countryside is about to disappear. Where shall I return home?
In Ma Cun, I have seen the decline and decay that cannot be retained. Although the facilities of the village are shining with new luster, talent is the foundation of everything. No man, no facilities are complete, but in vain.
I am always neurotic when I ask people left behind in the village, “Will the country disappear?” Pessimistic people, just say a few words lightly, the way to do everything. And the optimist would say, “The countryside will not disappear.”
Most of the old people left behind in the village will die within a dozen years. Some of the migrant workers will come back, and some will die within 20 or 30 years. The second and third generation of farmers, that is, the post-80s and 90s, are less willing to return home.
As the saying in Ma Cun goes, “We would rather be dogs in the city than in the village.”
In fact, even if some people return to the village, the countryside still exists, but it is no longer what it used to be. Once people and things, simple and kind, quiet and warm, once the shadow play, she fire, old craft, solar terms farming, the world, ethics, has spread inch by inch.
When the traditional culture and farming civilization disappeared, the countryside was just a pair of skins. This is the fate of our village, as well as the 600,000 villages in China.
The peasants who never go back, proud of living in the city, are sharpening their minds to fit in. The peasant in the city must pretend to be a citizen, a peasant in disguise, and forget in his heart the past, the feelings of his hometown and the burial ground where his ancestors lie.