In the dream, the small village is like first love, playing over and over again.
The red date palm tree in my hometown
The hovering dance and indistinct clothes fell behind, but a song floated into my ears and wouldn’t let go: “That red date palm tree in my hometown, accompanied by the old house where I used to live ……” The lingering rhythm and the soft voice of Ren Miaoyin’s fine cadence immediately wrapped around my feet and dissolved my heart’s stubborn rejection and resistance to square dancing. The heart trembled and returned to the hometown. The heart trembled and returned to the hometown.
In my hometown, there is also a red date palm tree by the dojo. The actual fact is that there is a row of date palm trees standing under the field, four or five of them, and the tall image is just like the father in your heart. When we were children, we worshipped our fathers. In the silvery white moonlight, my father’s stories were like the shadows of the red date palm trees and the songs of Ren Miaoyin, lingering in my heart. When I fell asleep, it still lingered in my dreams.
The love for the red date palm tree is undoubtedly due to the red dates on the tree. The only thing that changed in the hometown when I was a kid was the spring, summer, autumn and winter, and what remained the same was the stubbornness of the poor. The desire to eat grew in the small belly of the glutton, because there is no endless candy and cakes to fill now, the goal moved to those trees that can grow fruit from the beginning. The date palm tree is just one of them, but it has always been alive in the depths of my memory.
There are many wild fruits in the countryside, almost in all seasons. March yellow, yaya fruit, wild peaches, prickly berries, goat’s milk fruit, kiwi, wild grapes, fire buckthorn …… are all active in the memory from time to time. The memory is sometimes very strange, just what happened can not remember, the young favorite things, but always impressed. The actual childhood past is not blurred with age, but rather is clearly portrayed, like the dried red dates weathered in a small cardboard box, the bright red luster of the year is still shining.
The red dates in my hometown ripen almost at the time of the autumn harvest, one hanging on the branches in the autumn, white with red charm, like my mother’s face back then, charming and handsome, youthful.
People gathered around the dojo from all sides, and in the dojo was a small mountain of bush. The grain that was pulled back from the fields during the day needed to be torn off overnight, stripped into corn cobs, dried and threshed, and then distributed to each family according to population or labor, which was almost a family’s ration for the whole year. To be honest, I hate this coarse food, eat every day, eat every day, appetite are eaten down, but also more than rest. Hate not only one of me, the neighboring Xiaoya Shao five, the village east of the old man Chen, and Zhang Bo, Yinhuan her father, have said. But what can be done? The village does not have water fields. Besides, in those days, it was good not to starve, so what else to hope for?
The moonlight rustled through the tall red date palm trees under the roadside canyon and fell on the “hill” and the faces of the people who were quickly tearing their clothes. The wind moves, the dappled tree shadows like the rotating lights in the concert hall, playing staggered light and shadow, bright and dark reflecting their tired and happy. The men’s hands and feet are not idle, and neither are their mouths. Foul language and dirty jokes keep coming out of the men’s mouths, like the corn that has been peeled, naked, and causing the young daughters-in-law’s old sisters-in-law to scold them. Women who do not like to joke or be annoyed, sometimes also casually throw out the bush in their hands, hatefully smashed to the gossiping men …… mountain village in the golden autumn night, in the men’s dodge, women’s chase and a burst of laughter, seawater ripples. This is also their joy. The day’s exertions are soothed in the joking and released in the night breeze.
Such a night is very warm, small village traditional collective farming life and human warmth, are in these scenes dripping with real, dynamic, pure and natural. Now when I look back, I can’t find it. Like the red date palm trees back home, it makes people nostalgic.
The first thing you need to do is to get a good idea of what you’re doing. At that time, the dates belonged to the collective and were usually closely guarded, so no one could pick them at will, and children were no exception. When we looked at the attractive red dates on the tree, the bold and naughty children took advantage of the adults’ coaxing as a cover and picked up the big stones they had prepared to gently hit the date tree. –We were afraid that the sound of the tree would disturb the laughter of the adults in the dojo, and that stealing the dates would lead to misfortune, until we felt safe, and then we took advantage of the moonlight that came through the leaves to feel the dates on the ground, and we didn’t have time to scrub them, so we threw them into our mouths. The actual fact is that you can find a lot of people who are not able to get a good deal on a lot of things. The actual fact is that there is no way to have a fair distribution of the dates, it’s just a matter of eyesight and quick hands, who grabbed more, who will eat more. The actual fact is that the apprehension of stealing dates, the excitement of the heartbeat, the sweetness and pleasure of stealing food, makes dates in the memory of the indelible childhood interest, born out of a lifetime of attachment.
I was away from home many years later, as Ren Miaoyin sang: “When I left home, the fragrance of the date palm tree blossomed all over the branches.” But when I returned to my hometown after walking around outside, the red date palm trees that I loved so much as a child had disappeared. The most important thing is that the pile of grain, the earthen house next to the earthen house, the village school I attended behind the earthen house, and the small playground with two stone mills underneath the village school …… are the most beautiful memories of my childhood, and their disappearance makes my heart ache as if I can never find my hometown in the past.
The rain sprinkles incessantly, like a giant sprinkler pouring water from a height of 10,000 miles. The marshmallow stretched out its neck to shower, and the rainwater seemed to be poured for it. I don’t like marshmallows very much, and I hate their noble appearance. It doesn’t care whether I like it or not, its body is straight and its bright flowers are wet and spirited.
In the countryside of northwest China, the old people call marshmallow “mahogany”. Seeing their straight and long and thin body, I feel the image. In the countryside, saying “mahjong” means slender and long and thin. Girls like them and want to grow into marshmallows.
I don’t like peonies either. I think the smug face of peonies is just for me. It grows in the wilderness of the countryside, but it makes a gesture of disdain for the grass and trees, just like the big girl named “bamboo” in the neighborhood, hypocritical and pretentious. It is not as good as the osmanthus that blooms in the small garden under the school in autumn, small and delicate, hiding in the dense branches and leaves, humble and gentle, with a refreshing fragrance that makes people satisfied and peaceful.
The old house was right next to the laurel tree, and the rain had wet one of its walls, looking very unhappy. It is old and cannot withstand the weather! The old wall, which is more than a foot thick, is veined with finger-width cracks and wrinkled with vicissitudes. Some wind-blown some loose wall soil, in the rain slowly peeled off the wall, out of the wall, melted into the water, down the wall flowed a string of earthy yellow water line, like the old wall muddy tears.
At that time, the countryside, no tall buildings, no solid concrete houses. Walking in the countryside rough barefoot tread out of the dirt road, the eyes are reflected in the old houses with gray walls and bamboo hedges and straw huts. Even if the new buildings are built, they are also adobe houses with yellow rammed walls and gray tile roofs. The monotonous colors look like old black and white photos, full of old air. Time has moved, the village has changed dramatically, now look back, those once spread across the countryside of the old gray tile walls, is the memory of the most real and most intimate color.
When the old house was built, I do not know, compared to it, I am too young. I don’t know how it turned from a pile of loam on the ground to a house with sharp angles and strong bones, and how it held up the smoke of the homeland and warmed a home, I don’t know anything about it. I only know that it is kind-hearted and kind-hearted, the people who are scattered outside, into the arms, with thick walls of soil, to shelter them from the wind and rain, to create warmth. The thick walls and soil are always connected to the earth, keeping the original color of the land. Those past personnel, the history of the storm, soaked in the days of suffering, rubbed with the joy and sorrow of time, are hidden in the old house and the land it depends on, never tell.
I like the old house, it is simple, modest, calm and kind, with superhuman tolerance and understatement, gave me the security and shelter when I was young, like my mother.
My mother was young and her graceful figure was neither like a marshmallow nor a peony, and if I had to compare them, when I was young, I thought my mother looked like a lily. There are many lilies in the mountains, on the roadside, in the fields, on the cliffs and on the crags. They are low-profile and pure in the countryside. Their upright bodies are slightly above the grass and far below the trees, showing their admiration and respect to the sky and their gratitude and attachment to the earth; they are not like marshmallows that always carry the extravagant hope of leaving the dust and are impetuous and trying to be superb, nor are they like peonies that are already in the same group with the grass and trees, but they have to make a noble and extraordinary appearance in the red dust. It modestly maintains its native nature and calmness, and quietly reflects the simple and natural nature of life in its blossoms and flowers.
The rain is like a secret agreement with the marshmallow, and I do not care whether I like it or not, it is strongly under the ground. I, who loved to play wildly in the mountains, was tied up by these pesky lines of rain, and stood against the old wall, in the narrow clear space propped up by the front eaves of the old house, staring blankly at a waterfall of rain falling from the roof tile gutter in front of me. They were connected into lines, bright white as jade, woven into a curtain of beads that hung kinetically in front of me, never tiring. I, on the other hand, was bored out of my mind.
Under the wall of the old house, the ground is gray, “nesting insects” where a funnel-like nest nest, like a highly concentrated crater, through some mysterious. At this time, bored me, always reach out small hands, pull out the “nesting insects” hidden in the soil, and then let go, and watch them “nest” out again, to pass the boredom. I still don’t know what kind of insects “nesting bugs” are, what they live in the poor dust and what they do for a living, but the “funnel” they leave behind when they hide in the earth is unusually neat and round, as if following a drawing, accurate to the millimeter. Nature has a lot of such magic work, revealing the supernatural and human power everywhere, bringing miracles to mankind, and also like the original teaching materials, enlightening the mind. The “funnel” of the “nesting bug” has burned a fine image in my mind, and each of the mathematical graphs I drew is so “board-right”. Many times, the math teacher teaching board graphics, I painted for the teacher on the blackboard, saving the teacher’s hard work.
The old house was gloomy, and the weak light of day could not illuminate the darkness isolated by the thick walls. The rain kept me inside and I couldn’t go anywhere but lie on my bed, counting the gray tiles that I couldn’t see on the roof, in a trance. The old house is more like an old man in his old age, beating his chest and sighing in the rain. I wanted to give it some comfort and make it happier! It has taken care of me for years, and I should do something for it. But when the words came to my mouth, I didn’t know how to say them. I always feel that the water flowing from the eaves and tiles are its tears. A tearful person, what words of comfort can I take? Perhaps, it is really old, every storm, it is a kind of destruction.
Like people, the house will die when it gets old. But, living on this land for a long time, who would like to part with it? The sorrow and sadness of the old house’s decay is clearly revealed in every inch of the peeling walls, every decaying window, every moldy purlin, and every obscure lintel. It is silent in sighing, thinking in silence, looking up in thinking, and longing for a bright sunny day in looking up.
The old house was turned back into a pile of yellow earth soon after I left the countryside. It seems to have come from nowhere and gone back to nowhere, completing a lifetime of reincarnation in frustration. But time never stops, not moving to turn one old house after another from the yellow earth, and back into a pile of yellow earth.
The difference is that, on top of the piles of yellow earth, now, the standing is embedded with various colors of tiles, painted with various colors of small buildings. Next to the small building, has been trying to go away marshmallow, looks more “mast”.
The countryside is no longer the countryside of the past. The old house, back to its mother’s embrace.
Mao Ya in the Old Time
Many old times are preserved in the countryside. A little girl from the neighborhood, standing in the old time.
Two yellow fluffy hair scribbled up in braids, hiked from the boyish shoulders to the chest, the beauty of a small red flowered coat was covered up by the blue cloth patches on the front lapel and sleeves. The patches on the pants were even more numerous, with the small buttocks and knees being the largest and most conspicuous. One shoe was also torn, showing two toes. The good thing is that those eyes are clear and watery, like a clear water hibiscus.
The memory is more or less sorry for me, deleted her name. The names of many childhood friends and classmates were also deleted, and they were like a gust of wind that blew past me in my dreams. After I woke up, my memory was poor. I always feel in my heart that the memory can’t be right for me, I can’t be right for them. No matter joy, wild, happy, or trouble, quarrel, resentment, childhood with me, it is them, not time. And I, remember that time, forget them.
I am ashamed to say that the neighbor girl was lucky enough to leave a “Mao Ya” nickname. In those days, people in the countryside, afraid that the child has a disaster and disease, can not live, like to take some flowers and grasses, cats and dogs, the nickname, hoping that the child can be like those plants or animals, as strong growth. These nicknames may not be elegant, or even unpleasant to call, but the emotions hidden in it, primitive, pure and deep. Like what the mountains give to us, pure and selfless. Mao Ya’s father, or grandfather, according to the custom of the countryside, gave this soft yellow-haired girl a nickname of “Mao Ya”. “Mao Ya”, Mao bud, the harmonic replacement, that deep love, but also really subtle.
Mao bud is a kind of grass, to be precise, is the bud of thatch grass spike, can eat, flocculent soft flower spike and a light sweet taste, is then the children’s food. Thatch grass is extremely strong, “the wildfire does not burn out, the spring breeze blows and grows again.” In the mountains of northwest of E, it is everywhere, and a large one grows. Thatch buds more, a spring on, the village children went to draw to eat, I thought it would be eaten clean. But when the summer is over and autumn is approaching, the mountains will still sway a white inflorescence of thatch. Just like bamboo shoots, the number of people who pull them out still grows into a bamboo forest.
We not only eat thatch buds, but also eat the wild fruits of the mountains and the bush stalks in the fields. The children of the mountains, wild with the mountains and water are not separate, blood is one. The mountains are like father, soft water like mother, year after year to hold out those who can fill our small stomach of fruits and plants, we are not polite face without shame to accept, our thin chest to cling to the landscape and the earth, to do the good children of the mountains and water.
Thatch also has a good, the root can also eat, sweet as honey, into the medicine can also be anti-inflammatory to dispel diseases. When there was nothing to eat, we would grind it up and squeeze the root juice with our teeth. Every spring and summer, the school would also mobilize us to dig up the roots of Mao Cao, pick honeysuckle, plus some other herbs, stuffed into the rusty iron barrel with a fire in the middle, boil a large bucket, each student drink a few bowls to prevent colds, heatstroke, headaches and diarrhea. The countryside has its own traditional method of preventing major illnesses with local remedies. After drinking these herbal soups, we were really healthy. Unlike today’s children, who get colds and fevers at the slightest breeze.
Mao Ya not only bright eyes, look also clean, but more tears, can not withstand my teasing. When Mao Ya cried, I withdrew and hid in the thatch. Waiting for her clouds to close and rain to rest, only then dare to come out. There are also times when it rains a lot, so I always sleep quietly in the tenderness of the grass, wake up is already a starry sky, Mao Ya also do not know where to go.
The next day we met at school, Mao Ya also ignored me, resentful starlight flashed in the cold eyes. Boys are always naughty. The more Mao Ya is like this, the more I like to tease her, blocking in front of her, deliberately angry with her: “Mao Ya Mao bud, like steely cotton. Mao’er Huang Huang, married to my family.” In the countryside, when bored, people often make up such jingles to make fun of others, or to get a laugh. This is also a kind of country culture, pastime infused with thousands of years of farming after the simple folk style, wit filled with the simple wisdom of the active countryside boring life. People take pleasure in this to appease the fatigue of daily work, release the pressure of farming frozen on the back, and make the simple, mechanical, repetitive, dull, cold, uninteresting countryside days an ancient poetry.
I spent several nights thinking of jingles for Mao Ya, and my little head hurt from thinking about them, before I came up with these few lines, which were much more laborious than writing a few diary entries.
Mao Ya was so angry that her little face rose like a tomato because of the excitement. Half a long time, only to hold out a sentence: “I sue the teacher to go!”
When I was a child, I was not afraid of the sky, not afraid of the earth, the most fear of teachers. If I was punished for being noisy, but if I heard from my parents, I could not help but put a few vivid Yangwen slap marks on my little buttocks, which was much more serious than being caught stealing dates from the team. I had to find a way to stop Mao Ya’s desire to denounce: “How dare you! You little ‘mao bud’, be careful I’ll eat you up.”
Mao Ya was furious, clear bright eyes, suddenly covered with tears again, it seems, a cloud of rain will fall at any time. Tears, sometimes the only self-defense weapon of the weak. There is no effective, depending on the time, place and object of application. Many people’s tears, I am not afraid. Mao Ya’s tears, I am afraid.
Still withdraw, except for this, the face of the little girl’s pouring tears, I have no response. This is much more difficult than responding to her challenge, and the risk of being discovered by the teacher has increased exponentially. The choice to withdraw was learned from the black and white movies of the time. The old generator buzzing by the dojo, the screen hanging on the old wall, the film reels creaking and turning, the projections ten times stronger than the flashlight pillars, were the most beautiful chases of my childhood. On dark and windy nights, sometimes I would run dozens of miles to the neighboring village to see a movie that was “too much”. In the interplay of light and shadow, the tactics of the Red Army and the Eight Route Army of “fight if you can win, run if you can’t win” deeply influenced me, and I imitated them day and night, and they were incorporated into my brain and heart, and I was able to use them freely in Mao Ya.
Mao Ya finally did not denounce, the days passed between the old house and the school indifferently. Suddenly one day, Mao Ya actually boldly blocked the road after school, from behind a handful of mao buds, red face and said, “You do not eat me, I pick mao buds for you to eat, okay?” Bright eyes, full of clarity and expectation.
I was a little surprised, silent for a moment, took the buds, nodded, and flashed away. The sunset trailed a long shadow behind me, and Mao Ya ran towards me in the shadow. That old time, so fixed in the last imagination. Maybe at that time Mao Ya felt very aggrieved, or even scared, but I really did not bully Mao Ya’s heart, just think, she is very fun, watery eyes often can catch my attention. Sometimes the attention is because I like it. In the past, the word “like” has a very strong sense of love.
Soon, I left that village. Time disappears in the drift, I have not been able to return to the old countryside. What happened to Mao Ya, there is only very thin and not accurate news sporadically: some people say she married to the neighboring country, have two children, became a grandmother, live a good life. Others said that she was no longer in good health, old and sick. Such news is heartbreaking, I would rather Mao Ya is still thatch bud, still green in color.
The wind and smoke are silent
The mountain, like an old monk, is silent. Clouds, quietly floating in the sky. The earth is silent.
The village wakes up in the silence and sleeps in the silence, year after year, repeating and changing in the black and white time. Distant memories, preserving the old look of the village, condensed into a black and white picture of smoke curling up in the silence.
The picture slowly woke up, and I walked on the winding paths of the fields in the picture, my blue cloth coat could not keep up with the pace of my growing body, and I was stretched to the limit. In the distance, the earthen wall tiles are hidden in the jungle green leaves, thick walls of soil, revealing roughness and barrenness, the vicissitudes of the look, such as the face of the old farmers, gullies and ravines. A piece of green tile has long become black, like hardship and hardship in the tiles on the precipitation, the thicker the accumulation, so thick that the rain can not be melted over the years. The hollow and narrow wooden windows, with dark eyes, with a thousand years of confusion, watching the years, looking into the distant haze.
Green is the most beautiful color of the countryside, in addition to this, is the yellow soil, green and gray rocks. The monotony is just like the days back then, silent and boring, writing about the simple life of the mountain village. Occasionally, a small group of birds flew overhead, scratching down a line of poetry, but no one could read it.
The old well is a yellow mud pit, holding a scoop of rainwater from the sky, moving down the water line inch by inch in thirst, and then quietly and patiently waiting for the next visit of the rain. There are also a few rock wells where the mountain springs come up, but the tender heart can’t withstand the suppression of rocks and dirt, only in the quiet of the night, from the invisible tiny stone cracks, quietly seeping out a pool of clear water, sweet, cool, but also precious.
Throughout the year, the wind passes by here, always with a harsh indifference, like the mountain village is the place it is most reluctant to come but has to come. I do not like the wind.
The fields are most lively and bountiful. Corn, wheat, rape, soybeans, vegetables and vegetables and those well-known unknown grasses and trees in this infinite stage alternately shuttle their roles, flowing clouds flying sleeves, joy and sorrow, one after another. No makeup, no lights, no sound, and no curtain after curtain. The plow, harrow, hoe, sickle are props, the field is the unchanging stage, the sun, moon and stars hanging lights, the night acts as a curtain that is closed and opened, the seasons change colors to set off a bent back, dripping sweat soaked the stage and wet through the years. In this profound land, my ancestors, relatives and neighbors, with the sun and moon as companions, intimate with the loess, real and tangible interpretation of generations of people’s simple and unadorned country life.
Undoubtedly, such a life is simple, rugged, cold and hard, but for some reason, I always miss such a countryside. In my dreams, I fall asleep quietly in its embrace again and again, wake up, run, walk, step on the soft soil, breathe in the air mixed with the fragrance of earth and grass, and speak the strong dialect slang. It was as if, deep in my heart, such a village, the landscape, the land, the people, were eternally pure and unadulterated. The dates on the red date palm trees by the roadside always emit the fragrance of childhood, which makes your mouth water when you think about it. The vegetables planted next to the old house stubbornly hold on to the taste of the years, refusing to give up half a step to the blandness. The people flowing in the eyes, are familiar and friendly faces. The kindness that lurks in the wrinkles of the Zhang family uncle, the kindness that shines in the smile of the Yang family aunt, the enthusiasm that abounds in the dimples of the Chen family classmates, and the watery eyes of the neighboring Mao Ya’s morning and evening pear blossoms, are all stuck in the old days, with clear patterns and distinct contours, without a single change.
The village, however, has changed drastically, and the country roads that pass through the village, dust and mud are sealed by concrete, and no longer dare to be arrogant. The potholes of the past are so flat that one wonders if this is not the village. The old houses, which used to be dark and damp, are replaced by a block of houses, plastered with clean white or colorful tiles, lined up in two rows along the road, with portals looking at each other. Roads and houses are the most prominent symbols of a village’s totem. The road is the pulse of the small village, and the houses use their bodies to raise the flag of the times. Looking around, the landscape is still the old landscape, and things are not the old things. Steel and cement, glass and tiles, cars and electrical appliances …… The village strives to use these modern things to draw closer to the city, while the city is more and more yearning for the countryside. The concrete roads leading to each house are flowing with the blood of the city people. The small buildings that stand neatly by the roadside, each one of them has an old house that city people are deeply attached to disappearing in the clear veins of the mountains and fields, just like the wisps of smoke that rise from the cracks of the old houses like scales and tiles, disappearing into the sky over the pale village without a trace.
I don’t know which dark and windy night the oil lamp withered out, and no more tears flowed. I can find that piece of land, but can not see the well water hazy reflection of the mountain. I used to squat on it to scoop water the piece of green stone is still there, it is engraved with a past years, like a monumental ancient monument without words, in the desolation of silence. In its place is a spider web of intertwined water pipes, connected at one end to the village water plant and at the other to the kitchens and bathrooms of tall and short buildings, with restless pulses and restless faucets that clamor from time to time. However, I felt a sense of regret in this alternation, and two completely different emotions of happiness and disappointment intertwined and tangled in my heart in a contradictory and painful way.
The date palm tree was also torn between leaving the village and not letting the small buildings occupy its own territory, and it stumbled. Perhaps like me, it has too much reluctance, too much attachment, too much nostalgia, like wisps of smoke lingering on the branches reaching for the blue sky. The most unfortunate is the old management area behind the hill on the old flowering oak tree, a large, three adults can not be enclosed in the trunk, at least three thousand hidden by the plant aesthetics of the arrangement of the ripples like circles. These beautiful circles and at least three thousand secrets hidden. The three thousand secrets are connected into a line, which is a magnificent history of ups and downs. Therefore, in front of this tree, no matter who it is, in addition to respect, in addition to humility, there is no arrogance and pride of the capital. However, this is such a big tree, but in some lightning night, or decadent winter, with its three thousand circles and three thousand secrets feathered away. Behind it, only a two-acre vacant lot remains, like a huge historical void that can never be filled.
The village was silent. The old well dried up, and the young people left. The date palm trees were cut down, and the wind and smoke stopped. So many new houses can’t support the lively atmosphere of the village in the old days. Reinforced concrete solidified roof, can not float the old smoke. Walking in the small village on the empty and silent highway, I feel the village is so quiet that the air seems to have frozen. So big a village, but I do not know, the heart should be placed in where.