Life

The warmest home in the world

  When we came back from Yanzhuang, we walked silently. On the way, grandma stopped suddenly, looked back, and cried “wow”.
  When I was young, apart from my own village, Yan Zhuang was the one I was most familiar with.
   Yanzhuang is about ten miles away from our village on a mountain road, and there are four or five villages in between. Unless I was too thirsty or it rained suddenly, my grandma would hold my hand and go into one of the villages, or ask for water, or hide from the rain under someone’s eaves. At other times, grandma would lead me straight to Yan Village, as if the villages along the way did not exist. I would even like to stop in a village passing by, because there is a big jujube tree there. When the jujubes are ripe, I can always find a few jujubes that have been missed from the grass under the tree. They are so sweet. But my grandma wouldn’t let me stop. She either said that the jujube tree hadn’t bloomed yet, or that the dates had already been cleaned up with bamboo poles. However, even without jujubes, after walking such a long mountain road, shouldn’t it be time to rest? Grandma smiled and said, I am not tired as an old woman, why are you tired, little kid? She dragged me and kept walking.
   Grandma is always in a hurry. When she leaves the house, her footsteps become broken and anxious, and she refuses to stop for a moment. Ever since I can remember, she led me to Yanzhuang for the first time, and it has always been like this. I don’t think there is anything interesting about Yanzhuang. It is smaller than our village, and the houses are shorter and more dilapidated than our village; The only thing that attracted me to Yan Zhuang was an old woman who was older than my grandma. Sometimes she would sneak a piece of candied fruit to me. She has more creases on her face than my grandma, and her waist is more bent than my grandma. When she walks, her drooping head almost touches the ground. Almost all her teeth were missing, her mouth was completely sunken, and her words were as if they were coming out of a broken bellows, so hoarse that people couldn’t hear what she said.
   Grandma has endless things to say to her. However, grandma drove the mountain road for more than ten miles, and of course she didn’t just come to talk to her. Most of the time, when grandma comes to Yanzhuang, it is harder than at home. She has to work in the fields, wash all the quilts and clothes, and in winter, she has to make a circle with plastic skin to help the old woman take a hot bath . During the day the grandma was constantly busy, and at night the two old women would crawl into the same bed and start talking. I am not interested in their words at all. In the short, broken and small house, I lie between two old voices, extremely boring. Looking through the broken window on the low wall, you can see the sky full of stars, and the saliva spewed out by the two old women when they were talking is denser than the stars in the sky. Once, I was awakened by a strange “chi chi” sound in my sleep. It turned out that two old women didn’t know what they were talking about, and they curled up in the quilt laughing. I turned over and fell asleep again. Many years later, if I am suddenly awakened by some sound in my sleep, I can’t help but think of the scene when I was a child – two old ladies laughing “chichi” in the middle of the night on the kang. There are not many voices of grandma left in my memory, and they become more and more blurred as time goes by. Only the laughter of that night seems to be engraved in the depths of my mind, clear, profound, and burst out from time to time.
  Every time I go to Yanzhuang with my grandma, we usually stay for one night and then head back the next day. I also have two younger sisters at home waiting for my grandma to take care of them. The old woman, who was older than grandma, took us to the entrance of the village to say goodbye, leaning on a tree stick. Every time I go to Yanzhuang, when I see her for the first time, I call my wife, and I call again when I leave. This is almost all the communication between me and her. On the way back to my village, I always walked ahead, and grandma said I could run faster than a rabbit. When grandma walked out of Yanzhuang, her footsteps were always dragging, as if her feet were stuck to Yanzhuang’s soil. It wasn’t until she turned her head that Yan Zhuang could no longer be seen, that grandma suddenly quickened her pace. We still have too much work at home, and we are busy waiting for grandma to come back.
  One day, my father hurriedly said to my sisters and me, hurry up, let’s go to Yanzhuang. That time, grandma had already gone for a few days, and it was the only time she didn’t bring me with her and went to Yanzhuang by herself. Dad told us the wife was gone.
  When we arrived at Yanzhuang, grandma burst into tears when she saw her father. I saw the old woman I called “Madam”, lying motionless on the bed – the kang that my grandma and I slept together every time we came to Yanzhuang.
   At that time, our family stayed in Yanzhuang for several nights until we buried our wife.
   When we came back from Yanzhuang, we walked silently. On the way, grandma stopped suddenly, looked back, and cried “wow”. We all stopped to be with grandma. Grandma touched my head and sobbed, “Grandma has no home…”
   I was 6 years old that year, and I still couldn’t understand what grandma said, thinking, don’t we have a home?
  At the age of 24, my grandfather passed away; at the age of 31, my grandmother also passed away. I grew up next to my grandparents, and the home of my grandparents is my home; without my grandparents, there would be no home in the village where I grew up. I haven’t been to that solemnity for many years. Like my village, it will remain in the depths of my memory forever. There, there used to be a way for grandma to go home, and there was also a way for me to go home. They used to be the warmest way home for grandma and me in this world.

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