Life

Selling cabbage

  In the winter of 1967, when I was 12 years old, one morning near the Spring Festival, my mother walked around the house with a sad face and a lot of thoughts, sometimes uncovering a corner of the kang mat, shaking the wheat straw on the kang a few times, and sometimes pulling Open the drawer of the old table, and pull out the rags and rotten threads a few times. Mother sighed, raising her eyes from time to time to glance at the three cabbages hanging on the wall. Finally, my mother fixed her eyes on the cabbage, looked at it, and as if she had finally made up her mind, she called me by my baby name and said, ”
  Shedou, let’s find a basket…”
  ”Mom,” I asked sadly: “You want them…”
  ”Today is Daji.” Mother said heavily.
  ”But, you promised, we’ll keep this for the New Year…” Before I finished speaking, tears welled up in my eyes.
  The mother’s eyes were wet, but she didn’t cry. She said angrily, “What does it look like for such a big man to wipe his tears?!” “We planted 104 cabbages and sold 100 cabbages
  . Zero one tree, only these three trees are left… It was agreed to keep the ones for the Chinese New Year, and it was agreed to keep the ones for the Chinese New Year to make dumplings…” I choked up and said.
  Mother approached me, lifted the skirt, and wiped the tears from my face. I put my face on my mother’s chest, sobbing in grievance. I felt my mother caressing my head with her big rough hands, and I smelled the smell of crushed cabbage leaves on her skirt. Through blinded tears, I saw my mother pluck the largest cabbage from the wooden peg nailed to the wall. Mother picked off the second largest tree. Finally, the smallest tree, round like a monk’s head, got out of the wooden peg and squeezed into the basket. I am as familiar with this cabbage as I am with one of my own fingers. Because it grows at the corner of the row closest to the roadside, it was stepped on by a calf or a child when it was young, so it has not grown vigorously. When other cabbage grows to the size of a washbasin, it will grow The mouth of the bowl is large. We found it small and pitiful, and we took extra care of it when we watered and fertilized it. I once spread a large amount of chemical fertilizer around it behind my mother’s back, but it wilted the next day. After the mother knew the truth, she quickly changed the soil around it, and only then did it escape from death. Later, although it was still small, it was very full. When it was harvested, my mother patted it and said to me with emotion: “Look at it, look at it…” At that moment, my mother’s face was full of preciousness. The joyful expression on his face seemed to be patting a child who had finally grown up after going through hardships.
  The market is in a neighboring village, three miles away from our home. The cold wind is bitter, the sun is weak, and it seems to be extinguished at any time. From time to time, people going to the market passed us. My hands were so numb with the cold that I didn’t even know it when the basket fell to the ground. There was a crisp sound when the basket fell to the ground, and several wax strips at the bottom of the basket broke. The smallest cabbage jumped out of the basket and rolled into the ditch covered with white ice by the side of the road. My mother slapped me on the head, and I knew I had caused a catastrophe, so I stood by the basket and cried, “I didn’t mean it, I really didn’t mean it…” My mother put the cabbage into the basket, She was very angry at first, but maybe she saw me crying sincerely, maybe she saw the festering chilblains on the back of my black hands, my mother’s face softened, she didn’t beat me or scold me again, she just used a She said in a tone that made me feel warm: “It’s useless, where did you eat the food?” Then my mother squatted down and put the wooden stick of the carrying basket on her shoulders, and I helped her to stand up straight Body.
  Finally got to the set. My mother told me to go to school, and I wanted to go too, but I saw an old lady walking towards our cabbages. In a thin, hoarse voice, she asked the price of the cabbage. Mother answered her. She shook her head, seeming to be too expensive. But she didn’t go, but squatted down, uncovered the broken sheepskin, and turned our three cabbages. She pulled the half-broken root off the smallest cabbage. Then she poked at our cabbages one by one, with her crooked, deadwood-like fingers, she curled her lips and said that our cabbages were not tightly rolled, and her mother said in a sad voice: “Auntie, such a If you still think the cabbage is not rolled tightly, then go to the market and see where you can find a more tightly rolled cabbage.”
  I am full of disgust for this old lady, you tore off our cabbage root That’s all, but you shouldn’t go against your conscience and say that our cabbage is not tightly rolled. I couldn’t help saying: “No matter how tight you are, you will become a stone egg!” The old lady raised her head, looked at me in surprise, and asked her mother, “Who is this? Is it your son?” “Is it the old man?” Small.” My mother answered the old lady’s question, and turned around to criticize me: “Little kid, you can talk so much!” The old lady put the wicker stalk on her arm on the ground, freed her hand, and tore it up. Looking at the dried cabbage on the smallest cabbage. I was very annoyed, so I stabbed her: “Don’t tear it up, how can we sell it if you tear it up?!” ”
  You little child, why do you talk like you have taken gunpowder?” His hands didn’t stop.
  ”Auntie, don’t tear it up. The cabbage at this time has been peeled off five or six layers, and it has become a nucleus.” The mother persuaded her. She finally tore off all the layers of dried vegetables, revealing the fresh and white vegetables. In the crisp cold wind, our cabbage exudes a sweet smell. Such cabbage, made into dumplings, how delicious it should be! The old lady stood up carrying the cabbage and asked her mother to weigh her. The mother hung the cabbage root on the scale hook and lifted the cabbage. The old lady put her face almost on the scale beam, and carefully looked at the scale stars above. I looked at the cabbage that had been peeled to the core, and I saw its appearance in various stages of growth before my eyes, and I felt sad in my heart.
  After finally approving the weight, the old lady said, “I don’t know how to settle accounts.”
  Because of my migraine, my mother did the math for a while and said to me: “Shedou, you do the math.”
  I found a straw stick and used the multiplication I just learned to do the math on the ground.
  I gave a number and my mother repeated the number I gave.
  ”It’s not wrong, is it?” The old lady stared at me with distrust and said.
  ”It’s up to you,” I said.
  ”This child, you’re really irritable.” The old lady muttered in a low voice, took out a dirty handkerchief from her waist, and uncovered it layer by layer, revealing a stack of paper notes. , Counting one by one. She finally handed over the counted money to her mother. Mother is also addressing one by one.
  After I came home from school, I saw my mother sitting in front of the stove in a daze as soon as I entered the room. The wax bar basket was placed beside her, and three cabbages were in the basket. The youngest one had suffered severe frostbite because the old lady stripped it of its stems. My heart sank suddenly, knowing that the worst had happened. My mother raised her head and looked at me with red eyes. After a long time, she said in a voice that I will never forget: ”
  Son, how can you do this? How can you count another dime?” ”
  Mother “I cried and said, “I…”
  ”You have embarrassed my mother today…” Mother said, two lines of tears were hanging on her cheeks.
  This was the first time I saw my strong mother shed tears, and I still feel pain in my heart when I think about it.

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