How can I not recall you
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I’m not even sure it is an actually real experience, or it is just a dream of my childhood.

                                    —— preface

The summer when I was four

My mother took me back to her hometown, a village situated near an unknown river bend in Anhui. After a bumpy ride, I got off the tractor. The first thing that caught my sight was a big tree in front of the house. I didn't know what kind of tree it was. I could only remember it was sturdy, fresh green and gracefully slim. It seemed like a very old tree, but looked as if it was still in the bloom of youth.

The cool shade under the big tree was my favorite place to stay. For fear of my loneliness, my mother fetched me a piece of worn-out washboard and built a swing for me to play by hanging it on the tree with a long hemp rope. I liked sitting on it, looking at chickens, ducks, geese feeding at my feet. When adults saw me, they would also give a loving and sweet smile, even though they had toiled hard.

Every morning, there was always an old woman with gray hair carrying a basket to sell fish from door to door. The fish were not big but fresh, and we’d always buy some. In the evening, birds would return to their nests and wisps of smoke are curling up from the kitchen chimneys of every household. Sometimes, our whole family would sit together under the tree, enjoying the cool air and the meal, while talking of this and that. The old tree stood there without saying anything, just silently throwing a shade.

One day, the adults formed a circle in the back of the house. When I reached over, I saw my mother holding an axe and cutting another big peach tree as tall as that old tree. It was planted by my mother with her own hands as a child, but it was too old to make a peach anymore. People minded that it was too high and hindered the road. I could see a 30-year-old tree crashing down on the ground. Everyone burst into applause, which seemed to express their minds that they all finally got rid of the unpleasant thing.

Near autumn, the deciduous tree finally began to show a trace of old state, but it was also my time to go. When leaving the village, I fiddled with the swing rope, with an unexplained state of anxiety in mind.

Many years later, I was always living in Guangzhou, and never went back to Liu Hewan village. But I often recalled the joyous time I spent under that big tree.

The Qingming Festival when I was fourteen

My mother took me back to her hometown again. With nostalgia of childhood, I was particularly excited. What have happened to those flocks of chickens and ducks? Is the old lady who sold fish still alive? And also, what about that old tree, that swaying swing......

I went to the village by car. The road was much more spacious and flatter. What about the house? Which one was our house? After I got off the car, I looked around, at a loss. The elders referred to the house in front of me which was quite different from the picture in my memory. I was a little confused --- ah, yes, that tree! What about the old tree? The elders waved their hands, saying, that old tree? It had been cut a long time ago, for it blocked the light of the house. It was so easy for them to say that, but I wasn’t. I unwillingly walked in the village, in an attempt to find traces of my childhood, but to find that the paddy fields had become barren. It was impossible to find the tracks of chickens, ducks and geese after searching the whole village, it was so hard to see a person in the village, and there was a deathly silence in the whole village. The collapsed tile houses had been full of weeds, but no one paid any attention to them. I even couldn’t imagine that there was once such harmonious laughter full of human kindness in this land, so quiet and peaceful...... But it's gone. They all have gone.

I went back to that old tree again. At present, there was only a low section of stake. Looking at its remnant, it didn’t seem to be as strong as it used to be. Its past glory also had gone forever. Now, it was finally dead, and it couldn’t block out the sunlight anymore. Just like the village, existing in name only, it couldn’t stop the pace of people moving to the city, either. 

I live in a flower city, a city with spring all the year round. Banyan trees on either side of the road are shady and cool throughout the year. But in my eyes, “The clouds over Mount Wushan are the only true clouds.” The carefree and joyous time as well as the complete vicissitudes and devastation in later times constantly overlapped in front of my eyes, stabbing me almost to tears.

The tree on the river bend when I was four in that summer, how can I not recall you?

















                       高一5 王美茜(新西兰)

                    翻译:高一5班 英语教师 方媛

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