Born in Jan 1978, I am the second child in my family. My mom says I am a “Snake” because she gave birth to me at the end of Lunar year Snake, while I prefer to say I am “Tail of Snake and Head of Horse”.
We lived in the countryside of a county near to Fuzhou. Mom is a traditional peasant, and in her mind, the responsibility of her life was to get enough food for the family. She worked hard, leaving for the farmland at dawn and never returning until late. Unlike Mom, my dad never took himself as a peasant. He seldom stayed at home, and was always busy with his friends’ and neighbors’ business, and also because of this, Mom and Dad always quarreled with each other. Though I never think my dad is a good husband, he had been a good farther, and had taught me a lot. He used to take me with him when he visited his friends, take me to the cinema, and teach me how to be a well-behaved and polite boy.
In 1983, at the age of 5, I was sent to the kindergarten. Unlike my brother who was taken to the school by force, I like schooldays. The tuition was only one yuan, but we got balls of different sizes to play, and were taught many songs and games. What’s more, the school provided cakes and candies occasionally. Half a year later, our teacher gave birth to a baby, and the class was dismissed. 2 weeks later, I was happy to know that the baby became a member of my family as an adopted daughter. In the following half year, I stayed at home, helping my mom to take care of my sister.
I resumed my study the following year. In primary school, my academic record was excellent, and was awarded as “San Hao student” each year. At that time, the school got little fund, and nine out of ten the rewards were 5 or 10 notebooks, so that was the only thing I could gave away generously to friends. I remember most of our teachers were from neighboring counties, and they lived at school. There was neither gas nor micro-oven in 1980s, and we cooked by burning dried leaves or tree branches. Our school was located at the foot of a hill with a creek in between, and once a month we will collect dried branches and leaves from the hill for our teachers, and all of us were proud of being able to do something for the school and our teachers.
Each year, we grew crops and vegetables, and mom also raised many cattle and fowls. Ever since my childhood, I had been a good hand to my mom. I would prepare the meals after school, and accompanied my mom to irrigate our crops late at nights. I helped my mom with the farm work also, but luckily I had never been a good farmer. On weekends, I would herd our buffalo with my friends. Buffalo is a kind of tamed animal, and we would ride on it while herding, imaging we were on horses. And if we were rid of doing that, we would tie them to trees, and played in the creeks. My mom would not allow me to learn swim, so I was always laughed at when the other kids were swimming joyfully in the creeks and I had to take cloths for them. And I also acted as a baby-sitter. At first, I liked my little sister much； as my mom was very busy, she used to “tie” my sister on my back, and I carried her wherever I went. But each time my neighbors would joke on me, referring to my sister as my child bride. Gradually, when I found out what that means, I rejected to carry her with any more, and my poor sister had to be stay at home and enjoyed herself.
In those days, we seldom got pocket money from our parents, so most of us got money by collecting and selling some kinds of herbs. Apart from buying some socks, I spent most of my money on rubber, pencil boxes—at that time, colorful pencil boxes were the best thing to show off among my little classmates.
From mid 80s, people in my hometown started to do some business cautiously, hoping to have more “Da tuan jie—the nickname for 10 Yuan note” in their pockets. Gradually some WanYuanHu appeared, among whom was one of my uncles. He raised white rabbits for their furs, and did earn some money. A couple of years later, my jobless farther started to raise rabbits also. However, that turned out to be a complete wrong decision as by then there had been too many rabbit raisers, and several months later my brother and I were the only happy ones in our family to enjoy delicious rabbit meat each day.
After that, my farther tried some other business, but each time he ended up with failure. During those years, Mom still raised her cattle and fouls to support the family, which she thought were the right things for farmers.
In retrospect, childhood was the happiest time in my life. I had few toys, no TV, and never had a chance to travel, but I derived a lot of fun from the nature. I net fishes, caught birds, herded cattle and even stole fruits occasionally. Over 20 years has passed, but I am still nostalgia for those days
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