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We Observe the World

WOW|The elders and youngsters in my hometown

APD | Thu,2016-06-16

I was sitting at the back of the bus, listening some English songs with the headset, on my way to my hometown- Xian tao. It has been nearly five years since the day I went to Beijing start my university life.

In late 1990s, a large number of workers were laid off. My father, as one of those, had to leave the hometown to support the family. Both my parents have been worked in Zhuhai, one of the Special Economic Zone in China. So we spent the previous Spring Festival in Zhuhai at least four times.

Those beautiful melodies were slowly playing in my ears. At that moment, all I thought about was still the people and things in Beijing. It seemed that my heart didn’t realize the fact that I was back in town, until...the bus suddenly stopped moving.

Before we had time to figure out what happened, the middle-aged bus driver, turned his head back and said angrily to the young couple, “Get off my bus right now. Don’t you feel shameful kissing in the bus? ” the voice was coarse but powerful. Meanwhile, all the passengers turned their eyes to the couple.

Facing to the bus driver’s rigorous rebuke and the look of people around, the young couple didn’t blush or lower their heads. Instead, the handsome young boy, who wore fashion clothes with dyed hair, argued that they had the right to arrive the destination, “we paid the money.”

The bus stayed still and the cold air seemed to become tenser.

“I don’t want to take those immoral persons. Get off !”again, the bus driver said with the dignity of the elderly.

“ Improper behaviors in public were not only the shame of yourself, but also your family. ”An aunt sitting opposite to them added.

Before the young boy opened his mouth to speak, the young girl beside him dragged him towards the bus door. They got off the bus in disgrace.

Then the bus continued to be running on the road. The bus driver let out a long sign, “ Public morals are declining day by day. The new generation is worsen and worsen.”

The rural society in China is a society governed not by laws but etiquettes. For example, man and women should not touch closely in public; young people should never contradict their elders.

With the development of economy and the change of times, some of those etiquettes have disappeared from people’s lives, some are viewed as dross, or gradually fade away from the memories.

If the elders represent the tradition in the country, then the youngsters represent the modern in new age. Though the generation gap between the old and the young have displayed in almost every age, this time, the change happened in village, is quite different and significant.

The scene on the bus was just the prelude to the story.

The bus finally arrived at the destination, the entrance to the village. Walking on the path of the village, scenes of childhood rose before my eyes.

What attracted me most was a block of new houses. Nearly all of them were the white two-story buildings, like new brides situating on the land. Even if I saw people in two or three sitting outside the door, somehow I still felt an air of desertion.

I walked into the door of my relatives’ home. Before my parents came back, I would board there.

In such a specific era, there is a huge force attracting young people to big cities.

Several days later, a heated argument occurred in one household.

It was a sunny afternoon. The warm sunshine in winter rested on every tree and every bush as well as every brick and stone. The village was as peaceful as the scenery in the picture.

“How is your business in Wuhan recently?” Lao Liu asked his son Liu jun who has just come back from Wuhan.

The young men was tall and dark. It was said that he has been doing business in Wuhan for several years. But the rural temperament inside him didn’t drop a bit.

“Not bad. ”Liu jun answered in a low voice. Then he took out a cigarette from his pocket and lighted it with a lighter. The smoke rose slowly in the simple room and disappeared in an instant, left the awful smell there.

“I heard that there is an entrepreneur who wants to buy some land in our village. Dad, have you ever considered selling ...?”

Before Liu jun finished his words, his father interrupted him, “stop saying that. The land handed down from our ancestors remains little. ” Then the father picked up a hoe, left the house, began to get rid of the weeds before the door.

The sun shined on Lao Liu, bringing him a little warmth.

Since the country has a new policy of transferring land, many families have sold off some of the fields. To speak it exactly, they didn’t sell the land but to transfer the land use right to others.

But is there any difference? Once the contract were signed between two sides, how can the farmers get their land back in the future?

Most elders in the village hold a conservative attitude toward the land selling. To them, land is the source of life. Because of the land, no matter how poor they are or what disasters they encounter, they can always earn their own living and stand on their own feet.

But with the development of urbanization, country seems have to be the inevitable victim. Only when the large number of rural laborers swarm into big cities and dedicated their cheap labor to the cities’ development can we witness the rapid growth of urban economy.

Living in a big city has always been a dream of the young men working outside. Compared to the colorful lives there, the country is quiet, idle and boring. As long as they taste the sweetness in cities, they will no longer tolerate the bitterness in country.

“how can our descendants live without the land ?” The father continued to question his son, holding the hoe tight in his hand.

The son sneered and said to his father, “My children will live in the city ever after.”

Lao Liu suddenly lifted the hoe and wanted hit his son. Several neighbors walked forward to stop the quarrel. One of them suggested that Lao Liu put down the hoe and talk to his son calmly.

Liu Jun hid to one side, but still argue loudly that clinging to the land could only bring poverty to the family.

It’s true that some families in village have built up their fortunes by doing business in cities like Wuhan. Most of them built a new house at home but seldom came back. And the land was either sold or deserted. To some extent, it’s hard to call them native villagers since they had less and less contact with the village.

“Your root is in the land. If you sold them, one day you will be a lonely person with nothing to depend on.” The father looked straight at his son.

The elder has a foresight about future. He knew that countless people would become homeless persons if they had no ability to find a place to live in cities and sold the land in his or her hometown. At that time, they could not enter into the big city and nor could they go back to the place they called hometown.

“Never try to take advantage of my land. I’d rather not transmitted to you .”Lao Liu made the last statement.

“You old fogey! ” After saying that, Liu jun broke neighbors’ pull and rode his motorbike in the direction of town.

The father went back to the house silently without looking back. The crowed dispersed then. My aunt and other several close neighbors followed Liu Jun and talked to him for a while.

Later I asked my aunt, “How is uncle Liu ?”

“He looked calm but must be heartbroken right now .” Aunt could not helped but sighed. “The youngsters in our village have forgotten so many things. You must always keep in mind what the land has brought to you. ”

For many days, the son didn’t come back.

During my stay in my hometown, on one hand, I could feel the increasing of material wealth and the improvement of quality of life. But on the other hand. What we I see is a place in lack of youthful vitality.

Will my hometown disappear one day with only gorgeous vacant shell left on the same land?

We have to admit that China's economy has created a miracle in the world. Those so called western countries accomplished their modernization by the means of colonization. That is to say, they accumulated their wealth on the basis of exploiting those third world counties.

Only China is different. China, the world’s second-biggest economy, has made huge progress without any colonization to foreign countries. But there is one point we shall never neglect: China’s big achievement , to some extent, was made through the cities’ colonization of the country.

The hope of country lies in the youngsters there. But now where can we find those youngsters?

Looking at the peers around me, most of them were chasing the fashion of city. They didn’t get much salary working in cities, but they believed they need to have an apple mobile phone. They didn’t have much private time excluding working hours, but they were willing to spend two hours watching some vulgar movies.

The elders were no longer the representation of authority. The tradition are losing its effect.

We have to carefully think about the question: What will the country be like in the future if we just look on indifferently as cold by standers?


LIU Liyu,

a perceiver of the Chinese and Western civilizations in the field of film and documentary from the angel of philosophy.