Frank 柯斌 170111043
Last April, I went back to my hometown of Ruichang from Shenzhen to visit my parents. I made an appointment with a group of high school classmates on the phone to meet in the town on the 15th.
On the day of departure, it was sunny, and the wind was mild. I took my wife, in the fragrance of the surrounding rapeseed outside, in the tempo of north-heading swallows, like going to a first love date, full of hope on the train to go home. Along the way, the phone kept ringing, and my classmates urged: "Manager Ke, where are you?" "Manager Ke, I've arrived!" It seemed that those guys hadn't completely forgotten me, KeBin.
As soon as I got out of the car, a few old classmates rushed up to meet me. Big Chen greeted me warmly while running: "Manager Ke is here; Welcome, Welcome!" I hadn't seen him for many years. There was almost no change in Big Chen. Fashionable and elegant, he wore a red jacket with shiny hair. Before I could firmly stand, several old classmates "dragged" me into the hotel.
As soon as they saw me, the classmates got up and greeted me. Several classmates hadn't seen each other for more than thirty years. The proud boys who used to hang on each others’ shoulders and rampage across the campus had become a little strange after separating. However, we were still concerned about each other; sitting around the table, polite, we stared at each other. Big Chen held the menu and negotiated with the waiter. The rest pretended to be polite and silent. The room was quiet, and the classmates listened to him ordering food as gently as listening to the teacher in class. They smoked bit by bit, and I looked at them at a glance. It was a pity that there was evidences of their aging; we wanted to tease each other in a few words, but we couldn’t find a suitable topic for a while.
It was a guy who was a teacher in Xingzi that broke the silence. After vomiting a bunch of smoke rings, he found the excitement of the high school era, stared at me, and tortured: "Manager Ke, you must be honest. In these years, how many girlfriends have you had?" Although Youth had gone, hormones were still there. This topic suddenly rejuvenated a table of classmates who had entered old age. The "interrogation" of myself excited everyone. I defaulted on this unsuspecting "crime" just to get back the closeness of former years. Just like in the first year of high school, they captured the love in my eyes that I cast to Tingting and made up my love with her when the dormitory lights were turned off, and I chose not to say anything but slept in sweet rumors every night. That night, that sweetness was still there. When several old classmates joined forces, I became quickly drunk from their "toasts" and fell asleep from the alcohol. Waking up, I didn't know what year it was. Hearing a familiar song again in the haze, I closed my eyes and felt their atmosphere, as if I had returned to the yesterday.
I remembered this moment from before the college entrance examination. On that day, I was lying on the bed in the dormitory and listening to Wang Yan humming the Hunan Flower Drum Opera: "Little Liu Hai bid farewell to her mother in the hut and went to the mountain forest shoulder to shoulder..." I was whispering in my heart: you laugh at me, knowing I can not pass the exam and tell me to leave my mother to cut wood in the mountain! When I thought about my future, there was a sudden dampness in my heart. The days before the age of twenty were clearly visible, but the vast years afterward were still blank. I was intimidated by the bottomless future, trying to cover myself with the quilt in the singing, crying quietly.
That day, no one knew: a teenager by their side was being troubled.
Having awakened at the reunion, I couldn’t sing, and I couldn’t dance, so I sat there stupidly as a real cheerleader, applauding and shouting from time to time. Then I calmed down and felt that I had too little fun, and I felt empty for a while. I secretly thought about my future; I had three years until I would retire. I felt hopeless. I didn’t think about making a fortune. The future was when I had reached the "ceiling". Everything was clear at a glance. I was entangled in the sadness of future.
It turned out that people would still worry in old age! So, wanting to walk alone, I got up and left the private room in Karaoke, to visit the nearby Crescent Lake.
I walked around the Crescent Lake circle after circle, the whole park was lifeless, and no one could be seen.
The dusty past, those irretrievable times, under the cover of the night, in the sultry and restless air, bit by bit occurred in my mind...
After the college entrance examination that year, the flame of friendship was crushed by the hard reality of black and black, and the classmates chased their future before saying goodbye. Everyone turned to nothing and performed their unique lives on different stages.
We were busy to live, looking for the future.
In those years when "I used to love dreaming, I just wanted to fly forward", how many brothers were lost along the way?
In the days after, I often thought of the past when we were separated to chase our future. However, in the same world, can we really ignore each other and make our own future?
On the National Day of that year, three old classmates, Big Wang, Wang Yan, and I also met in such a night when some geese soared by; we walked around the Crescent Lake, recalling the happy moments of the past years together. During the process, Wang Yan received a call saying that the husband of a classmate, Yuting, had passed away, and Wang was busy contacting the related arrangements. In the winter of that year, Big Wang was diagnosed of liver cancer. During his illness, I even visited him in Jiujiang from Shenzhen. Unfortunately, he eventually failed to defend against the cancer cells. In the spring of the next year, he passed away...
I looked up at the sky. Only three or five stars were flashing there, and the world in front was totally black.
A few birds were doing their business on the top of a leafy tree by the lake. Seeing me standing for a long time, they uttered warning sounds from time to time, prompting me to leave soon. I didn't understand why they were so unfriendly to me. Could it be that I had disturbed the birds' tranquility, or was it because the birds were laughing at my sadness?
I suddenly thought, in that dark night, were the birds upset like me? Thinking in this way, I looked up suddenly and realized I was in front of the private room of the karaoke. Pushing the door, I stepped in and heard Wang Yan's familiar song again: "Little Liu Hai bid farewell to her mother in the shed and shouldered her shoulders to the mountain forest..." Alas! My mother, an old woman who sent me from the countryside to the city, finally couldn't bear the torment of the years on a cold morning five years ago, and completed her life journey of 94 years.
The tree wants to be quiet but the wind keeps coming. The son wants to rise but mom has passed away...
No one knew that day: an old man besides them was experiencing reoccurring trouble.