Writing about Tongren here reminds me of a vignette I wrote two, almost three years ago during my sophomore year. Therefore, it made sense for me to share it now. Despite all its faults and grammatical mistakes (left it unedited), I enjoyed writing it and I think my teacher liked it too since she read it in class. Hope you like it:
“The Path to Grandparents’ House
In a city called Tongren in Guizhou province, where a green river snakes in a curvy line through the emerald leaved forests, my grandparents’ house, sits atop a dainty hill overseeing the river. A dangling wooden bridge once stretched a mile across the river, now replaced by an elegant pale-cement bridge. Ancient boats drift along the river and young children like my cousins and I from long ago string up paper boats and let them loose into the water. In the far distance, the train hollers as the rose-red sun rises slowly and steadily above the fog.
The cobble-stoned roads, the style of the siheyuans, the little shops along the street that sells steaming sweet buns, the variety of exotic animals, the powerful surge of hustling people and the bustling of nightlife… The entire courtyard and building complex where my grandparents live has not changed much since my mother lived there as a little girl. A dirt road that leads to my grandparents’ home twists and turns up a fern-covered hill with golden buttercups that turn their cheeks to smile at the sun. If one turned over a lumpy rock along the sandy road, a lovely surprise consisting of a slithery worm, a few 5-cent coins, squirmy roly-polies, and a great whiff of the damp earth, awaits patiently. A pair of wide iron black gates stands at guard, signifying the entrance to the apartments. Yet, the sentry is old enough that his bones creak loudly when the children climb on him. A thousand-year-old turtle lumbers by the compact shopselling ice-cream, snacks, and stationaries that hugs the left wall right past the gates. The joyful giggling of the two creeks that run on either side of the path ring day and night while the neighbors’ chickens wander aimlessly in it. Tiny clothes and old clothes flutter on liners of the third and top floor where my grandparents lived. Grandmother brings out freshly made white flour to sunbathe as her little golden yorkie nips at the brilliant hue of butterflies in the pea garden in front of the stone stairs. As the last rays of daylight fades away, children come out, look for fireflies, and run along the narrow sidewalks kicking up sand, along the twisting alleys to buy ice cream. The soft feeling of freedom as the breeze brushes my ear, the connections with the past, and the closeness to nature, all creates the simple happiness for me. I learned that when we were all young, happiness was simple; after growing up, simplicity equals happiness.
Little did I know that this special road in this special city was going to be torn down and rebuilt into something beyond my wildest dreams. In my mind, the ancient beauties of this long old road and wild plants will disappear, and in their places, cement sidewalks, and tall glassy buildings will rise. I yearn to see the simple beauty of the road again.”
And this place did change as I now have discovered with my own eyes.