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Warmth in the Soup: The Academic Journeys and Dreams of Three Generations of Women

From Rural Valleys to Urban Lights, the Legacy and Hopes Passed Down in a Bowl of Soup

By Beck_MoultonPublished about a month ago 3 min read

I remember when I was in my third year of high school, my homeroom teacher always looked at me with worry and said, "Others become thin as soon as they read the third year of high school. Why do you have a rounder face as you read more? Did you really put effort into reading ?" It was really unfair. I thought I read seriously. Every night when I returned home from self-study, there was always a bowl of soup simmering on the small coal stove waiting for me. Unable to resist my grandmother's supervision, I drank it and went to sleep. How could I not get fat?

The third year of high school is tough. Besides attending classes during the day, we also have to study until 10pm every night without fail, even on Saturdays and Sundays. After finishing evening self-study and walking for half an hour to get home, I am already starving.

As soon as she hears the sound of me opening the door, my grandmother, who has already gone to bed, immediately gets up and prepares soup for me. The small clay pot used to make soup has traces of time attached to it, just like the mottled hands of my grandmother. But they are so magical that there is always delicious soup inside: sometimes it is soft and smooth chestnut stewed chicken soup, sometimes it is salty and fragrant cuttlefish and egg soup, sometimes it is heat-clearing and heat-reducing black ginseng and ophiopogon lean meat soup, sometimes it is fragrant and crispy lotus root and pork rib soup, sometimes it is refreshing and sweet crucian carp and radish soup...

On such a late night, drinking a bowl of hot soup really warms the body and heart. The fatigue of studying and the hardships of the night road are instantly swept away, leaving only satisfaction. After drinking a bowl of soup, I seem to have infinite strength again, and the next day I can continue to work hard with passion.

Grandma watched me gulp down the soup, her face always beaming with a smile, as if she was drinking the soup. She also said, "Drink the soup well to nourish your body. Only when your body is healthy can you study hard, and only when you study well can you walk out of this mountain valley. There are tall buildings outside, and there are also colorful lights that keep turning and look beautiful. As a girl, you should study hard. Rural girls who don't study can only marry casually..."

Grandma has been to Shanghai, seen the prosperity of big cities, seen the diverse styles of buildings from all over the world, and also seen the heroic independence of urban women. Because she has seen it, she is not like the average rural old lady who favors boys over girls. She knows that there is a world outside that is different from the mountains, where it is colorful and prosperous. She doesn't know that the colorful lights are called neon lights, but she remembers the beauty of those lights and hopes that I can also enter that beauty. For her, she can't help me with my studies, so she boils her earnest expectations in bowls of thick soup. She hopes that after drinking the soup, I will have the strength to overcome all the difficulties encountered in my studies.

And I did not disappoint that bowl of soup. As she wished, she went to college and lived and worked in this city with a light show. Now, my daughter is studying in this city, and I can't help her with her studies. Learning is ultimately a lonely thing, and she needs to exterminate demons by herself. So, like my grandmother back then, I started to make soup for her: sometimes it's soft and smooth chestnut stewed chicken soup, sometimes it's salty and fragrant squid and egg soup, sometimes it's heat-clearing and heat-clearing Scrophularia and Ophiopogon lean meat soup, sometimes it's fragrant and tender lotus root and pork rib soup, sometimes it's refreshing and sweet crucian carp and radish soup... I will also repeat to my daughter as my grandmother told me back then: "Drink the soup well to take care of your body. Only when your body is good can you study well. Only when you study well can you see a bigger world."

I firmly believe that my daughter will have a broader world and let her run wild. I also firmly believe that no matter where she goes in the world in the future, she will always miss the bowls of soup her mother cooked for her now, just as I am reciting the bowls of soup my grandmother has now...

Teenage yearsHumanityFamilyChildhood

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