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My manchu grandmother


By SondJamPublished 9 months ago 9 min read

In this world, I have three grandmothers, one is my father's mother, whom I call Grandma. One is my mother's mother, whom I call Grandma. And another is my mother's adoptive mother, whom I call Grandma. All three of these grandmothers would have been my own grandmothers.

The one I am talking about here is my father's mother, who is my Manchu grandmother.

As the saying goes, the road is ten miles apart and the customs of the countryside are different. In the Sha Cheng District, Guanyin Preahistoric Preahistoric Village that place, the grandmother are called "Baba", so I have been calling my Manchu grandmother "Baba".

When my father was alive, I didn't ask my father, but I did the math, and it seems that she passed away in the early 1980s, when she was in her early 80s, so that means Baba was born around 1890. My father is the youngest, he has only one sister, called Liu Chuanxiu, I call her big mother, older than my father 20 years. The family is poor, big mother in the family to recruit a son-in-law, son-in-law is my uncle, his name is Liu Chuanxuan, before the name Ye, before the liberation was an orphan, was pulled by the Kuomintang strong, because of the big head, stout, once with a Kuomintang battalion commander as a picker. In the early years, my grandfather, Liu Mingde, passed away early, Baba was blind, and the family was poor, relying on my mother to be the head of the family, my father went to be a son-in-law, my father was originally named Liu Chuanwen, to Cenhe Town Valley Lake Village as a son-in-law, even changed his name, called Li Changwen.

After my father became a son-in-law, he had to go back to his mother's house several times a year, especially during the New Year holidays, I had to follow to my father's mother's house, mainly to visit my Baba.

When I was small, I remember Baba's house, which opened its doors towards the east and lived in an ancient and grand eight-room wooden house. It was the house of the landlord's family before the liberation. The house of the landlord's family was only given to me after the liberation. It is said that my elder mother was the only female township chief in the area when she was just liberated, carrying a barge gun at her waist and looking handsome. My mother recruited a son-in-law at home and raised several sons and daughters, who grew up and set up their own businesses, and my Baba relied on my second cousin Ye Xinrun, who was also the only one to return to the clan with his uncle, surnamed Ye.

In the 1970s, when Zeng Fanhai, former vice chairman of the CPPCC of Jingzhou City and former secretary of the Jiangling County Party Committee, was stationed in the village of Sihu in Guanyin Preah Preah Vihear, he stayed at the home of his second son, my second cousin Ye Xinrun, for three years, eating and drinking together and establishing a good relationship with his children. Later, after Zeng Fanhai became the secretary of the county party committee and vice chairman of the CPPCC, the children and grandchildren of Big Mother did not climb up the family and go to him to solve a little bit of the worries or something. At that time, the second cousin Ye Xinrun is a veteran in teaching, the second sister-in-law in the village committee as a women's director, later son in law took over, now granddaughter in Jingzhou Municipal Party Committee United Front Work Department work, the family has five party members.

I heard my father tell me, and also heard my uncle and cousin say, Baba is a Manchu, is the ancient city of Jingzhou there, as if in the extermination of Manchu, Baba's family fled from the ancient city of Jingzhou to Sha City, living in the area of the village of Zhang Gou by the Red Gate Road in Sha City. In the early eighties, there were relatives of my Baba in Zhanggu Village, Sha City, who came to look for their relatives, but later did not know why. My grandfather's name was Liu Mingde and Baba's surname was Chen Shunxi. My father went to the place where her mother lived in Zhanggou village before the liberation, that is, in his teens, to work for a short time, but he didn't know what else was in my Baba's mother's family. I think there should be my Baba's relatives there, and there should be my Baba's family in Jingzhou City even more.

The memory of Baba is that I saw her at most twice in a year. She was over 10 years old when I was in my early teens. She had been living in a suite in her cousin Xinrun's house, only about 10 square feet, when her cousin's family did not build a new house, it was the old and dilapidated eight-room house of the past. Baba gave me the impression that she was particularly fond of me, but I would not be around her. That's because it was his son's son, her own grandson.

Ba Ba was already bowed and hunched over, her hair was unkempt, her face was wrinkled, her clothes were torn and disheveled, and there was an unpleasant smell in the house. To make matters worse, her eyes were bad and she became blind. Of course, Baba was taken care of by Big Mother and her cousin's family. She had been bedridden for many years because of her bad eyes, and she relied on them to carry her stool and urine, which is very difficult and valuable.

I am still grateful to my mother and my cousin's family for taking good care of my Baba in silence. My father and I were not doing our duty as children and grandchildren.

I remember Baba, who loved to say this to me, "My son, Goguro's."

Baba was not a country woman and did not speak the local vernacular. Baba is a city person, and she speaks a pure Jingzhou Shashi dialect, which is particularly good. Even though she had spent most of her life in the countryside, the country language did not change.

I didn't see Baba's walking posture, she was bedridden at that time. But I imagined that she was walking with her back hunched over and taking her time.

Baba's hair, like a puff of hair, black and white mixed, thin and curly. I think of my father's hair, also curly hair, I am also curly hair, but I do not like curly hair, the wind blows, messy, so I wash my hair every day.

And Baba loved to smoke, smoked very coarse tobacco. So Baba's teeth are burnt yellow, and her room is full of a smell of smoke. My eldest uncle also smoked, their family planted a lot of tobacco leaf grass before and after, grew up and cut it, and after a few suns in the sun, it was bundled into a pile like pickles, pressed with a stone for a while, squeezed out the water, dried in the sun, and became tobacco leaf.

I heard that Baba was very addicted to smoking and kept smoking all day and night. Later, I heard that she did not smoke, will be the bed of cotton twisted into a cigarette stick as a cigarette, so said, Baba's bed cotton like a sieve hole, big holes and small holes. I also heard my fathers say that Baba smoked big cigarettes when she was young, I do not know, what is meant by big cigarettes, big cigarettes should be a very high-grade, very sophisticated smoke, but unfortunately I have not seen, it is impossible to say.

When I was a child, I went to Baba's place on New Year's Eve to pay my respects to her old man. Not much to buy, a little snack or something. Baba always pulled me in her arms, mouthing me: "My son, my dear, Goguro's".

Baba was also always embarrassed to say, "My son, Baba is poor, Baba has nothing to give you!"

Indeed, Baba was old at that time and had been eating idle food for many years, what did she have? She was so old and frail and blind at that time that she could not survive on her own.

I once chatted with a famous writer, Mr. Zhao Yanbiao, who is a Manchu, and he said, "Manchu women do not wrap small feet, like to smoke big long cigarette packs, and also like to drink. Its courage, courage, wisdom, not the general ethnic women can be compared."

It can be imagined that my Manchu grandmother would have been a strong woman. Only the fate of the ill-fated, when I was a child in a foreign country, lost the respect of the ladies of the house.

Now that I think about it, I'm ashamed, as her grandson, I did not do a little filial piety, at best, just walk more than 30 miles a year to pay her respects, but also did not buy her a piece of clothing, a pack of cigarettes, really childhood ignorance, ah, to their own grandmother did not do a little filial piety.

Many years ago, I asked a lot of acquaintances to go to the village of Zhang Gou by the Red Gate Road in Sha City to inquire, where there is no Chen family, there is no Chen Manchu family, but nothing, probably because of the age of the old generation are gone. And Zhang Gou village has long been demolished, no longer exists.

I remember when Baba died, I also have 20 years old, I went with my father, the scene was very lively, my Baba family is five generations together for many years, children and grandchildren. Her death at an advanced age was also a happy occasion. She was bedridden for many years, and it was a relief to leave this world.

Sometimes, whenever I was having dinner and gossip with people in Shashi, Jingzhou, I would talk about my Baba uncontrollably, saying that her surname was Chen, and that she fled from Jingzhou city to Shashi in the year of the extermination of Manchu, and from Shashi to the countryside. I did not forget to say that it was my grandfather, surnamed Liu, who offered a silver dollar to buy a cheap daughter-in-law. I also said that my Baba is a Manchu, and Manchus are noble and big families, and my body is full of noble blood. No matter how much I play the card that my Baba is a Manchu, but my Baba's past and origin is not clear, her family, her origin, everything about her, will always be a mystery. Therein lies a heartbreaking, brutal story.

For many years, I rarely visited the graves of my grandparents in Sihu Village, Guanyin Preahara Town, much less where their graves were located. There were Big Mother's children and grandchildren over there doing their filial duty, and two grandfathers and grandmothers on my side, but we would burn paper money with the names of the three grandparents written on it to collect whenever it was New Year's Day, Qingming Festival, or the July 30 Mid-Year Festival, as is the custom in the countryside.

It's Qingming Festival again, I only have this article in pieces of text nostalgia, miss my dear Manchu grandmother, my dear Manchu Baba.


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