Families logo

The two mothers

by SondJam 3 months ago in immediate family
Report Story


The 16-year-old mother, sitting in a cramped room with a kerosene lamp jumping dimly, could only dimly make out the face of the teacher across the room.

Two days ago, she and her classmates were walking down the street after dinner when they met the silent teacher she had taught for six months in elementary school. They greeted each other familiarly, and the teacher asked them what they were doing, and they said they were going for a walk, so the teacher said, "Come to my house tomorrow for a walk.

The only one who went to the appointment was my mother. But after that brief chat, she did not go again, although the teacher sent her home with some eagerness to say, you come again.

When the teacher saw her on another occasion and asked her why she hadn't gone, she simply said she had gone elsewhere.

"There was nothing to tell, I didn't feel very well, I wasn't quite comfortable sitting there." My mother thus inarticulately dismissed the rare moments of near ambiguity between her and my father that I had asked about.

At that time, we were climbing unhurriedly up to the first balcony of Jewel Mountain, and I wanted my mother to see the quiet West Lake at night from a high vantage point.

The altitude of less than 200 meters was no challenge for my mother, who had worked as a farmer in the countryside in her youth and, even today, trekked daily in the city between the vegetable market and her home.

The street lights were unknown, the night breeze was pleasant, and Hangzhou, which had just escaped the humidity and heat of Guangzhou, brought her an extra coolness and relaxation before the plum blossom, which was probably the opportunity for her to share her past with me.


As for the old stories of our grandparents and parents, we have no way to pay attention to them when we are young, we are far away from home when we are young, and we deal with our families and careers when we are middle-aged. Even when our parents are around, we seem to have less interest and time to inquire into the old stories, especially the love between our parents.

Curtis Glass has a good analogy about memories. He likens memories to an onion with one layer, the first layer is dry and rustles when touched. The next layer is just peeled away to reveal a soggy third layer, followed by a whispering fourth and fifth layer -

"Each layer of onion skin sweated out long-avoided words, plus fancy letters, as if a staged mystic had been trying to cipher himself since childhood, when the onion sprouted."

Truth and lies grow entangled in memory, plus the fading, distortion, blurring and distortion caused by the years as they flow by. So when we try to reconcile, even if we try hard to restore a flawless picture of history, we may not be able to spell the whole truth.

What's more, my mother could only show me the first layer of the rustling, and more of her hidden pain and joy were hidden in a deeper core. Perhaps she would occasionally recite the secret spell of opening the sesame seeds, unlocking the quest; perhaps, there has long been like the ancient trees and vines on the remnants of the old garden, seemingly coiled and intertwined, but not related to the historical kingdom.


My father graduated from high school with excellent grades, but because of tuberculosis, he was unable to enroll in college, so he returned to the town of Jixin with his luggage and became a substitute teacher.

My mother always said that my father was quiet, but as far as I can remember, although he did not talk much, he read a lot and was very eloquent.

My mother happened to be a student in his fifth grade class, but she couldn't remember whether he taught language or math, and my father had long been awake and couldn't ask for proof.

My mother was never shy about her lack of love for learning. She had a brother who loved to study and did well, graduating second in the county in junior high school, but was unable to attend high school because of his composition. My uncle told us that her sister never did her homework during the holidays, and when school started, she begged him with a tear in her eye to cheat and get all her homework done in a short time.

People always have strengths. Mother's name is Mingli, the person as its name, the mother as a teenager beautiful, sunny, I do not know why in the Wulingyuan mountains in western Hunan, but in addition to the skin color, high nose and deep eyes, as if the Caucasian race. She had a lively and cheerful personality, and a good voice that curbed into the clouds. Hunger and malnutrition somehow contributed to her lithe physique. She sang a few songs and was asked to perform some scenes. "They asked us to do some actions, and one of them was to say that there is a bridge (in dialect, dragonfly), and you should go catch it." The result received unanimous praise from the troupe's recruitment teacher, "the head of the troupe, Zheng Daqiang, he said good, this sister child acted well."

But my mother did not wait for an acceptance notice from the troupe; the people at the township (township) office checked her composition, and for the same reason as her brother who could not go to high school, they blamed it on the Kuomintang major father who died in prison before she was four years old.

This was just the beginning, and she, her mother, her brother, and her family members and children of the "21 kinds of people" would bear even heavier consequences in campaign after campaign for many years to come.


She graduated from primary school and went to agricultural school, and with her to school there is a large number of pronounce the name of Zhen Zhen, Ping Ping, Ai Ai, Missy ...... but the agricultural school did not finish, the big cascade began, the young they are in the surrounding counties and villages around, older, ran to the provincial capital Changsha, and even the capital Beijing.

Homework has long been left behind, no one cared, and could not care. Her mother, who had lost her schooling, was like other people her age, picking bricks and carrying sand for the civil engineering works being built in the town with her thin body. Her fate intersected with her elementary school teacher again because, at that time, he was a plasterer, using cement mixed with water and sand, and with a cement knife, he built pile after pile of brick walls and house after house.

It was on those lonely nights that her teacher extended an invitation to come and play, and she, though she refused other suitors, could not get involved with this man who was eight years older than herself, who was stingy-eyed (so thin that his eye sockets were deep) and mute.

My father's friend, Uncle Tang San, a legendary country figure, volunteered to be the "ice man," citing my father's benefits, such as his honesty and willingness to work, and the fact that he had no burdens other than his mother, but my grandmother turned him down. The reason for this was that the sisters were still young, but secretly they were the children of the same "21 species". In those days, it was too much of a luxury to feel compassion and sympathy for each other, to feel the oppression of not being able to hold up one's head, and perhaps to long for another way out, another possibility of choice.

They finally came together in 1969, when my mother and uncle went down with my grandmother to a countryside called Liming. My mother flatly expressed the injustice that had befallen them. At this time, my father, who had already decided to continue his career as a plasterer to the end, came to my mother again and asked her to stay with him.

Unable to make a living in the eyes of others, my mother followed my father to his countryside in rice and grain in 1970 and became his new wife.


They made their home in the village of Shaping, where my grandmother came from, and my father placed my mother in the township where he still had cousins. The villagers arranged a wooden building for them. My father still worked outside the home, while my mother worked like a farmer, planting rice seedlings and tilling the fields.

The year I was born, my mother was only 21 years old and still wore her big black and shiny braids. My father and my cousins wrapped a simple stretcher with bamboo, boards and ropes, wrapped in thick cotton wool, and took her to the township hospital overnight by flashlight.

At 12:00 a.m., after the lights went out, Dr. Dong, who had been sent down from Changsha to the countryside, delivered my parents' first child by flashlight, and my first cry announced the change of motherhood.

Like all people, it is never possible to imagine my mother as a young girl in the memories we can conjure up. Without a photo, I can't even imagine my mother being called a "dry pod" when she was young, a synonym for thin and slender. After giving birth to my eldest sister and me consecutively, in order to give my father a male child, she worked with him everywhere, avoiding family planning, and seeking medical help, probably trying all kinds of sacred herbs and seedlings. After giving birth to her brother, she felt that her suffering was over, and with the encouragement of her best sister, the "Dragon Family" rewarded herself with a dozen eggs and a chicken every day for all the hard work she had done since she got married, and from then on, her weight climbed to a peak of more than 100 pounds, and remained high for the rest of her life.

My 69-year-old mother knew I liked to write stories and was proud that the stories I had written had gone viral for a time. While she was in the kitchen, preparing our dinner, she greeted me in a loud voice: "Ask me if you want to ask anything, but it's a pity that Amah's brain can't remember anything." She said self-deprecatingly and cheekily, "Your ama is a dog's brain that remembers shit.

But I glimpsed through more than half a century of time to the black and white time when my mother, dressed in a floral dress, was catching dragonflies, standing playfully on tiptoe in the middle of the room with her fingers pinched like onion tubes. The sunlight poured down on her long, oily braids and hair, as transparent as smoke.

In this life, we have two mothers. The unseen one is not the old woman who did everything she could to make sure we ate every meal she cooked, but the young girl who, even in those barren times, was as bright as a summer flower and had a twinkle in her eye.

immediate family

About the author


Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.