The pain of going home – 回家之痛 – English

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The text below was originally written in April of this year. In the meantime, there have been Ching Ming, Dragon Boat, Mid-Autumn and National holidays, short and long periods of leave, but for different reasons, I have not been able to go back home. I’ve now returned, but it hasn’t been enough to smooth out the sadness. Sometimes, I think of the provisions of the July 2013 Chinese Law on the Protection of Elderly Citizens, and whether I haven’t actually become an offender myself.

Middle-aged people always think that time passes too fast. The firecrackers of New Year back home are still ringing in our ears, the brilliant canola flowers have opened all around Jiangnan, and the plants are sprouting.The sunshine of March is very warm, but why does the request of returning home for Spring Festival bring a faint pain to the heart?

This year’s Spring Festival is the first time in twenty years I have come back home from Pakistan. When I left home to join the army, I was eighteen and a sprightly youth; 而今转业回到地方工作,虽然是才过不惑之年,却也早生华发,鬃若霜染。But my parents are no longer young, they’re over seventy now. 原以为从严肃紧张的军营转业到地方工作后会相对轻松些,但第一年时光还是马不停蹄一溜小跑的过了去. Furthermore, last year, for the year of the Horse, at Spring Festival, I had only joined the workplace for less than two months, and didn’t dare open my mouth and mention the possibility of returning home for Spring Festival. This year, I thought, no matter what, I have to go back home for New Year, and spend time with my old father and mother. 虽然因为除夕夜还得到宗教活动场所值夜班,所以只能初一早上走,心里还是很高兴。

年三十晚上,凌晨一点多从庙里值完班回家时,看完春节联欢晚会早已进入梦乡的妻儿被我的开门声吵醒后复又睡去。Although I was really tired, I really didn’t want to move, 可想到天亮后还要赶路,毕竟又是除夕夜,硬撑着拾掇完毕躺到床上时,已经是凌晨两点钟。

大年初一,一早出发,等到上了高速,原先残存于脑子里“车会少一些”的庆幸一下子被击打得粉碎,不得已便成了返乡大潮里被裹挟着滚动的一粒细沙。一样的高速公路,一样的急急回家过年的车流。随时可以看得见前车的后窗,紧贴着玻璃塞着的各种礼品物品。屡见不鲜的刮蹭、追尾,无时不在提醒着回家路上的凶险,说危机四伏一点儿也不会过分。不时的堵塞还会给你足够的等待的时间让你用来想像回家的样子,可就是赶不了回家的路。

七百多公里的路程,我们用了十几个小时的时间,比“度娘”估计的要多出好多。孩子急得几乎抓狂,大人也有些烦躁异常。父母亲担心我们的安全,也是不断打电话过来询问。还好,总算在晚上八点多的时候,回到那阔别多年生我养我的小村庄,但她却已不是我梦里的样子。疲惫不堪到有些沮丧的我,恍若陌路上漂荡的孤魂野鬼,游离很多年,却似乎再也找不到那条回家的乡间小路。老父亲打着伞,摸黑跑到村后,来回晃动的手电筒光芒,那一瞬间就是迷雾大海上招唤的灯塔。

下了车,孩子便像解放了一样;我这离家多年的游子,多年后踏踏实实地终于回到日思夜盼的父母身边,也像个孩子一样很是激动。简单弄了些东西吃着,和父母亲聊着些家长里短。很快就是晚上九点多,收拾睡下,窝在老母亲用自家地里收获的棉花亲手缝就的大厚棉被里结结实实地睡了个大大的懒觉。

接下来的两三天,白天走亲访友,晚上逮着二老问这问那,有些明明在电话里讲过,却也忍不住再又提起。有时候明明看着他们显露困态,一说让他们早些睡,却马上摆手说没事、不困、不碍事。孩子都提意见说爸爸到老家怎么话变得那么多。

考虑到返程肯定人多,计划初五一早出发。吃早饭的时候,忽然想起他们平时都是早睡早起的,怎么这几天没见他们起的太早。父亲嘿嘿笑笑没吭声。母亲在一旁嗔怪地说,我倒没事,你大(老家称父亲)说你们累了怕吵醒你们,一大早起来躲在房间里干等,连厕所都不敢出去上了。我心里顿时咯噔像锥刺了一样痛了一下。就在去年的三四月份,因为急性前列腺炎,父亲治疗了两个多月才好,导尿管都插了两个多星期,总算没有大碍,可憋尿对他可是绝对是有害的。但为了我们两三天的短暂“造访”,老父亲依然选择了对自己的忍耐和对孩子们的疼爱与怜惜。唉。

表面上看来,我不辞辛苦千里之外赶回来,为了表达所谓有的孝心;其实则是为了寻找自己所谓想要生活而早就背叛了家乡的我们,仿佛某个鲁莽的行者,突然的又因为某些堂而皇之的理由,径直地闯进并打乱了他们宁静而清贫的日子。

Because, even as we struggle to make a living in a foreign land, our old parents guarding the homeland have already gotten used to a life without us.

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