What is nostalgia – 乡愁是什么? – English

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The crepe myrtle on the side of the road blooms as proudly as ever. It is a really proud bloom, since it blooms all year-round. I walk in the wind, thinking, my hair blown by the wind, secretly thinking how beautiful this is, tight in my big coat. But I have forgotten how it really feels, to be in autumn. What a tough girl can do in the autumn wind is pull down her sleeves, and avoid goosebumps.

In August, autumn is already bringing all sorts of cold winds, all sorts of harvests. But since I left my hometown, I rarely get to realise what season it is, what crop should be planted, what crop harvested. By now, the paddies are probably fully harvested, and the Mandarins by the side will soon be fully ripe and start falling on the ground. The cicada buzz is certainly declining, and the smells and tastes of summer are fading away.

The world’s longest TV series, the ‘News Network’, recently organised a series of programs on the theme: ‘what is nostalgia?’. Before that, I had been walking through some city, with persimmon trees on both sides on the road, and the persimmons were beginning to ripen. I’d heard that you wouldn’t pick or eat those persimmons, even picking them up the ground was considered theft. But even so, they were very cute, covering the branches in bright yellow, such bright colours covering both sides of the streets in the whole city. 婉叹的感慨中我又想起了另一个叫景洪的城市,据说那应该是靠近国界了,马路两旁是芒果,都不能吃,我渴望的竟是看到被芒果砸到都不能把它吃掉泄气那种可爱的愤恨。My sister really likes grapes, and I often joke with her, saying if you go to a place with a lot of grapes, you won’t be able to walk down the street. 那要是到了景洪,我想我该走不动路了。

Earlier, in my heart, I thought that if a city had hills and water, and snow in the winter, then the residents would have to be very happy, they could enjoy all the beauty I wanted to see. Also, the people who grew up in a city with hills and water would have to be beautiful in their souls and bodies. The hills give people a strong heart; the water makes them gentle. But now, I’ve developed different ideas, and think that maybe, the trees and flowers of each city might have a superficial effect on people’s mind and personal quality. Like the cities with mangoes and persimmon, which cannot be picked, and so the people who respect the law will only look at them with both eyes, but I might call my dad to come with his trick, and hit on the city at night, raiding the fruit.

But the important thing for me is, I’ve understood what nostalgia is. 有异于余光中先生那样的大文豪的普通人的我们,乡愁不分小时候、长大后、老了后,平凡人的乡愁可能从始至终是爸爸捞上来就吃的海胆,听惯了的哨公号子,看惯了的渔家的帆;也有可能是姑妈的泡菜坛子,妈妈裹着面粉炸的鸡翅尖;又或许是爷爷自己刮胡子时讲的笑话,公园里教滑冰那个哥哥的微笑;还有走在路上被水果砸的快乐…… maybe the famous attractions of a city are not the source of your nostalgia, they’re what outsiders come to see, while true nostalgia has to do with a road that only you know to walk along.

When I was little and studied the concept of ‘nostalgia’, I could not understand it. It was all about the teacher instilling this core idea in us, we were too little, too little to be nostalgic. But by the time we start feeling a sense of genuine empathy when reading bittersweet poems like ‘when I was little, nostalgia was a very little stamp, with me on one side, and my mother on the other”, we’ve already left home for a long, long time.

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Source : Douhao blog

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact [email protected]