林准 --- 1999-10-20
I step into the room. It is dim inside. After a few minutes, I see her sitting on the bed. Her eyes are searching blankly. "Who's there?" she asks. "It's me. XiaoSun." I answer. I turn on the lamp and look at her face. It's a face full of wrinkles. Because of cataracts, her eyes see nothing. She wears a blue coat with an apron around her abdomen as usual. Her calloused hands are put on her knees. She always sits in the dark room for several hours. "XiaoSun, it's you! You are back." She extends her hand, wanting to touch me, and her voice is quivery. "Yes, It's me! I am back!" I want to say a lot, but I just can't speak out. I feel dreariness and want to cry. Suddenly, I wake up. It's a dream. After I heard that Aunt Saoxin had passed away, I felt so sad that I couldn't sleep well. She was a rural woman from Saoxin. Although she had a name, Yu, YueChun, all her neighborhoods called her Aunt Saoxin. She came to our family as a baby-sitter when I was born thirty years ago. At that time, my parents were working in west China near Tibet, and I lived with my grandmother in Shanghai. Her job was taking care of me, and besides that, she did all of the housework in my home. When I was six years old, my grandmother got paralysis. Aunt Saoxin became a housekeeper and a home nurse. She had to go to the market, wash the clothes and cook. I couldn's leave her when I was a child. She took me everywhere she went and told me a lot of old stories before my school age. After I started to school, every morning when I got up, the breakfast was ready, and every day when I came back, a delicious dinner was waiting for me. It was a hard period in my family. My parents were far away from us, and my grandmother was ill and stayed in bed all day. It was Aunt Saoxin who put everything in order. She had the traditional virtues of a Chinese woman, industrious, frugal and honest. When I was a child, the income of a Chinese family was very low. My father's monthly salary was RMB36.00 and hers was just RBM20.00 (about USD3.00). She saved every cent up and sent it back to her home to let her son go to school. She never bought something unnecessary such as candies, cookies, and she always wore old clothes with patches. Every month my parents sent the money to us, and she took care of the monthly expenses. Besides her salary, she gave all the remains back to my grandmother. She always helped the neighbors to buy something from the market, but never overcharged a cent. Because she was honest and helpful, she became very famous in the neighborhoods. Everyone knew her, and everyone called her Aunt Saoxin. Her real name was forgotten. Everything changed very fast. I was growing up and she was getting older. She wanted to save some money for her future, but the inflation didn't make her dream come true. She was a religious Buddhist. The only thing she felt solace was when she went to the temple and prayed behind the Buddha. She believed that it would make her next life better. In the mean time, she blessed for everybody, my parents, her son and me. Everyday when I came back from work, I saw her sitting on her bed in the dim room. I felt she was so lonely. Her son rarely came to see her. She put some new clothes in a fine case and said it was for her son if her son came. But every time her son came he always said it was useless and asked his mother not to spend on him, just buy something herself. No matter what her son said, she still saved money for her son and her grandson. "I must leave something for my posterity." she said. Before I left Shanghai, she lived with me. She brought me up and regarded me as her grandson, and she was the same as my grandmother. When my wife and I left to America, she held my hand and said: ?If you have babies, bring them back. Let me have a look.?But only half an year after I left Shanghai I heard she passed away. I will be back, why didn't you wait for me? ***In Shanghai always we call baby-sitter as aunt? Although Aunt Saoxin could be my grandmother, I got used to calling her aunt Saoxin.**