My mom told me on the phone the other day, that if I were at Datong (the city where I was born) right now, I wouldn’t be able to recognize it. “Everything is rebuilt,” she said, “most part of the city is turned into ancient-like walls and streets. They are so beautiful.”
“What about grandma’s place? What about the little house?”
Oh the little house. Where should I even start? The little house was what we kids called this tiny little area surrounded by the outer part of their house, the brick wall that my grandpa built, and the wall of our neighbor’s garage. It had not roof, it had one wooden door but it was never locked—so as little as it was, it hardly qualified as a house. But all the kids love the little house and we spent so much time in it. Grandpa used to put up red couplet on its door at Chinese New Year but he never seemed to remember to take them off. They would gradually turn pink and yellow and we kids would tear them off bit by bit on our way in or out of the little house. You’d be surprised how much we could do in there—raising rabbits and hens, hunting treasure, holding secret meetings, fighting and laughing, crying and making friends….The little house is my childhood.
“Oh all gone, all gone,” my mom said, “now your grandma’s new house has it’s own storage room so they don’t have to build a wall around like that.”
A storage place, that’s what it was for them? I had no idea.
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