Spring time – 春天 – English

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So, spring has arrived, but not with a bang or a crash. The warning signs are all too familiar: the creeping allergies, the waking up itching in the middle of the night, befuddled. I’m mentally composing a new essay; even when I get up in the morning I can dimly remember it and rush to the computer to write it down. Alas, maybe next spring I’ll be able to pin down that opening paragraph I’m searching for in my dreams. When the wind blows I look out on a yellow haze, the whole city swirling in dust, but I’d rather have now a yellow Beijing since I’m so sick of the usual dull grey. One day going out the door I caught sight of the jasmine vine, that symbol of welcoming spring, that grows over the wall of the public restrooms downstairs, flowering in profusion under a startling blue sky. Several old gaffers sit in the unbearably small garden, smoking and playing chess; several bird cages hang from a rustling tree. I bought a new dress, new white shirts – the dress $119, one shirt $49, the other $29, including postage. After we farewelled some visitors, we took a walk in the neighbourhood, bought a mini icecream cone. After the brief minute it took to eat, I really regretted not buying the normal size. This district has barely any trees, just unending parked cars; we finally found a bench to sit down on, tried to speak of something in tune with this evening breeze. But turn your head, to the right is a row of dilapidated buildings, between the “New Model Rooms” and the “Specialty Noodles” is a dirty window, with “Baked Goods” painted in large red letters above. I had to laugh, springtime has arrived, but this doesn’t need speaking of, spring minds its own business as it comes and goes, we are just a place it visits along the way.

Two months ago I was dragged into a couple of huge forums on messaging app Weixin. In the high school group there is a guy I once secretly crushed on; even though we’ve never spoken two words, I still fantasize that he will take the initiative and ‘friend’ me, and then from time to time click ‘like’, and so forth. But it’s never happened. Even though its spring, it still hasn’t happened. In the group there’s someone who grows kiwifruit and loquat for sale, there’s someone who’s career has been so sucessful they’re in the public chat group for “Investor career women”. Someone else has been made redundant many times, and they mulled over starting up a Taobao online shop selling cold rabbit meat from their hometown; dozens of people enthusiastically suggested names for his shop, but the matter was quietly dropped and hasn’t been mentioned again. There is someone who, when drunk, called on somebody else to repay a debt. The person reminded of their debt asked for the account number right then and there, and then claimed he transferred the money right then and there. But the person who wanted his money back says all along he hasn’t received the funds. As one of the anxious, silent bystanders, I think “If you say its been transferred, why on earth don’t you take a screenshot?” Like most groups, when our reminiscences have been exhuasted, the forum falls silent.

Our university classmates group has 57 members, they talk over and over about a 10 year anniversary reunion, but over and over there’s no conclusion. The forum ebbs and flows in popularity, from times when I can’t swipe to the end of the comments, to deserted – even if someone posted something scandalous, barely anyone would reply. Our university class had 59 people in it, of the missing two, we don’t know who one of them is. Truly, everyone has wracked their memory, listed the class out dorm room by dorm room, there’s still no way of knowing their name. I’ve gradually stopped looking at that forum and friends list, its just sometimes in the middle of cooking dinner, I still can’t help but strain my mind: Who was it? Who the heck was it?

More often, I gasp in admiration at these people who disappear so thoroughly from other people’s orbit. A full ten years, he or she, how could they, while under assault from cellphones, email, alumni networks, social networking, blogging, and message apps, still manage to hide themselves on some island unlocatable by any modern technology or burst of memory? Probably in this world there are some people, just like springtime, they mind their own business as they move on. It seems we can’t avoid relationships in life, however where they have passed through, they don’t plan to return, let alone leave a souvenir, in each moment springtime passes

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Source : Tianya

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org