A Rural life in the 70s-Chapter 9
Autumn suddenly showed some excitement on her face. She turned back to get a metal bucket. Then she poured half of the rice in the bowl into the bucket and withdrew it. After thinking for a while, she took out the half a bag of rice that she had put in before… It seemed that the amount of rice did not change.
Autumn put the rice bag into an empty urn in the corner of the house, then came out with half a bowl of rice. She washed it and put it into the pot with two eggs. She then put them on the kitchen stove and began heating it.
Wang Chenghe looked at the white rice in the pot with eager eyes, swallowing.
“Autumn, is it rice that you just put into the pot? I’ve seen it in my grandmother’s home. It smells very good, but only Chenggui and youngest aunt were allowed to have some. They hid it from me…” Wang Chenghe said in a grievance.
Autumn didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. In their village, the rice was rare. Only the people who worked outside could bring two kilos of rice back and it was only enough for a bowl of porridge for the elderly and children.
It was not weird that Wang Chenghe swallowed when he saw the rice.
The rice in her grandma’s home should have been brought by her third uncle who was a temporary worker in the town… Otherwise, her grandma would not be willing to share with Chenggui.
“I have put enough rice in the pot so that you can have a good taste today!” Autumn extended an invitation. They had been living a hard life, but they could afford a bowl of rice porridge… What’s more, her three older cousins were all good boys. Her youngest cousin was her best friend in her previous life.
“Oh, really?” Wang Chenghe couldn’t believe it. Could he really eat such precious rice? Wasn’t it for Aunt Xiulian especially?
Looking at the stupid look of her third cousin, Autumn couldn’t help grinning. “Yes, for real!”
Seeing Wei Hongmei coming out of the room, Wang Chenghe, who was full of joy, walked up to show off. “Mum, Autumn is cooking rice and she invited me to have lunch here.”
“Be sensible! Rice is a precious thing. How can you eat it?” Wei Hongmei gave Wang Chenghe a slap, and unceremoniously scolded him.
Looking at Wang Chenghe’s sad face, Autumn stopped Wei Hongmei and said with a smile, “Aunt Hongmei, I have cooked half a pot of rice. My mother and I can’t eat all of it. Let my third cousin stay.”
Hearing this, Wei Hongmei, who felt sorry for her son, agreed at once. “Since you said so, I will allow him to have lunch here… By the way, you don’t have enough food at home, do you?” “I made plenty of steamed bread at home; let your cousin bring you some. They will be enough for you and your mother to eat for days. I also made some pickles. You should take some as well.”
Autumn wasn’t courteous with her. She agreed with a smile. Then she entered the house, filled the gourd with rice, and gave it back to her. “Aunt Hongmei, I received a few pounds of rice. Take some of it and cook porridge for my second cousin.”
“Hey, you girl. You should save the rice for your mother. Don’t give it to me. Your second cousin has a big appetite and he eats a lot… He doesn’t need rice.” Wei Hongmei refused.
Autumn stood on her tiptoes and stuffed the gourd into Wei Hongmei’s arms. She said with a smile, “Aunt Hongmei, it is only a little, just give my cousins a taste.”
Seeing that Autumn really meant it, Wei Hongmei took the gourd and went back home pleasantly.
For lunch, Song Xiulian had two eggs and a bowl of thick fragrant rice porridge. Because she had to feed the baby, she did not dare to eat pickles. Autumn gave her a dish of brown sugar so that Song Xiulian could eat a small half of the steamed multigrain bread.
Wang Chenghe was enjoying the rice porridge so much that he was unwilling to empty his bowl. Only after taking one bite of cornbread with the pickle, could he have a mouthful of the rice porridge. He was eating so carefully, in thorough satisfaction.
Autumn felt both amused by and sorry for him. She did not say anything, only bowing to eat. She had a good appetite since they finally returned home, and her mother and younger brother were also getting better. She ate up a whole cornbread with the pickles, as well as half a bowl of rice porridge before she stopped.
After having lunch, her neighbors began coming to the door.
They all came with gifts, but because of the closeness, the gifts were different. Some of them brought two pounds of millet, five eggs, or ten eggs; some of them brought a kilo of flour or a kilo of noodles… and so on.
Autumn found a pencil head and an old book in the back room. She wrote down the names and their gifts. There were so many people with all kinds of gifts that she could not remember all of them with her brain. She wrote them down as reference in case her parents wished to prepare gifts in return.
Almost all of them diplomatically or directly asked about the car that sent them back, after they greeted the mother and the baby.
Autumn had to repeat her explanation over and over to them: “That car belongs to the armed forces in the county. Because of the earthquake, it has been temporarily assigned to the health center. Since my mother gave birth prematurely and my younger brother is weak, they could not sit on an oxcart or catch a chill. So they sent us back by jeep. The driver is a PLA.”
Being told such an excuse and hearing the title of PLA, the people in the village were relieved. All the soldiers were good, and their quality and morality were guaranteed.
Autumn kept talking for a whole afternoon and had repeated the story multiple times until the day was dark. She sent away the last person, closed the door, and finally could take a break.
Fortunately, her words worked and changed people’s views in the village. They all believed that they were sent by the PLA, not by any bad people.
After cooking for her mother and her brother and heating the kang, Autumn finally could sit and have her meal… They had rice and eggs and her mother fed her brother once. Everything was getting better.
After dinner, Autumn finished washing the dishes in the outer house when she heard her mother asking, “Autumn, did you see the three hens?”
Autumn paused and began to recall. She said, “I didn’t pay attention… I will check the chicken coop after I finish washing.”
Chickens in the countryside were all free-range. Every morning, people would open the doors and set chickens free to move. By the end of the day, the chickens would return home because they knew the way back.
Despite this, Autumn basically had no hope that she could find the hens. Her grandmother would not leave them any hens since there was no one at home for so many days.