A Rural life in the 70s-Chapter 8
The noise was raging and attracted all the neighbors. After a while, many people heard it and gathered around.
“Stupid girl, why are you taking after your unconscionable mother? Why don’t you share the good things with your grandparents? How can you keep them from us?” Wang Aiqiao knew how to seize the moral high ground and she wanted to tell everyone that Song Xiulian and Autumn were unfilial.
Autumn refused to admit it. She peered out from Wei Hongmei’s back and replied with tears, “Everyone knows how poor my family is. How could we have anything good? The half a bag of milk powder is for my little brother. He was born prematurely and my mother has no milk. If you take the milk powder, my little brother will starve.
The neighbors believed that Autumn had brought something good because they were sent by a jeep. Hearing this, they knew there was only half a bag of milk powder and it was for the baby… Wang Aiqiao was already 19 and she was so lazy that she wanted to take a baby’s milk powder. How greedy and cruel she was.
Wei Hongmei did not make a sound. Instead, she stretched out her hand and stood in front of Autumn, blocking Wang Aiqiao who was trying to catch Autumn, like in a game of chasing the chicken…
In the blink of an eye, Wei Hongmei saw her father-in-law walking out of the crowd. She said in a loud voice, “Father, look at this…”
Autumn also saw her grandfather who came in a huff. She cried out, “Grandpa!”
“What is going on?” Wang Jianguo walked into the crowd with a dark face. He screamed and stopped his little daughter from showing her teeth.
Wang Aiqiao had been spoiled by her parents. When she saw her father coming over, she also felt aggrieved. “Father, this little girl is so ungrateful. She hid good things from you and my mother…”
Autumn didn’t wipe the tears off her face. She came out from Wei Hongmei’s back and hesitantly raised the milk powder bag to Wang Jianguo. “Grandpa, do you want to drink the milk powder? If you can feed my little brother, I will give the milk powder to you and my grandmother!”
“Hey, I don’t drink this. You keep it for your brother!” Wang Jianguo’s wrinkled face was burning, and he reached out to grab Wang Aiqiao’s arm. Then he yelled at his wife in the crowd, “Go back home. What a shame!”
Watching her grandma and Wang Aiqiao being taken away by her Grandpa, Autumn sighed and raised her hand to wipe the tears on her face. She said to Wei Hongmei, “Auntie, thank you for protecting me.”
Wei Hongmei turned back and waved at the crowd. “Go back home, all of you… Autumn, come home with me and clean your face. If your mother sees your tears, she will be worried.”
Autumn followed Wei Hongmei into her house. The latter got her half a basin of warm water to wash her face. “Autumn, don’t feel unhappy. Your grandmother and your little aunt have been like this for a long time. You should be careful and hide from them. Don’t be mad at them!”
“Hmm, I see.” Autumn did not take it to heart. Hearing Wei Hongmei’s words, she naturally agreed with her.
While combing Autumn’s hair, Wei Hongmei said, “I like little girls so much, but I only got three naughty boys!”
Autumn smiled and said, “They are all good men. When they grow older, they will be filial to you!”
Hearing this, Wei Hongmei felt so happy and could not stop smiling.
After cleaning up for Autumn, Wei Hongmei lifted the curtain and entered the room; she came out with a dozen eggs in a gourd. She said, “Let’s go see your mother.”
When they arrived at Autumn’s house, Song Xiulian was worried because of the noise outside. When she saw Autumn, who was clean and smiling, she was relieved. Then she greeted Wei Hongmei and said, “Sister-in-law, come in and sit here.”
Wei Hongmei handed the eggs to Autumn and told her to store them in the house. Until she made sure that the cold air around her had gone, she came to look at the little boy on the kang.
Autumn was heating the kang after she put the eggs in the back room, when she saw her youngest cousin Wang Chenghe come in from the outside, holding a broken basket in his hand. There were some eggs in it. Wang Chenghe looked at Autumn and smiled. “Grandpa asked me to give you these.”
Since Song Xiulian had been married to Wang Limin, she had never been treated like this, let alone been given an egg. When she saw the eggs, she couldn’t help being worried. “This…”
Autumn took over the basket from her third brother with a smile. She said to Song Xiulian, “Mother, don’t be afraid. You have a boy this time, and naturally, you have eggs to eat.”
While speaking, she held the eggs and led Wang Chenghe to the western house.
Looking at them, Wei Hongmei smiled and said, “Autumn is right. Xiulian, you have a boy now, and you should straighten your back. You don’t have to bow every day…”
Seeing that Song Xiulian was still a little helpless, Wei Hongmei could not help being anxious for her. “I know that your temper is gentle which is not like me, but I have to say that everyone adds burdens on the willing horse. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a yard. You have to consider your children after all. You didn’t see how sad Autumn was crying just now…”
Song Xiulian finally raised her eyes and tears came down before she spoke, “Oh, sister-in-law, I know the children have been suffering because of me. I can’t help them…”
Seeing this, Wei Hongmei did not dare to say more. She quickly took a towel and handed it to Song Xiulian. “Okay, since you know that the children have been wronged, you should protect them. Stop crying. It will hurt your eyes.”
Autumn gave a piece of brown sugar to her third cousin Wang Chenghe. The latter pinched it with his fingers and licked a little bit with his tongue. He said, “This sugar is really sweet… my mother also has half a can, but she locked it in the box where I can’t get it…”
This stinky boy betrayed his own mother for a piece of sugar!
Autumn smiled while shaking her head. Then she scooped up cold water to brush the pot and sat in front of the stove to start a fire.
The house had not been warmed for a long while and it was so cold. So was the kang. She had to heat it or her mother and the baby would catch a cold.
Soon, the water in the pot boiled. Autumn filled the iron kettle with the water and then went to the West House, pretending to get rice. She opened her hand and recited, ‘Rice bowl!’
With a flash of her mind, Autumn felt her palm sink and a bowl of rice showed… A full bowl of rice? Autumn slightly widened her eyes. There was only half a bowl of rice when she put it back before. How could she take out a whole bowl of rice?