The Little Village


Where we grew up always presents itself in pieces as we grow up. What made me who I am now, and what has influenced my generation of young Bai people? My remembrance of the past is more than just a fetish for the past. I want to go back to that town in my memory to find more answers.

The place called Shanxi Village did not seem to have fully kept up with the current social progress in terms of life. Most people in the village still live in a large compound, the layout of which is not much different from the living community of nearly 100 years ago according to my grandfather. People will repair the cracked earthen walls of the old houses and purchase some modern appliances, but since the young people have gone out to study or work, the remaining middle-aged and elderly people prefer to keep their homes the way they were. These spaces, which have accumulated traces of decades or even generations of life, are extremely valuable as if they are a sample of a modern city that is developing independently of China's rapid development.

Narrow but manageable rooms play a role in the narrative, from a Western angel painting on top of the stove to a large-screen TV, from a stove used for generations to a coffin placed across the bed that the elderly have prepared for themselves in advance, from the grease caked on the walls to the bare towels that have been used. All the details are recording what happened in the past to the present gazer.

More than 10 years later, I revisit these spaces where I used to come and meet the people who used to put candies in my bag and said I looked like an apple. The scent of food that lingers in the hallway has not yet dissipated, as it did in the past. The old, worn-out washing machine replaced the old scrubbing board, spinning on its own, and the water dripping from the bottom, then leaking down the stairs into the courtyard, where wildflowers grew.