Sheng, Rusty Box, Abacus —— Grandpa, How are you?

I would like to give thanks to Dickson, a wonderful friend with whom I take the Calculus lectures in the University and who recommended me going for his yesterday’s performance held by the University’s Chinese Orchestra, it has been a long time I haven’t get the chance to take a walk down the memory lane of my dearest Grandpa, who left me eight years ago.

Yesterday initially should have been another normal day of mine, waking up before hearing birds twittering, with fast-paced footprint stepping in and out of Learning Commons, Lecture Theaters, laboratory, library and then back to the dormitory. I tried to finish all the things marked in my tight and routine schedule book as soon as possible, longing that I could arrive the Arts Hall in time and sit at a corner to appreciate those reminiscent melodies. I got extremely attentive at nearly every moment, frequently watching the clock during each lecture, and continuously unlocked my mobile phone to check the times when studying in the library, hoping that time could be spontaneously shifted to 7:00 pm.

To explain my weird move, it all derived from a person whom I am always pinning for, my grandfather. Grandpa is the one who radiated countless rays of hope upon my mind and always accompanied with me in my childhood. I still remember when I was three, Mom and Dad often worked at other cities, they left me to Grandpa and Grandma for looking after me. Unlike other fellow kids, who were always showered with love by their parents, I am the one who always played with sands and stones alone in the backyard under the blazing sun for nearly an entire day. I seldom saw my Dad and Mom, but still missed them when they are out. Sometimes they deceived me that they would be back within a week, but I took it serious and stood at the gate every morning with bare feet, grasping a bouquet of orchid(which is grandpa’s favorite flower), imaging how high I would jump and throw myself into their arms when they’re back. The fact was that I waited for nothing, but tedious sunrise and dawn. Perhaps my grandpa subtly sensed my loneliness, he started to take me to village fair. That was the first time I saw Sheng. There was always an old, half-blind man who earned a living for selling roasted sweet potatoes. It’s such a miracle that that old man created some dulcet melodies by huffing towards several rows of black pipes. The man usually played his instrument after all the sweet potatoes were sold out. His music was like telling a story of himself which evoked the echo in my heart. Grandpa was a Sheng buff, he always bought a sweet potato for me, lifted me up and then both of us immersed into those peaceful melodies……

If things are either black or white, I believe grandma would be the “villain”. My grandma, who is a conservatism upholder, always banned grandpa from buying candies or snacks to me. “Ningning, what I do is for your own good, if you take candies, no matter you carefully brush your teeth or not, tooth worms will find you when you are sleeping, do you want to be friends with them? ” Nanny may not recognize how indispensable the roles of candies in kids’ childhood, they are the symbol of happiness and simple satisfaction. You may not believe how naughty and impish I was when I was four, sometimes she scolded me or even scared me with a hanger as if she was going to hit me when I went out with grandpa and came home late. No matter how tough grandma took the stance for inhabiting me from taking candies, grandpa always found some ways to “survive” after her subtle “interrogation” That’s why grandpa had a collective secret with me — — the rusty box. It was initially a mooncake box, which is unremarkable and unnoticeable. Grandpa hided all the snacks inside it and told Nanny it’s just fish food inside. Every time, we asked grandma’s permission for going out to feed pond fish, she always let us go. And what we did is…… (We did go to the pond, appreciating the fish while enjoying the snacks together)

When we moved to Shenzhen, I was old enough to go to the elementary school. I was happy that grandpa and grandma came with us. It seemed that everything was getting better, living with Dad and Mom gave me an unprecedented taste of parental love. Grandpa brought our secret box to the new home, we continue keeping this secret as there is actually a pond near our apartment. Another thing that I clearly remembered he insist on checking my Mathematics homework(At that time, we need to do 100 simple +-x÷ questions every day), I still remembered he took out his abacus when he’s not sure about the answer(At that time, many classmates suggested me using calculator, but I insisted to let him check by abacus)

Until when I was in P4, grandpa suddenly lost sight of one of his eyes and went to Guangzhou for medical treatment for nearly an entire month, Mom told me grandpa has just finished a small eye surgery and everything should be okay. I tried to comfort myself that he would be fine. However, without grandpa being with me, time seemed to drag. I even couldn’t find the iron box. Did grandpa hide it in somewhere? Without he checking my Maths work every night, I got ninety something instead of full marks. I started to encounter all the problems on my own, staying mentally strong when I faced challenges and difficulties. I found myself more self-controlled even when he was not there. “Maybe he is putting me to the test to see whether I can make it or not” I naively thought.

One month later, grandpa didn’t come back.

After a week, I got the first full mark in Maths Exam in my lifetime, I can’t wait to share this good news with grandpa.

Two months later, Mom and Dad came to Guangzhou alternately.

Three months later, it’s Lunar New Year, Dad and Mom took me to Guangzhou.

It’s finally the day that I’ve waited so long for.

When I saw him, I couldn’t expect how thin he was.

I tried to hold my tears back, but it didn’t work.

Grandpa told me not to worry about him, he would be fine, and asked about my school life.

Before I left, he had given me back the rusty box, and ask me to hide it carefully.

We spent less than a week together.

Three days after I came back, he left with tranquillity.

All these years, I never stop missing him.

Whenever seeing someone playing Sheng, nosing the smell of rust, hearing the silvery tapping sound of abacus, a silhouette always emerges in my mind.

Being kind to everyone, whoever likes you or hates you.

Never complaining about life, just settle for it.

If you are not good at it but still want to do it, then spend more time on it.


His spirit and words have already been deep-rooted in my mind. Whenever I encountered changes or obstacles, they always remind me of retaining my original motivation, and hang in there.

Even at this moment, I believe you are still with me, right?

Maybe sometimes life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. It is to be cherished.

Grandpa, how are you? I am fine. Thank you.

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