FENG XIAO LEI: After I finished middle school, I had a dream about a good friend of mine. Her mother disappeared when she was 7 years old, nobody knows where she is. Her mother is from Sichuan, and my friend and I are from Liaocheng, from the province of Shandong. Her mother came here because some of her friends from her hometown had moved to Shandong and so she came here as well. At that time, everyone said that Shandong was better than Sichuan, so she moved here. Then she got to know my friend’s father but at first she didn’t want to stay with him. Later on, something happened in her family so my friend’s mother went back to her hometown without taking my friend with her, and then we never heard of her again.
After I finished middle school I dreamt that her mother came back. My friend’s house has a yard, the walls are made of mud and have cracks in them, the door is black, it has a lid and a deep hole in it. It’s not a good house, it’s white. In northern China, every house has a room that’s located in the northern part of the house but faces south. It’s called the North Room. My friend’s house has one as well. All those things are as they were in my dream.
The dream is very simple, just a flash. I dreamt I was standing outside of the wall of her house, but I was standing a little higher so I could see inside her yard. Suddenly her mother came back. She walked into the yard, right in the middle of it, as in normal life. Then my friend’s father came out of the North Room, holding a bowl of water. He said: “Mother is back! Mother is coming back!” That’s the dream. There were no news about her at that time, but about two weeks later there were some news of her and my friend could get in contact with her mother again. But her mother doesn’t want to come back anymore, she has a business somewhere else, she will not return.
My friend’s mother was just our age when she first came to Shandong, she was around 20, but her father was 27 or 28, much older than her. It was hard to find a wife here. She didn’t want to stay with him but her friends, who had all married men from Shandong, persuaded her and she thought he was a nice person so she finally decided to stay.
When I was very little and even during the decade before I was born, many people came from Sichuan and Yunnan. It was always the same situation; someone persuaded them to come here or even cheated them into coming. My friend finally got into contact with her mother again, but of course she’s blaming her mother for leaving her and doesn’t want to accept her.