Days Of Magnolia Past
To me, a magnolia is like my beloved lotus flower, except growing on a tree. And it is the city flower of Shanghai.
During the first couple of years when I was in Shanghai, I visited my older sister once a month. At that time, Shanghai Metro line sixteen hadn’t been started yet; as a result, I had to take both the Metro and a bus to reach her town, which took me more than two hours. My sister waited for me at the bus station. Then she took me to her home which was in another small town about 3 miles away.
She hadn’t bought her car yet in those years, so our transportation was her scooter. In my memory, it seemed that each time, we met at dusk, with rain clouds floating in the dark grey sky, and the vast fields of this Shanghai suburb were silent. All the way home we seldom could see someone else, only a few cars roared by. Then, after a lot of struggle, our scooter finally climbed to the hilly top of a highway, started from where endless magnolia trees were planted on both sides of the road. During Springtime, their countless huge pink flowers connected into an enormous pink silk veil, whose luxurious hue was deepened by the magnolia woods, as well as the evening haze that arose from the horizon.
We knew that, after this hilltop, we would be home very soon; in our anticipation we could see the yellow light from the kitchen, where the hot dishes of our dinner were being prepared. So, we both were happy, and started to sing songs—I sang mine, my sister sang hers. Sometimes my nephew was with us so we three sang different tunes at the same time, and we competed to see whose was louder.
Those are very sweet memories: A scooter that carried three persons was hurrying home on a highway in the evening. Our songs and laughter flooded our way, along with the magnolia’s charming fragrance. All of which brightened the loneliness of the fields and villages.
Now it is Springtime— Those magnolia trees should be in bloom as usual. The sixteen subway has been built out, so my old journey to my sister’s house would be much easier. But now my sister drives her car, and I am eight thousand miles away. Those happy hours have gone by. I don’t know if the magnolias still remember us, and sometimes they whisper our songs in the moonlight.