Personal Narrative - The Rice Fields of Home


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The Rice Fields of Home


I remember the big Gingko tree on the little hill. It was an old tree, shaped like a grandma with her curved back and wrinkly body. I loved how its leaves turned golden yellow during the autumn. I called them, Eun-hang Ip. Whenever the wind blew, it was snowing yellow, and I was covered with them. I would often doze off in that yellow blanket while the sunshine held my feet with her warm hands and the gentle breeze brushed my hair. In my dreams, I climbed that tree all the way up and reached the clouds--the white cotton candies. Carefree, worry free; my younger years...

Everything seemed so beautiful in my eyes. Mother Nature was with me and she filled the absence of my real mother during my childhood; my daily life started with the satisfying weather and ended without complaints. All four seasons shared their charm equally and decorated my memories with their pretty details.

I never forget my grandpa’s sky-blue antique bicycle and its’ two gigantic wheels. It didn’t have a break, but it made a little squeak sound every now and then which brought out more of its’ oldie character. I would paddle that bicycle through my peaceful, car-less road. The trees on the side of the road with their arms arched inward made the way seem like a tunnel. The little bits of sunbeams that sneaked in between the leaves, looked like the sparkling Christmas tree lights. When the tree tunnel ended the paddling also stopped, and the gravity took control because it was going down the hill. With the sudden acceleration and the bursting of full blazing sunshine, I closed my eyes, feeling the speed all over my body. Red, pink, yellow, and white Cosmos flowers, which replaced the trees on the side, were the first colors back into my little peaking eyes. As I rode through the flower tunnel, now slow and calm again, I could hear the fall wind whistle.

Time of harvest, a six years old me running around and following my family, was a busy time. All the rice fields, which were once covered with rice plants, were cut.

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I can see the picture in my head, many kids and I running around that dry, clean-shaved field. There were a lot of rice plant houses made with a bunch of rice plants tied and stacked together after the rice had been taken out. I remember climbing up there with other children, making a nest like a bird by making a little hole, and that was my second home for that day. Even that no-guarantee, no-strength rice plant house seemed good enough and safe enough to protect me from everything in the world. The top of it was the highest place I could be, and I could look down at everything.

“Snow,” someone would shout, and next thing you see is all the children in my neighborhood walking around outside with their little fingers sticking out. We always believed that if a snowflake from the first day of snowing lands on our little finger nails our first love would come true. It always felt like the warmest and coziest, when it came to winter. The white snow on the trees and the roads looked like cottons that made them warm and hid their naked bodies. Besides, they were never lonely with the snowman along their sides. No need of having to make dessert, free snow cones were everywhere.

Ice skating on the small frozen pond was the most fun thing to do, and my friends and I were never afraid to fall on our butt because we were brave then. We would struggle through the pond, holding each other’s hand. When one went down, all went down, and the laughter followed rather than complaints or cries. After many falls, there we slid in perfect circles, joined hand in hand. The numbness of our noses and pink chicks never stopped us. Chasing, giggling, and smiling continued until there was no more daylight. I still have those little gloves I used to wear, red fuzzy things.

Spring, season to plant rice seeds. Most male adults worked hard from sunrise to sunset on the field, not leaving the field until it was time to go home. My grandma or aunt would cook in the kitchen and put the food in the big picnic basket around lunchtime. I would walk along to the field and my job was to carry the water bottle. Boy, was I a hard worker! As we reached the field, all the grown ups would smile and greet us, and some of them would praise me for doing such hard work. I sat there along with all those workers, eating with them and listening to their conversations. They would talk about how they hoped the weather would be and how they should improve the rice farm. Sometimes I would make one or two cute little speeches saying, “No problem, I can help”, and they loved me. I was a farmer’s little helper.

There was a small stream with a small bridge in front of my old house. The water was so clear that you could see the tiny fish swimming and hiding behind the little rocks. The summer was the fishing season; I was on a mission. I had my orange, half gallon bucket in one hand and a little piece of mosquito net on the other. I wore my shorts and a T-shirt, with my long hair tied back, a true fisher look, I thought. I put my big toe in first to check the temperature of the water, but I always ended up soaking myself all the way, up to my head trying to catch the fish -- now that’s working hard! My buddies and I filled that orange bucket full and our hearts were filled with the sense of accomplishment of the day. Sometimes we were generous enough to give some fish to the cat that sat on the bridge admiring us.

Summer rain... I remember its steady beat, dripping on the ground, showering down the trees, plants, flowers, houses -- it reached everything and everywhere. I would walk around in the rain, holding a big Elephant-ear plant leaf by its’ thick stem like an umbrella. Many nights, especially when it was raining, I walked to this old fashioned bus stop to wait for my grandpa from his work. A small dim street light beside it and a bus passing by every twenty minutes or so were all there was. I would stand there below the streetlight holding my umbrella leaf. Thousands of gentle water drops, falling outside my leaf, were reflected by the vague streetlight, and it felt like they were embracing me.

Now it seems as if I have been dreaming it all along. I hear people complaining that either the weather’s too hot, too cold, too dry, or too wet. Cars line up the roads. Sounds of people stepping on their gas and their break without patience fills the street, and the buildings replace the trees and the flowers. Paddling up the hill harder, faster, and higher, fighting to get there... But where is there? The brick walls are not safe or strong enough -- people living in doubts and fears. I see them struggle alone, afraid that holding each other’s hand would be risking going down. Only seeing five feet ahead and afraid to see further. Bitter from work and sour to share anything they have. Are we becoming cowards? Numerous streetlights are not bright enough and still dangerous; people tell me that I should never walk alone.

When the rain pours, you can hear it smashing on the roof, beating down like many drums in all scattered rhythms. Exhaustingly it comes, trying to cleanse the filthy world once again, but it cannot remove the stain -- people’s tainted heart. Once I heard a song: Do you know why sky is red during the sunset? It’s because the sun’s breeding and crying. Outside my dorm, an old tree stands by itself. Its arms spread far wide; inviting with a large shade, yet no one sits there. But now here I sit under this brown snowing tree. As I open the old diary, I see a yellow leaf, kept as a bookmark to mark the favorite page-- now a treasure-mark that brought out the precious memory. I can see the dreamy reddish orange sunset. On my journal, I am writing a song: Do you know why sky is red during the sunset? It’s because the sun’s painting her way with her colorful body to make another ravishing memory.


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