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Grandpa and Nightly Blackout by Bing Xin ~ 冰心 《祖父和灯火管制》 with English Translations


冰心 《祖父和灯火管制》







Grandpa and Nightly Blackout
Bing Xin

In the autumn of 1911, we returned from Yantai of Shandong Provinceto our native place Fuzhou. While on the way, my parents warned me again andagain, “Since we’ll be living in a big family in Fuzhou, remember always tobehave properly and never act like a naughty child. Show respect for yourelders, particularly your grandpa, who is head of the family…”

After settling down in the big family in Fuzhou, however, I foundthat my previous worries on the way turned out to be unfounded. My grandpa,uncles, aunties and cousins never thought me a naughty child. We treated eachother lovingly and equally. There never existed anything like “family rules ofgood behavior”. I also found that the big family was a loose community ofseveral smaller ones, which lived and ate separately. They each had their ownrelatives and friends, for example, their own in-laws.

That year, or the year after, Fuzhou began to have its own powercompany and electric lights were to be installed in our big house too. That wassomething new in our home town. We kids, wild with excitement and joy, ran hereand there in the house at the heels of the electricians. Each room, I remember,had an electric lamp hanging from the ceiling. The drawing room had a 50-wattbulb; the bedrooms each a lower-wattage one; the kitchens each aneven-lower-wattage one. The whole big house at least had a total of some 60electric lamps. The first evening when they were turn on, the whole house wassuddenly ablaze with lights, we kids clapped with joy.

The master switch was fixed in grandpa’s room. Grandpa, who keptearly hours, would switch off all the lights when he went to bed at 9 o’clockin the evening, thus plunging the whole big house into deep darkness.

Having just set foot in our old home, we seldom slept before 9o’clock in the evening. For it was but natural that after the long separation,my parents enjoyed hearty chats about the old days with their brothers andin-laws, and we kids of the younger generation played about together to ourheart’s content. Hence, in anticipation of the sudden blackout at 9 o’clock,each small family would get a dimly-lit kerosene lamp ready in a couple oftheir rooms. No sooner had the big house been blacked out on the hour than weturned up the wicks of all the kerosene lamps. And, looking and smiling at eachother, we would continue to chat and play merrily by the light of the kerosenelamps.

It was then that I realized what a complete whole our big familywas, with grandpa as its head.

未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Grandpa and Nightly Blackout by Bing Xin ~ 冰心 《祖父和灯火管制》 with English Translations
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