Hello everyone! I’m Xiaozhan. Today, I’ll sing this song “Red Plum Blossoms” for you, which symbolizes Chongqing.
Speaking of Chongqing, people’s first reaction is Chongqing hotpot. In the summer, many people sitting by the side of the street eating Mala Hotpot, playing rock paper scissors while drinking cold beer, that’s the worldly Chongqing life in my memory. Before when people asked me how Chongqing spiciness is different, I would answer that it’s a numbing spiciness. The mountain city’s hot pot never just aims to be spicy, there needs to be the aroma of Sichuan pepper; that’s the standard Chongqing taste. I consider myself a standard Chongqing person. I’m not afraid to imagine and take action, I’m straightforward and decisive, the flavors of Chongqing found in the hot pot seasoning seem to all run in my blood without exception. I grew up in Chongqing, lived there for more than twenty years, and the strongest, strongest feeling I have is that Chongqing people’s personalities are all quite “stubborn”, I don’t know if it’s because we do “rock climbing” every day. As we climb the mountains and step over the ridges, that “stubbornness” deep within us seeps into every Chongqing person.
When I came to Beijing to work, I had much fewer time to go home. When I went back recently, I dove into an alley and ordered a piping hot bowl of Chongqing Xiao Mian. My memories of the streets from my childhood are not as clear anymore, but I still remember that familiar taste. When I was young, my most frequent memories of this “mountain city” were the endless stairs along the hills, the rodders yelling on the slopes, and the Chaotianmen rails which have disappeared completely. I remember even now, when I was young, on my way home, I had to climb a very long flight of stairs. I felt that it was so hard to climb those stairs, I don’t want to climb, and when I went downstairs I would fantasize about there being a slide next to it, so I can slide down with a “shoo”, but then as I climbed those stairs day after day, up and down, it didn’t seem so difficult anymore.
When I was in junior high, there were still many “rodders” in the mountain city, they used a bamboo rod that’s one meter long, two green nylon ropes, and made their way through the streets and alleys. At 18 Steps, you can see countless people, whether old or young or “rodders” carrying things, working their hardest to climb up, I think that’s our Chongqing spirit in direct display; even if life isn’t going the way we want it to, even if we have to face various difficulties, we still need to look forward with determination, walk upwards, and not turn back.
When I go back to Chongqing, I have to go to Jiefangbei. My mom and dad used to take me there every week, at the time I thought it was really tall, but now when I go back and see it surrounded by high rises, I feel a sort of contrast and conflict brought on by the resting of history combined with the change from development. It’s like when a person has spent too long away from home, when you see her again, your heart is filled with anticipation as well as flashes of unfamiliarity and uncertainty. But the good thing is that no matter how the streets of Chongqing change, she is still the mountain city of my memories, Jiefangbei is always on that street, witnessing the changes of Chongqing. It’s as if this rock monument took the history of the old city, opened it up and put it into the spirits of every generation of Chongqing people.
Take my grandma, for example, she is a standard Chongqing person. She raised her four children by herself, and in her I can see the firmness of the mountain children, I think she’s an amazing person. When I was young, she would sing me to sleep, songs like “Night at a Naval Port”, “10 Rides of Red Army”, “Red Plum Blossoms”, I could sing these songs since I was a child, and now when I listen to them again, it’s as if I’ve gone back to many years ago, to the nights I fell asleep in my grandma’s arms.
Growing up in this city, Chongqing, the tales of heroes told in songs and in novels are not that far from us, because you can see the marks of history left by that generation in any corner of this city. I can’t clearly remember when the first time I went to Zhazidong was, but I still faintly recall the dark room, the tiger stool, and the tension in the air. It’s hard for me to imagine, when the martyrs were being tortured, what kind of spirit kept them up so that their willpower was not defeated at all by their enemies. I think no matter how detailed written descriptions are, it can’t compare to you walking into this part of history to feel and experience it.
I’m very happy that I have the honor of singing “Red Plum Blossoms” which my grandma sang for me. This song’s tune is elegant and delicate, and through the lyrics you can see the brilliant traits of the martyrs who were imprisoned but still remained firm and unyielding.
This time, I’ll sing the “Red Plum Blossoms” in my heart for you guys. Through this song, I hope to send the message to young people that we can’t forget history, but more importantly we need to bring history with us and walk forward. Just like this pandemic we just experienced, we also put in a lot of hard work, and made enormous sacrifices, we weren’t defeated by the difficulties, and we didn’t lose ourselves in the grief, but with a motivated spirit to propel us forward, we were reborn from the ashes.
I sing this song “Red Plum Blossoms” for Chongqing, for China after the pandemic, for the youths of China, and for myself.