Memory of Spring Festival (part 1)

It is confirmed by the authoritative Xinhua News Agency that Leng Jing, a female student from Anhui Normal University, was killed after falling off an overcrowded railway platform in Wuhu, Anhui province.

More than a hundred million Chinese are traveling back home. The Lunar New Year  starts from Feb 6, and they are eager to come home before that day, to meet with their family, relatives, and friends, and have a good time. They are packed in all railway stations and all train compartments and all buses, and a lot of them cannot board the vehicle. Even, tragedies like Leng Jing happen every year at this time.

15 years ago, I came to Beijing and started college. Beijing was 800 miles away from home and the city was dry and untidy, but I enjoyed college life a lot. First time away from home and having fun with friends from everywhere. But soon the winter came, the school closed, and everyone was preparing to go back home.

There was a ticket booth around the street corner. During those years I was so proud of it because other kids had to ride their bicycles in the freezing wind for probably half hour to get there, while we just walked over, chatting with fellow kids. But I was scared at first look — at 7:00 am, there were already long lines and it seemed the lines did not move at all. I talked with some classmates who needed to travel along the same route, and we agreed to get in the line before midnight and turn shift.

So that night, we went out. Two persons a group. We dressed ourselves like soldiers with green trench coat and Russian hat and everything else we could put on our body. At 12:00 pm, we were not alone already. But we were happy to be able to chat with other guys. I could not remember if some of us went back and got poker cards for us to play, but time elapsed quite fast. And soon lines were made up. In early morning, it was freezing. Young and excited, we did not feel much about it. Some of us were worrying about the tickets. Always there were rumors that the tickets to some places were sold out. But that was not a problem to me, since a lot of train lines pass by my home town, and I did not care much for the date.

After a whole night’s waiting, I was glad to get the ticket. At half price. That means, as a student, I saved $5 for a single trip. A big save at those years.

The real problems first appeared in Beijing railway station. It was really not easy to get through the ticket checking point, not to say to get aboard. There was just too many people. Poor and rich, old and young, they all looked desperate. I guessed some of them had stuck there for days. I did not know what was the feeling being stuck in the railway station until years later when I had to stay a whole night there– luckily that was in the summer and I did not need to get any warmth. It was literally a war to go along the way and get into the train compartment, and when I sat down, I could not but surprise by my own bravery! I made it!

To be continued…

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