◎ Bing Xin
Whenever I looked out of the window sitting at my desk, what struck my eye at once would be a cluster of rectangular dormitory buildings standing side by side without a single tree in-between. The wide open ground beyond my window, which had been for years piled with rusty long steel bars—building materials for some new dormitories to be put up nearby, was a scene of desolation. Disappointed at the drab surroundings, I had to turn to“creating”colour under my roof. I decorated my room with green-coloured window curtains, spread a green cloth on the table, placed on the windowsills some poinsettias and, cyclamens given by a friend and some diaolan planted by my children. A vase filled with roses, chrysanthemums, carnations or multiflora roses was placed before an oil portrait of Zhou Enlai hanging on the wall. These flowers, when in season, were sent me weekly by Northern Rose Company at my request. On the windowsill beside my desk was a potted tender kaffir lily given me by a friend or sometimes a vase of roses. The consolation I derive from things green or from the vague hint of spring, though very small, is better than none.
Every year, I remember, when spring came, emerald-green grass would start shooting up from among the steel bars. It grew still faster under the summer rain until it enveloped all the steel bars, which were unable to arrest its exuberance. Now the steel bars have been removed and I hear that the vacant lot will be planted with flowers.
Several days ago, I was suddenly disturbed by a joyous din from outside the window. Looking out of it, I saw scores of boy and girl students in the middle of tidying up the open ground. The girls were in colourful down jackets or woolen sweaters, and the boys were in green army uniforms or dark-coloured jackets. They worked with hoes or shovels. Some were busy fencing off the land with iron-bar railings. Evidently, they were trying to turn the wide open ground in front of our building into a garden bright with lush green grass and blooming flowers.
It became somewhat gloomy, but the young people didn’t slack off their efforts. Today I took off my woolen sweater and put on a cotton-padded jacket instead because the central heating in our dormitory buildings had stopped as scheduled. Nevertheless, thanks to the tidings of spring, I’m warm at heart.