For many years, I've been afraid of a melody. I can't tell what instruments it involves, or if it is electronically arranged with some human voice.
Grandma used to turn on the radio for a while before she dozed off at night. I was very young and loved sneaking into her bed, listening to a program called Tonight at 8:30. It always played the same melody.
More than 10 years have passed since grandma left us. Every time I heard this music, sadness would well from the bottom of my heart. I love grandma. I depended on her. She was the one who loved me the most besides my mother.
Grandma's eyesight was failing quickly but she kept on taking good care of us until she fell seriously ill and never recovered. I still remember the last time I saw her. She was lying on the bed, eyes shut and the old radio was on the pillow. She was thin beyond recognition.
I called out "Grandma", she moved and asked with difficulty: "Who?" Her hearing was failing, too. I had to tell her twice who I was while tears streamed down my cheeks.
When I hear the music occasionally, I always remember grandma. To me, that music belongs to grandma and it lives in my memory. What is the melody's name?
I was watching Cui Yongyuan's TV program Movie Legends recently when I heard the music again. I turned the TV louder and cocked an ear close to the speaker. It was the background music for a scene in an old Romanian film. But I didn't hear what was said about the film, all I heard was the music.
A few days ago, I was getting ready for my radio program when the music flowed from the computer. A colleague had saved it and when I checked the list, I found its name, Boiling Life.
I've finally located a missing piece of my memory. It has completed my impressions of a particular period of life. For music, names are not crucial. Every listener will have his or her own understanding of the string of notes. For me, however, the name of this melody helps to deepen the understanding of my life.
Whenever possible, I always play this melody, so listeners throughout the city can hear it. I often wonder if the elderly people who often keep a radio would like this music. Would they also have little children playing around? Would the children like the music too?
Would grandma know what I am doing? Would she understand me?
The scene from the Romanian film often flashes back: The protagonist walks along the beach. There are flying seagulls and surging waves.
I realize that I'm no longer sad when the music is played. I believe grandma has been watching over me through the years. And she has finally decided to award me with an answer.
Grandma used to say that she was satisfied as long as she had something to eat. She never wished for more. Boiling life? Maybe this refers to a method of cooking.
(China Daily February 21, 2008)