Life at the end of the lane

Old Zhang is sitting in his home, at the end of the lane,
looking at the cranes tearing down the street. “I was born in this street, and
now they break it down. It does not look so good but I am used to it and to
this neighborhood. ‘Your house is not just a shag, it’s a jewel of XIXth
century colonial architecture.’ I’m not sure what it means, but it’s what a
passing by foreigner told me with his terrible Chinese. He also told me that
the cube of a house next door was a jewel of Art Deco. I am not sure what he
meant about either but this all seamed pretty important for him. It does not
matter anymore, he has gone away and they torn down this house last week.
They told me that it’s for the best, that our life in a far
away suburb, in a new high rise building will be so much comfortable. It’s surely true,
but I don’t want to go. It’s not the little money they want to give us to move
away, that will be enough in any case. I can’t remember the name of this new
place and I don’t even want to learn it. All my friends will be lost, spread
into various districts, and I will loose all my life with it. It’s maybe the
future, but I’m not sure I want to be part of it. The past was tough some
times, but not always so bad. I am so sad for Shanghai and my home that the skyscrapers are
rapidly eating.
My son already moved to this new apartment and loves it. He
often comes by to take me there, but I still refuse to go. Old Ma, my old
neighbor, moved into one of this new tower about a year ago. He was the first
ones to go, moving with a smile on his face, realizing the long life dream to have a place of his own. He
had been promised long time ago to get an apartment and it finally came. He
disappeared for a while, and then started to come back. He comes here everyday
now. It takes him hours to cross the whole city, just to enjoy old friends and
familiar places. He says life is comfortable there, but there is nobody to talk
to. My life has always been at the end of this lane and I can’t imagine it differently.
Seeing it disappear makes me feel that I am also going to die soon.

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