I still remember that in the spring of that year, I received a certificate from the school that I could voluntarily and unconditionally be promoted from the sixth grade to the seventh grade, which made me very happy. In the summer, I came to a small town about 60 kilometers away from Helsinki to work on the railway. At that time, there were many job opportunities in all walks of life. The poor salary of railway jobs did not attract “aspiring people”. Therefore, in the summer, students were recruited on the railway to do simple jobs. The salary of three marks per hour is of great significance to me. My amiable uncle introduced me to this job and allowed me to eat and live in his house for free. This time I can save most of the money for the winter. The sauna room is my own place. Every night after get off work, I often sit on the steps of the sauna room to relax. Even though the day’s work under the scorching sun makes me physically and mentally exhausted and my palm hurts, a sense of satisfaction will arise spontaneously. , I feel that I am also an important member of society.
There are only two of us schoolchildren working. Replacing old sleepers with new sleepers can only be done with the strength of men. Of course, this heavy and busy work is not our turn. What we have to do is “weeding” and “pruning”. We need to root out the weeds in the sand under the rails, raking the piles with rakes, keeping the rails level, and cutting the bushes that grow on the slope with a sickle after drying. We have done all these well.
The one who gave us the idea at work was the elderly Nipari. He is equivalent to our leader. He has been a part-time worker on the railway for decades. The foreman arranged regular and easy work for him throughout the year. Nipali frowned, and his teeth had become sparse. What made our two boys wonder is that even if the sun is scorching, we are already shirtless and he has to wear the shabby work clothes. He said that he had experienced too much cold in his childhood and life, which made him feel not warm enough. No wonder he would buy used sleepers at a bargain price and burn them for heating in winter. The Male Workers’ Association would take this to make fun of him, saying that his hut next to the city is as hot as a sauna in winter.
We have long been accustomed to the concern and kindness of our family, but Knippeli is not friendly to us, which made us a little afraid of him at first. But soon we discovered that he was actually very amiable. He will not blame us for our lack of experience. When he is tired, he will arrange a short “smoke break” for us. At that time, he will light the pipe and tell us simple and easy-to-understand stories. His way of telling stories is the same. He always tells them word by word. Although some stories have been told more than once, we always listen to them with a smile.
Most importantly, he taught us to be rigorous and serious in our work. When weeding, you can actually cheat. Flatten the grass and cover it with sand, so that no flaws will be exposed, but weeds will grow after a rain. However, we did not do this. Even if the progress is slow, we will uproot the weeds and clean them up with rakes. One thing Nippeli is particularly proud of is that the foreman can never find fault with his work, and the completion of our work is also one of his responsibilities.
The two of us boys are at ease working on the railway. The scorching sun tanned our skin, and blisters began to form on our hands, but they soon calmed down and hardened. The railway is several kilometers away from the station. If we arrive on time, we will not have time to have breakfast in the town. Therefore, the box lunch brought from home is also very delicious. Serving the country on the railway makes us feel that we are particularly important, and the railway seems to have become our obligatory responsibility. Irrelevant persons walking on the railway will be fined, but this rule cannot be strictly enforced. I remember at the beginning, a man walked towards us along the railroad tracks, and my partner yelled at him: “Hey, old man! Get off the railroad tracks!” He turned out to be the foreman who came back from vacation. Those who came to check our work felt a little embarrassed. We had never seen him before, but Nippeli giggled, very pleased with our “mistakes”.
At that time, I didn’t know others very well, but I already had a vague and instinctive curiosity. I learn to understand others and understand the deep meaning behind their actions. Soon I discovered that Nipali is different from ordinary people: even in the hottest weather, he has to keep warm; he puts all his savings in his dirty wallet and keeps it on his body; he is unique to heaven and gentlemen. Insights. His wife passed away a few years ago, and now he lives alone in the hut with a big old cat. There were no particularly good memories between him and his wife, which made him somewhat sad.
We never make fun of him, so he opens up to us. He loves his cat very much. He often tells us that at night, his cat will rub his face with a cold little nose and tell the owner to drink water in this way, which makes him feel very warm . He would also drink coffee and eat with his beloved cat… At that time, we were young and ignorant, and could not realize that there was also a trace of desolation of the elderly living alone. Even though we like Nippeli in our hearts, we still find him a little funny occasionally. In the past, a homeless man would come to bully and beat him from time to time. People were not kind to him. He experienced the cold and uneasiness in the world, which made him “awesome”. His own cabin, savings and love of cats are his only pillars of life.
In addition, he also has a hobby that we all find incredible. Once at work, he quickly came to me, knelt on the ground, and dug up the piled weeds. “You did a terrible job!” he murmured, “it’s terrible!”-He plucked an apple tree seedling whose roots had been broken from the pile of weeds I pulled up. “Nothing will grow.” Although he said regretfully, he still protected the roots of the seedlings with soil, carefully wrapped the moss, and put a bag for the lunch box next to him to prevent the seedlings from being exposed to the sun. Since then, he has always walked a distance in front of us, carefully digging out all the apple tree seedlings growing by the rails. Weeds grow in the hot sand beside the railroad tracks, and a large number of apple tree seedlings grow freely here. People on the train often eat apples and then throw the apple cores out the window. These seeds that fall on the ground usually germinate and grow into seedlings. We heard that Nippeli has been collecting these seedlings for many years and planting them around her hut. Some of the seedlings he planted have already blossomed.
I don’t quite understand his hobby. At that time, I was young and had no goals for the future. I felt that everything would go straight to the bridge. For example, I never thought about planting apple trees in my uncle’s garden and waiting for them to bear fruit for years. Nippeli—the elderly, half-footed old man who has stepped into his grave—obviously has no time to benefit from these seedlings, and he has no apple orchard to inherit.
In late autumn, once, I had to pass a message to Nipali for the foreman on Sunday, so I saw his cabin with my own eyes. This is a gray hut on the edge of the wilderness, with only a single room and a large oven. The cabin was dirty and hot. Nippeli’s elderly and deaf cat lay lazily on the table, disheveled, looking at me warily. Nippeli is very different at home and always has a friendly smile on his face. He showed me the apple tree he planted. Although these trees are low and low, they are numerous and grow densely on a small area enclosed by a fence. The seedlings stand in rows, and there are small trees as high as mine everywhere. This wasteland is almost all sand. Although the saplings are planted on the ground covered with coarse sand and rocks, there is soil for their growth around each sapling. Nippeli said that in order to plant these apple trees, he had transported hundreds of carts of soil here in the evening.
Afterwards, he took me back to the hut, took out two apples from under a rag and handed them to me. I took a bite from the side, and a hard, shriveled, bitter sensation came to the tip of my tongue. Of course, out of politeness, I didn’t say it directly, but when Nippeli turned around, I took the remaining apples in my pocket and planned to throw them away on the way back. Nippeli said with some unease that the apples are not very good, and his teeth can no longer be bitten. In the autumn, most of the apples were stolen by boys working in the factory. A farmer told him about grafting so that the trees that had previously grown inferior fruits could produce high-quality, sweet apples. But Nippeli had other plans. He felt that keeping the fruit tree alive was the most important thing.
I think he is a little funny, really a stubborn old man. I told him that the town would be expanded soon and his hut would be destroyed. He felt that although it was a little troublesome, he could still transplant the fruit trees to other places. I asked him: “You are old and sick, what should you do if you pass away one day?” He replied: “In this case, after all the fruit trees can survive, my old man can also leave a trace in the world. What’s more, a factory worker The boys can also divide the fruit trees and plant them in their own yards, so that they will have their own apple orchards.”
He had heard of a way to change that apple trees always produce bad fruits, that is, just start from The seeds began to grow fifty, one hundred, or thousands of fruit trees, and one of them would surely produce a distinctive, sweet and delicious apple! Even if the other fruit trees remain unchanged, as long as the only fruit tree succeeds, then all the effort is worth it. And who knows, among these seedlings, will there be a fruit tree that will bear fruit in the future?
I didn’t understand what he said at the time and didn’t want to think about it. Later I realized that what he said was true. At that time, I really couldn’t understand how an old man could devote all his spare time, diligently, tirelessly to plant fruit trees and enjoy it. You know, he can’t get any benefit from these fruit trees, and he can hardly wait for the day when they grow into towering trees.
Time flies, coming and going in a hurry. I soon graduated from high school, then traveled abroad and completed a master’s degree. During the holidays, I would see Nipari on the street, and occasionally I would visit my old colleague in the cabin next to the station. When meeting, Nipali will take off my hat and stubbornly call me Mr. This moved me very much, but he may not believe it, I just hope everything is the same. He is a little wary of me, maybe this is right. My life circle has allowed me to say goodbye to boys’ frankness, and setbacks have also sharpened my temperament.
Once, I deliberately passed by the hut in Nepal. The apple trees are growing day by day, and there are fewer seedlings than before. The poor, deaf, dumb, and half-blind old cat was lying on the sloping steps in front of the door. I didn’t see Nippeli. He became ill during the winter and became frown, which made me unwilling to disturb him.
But as night fell, when I was pacing back, I suddenly realized for the first time that there might be some rare and great qualities hidden in the fate of Nipali. At this moment, all the misunderstandings, pain and ridicule he experienced disappeared. He is a very lonely person who wants to leave a long-term, rare, and beautiful “property” to strangers, but he is not understood. If life is a book, he has made it into a chapter. Just as some people’s dream is to open up wasteland and cultivate land and cultivate trees, some are to fill in depressions, to treat water and soil, some are to break soil and build buildings, to start a family, and some are to write books and continue to work, so Nipaili also has dreams in mind. He is a poet who has found his own unique way of expression, and this is also his most valuable place. He left his mark on the apple tree he planted by himself, which made him different, and also made his impoverished life shining.