January 17, 2022

Chapter 4: Era of Scarcity

Xiulan took a look at her new younger sister.

Xiuzhu was six years old this year. The children of poor families had long been in charge of the household and were very sensible, so children as young as six years old could do all kinds of housework.

Just like the original owner, long-term malnutrition caused this younger sister’s body to be thin, to have dry and yellowish hair, dark skin and skinny, with bulging eyes, just like a monkey.

She was wearing an ill-fitting dress with several patches and holes on it, and it was a little whitish after repeated washing.

She looked really poor and pitiful.

In this era, the supplies were scarce and the Zhao family was also extremely poor.

Looking at Xiuzhu’s concerned eyes, Xiulan twitched the corners of her mouth and said with a smile, “I’m okay, Xiuzhu, I feel much better now.”

After hearing her sister’s assurance, Xiuzhu heaved a sigh of relief, and then looked at all the windows and door in the room to confirm that no other person was there. Then, she secretly took out a piece of wowotou1窝窝头 – wōwōtóu – a kind of bread from her pocket and stuffed it into Xiulan’s hands.

Pictures of wowotou

“Sister, you haven’t eaten for a long time. You can take this wowotou. It was given by the leader of the production team today and I secretly hid it,” whispered Xiuzhu.

In the production team, if you went to work every day, you would get something to eat. Some would just eat it directly, and some adults were reluctant to eat it, so they would keep it and take it back for their children to eat.

The wowotou was made with some coarse grains, as well as wild vegetable leaves and stalks, and it tasted a little nauseous.

Even so, in this era where there was a scarcity of foodstuffs, whatever could fill your stomach was considered a good thing.

Some people did not have enough foodstuffs that even the tree bark on the mountain was good for them. In order to survive, they would go and eat grasses, eat tree barks, and even cook and eat their leather belts.

Xiulan knew some of the history in the 1960s and knew the difficulties in this era. Only when she really came over did she feel the struggles in this era at firsthand.

***Original translation is from enchantesstranslations.com. Please read it on the translator’s website.

Xiuzhu was able to keep a wowotou, with the thought of giving her something to eat, which made Xiulan’s heart feel warm.

“Xiuzhu, you can eat it. You are hungry too, so you don’t need to give it to me.” With just one wowotou, it couldn’t even fill Xiuzhu’s hunger.

Looking at her younger sister, who was so thin, Xiulan wondered how to make her gain weight.

There were a lot of good food in her space, so she was not afraid of getting hungry. However, how to take them out and explain the source was a troublesome thing.

“Sister, you are hungrier than me and sick as well, so you should eat this.” Xiuzhu pushed the bread to her sister again.

“I actually have something to eat!”

Xiuzhu stared at her sister with her black eyes, obviously a little curious.

Xiulan pretended to put her hand in her pocket. With a movement in her mind, she had two boiled eggs in her hand, which were still a little warm, and then took them out of her pocket.

“I actually have two boiled eggs. Come on, you will eat one and I will eat the other.”

Xiuzhu was taken aback, then lowered her voice and asked Xiulan, “Sister, where did you get these eggs?”

In this era, there was no way for anyone to eat all kinds of food. Eggs were undoubtedly an excellent thing at this time. After Xiuzhu saw them, her eyes were shining.

Xiulan smiled slightly and casually made an excuse, “I picked them up from the haystack. I didn’t tell Auntie Mei, then I cooked it secretly. Xiuzhu, let’s eat one for each of us, but don’t tell Auntie Mei about this!”

Although Xiuzhu was still young, she was very smart, knowing that if Yumei knew about this good thing, it would definitely not get into their hands.

Without a doubt, she nodded heavily. “Sister, I got it, I definitely won’t tell Auntie Mei about this!

“Great! I haven’t eaten eggs before. The eggs at home are either exchanged for other foodstuffs or eaten by Auntie Mei and Sister Lijuan, and I heard that eggs are delicious…”

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    窝窝头 – wōwōtóu – a kind of bread