# Picture of Home

Written for Higher English in 2012

It’s been five years huh? As soon as the crude metal doors of the train creaked open, I leapt out, glad to have more than ten centimetres of personal space again. The childish grin instantly disappeared as a tsunami of 38$^\circ$C air knocked me staggering back into the shade of the train. After draining a bottle of water, I crawled out of my shelter and slid towards the shadow of a wall nearby, trying not to collapse under the glare of the sun.

Renqiu County, Hebei Province; the location of the Hebei Oil Field, 395 square miles of semi-fertile land, housing 819,000 people at an average density of 2,073.5/sq mi. It is located 49 miles west of Cangzhou and 65 miles southwest of Tianjin. But above all, it fills the background of my childhood.

As I stepped into the taxi, memories of my distant past began resurfacing as more and more familiar landmarks came into view. However, when I finally arrived at the gates of my community, all was not as expected. The once peaceful gardens and laughter of children had been replaced by monstrous skyscrapers and the irritating sound of V12 Lamborghinis.

The next day, I went to visit my grandparents. A new modern house is easily affordable, but they still refuse to leave their small flat in the neighbourhood that they have lived in for almost fifty years. During these five years, little had changed. The small garden in front of the flat now had a few more trees around it and the ancient wooden benches had been swapped for new plastic ones. Changes inside the house were obvious too. My third aunt had moved out, and my pet turtle, which I obtained at a place and for a reason I no longer remember, had grown from pebble size to pillow size! After the usual interrogation about my life in a western civilization, I went with my grandfather to experience his new found hobby, fishing. After that, my entire family met up for dinner. Everyone I thought I knew had already changed. It was almost like meeting them for the first time, but when we started talking, we seemed like a normal family again. To me, however, the most significant change was quite simply that the manner with which my family responded to me showed me more respect by valuing my opinions. I was no longer just a resident in my family, I was a citizen.

After leaving Renqiu for the first time, I went on to explore many different countries and met many different kinds of people. France, Germany, Britain, Egypt, Japan, Peru. All these cultures and experiences have mingled into what I am today. But until now, I had never returned to any of those places. Looking back, it’s almost like my reality has been transformed. What I thought I would see differed greatly with what I actually saw. The scenery has changed, the people have moved and the entire city has modernized to be just like any other, nevertheless, whatever the physical changes and no matter where I’ve travelled, I’ve always kept a memory of Renqiu and I know it will always be like home.