I opened my photo album, and began to look down the tracks of my life. Then a picture of an old woman with a benevolent smile caught my eyes. My eyesight became hazy. I smelled the fragrance of jasmine, which often refreshes my memory of her profound words.
She is my grandma, a thin, tall woman whose feet are always bare. Strong, healthy and in her sixties, she lives in a village named Holly in China. Grandma, like most in her village, makes her living picking jasmine flowers, which are sent to the factory to make jasmine tea. My grandma's house is full of the fragrance of jasmine, which she uses to decorate vases, to stuff pillows and to make jasmine tea.
Summer is the time for the jasmine harvest. Helping my grandma pick jasmine was my job since I was 13. The jasmine field was heaven for me as I was surrounded by the flowering bush, and its delicate fragrance. It was hard picking these flowers for hours in the sultry sunlight. When I got bored and wanted to quit, I looked at my grandma who kept busy picking flowers. From my vision of her hard work, I gained strength to keep going. I picked patiently as she had shown me: only the flower bud with the flower stalk, which is about half an inch under the bud. By working with her, I learned to work until the job was done.
Grandma lived poorly most of her life. Despite that, she never lost her kindness. Age has carved wrinkles in her face and has given her wisdom. As a senior, she doesn't need to work because her offspring can support her. But she works as hard as ever. She donates her salary to the Senior Center. This confused me. In my mind, people work hard in order to enjoy their lives, instead of giving money away. When I asked her about this, her answer shocked me. She said: "I have worked for a whole lifetime. Working has become part of my life. When I was in difficulty, I had a lot of help from the neighbors, who now are in the Senior Center. I donate money there to pay them back. I want to be altruistic."
Her words always ring in my ears, and make me think deeply about life and my future career. It makes me realize that a job is not only a means to make a living, but also a way to serve people and make this world better. My definition of "work" is not as simple anymore. My grandma's words and her continuous working expanded the notion of life. Her words, as well as the fragrance of jasmine, will always be part of my life.
"Bing!" Mother's voice carried from the other room and jolted me back to the present. I closed the photo album. The fragrance of jasmine still lingers around my nostrils. Jasmine directs my future plans. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.