When I was a child, there was an old-fashioned dial telephone in the supply and marketing cooperatives in my rural hometown, and it was the only telephone in the village. That phone was a very mysterious toy to me. I used to sneak to the supply and marketing agency and fiddle with the turntable while the salesperson was not paying attention. I don’t remember what color the phone was, but I only remember the feel of the dial when it was dialed: it was like an oiled bicycle chain, driven by gears, trotting in a grid, fingers driving the dial to attack the city until it could no longer be dialed. I let go of my hand and listened to the long reset—”boom,” which sounded like soldiers returning to camp, waiting to strike again.

Whenever the phone rings, the salesman of the supply and marketing agency picks up, paces out, tears his throat on the main road (there is only one road in the village anyway) and shouts: “Then who’s who, phone!” Then the person who answered the phone trotted all the way over. At that time, whether answering the phone or making a call, his face seemed to have a holy will, and his voice could cover the rumbling tractor, which was also a scene in the village, which was still fresh in people’s memories.

By the time “every household has a telephone” in the village, it was already after I went to university. The old home is equipped with a big red landline telephone, transparent round buttons, dark green numbers. After the phone was settled, my grandmother rummaged through the cabinet to find a piece of gauze with flowers, and covered it uprightly, for fear that the phone would be stained with dust or damaged by the sun, and even more afraid of being manipulated by children.

When calling my dad, my grandmother had a meticulous sense of procedure. First, pull out a small handwritten phone book from the drawer and find out the number to dial; Then, remove the flower gauze and set it aside, gently pick up the earpiece; Finally, start dialing number by number into the phone book. When you’re done, put down the handset, cover it with gauze, put away your phone book and put it in a drawer for the next call—though it’s mostly just simple greetings like “Have you eaten” or “How are you doing?”

Time passed, and when I used my smartphone for the first time after work, I was faced with the question of “how to transfer my previous address book to a new phone”, so I stared at the old phone and spent more than an hour manually entering the phone numbers into the new phone one by one. As I typed it out, I recalled: This is my best friend, who now sells insurance thousands of miles away; This is my first love, the most recent call record is three years ago; This is my roommate, who takes 11 bus stops to get to him; This is my girlfriend, who just finished a fight last week; This one has passed away and will never light up again … Losing and losing, suddenly bursting into tears.

Strange to say, in this era when almost everyone has a mobile phone, I can’t remember how many mobile phones I have used, how communication technology has undergone development and replacement, and only the above memories of telephone have never faded. At that time, they represented bridges to new and unknown worlds, bonds of family and affection, projections of friends and life experiences; Now, my mobile phone is being used more and more frequently, and the calls with my family are getting shorter and shorter; There are more and more contacts in the address book, and fewer and fewer numbers can be remembered; Social business and communication are becoming more and more extensive, and the circle of confidant friends is becoming narrower and narrower.

There were many moments when I held my phone on the street and looked at the rows of tall buildings like weight-bearing ants.

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