黄俊雄 译 欲说还休
Melancholy emerged in my mind as if it were a ghost. Day after day, I tried to shake it off, but it clung to my heart; I tried to kick it out, yet it lingered in my soul. It seemed as if it would accompany me throughout my life. I was lost in astonishment — what had happened?
In the barracks, men always outnumbered women. Beautiful as a rose, you had a slender figure with a tender temperament, just like a phoenix standing in a flock of chickens — a rare treasure. Many eyes stared at you with admiration. There was that short section director who would stand by you whenever we had to line up, whether it was morning drill, meal time or evening roll call. Everybody felt surprised, but your generosity allowed you to ignore everything, treating him with courtesy.
Perhaps he had somebody bragging to you about him — a tall, big man often came to visit you openly. I did not take it to heart when I first saw you two sitting on a tricycle heading for town, but soon I sensed something wrong there. Some said he exploited the crisis of a relationship; others said you invited a wolf to your house.
By chance I once saw his coquettish look almost sparking a line of self-conceit in you. Then I thought, perhaps you really had made your choice.
You and I were only colleagues in language teaching, that's all. We might have more common conversation topics. We did often have little disputes over Confucius (1), the literary merits and blemishes of Pushkin and Chekhov, and the importance of Sherlock Holmes's detective stories in literary history. But those were just academic issues, weren't they?
At dusk in May, the pomegranate blossoms were bright as fire. I leaned against the tree trunk as you sat on the fork, opened your red lips, and in a low voice began to sing the Song of Mei Niang. When you finished singing, we were lost in silence. We each embraced the evening wind, and did not want to leave. Then what did I decipher from the dancing freckles of moonlight on your face which crept through the flowers when the moon appeared in the east? It was a poem written without words. It was a three-dimensional picture. It was holy teaching that exposed human secrets. My heart began to tremble.
Then it was another May, when the earth was covered with pomegranate blossoms again. Our old wounds had just healed, but we ran into each other again. You whispered to me when nobody was around, "Everything's been pre-arranged. I never knew I would marry him." Didn't your words spoil the scenery? "What do you mean?" I asked. You looked down, lost in thought for a moment. Instead of answering me, you gave a sad smile and tripped away, leaving behind a lifetime mystery.
Always dim and vague, now visible, now invisible, you never faded in my mind during those long years. In May when petals fell in riotous profusion, I often walked back and forth under the tree, cherishing that little feeling you had left in me, picking up the fallen leaves and chewing on the days that had passed. Using that drifting train of thought, I tried but never succeeded to draw your clear figure: it was always like one drawn in water — once you wiped it, it was gone. Yet just like a spirit lingering around, momentarily you would appear in my mind again. As our ancestors said, hardly had I closed my eyes when I saw you again.
May God be our witness: we never said or did anything that lovers would have done. Perhaps because of this, it invites more guessing and provokes more thinking. And probably because of that, our relationship has reached such a lasting state that it takes shape after our thinking and creates kindred spirits. It was God's will that this piece of blank paper be created, ready for a most beautiful and ingenious human picture to be painted by a clever hand, brushes, paints and ink lying by, ready for use.
The last words I hear from you were forwarded to me by another person: "Tell him I wish him good luck!" You asked someone to forward your message even though today's means of communication are so advanced that nobody really needs anyone's assistance. May I ask, you cunning woman, what are you really up to? What message do you intend to convey?
You wanted to say it, but you did not. You wanted to say it, but you never did! It seems you just wanted to create a broken relationship that is not totally broken. Several decades have flown by. Indeed, it is that "last wish," like gossamer, now drifting away, now clinging around me, that has been resounding in my ears up till today.
I was told that you still live in my remote home city. Human feelings change day in, day out. Time can turn out tragedies, but wonders more so. I sincerely hope that you live better than I do. I am sure you do!
(1) Confucius (551-467 BC) was a sage in ancient China, born in the feudal State of Lu, or today's Shandong Province. He advocated a system of morality and statecraft that would preserve peace and afford the people stable and fair government. The influence of his doctrines has spread from generation to generation and far beyond China itself.