Monday, September 15, 2008

Fan Jinghua: Estranged

The following is originally intended for a short story, and now I make it into a poem.
本来打算用作一篇小说的素材,现在写成了一首诗。不知道效果如何。

    Estranged
Dear, now I am in your parents’ for the Mid-Autumn.
All of your family have come together, except for you,
And this makes me the center of attention.
Your parents’ thatched house is small and cozy,
And when we sit down around on benches and low stools,
We can all touch and reach each other in a circle.
The broad smile has never subsided on your mum’s wrinkled face,
And she has been chastising your laziness and incapability of cooking,
To which I convince her by naming the dishes you can do
And your gladness to wash plates and bring us fruits after meals.
I love her love for you in her voice,
And I love her sincere gratitude she feels toward my taking care of you.
Your daddy likes to know more about our daily life,
Especially the schooling of our children,
Which he can relate more than your research.
He does not understand
Why the foreign currency is more expensive than Renminbi
And is surprised to learn that we buy sweet potato leaves
At the price which can buy equal amount of pork in the countryside.
He says that those leaves have always been the food for pigs,
And your sister, the youngest and dearest to all your brothers,
Teases that I am too a pig-raiser, when your sisters-in-law break in,
Saying that when you come back next time they will too feed you like that.
They come to announce that the meal is ready,
And we all move outside,
To the eight-immortal table mounted with a round turning tabletop,
Which is placed under an open shed attached to a big phoenix tree.
On the table, plates and bowls of cubed pork, chickens, fish and meatballs
Stewed with different colors of vegetables crowd together,
Like a meeting of many obese people in the playground under our condo.
Your sisters-in-law are apologetic for not knowing how to cook to my taste,
And your brothers have already filled the cup with liquor,
Asking me to take it easy, but also joking that I should drink on behalf of you.
Then they toast, to your daddy, and I raise my cup to join,
As everyone has to do to a senior.
I bottom up the first, and the custom requires
I “drink to the lees” the first around of three cups,
Before I may find excuses for not drinking more.
I know women married to the family are not to be seated at a formal dinner,
But still I, privileged for being coming down from the city,
Ask them to sit and eat together,
Although I know very well that this can only be a gesture and the-thing-to-say.
I find them eating in the kitchen by a low table, with children,
After I am full and excuse myself from the table;
They stand up and try to give up the stool to me,
While I insist that I am too full to sit down, and they are happy to hear that.
They are happy to receive me as if I were not of this family but a VIP guest,
(Oh, maybe I really should consider myself a guest now.
I am already a guest to your family, right?)
And they feel grateful
Not so much for the gifts I give them as for the small talks I try to pick up.
They may ask me to explain some strange things they saw from TV dramas,
And anything I say may become their privileged source for gossips with others.
When the dinner is finished, it is almost mid-afternoon,
And one of your brothers is happily drunk.
People are in the field, working, while I stroll around like a tourist;
They all smile at me, knowing that I am the daughter-in-law of your family,
And I am so good as to take your son and daughter to visit your parents
Although you are too busy to come back.
Our son does not feel estranged from your family,
But our daughter, since she has never been to the countryside before
And does not understand the dialect,
Would turn to me frequently in foreign exclamations.
I can see the perplexed looks in your parents’ faces.
When night falls, the clouds are achingly colorful,
The sky and earth are full of unspeakable beauty.
I know this has been a reason I love you,
As if it is the root for your romanticness I am obsessed with.
How I ache for your accompany in your parents’ home,
To walk in the dying afterglow of the day,
In their love that is a little too much for me to take alone.
How can I not feel lonely?
How can I tell them that we are separated and not divorced?
Can I explain to them that you still love me like before,
But you do not believe in marriage any more?
            September 15, 2008

   疏而不离
亲爱的,今天中秋,我已到了你父母的家。
你全家人都来了,因为你不在,
我就成了大家关注的中心。
你父母的草房子不大,不过令我感到温馨,
我们坐在长木凳和矮矮的圆凳上,
围成一个小圈,有点挤,彼此伸手就能碰到。
你妈妈布满皱纹的脸上一直挂着开阔的笑,
她一直在对我责备你懒惰,而且说你不会做饭,
我对她说你会做好几道很可口的菜肴,
而且你总是在饭后刷锅洗碗,然后准备水果。
我喜欢听着她嗓音中对你的爱,也感动于她对我真诚的感激。
你爸爸喜欢了解我们的日常生活,尤其是
孩子们的学习情况,比起你的研究,这令他更能说得上话。
他不明白为什么外国的货币就比人民币更加值钱,
而对我们买红薯叶当蔬菜感到好笑,
当他听到红薯叶卖得相当于乡下的猪肉,他吃惊地说
乡下的红薯叶从来都是用来喂猪。
你妹妹,全家最小也是最受宠爱的一个,取笑地说
我可说是一个饲养员,这时候你弟妹插话,
说下次你回家,他们就到地里割些红薯叶招待你。
她们来宣布午饭已经备好,于是我们全都
走出小屋,来到院子里靠着梧桐树搭建的凉棚下。
八仙桌上架起了一个旋转桌面,
上面挤满了碗碟盘盏,方块肉、整鸡、整鱼以及肉圆
炖在各色蔬菜中,犹如许多肥胖的人
在我们公寓楼下的游乐场上聚会。
你的弟妹们满是歉意地说不知道什么菜合我的胃口,
而你弟弟已经将杯子斟满了白酒,叫我随意,
可是又开玩笑说,我还得代你喝酒。
接着他们便端起酒杯,敬你的父亲,
我自然要加入,我知道身为晚辈必须如此。
乡下的习俗规定第一杯要一口饮尽,
规矩如此,开始的三杯不得有任何理由留底。
我知道嫁进来的妇女不可以上桌,我因为是从城里下来,
所以有特权,但是我还是对妯娌们说坐下来一起吃,
虽然我明白这只是一句应该说的话而已。
我吃饱之后离桌,在厨房看到她们在矮桌上陪着孩子。
她们站起来让座,而我说我吃得太饱,需要站着,
她们听了满脸高兴。
她们的喜悦发自内心,然而她们招待我,
犹如我不是家人,而是贵客,
(也许我真的应该将自己视为一个客人了。
我已经是你家的客人了,是么?)
她们带着感激,不是因为我给她们带来了贵重的礼物,
因为对她们而言太不实用,而是因为我乐于找她们聊聊家常。
她们会问我一些她们在电视上看到的奇异行为,
而我说的一切都可能是她们与其他妇女闲言时独有的权威与资本。
午餐结束,已经是下午过半,
你的一个弟弟喝高了,兴高采烈。
田里,人们在干活,我是最自在的游客。
他们都会对我微笑、招呼,知道我是你们家的媳妇,
很孝顺,独自带着一双儿女看望你的父母,
尽管你太忙,无法回来。
我们的儿子自然不感到陌生,可是女儿太小,
从未到过乡下,也听不懂你家的方言,
一有什么,便满嘴外国的感叹词句,匆匆扑向我。
我能看出你父母脸上困惑的表情。
当夜幕降临,彩霞满天,令人心疼,
天空与大地充溢着难以言说的美;
我明白这一直是我爱你的理由之一,
好像这就是你身上那令我着迷的浪漫的根源。
此刻,我多么渴望你能在我身边
在你父母的家,陪我走尽一日最后的余晖;
我独自一人难以承受他们的爱。
我怎么能不感到孤独?
我怎么能告诉他们我们仅仅是分居而不会离婚?
我无法想象他们的表情,
说你依然爱我,只是你已不再相信婚姻。
           2008年9月15日

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