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湘悟 (窟燕晩豚:2010-07-16 17:57:07 堋響繁肝:1515 指鹸方:0)

  The First Time Return Homeland in the early 90s (3)

The First Time Return Homeland in the early 90s (3)

1, Farewell Concert in My Hometown Changsha

After having settled down the matter of Xiaolin, I felt my heart becoming much lighter.

And at the same time, Marianne completed her job-handover to her successor at University, and came to Changsha to visit my father. I asked Danjin to pass the message to father that his western daughter in law came to visit China, waiting for his interview.

Father answered immediately that to receive a foreign guest in a hospital corridor would cause international misunderstanding and bad impression. The party was working on ways to get him into a Senior Cadres¨ Ward. Therefore until then Miss. Marianne Chen could take a good rest for a few days, or going around taking a good look at the great change of our great socialist country after the great, honorable, and correct Chinese party¨s open door and reform policy.

Be honestly, I myself neither think it would be a great idea to let Marianne to see my father in a hospital corridor. It was, after all, not a glorious thing.

Therefore I asked Marianne where about she would like to go or what she would like to do. Marianne¨s answer was no where and nothing particular she would like to go or to do. ^If father is inconvenient to see me for a while, why don¨t we pay some visits to the places where you grew up? ̄

I thought that was a great idea too, especially to take a beautiful western girl around, let people know the blonde was my wife, how much honorable face I could gain. So that I took Marianne starting from my kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, to Changsha Construction Company, Hunan Beijing Opera, up to the Hunan Radio and Television Orchestra. Sure enough wherever we went we received warm receptions. Of course, I understood the 90% of all warm receptions was for the ^foreign guest ̄ Marianne.

The visiting ended within two days. Then there was nothing more to do. By chance at that time, some old violin friends and former colleagues made a request that they would like to listen to my playing on that old precious Italian violin that I brought with me everywhere in China. That made me particularly excited. Thinking of taking all the trouble had brought such an expensive Italian violin to my hometown; it would be a waste if I did not show off a bit. So I found my old partner pianist Dan Chen (not blood related sworn sister, relationship very clean and pure), two hastily rehearsed a little. Then we rented a rather luxury nightclub. When I went to inspect the site, felt that the place for a private party might be too big. I was afraid too few people in that vast space the atmosphere of the party would be too lonely. However, in Changsha, a city not that big, the news of my giving a private concert party spread very quickly, more and more people send me message that they would like to take part. The day before the party the news was on the Hunan provincial major newspaper. When the time I went into the party nightclub, Oh my God! Not to mention seats, the whole place was packed with people everywhere; it was not even easy to stand. I was particularly touched by my violin teacher Li, the one first taught me violin in a church, led dozens of children formed a string orchestra playing for the opening. Evidently, teacher Li no longer needed to keep violin teaching secretly.

I borrowed the opportunity when the children were playing taking a look at the audiences. Besides neighbors I grew up together with, my former schoolmates, working colleagues in various units, and their spouses and children. The rest, at least half of the people I did not know.

However, my eyes caught a middle-aged man, not because he was somewhat special, but the lady sitting beside him, that lady, if I were not mistaken, was ShaSha. When she noticed that I was looking at her, she turned her face away to the man and whispered. ^She must be talking about me in bragging. ̄ I burst elated by thinking of that. In reality if I had not met her before I went to study in Shanghai, it wouldn¨t be possible for me to be here tonight, or to put it in another way, I would have to come to places like this every night, to play the violin for money in nightclubs. Thinking of that, there was something else came to my mind, our child ^XiaoXiao ̄ who ended before becoming...So I decided, after the concert, I would go to her to say a few words, words of nostalgia and gratitude.

But after the show, in front of piles of flowers left there for me by different people, and a line up waiting for my sign and photos taken with me, I felt my bones were so light that I could float up. In a word I was too excited to remember the decision of ^saying a few words to SarSar after the show ̄.

I had no idea what kind of impression I left to people, my expensive Italian violin, my dressed up (white dress black tie) like the old gentleman in front of the KFC, and my western re-educated way of playing. Yet I knew my personal feeling and satisfaction reached the highest climax. Unfortunately that mood did not last long, as Danjin found a small notice from a flower. In the notice SarSar¨s handwriting ^is this all what you got to show me after all those years? Really don¨t know what to say about you.... ̄ I got very upset by reading this notice. I crumpled it by anger. If SarSar had been present; I would have shouted at her ^what more do you expect from me, an Oscar, Nobel, or Olympic? ̄

Strongly stimulated by SarSar, I again made up my mind. Next concert of mine, I must make it bigger; make a huge concert, great enough to impress SarSar.

However, I never imagined, my that very casual rushing private party, became my farewell concert, if it was not for life-long, at least for the next 20 to 30 years.

2, Father¨s Farewell to the Hospital Corridor at Last

After my farewell concert father was also moved into a separate room of a High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward specially arranged by Ma Xiao-Mao¨s father in law, the Premier Liu. I took Marianne to see father there.

To see Marianne, father made an effort to sit up on the bed, revealed a diplomatic kind of smile from his iron face. He put on his denture, official like he said a few not-so-fluent words in English to express his welcome, followed he asked Marianne whether she was used to Changsha food. Learnt that Marianne did not eat meat, father immediately turned from an official to a parent, quickly ordered Panjie to find a good vegetarian restaurant in town for Marianne. That explains the Chinese old culture ^for the mass food above all. ̄ However something father didn¨t know was, the most frightening word for Marianne in China was ^eat. ̄

In order to show off my English, I deliberately talked a lot with Marianne in front of father. Father seemed indeed impressed, that made me feel really great and satisfied for a while.

Marianne said almost nothing, kept very quiet, listening to the father and son, until the ^interview ̄ was about over, Marianne suddenly said to father in Chinese ^hao hao xiu xi, bu yao rang ni er zi wei nin dan xin (Take a good care of yourself; please don¨t let your son worry about you). ̄

Not only father, but also all the people present, Panjie and nurses were literally startled. Naturally, who would expect such a blond western girl¨s pronunciation of Chinese mandarin, actually not any worse than all the Chinese people present, if not any better!

^You don¨t need to worry about me. ̄ Said father removed his denture, may be not so comfortable by wearing it, and then stammered something. Hastily Panjie walked us out of the room. I asked ^Panjie, what did he say? ̄ This time, I intentionally dressed ^Panjie ̄ loudly and clearly, indicate my change of attitude towards her.

She was of course very pleased to hear I address her Panjie (meaning ^fat sister ̄, a nick name only family member would use). But to my question, she only smiled bitterly and said ^what else can Baba say? All the old same staff, such as no need to worry about him, he can all rely upon his communist party and the Chinese government. ̄

Right after that Panjie made a funny face behind Marianne, and in order not to let Marianne understand she said to me in Changsha dialect ^rely upon party and government, all words and words only, when it comes to reality, for instance often I went to father¨s unit for help, could not even find the one who is in charge. ̄

After I kept questioning, Panjie had to tell me the truth. The truth was, Danjin simply did not tell father that it was I found a back-door to get him out from the corridor of a general sick house into a room of the High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward, instead told father that it was his party and government gave him a special care. ̄ That made father very touched, said he worked for the party and government all his life, finally he could receive such a honorable result, that prove the party's warmth and the superiority of socialistic system.

^If he didn¨t know it was my hard working and ability to cause all these to happen, didn¨t I have done all these for nothing. ̄ I used half-joking tone, but was my sincere feeling.

^We will tell him later. This is a promise. But meanwhile the most important thing is to let him rest well. ̄ Panjie tapped me on the shoulder to comfort me, and to show her closeness to me at the same time.

Alright, to have showed my ability and resolved the room problem for father, as well as my good English in front of him; In addition, to have helped Jiang Langsha put off his life burden, at the same time to add new content and life meaning for Uncle Feng; as well as to had taken my western wife Marianne around from my kindergarten to the last work unit of mine; And last but not the least, or should I say the most impotently I showed off my expensive old Italian violin to a lot of people in my hometown, I could claim the first trip back to China as a brilliant, nearly perfect victory.

To follow father¨s order, Danjin found a quite decent vegetarian restaurant in town and booked a separate room with a full table of dishes. Until it was the time to go Marianne suddenly said ^I don¨t feel so well today ,So you go alone, but don¨t forget to bring me a loaf of bread, please. ̄

^How could that be tolerated? The whole table of dishes is specially ordered for you by my father, our father, I mean. In order to make everybody happy, you will have to go regardless how you feel. ̄ I dragged Marianne out, by force, and went on my comments ^you foreigners, Yeah, really selfish, only to think of your own feeling but not the others. ̄

My comments about foreigners upset Marianne, she said angrily ^You Chinese people are the ones only think of your interest and pleasure, never care for how others feel, selfish! ̄

Danjin and his wife put all the effort carefully selected a whole table of the best vegetarian dishes (at least the best they could think), in the end being said to be ^selfish ̄, what do people think about it? This kind of difficult-to-explain problem occurred quite often between us, I got used to it. But how could I explain it to father?

After Persuaded Marianne in every way possible she finally agreed to go with me under the condition ^never force her to eat anything at the table. ̄ However, how could guests being not forced to eat, in front of a Chinese table? In reality, Marianne was with tears crying for mercy at the table not to force her to eat any more. As Marianne did not eat more anyway, vegetarian food lost its original meaning; the rest people simply put a hot pot on the table with a big leg of a dog. When Marianne saw that she was so scared that she threw out everything in her stomach that just forced in with effort.

Back to Hotel, Marianne was lying on the bed discussing how we should do next. What she meant was about going to the United States. But I thought she was asking me about the day after. I said ^tomorrow we could take a walk alone the streets, get some small gifts that you like. ̄

^How about the day after tomorrow? ̄ She asked.

^Let¨s wait for tomorrow to think of something about the day after tomorrow, alright? ̄ I was a little too tired to go on with discussions.

Marianne said with very low voice, as if she was talking to herself ^That¨s pure waste of time. If you want to spend more time with your family, I understand. If that is the case, I probably could use this chance to take a research trip to Yunnan to see Moso minority people. ̄

^What! Going there again? Didn¨t I companied you there once before? You already know the people there look almost same as the rest of Chinese, only not as good looking. The lake is pretty but not worth seeing twice, I mean taking such a long distance. ̄ I yawned. Followed what Marianne said was all gibberish to me.

"Wake up." Marianne pushed me up.

^Can¨t you talk bout matrilineal social system of Moso tomorrow´ ̄ I rolled over went on my dream.

^No, it is a phone call, from your family. ̄ Marianne pushed me harder to wake me up.

The phone call was from my younger brother Danfeng's wife. She asked me to go to Danjin¨s home immediately, as everybody of the family was there waiting to have an urgent discuss with me.

^What could be so urgent? ̄ I said impatiently.

^Father wants to move out from the High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward." My pretty sister in law said.

^Who dare to move father out? ̄ heard that I was completely waken up, and asked anxiously.

^No one, it is Baba himself wants to move out. ̄ Sister in law explained again.

This¨ odd, I¨ve gone so much trouble to get the old man out from a dirty noisy dark crowded corridor to a nice clean quiet single room of a high rank hospital, what a hell dose he want to move out? I apologized to Marianne, and ask her to go to bed as she likes and not to wait for me. Hastily I went out for Danjin¨s home.

3, An Old Revolutionary Encounters a New Problem

On my way rushing to Danjin¨s home, I couldn¨t figure out why it was my little sister-in-law who called me, when usually if not Danjin must be Mei-Mei. However, the most puzzling question was why father wanted to move out from the High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward? I certainly could not imagine before the phone call from my little sister in law there had been a hot discussion within all the family members.

The topic was of course around father's new problem. This time the problem was not can¨t get father into a room at a hospital, but on the contrary, father insisted on moving out from the room where he was already in of a hospital. The trouble started when father noticed the name tag hanging on his bed remained Minister Luo. What bothered him more was all the nurses kept calling him Minister Luo, even after father repeatedly corrected them by telling the nurses his correct title should be ^Deputy Commissioner Chen. ̄ Under pressure Panjie had to tell father the truth that the bed was actually belonging to Minister Luo. It was his second son conquered all the obstacles and finally found the back-door to manage him lying in the Minister Luo¨s bed. Therefore all the nurses had received order from Premier Liu that ^in order not to reveal secrete, no matter who is in that bed, keep calling Minister Luo. ̄ Of course, Panjie told the truth partly for the purpose of keeping her promise to let father know that it was my effort and achievement to have made him in a room instead in a corridor.

When father learnt the truth, particularly the fact that ^it was his second son found the back-door ̄, he insisted to move out, saying to accept a back-door contradict his belief and principles as a revolutionary. Father stressed ^if a person gives up his beliefs and principles before death, which would be a negation to what he has been fighting for all his life. By being alive like that would be meaningless, as a revolutionary, a meaningless life is as same as being dead. ̄

Seeing Panjie with a long face that she rarely showing, father explained patiently ^Everyone is going to die anyway, only different is how and when. My hope was to let the hospital use my body for scientific research so that I could make good use of my last flesh and blood to final contribution of the country¨s medical project. I thought to move me here was arranged by the party and organization in order to receive better test, that¨s why I was so pleased. In a word: I¨m a party member, all follow the party¨s arrangement, regardless in a room of a High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward, or in a corridor of a general hospital, I would obey with no complain. ̄

Everyone of the family was upset, puzzled and troubled by father's attitude toward this matter, except Panjie.

However, I think I even understand more about father than Panjie. I knew besides his adhering revolutionary principle not to accept a back-door, the more important factor was that he was not willing to accept a mercy from his second son, or let my conspiracy of ^showing off my ability ̄ succeed, to put it in another word, he would rather die than to be a loser in the hands of his opponent, that was me, his second son. This was why when he mentioned ^it¨s HIM again, doing all those things. My pure and innocent life was almost stained at the last moment of my life ̄ he was particularly emotional.

Under father¨s strong will and insistence, the family had no choice but moving him out from the High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward.

To move out from a room was easy. The problem was move where to? As he once out from the corridor, he could not get in again.

That was why everybody of my family was at Danjin¨s home, could not figure out ways to deal with this new situation.

4, Financial Situation of My Brother Danjin's Family

Out from that nice room of the High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward father had no where to go. Therefore Panjie had to propose to take father home for the time being. As I described before, Danjin¨s home had only two rooms, one for the host couple, and one for our mother and her grandson.( grandma slept on the sofa, and grandson on the floor.) The small two roomed home was already over crowded. If father moving in, where could he be put, only if, Danjin and his wife to sleep outside in the open veranda.

Danfeng said with an indication ^If we could buy a commercial flat nearby, would be the best solution. ̄

My unsophisticated brother Danjin did not get his youngest brother¨s hint, that the words were for the pretty young wife, smiled with bitterness Danjin said ^talking about nearby, right behind our building there are new apartments for sale. I could even use my working years to get favorable discount. ̄

The pretty young wife was also apparently failed to understand what her husband really meant, immediately encouraged Danjin ^why wait, buy one. What is saving money in the bank for? ̄

^Saving money? Where do we have money to be saved? ̄ Panjie couldn¨t hold ^I'll count every single rmb for you. Danjin¨s month¨s salary altogether is 2000rmb, and 24000rmb a year. The total sum wouldn`t be enough for our son¨s education. ̄ Talked as she got herself a pen and a piece of paper she wrote. ^The annual tuition is 13,000rmb, board living costs at least 700rbm per month, 8,400rmb a year. To put tuition and living expenses together would be 21,000rmb, plus all kinds of unexpected school fees from time to time, in addition son¨s stationery books and pc etc, you count, if it is enough or not? ̄ Panjie finished writing and put the paper in front of her young sister in law, probably felt not enough she complained ^That's all what your `Education Industry¨ done to us. When you say industrialization of education, all the oil has to be scraped from every single student, student¨s parents, be accurately. ̄

My pretty sister in law was working for the City Education Bureau, in fact took a position as a middle rank leader, she of course immediately stood up to defend the "Education Industry", she claimed ^Nowadays every working unit is working hard for economy. Education has always been a blank sheet. But with the high-speeding developing of our country¨s economy and consumption, people in education field are also forced to make money. Now if not from the students where will be the fat oil from? ̄

^How could you survive with such unbalanced income? ̄ Danfeng asked his big brother, rather worried.

Brother answered helplessly ^not dead, proves able to be kept alive. ̄

After Danjin¨s landmark quotation, Panjie went on with some details ^How we make our living? We live on my 150rmb monthly pension, plus 600rmb income from temporary job. But recently even that 600 are not in certain as I must use much time taking care of father. ̄ Followed Panjie changed a jokily tone ^So I say my brother and sister, I return what you said to me back to you ^what¨s the use to save all the money in the bank for, might as well lend us to buy a flat. ̄

Danjin immediately stopped his wife ^that¨s something should not joke about. Danfeng couple has their own lives, they also need to change the place to live, also have to pay school fees for their child. Not to mention they have already paid for the most costs of Baba¨s nutrition´ ̄

^And every time when mother need presents to give for making relations, the money has also been from his pocket. ̄ The young wife bitterly knocked the head of his husband.

Danfeng thought it was the time to spell it; he took the courage to his wife who in charge of the family economy, said ^in fact, what Panjie said was not entirely inconsiderable. Our flat is truly not very luxury but livable for time being. We could think of lending our deposit to Danjin to buy a flat first, to solve the cries of father's problem. We could wait for better chances later... ̄

Before Danfeng finished his head received a slap like a volleyball by his wife ^you must be out of your mind, you have two brothers in front of you, why need you come out for the roll of the protagonist? ̄

^How could you call it protagonist, this is our family¨s affair... ̄ this time Danfeng¨s mouth was blocked by the fist of his wife. The wife said to him ^you have no right to open your mouth now, wait until your earning is as half as much as mine. ̄

In this way said by his wife, Danfeng could really only shut-up. As the acrobatic did not offer a good income, the monthly income of Danfeng¨s all together was just about 1000rmb; however thanks to the ^education industry ̄ policy the young wife could receive quite a good salary. in addition to her versatile ability such as giving private lessons, writing teaching method books, she could receive a considerable additional income, ^gray income ̄ as the Chinese put it, So when we say ^women¨s liberation ̄, the key is turning the economic status around. This was the reason why the young and little wife could put her huge husband under her control completely.

^So you tell us what we should do with father? Throw him in front of the hospital, outside? ̄ Helplessly Danfeng said.

Silence, quietness, deadly, no body had nothing to say, even the sound of breath could be heard. Again Danfeng¨s wife broke the ice ^I said you Chen brothers, why don¨t you all ask your second son of the family. Heard people often say who and who¨s relative is from abroad brought back many presents for the family, only the second brother of your family brought nothing for me. That made my colleagues laugh at me saying `it¨s useless to have a relative brother in a foreign country.¨ ̄

To my young and pretty sister in law, I, the ^brother ̄ was only a matter of ^useful ̄ or ^useless ̄.

After listening to the complains from the sister in law, Danjin tried to defend me, his brother ^Please do not think that there are gold everywhere to pick up in foreign counties, and anyone can get rich as long as get out of the country. The people abroad may have their own hardship. For instance our Danjiu, we don¨t really know his financial situation. If he is strong in economy, seeing the family situation, he wouldn¨t sit and do nothing about it. On the contrary, he has said nothing so far, it could mean that his economic situation may not be very good. Therefore, we should not make difficulties for him, but try to understand. ̄

Danjin¨s speech certainly did not convince the young sister in law. Therefore she argued again ^no money? No money how can he bring a 50,000 dollars violin back home? Ask him to sell that violin, the money should be enough to buy a flat. Or he is bragging, that old ragged thing did not worth much money at all. ̄

Not waited for wife to finish, Danfeng said heavily ^I¨d rather die to beg him for money. ̄

Young wife dig at her husband ^no good at earning money, no good at begging for money. What a useless thing you are! ̄ Then she turned her face to Panjie, complained ^You see how unlucky I am, really the worst luck, could not stand the temptation of all his sweet words and unconsciously got on his bed, sorry, I mean to get on his boat. Now I can only blame myself being young and naive. ̄ Seeing nobody seemed to call me she sighed again, said ^if you all sit there doing nothing, I will call. Let me to be the wicked. What is the phone member of second brother? ̄

The above was the dramatic scene occurred at my brother Danjin¨s home before I went there.

When I reached Danjin's home, a full table of dishes was waiting for me. I wondered how come the Chinese people could eat all the day round, regardless day or night? Before I started my question, my young sister in law told me ^the old revolutionary of your family is facing a new revolution. ̄

After Danjin narrated all the trouble, I asked him ^as our family has such a special difficult situation, couldn¨t you have a good talk with your work unit, to see if they can help to solve your house problem? ̄

Danjin smiled bitterly, shook his head meant my question was totally out of question, therefore unanswerable. Danfeng looked up at the ceiling exposed some sturdy nose hair. Panjie was about to make some comments as young sister in law stepped forward ^my dear brother went abroad for those years, how could you talk like an ancient man. At the present time in China who would expect to get flat from working unit. The real estate has long been reformed, and today everybody has to buy commercial housing with loans or without. ̄

Followed Panjie repeated her family balance in front of me, that brought the conclusion ^It is absolutely impossible for Danjin couple to buy a property with their financial ability. Therefore to buy a property all leave to me.

^Like a mud Buddha across the river can¨t ensure their own safety, in addition they very often must help that little girl called Huan-Huan. ̄ Danfeng added.

^Huan-Huan? Who is that? ̄ I immediately took Danfeng¨s conversation, looking at him; hoping this question to be the start of the first dialogue after so many years. But I did not succeed; As Danfeng stood up and went out to wash his hand, as he excused.

Followed is the Huan-Huan story told by Panjie.

5, Story of a Little Girl Called Huan-Huan

Huan-Huan was a 6 grade elementary school girl, happened to be Danjin¨s neighbor. Her parents had a big fight after both lost their jobs at the same time, and both walked away from home, left only Huan-Huan with her 70-year-old sick grandmother alone.

More than a year, part of her tuition fees are donated by her classmates and many of her cloths too.

The following a description of how a day is like for Huan-Huan: she gets up early in the morning making breakfast and lunch for grandmother, as well as her own lunch box for school. In the afternoon after school she goes to the market picking up vegetable leaves on the ground, sometimes if luck she might get a little leftover pork skin, bone or something from good hearted meat sellers. After finishes eating dinner with grandmother she has to go out helping some wealthy classmates to do their homework (which becomes her major source of income). Sometimes she gets some paid small hand works from neighbors, but that she can only do them in her sleep times.

Heard that Danfeng made a painful comments ^children from poor familys grow fast. What a cruel and ironic pride of the society, particularly 40 years after the liberation taken place in our great country. ̄

But his young wife argued ^yes, some are poor, but also many are rich. Like a school I know, each class 5 to 10 out from of 40 are coming and going by private cars of their parents. Kids like Huan-Huan picking up vegetable leaves for living, is after all minority.

^Among those who can afford to go to school, picking up vegetable leaves for living ones, are of course, a minority. ̄

Heard that, I lamented that ^to pick up vegetable leaves can make a living today, what a `great leap forward¨ has taken place in our great country, a progress worth of intoxication! ̄ I said that because I suddenly remembered the year 1960, not to mention picking up leaves of vegetables, even the leaves of trees, barks, grasses were not easy to get, and that indomitable struggle for survival we fought with that little fat brother, the son of Minister Lee, for the right of cutting wild grass for food at a public zone´

However, a person, or a nation, making a vertical comparison with oneself, could always result satisfaction and intoxication. Thinking back of Stone Age the Beijing Man lived in caves, shouldn¨t we be fiercely proud and intoxicated. Yet, if making a horizontal comparison with other people or nations, it might not be always the case of being proud and satisfied. For instance to compare my house in Norway, with Danjin¨s home, that 14-inch "color" TV, it should be said to be "gray and yellow" TV, and the refrigerator that could only be used as a cupboard, washing machine could cause earthquake when used...I felt a pressure or a sense of responsibility, perhaps should be called as ^a sense of being needed. ̄ But on the other hand, I have my own life, I have my dream to pursuit, how could I give up going to the United States, the way leading to my dream for others, sorry, I mean for other people of my family.

Seeing me not to participate in the discussion of buying a new flat, my young sister in law got desperate, sarcastically said ^I have always thought the Chen brothers are something, now I am in the door of Chen¨s family I finally got the truth. The truth is all your three brothers put together, could not compete with a small wife like Me. ̄

^Who said that? ̄ That remark made me furious. How could a big man, three big mans (men) I meant, to be pushed against a wall by a little woman?

I suddenly felt, to prove in front of my family that ^I was not an ordinary man, but a man with special ability, ability not only in playing the violin, but also capable of making big money, in one word, to prove I was the strongest son in Chen¨s family ̄ was more important than anything else, at least at that very moment. Therefore, compare to little sister in law¨s prodding tactic, I rather seeing it as an opportunity, an opportunity that had been searching for many years, an opportunity finally came to me with a room in the High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward but did not last long enough, yet this time, opportunity that could make me the role of being the strongest and remarkable son in the family for a long time, if not forever.

I immediately asked Danjin to take out my bag that I asked him to take care for me. I took all the traveler¨s checks of total 50,000 USD ^pa ̄ throw on the table. That feeling, not to mention how ^cool ̄ it was!

It was over midnight when I went back to the hotel. In order not to disturb Marianne I tiptoed into the room, but found she was still reading a book about matriarchal Moso people. Seeing me came back she asked me a question that she had been waiting to ask me all the time ^what happened? ̄

"Nothing, nothing important, that you wouldn¨t understand. ̄ I tried to stall and past.

^Nothing, or nothing important, which? If you don¨t tell me, how could you know I do not understand? Try me. ̄ Marianne adhered.

It appeared that it wasn¨t perfunctory to pass; I had to make a simplified version of what had happened at Danjin¨s home, as simple as possible, especially that 50,000 USD I said in a very relaxed tone. After heard the story Marianne said nothing but her facial expression showed one word ^unbelievable ̄. She put her book under the pillow, covered her head with quilt and went sleep.

I knew she was mad at me, but still wanted to make an effort to ease the atmosphere I pulled the quilt and asked ^no comments? ̄

^Don¨t bother me please; I'll have to get up early in the morning for Yunnan. ̄ Marianne did not show her face, but covered her head even tighter.

^What did you say? We go to Yunnan tomorrow? How could you make decision of such a big matter without consult with me... ̄

Marianne ^Wow ̄ removed the quilt, shouted at me ^consult? Do you really find such a word existing in your dictionary? Do you realize what you threw to your family was not just our money, but also our dreams. ̄ Marianne got more and more excited when she started to talk; she simply got up and started packing her baggage.

^Alright, It¨s OK to go to Yunnan, but at least give me one day to prepare, please ̄ I knew nothing more I could argue but make a concession.

^Who invited you to go to Yunnan? ̄ Marianne turned off all the lights. Suddenly conversation ended, left only pure darkness between us.

I knew I had no choice but to accompany Marianne to Yunnan, therefore before dream I thought about what I should bring with me for the trip, but after from dream back to reality, Marianne was gone.


7, a Winter Fire

Need someone to talk to I made a phone call to Mei-Mei asked her if she could come to see me at once. But she told me that I had to wait until she off job. I hang up the phone, did not know what to do. I was restless when the phone rang again. ^I knew that my Mei-Mei would change her mind ̄ I thought, deliberately picked up the receiver slowly, and said Mei-Mei... ̄

^Sister? When did I become your sister? ̄ I recognized that was Ma Xiao-Mao¨s voice. (The pronunciation of ^Mei-Mei ̄ and ^sister ̄ sounds pretty much the same in Chinese language)

When one is lonely and solitude, would not fussy too much to whom to talk to. Ma Xiao-Mao soon came to see me at the hotel. After I narrated the whole story the night before, the never-care-much-for-others Ma Xiao-Mao expressed her unusual interest and sympathy.

^How much dose this room cost a day? ̄ Xiao-Mao raised completely another issue.

^What do you mean? ̄ I asked.

^You can stay in my place if you like. I mean your wife is gone, you are only one man. At my place you can cook, use internet access too. ̄

Xiao-Mao seeing I winked at her, immediately explained ^Don¨t be cranky and get me wrong. You know I'm not that kind of woman sleep around. What I meant was you stay in my place. I stay with my husband¨s family as I have been doing. ̄

I did not think so deeply that Ma Xiao-Mao invited me to stay at her place so warmly, was afraid as my father moved out from the High-Rank Cadres¨ Ward, I would unilaterally tore up the contract, not to honor the promise of helping her abroad.

Saving money, with internet access and cooking facility, it was indeed very tempting. In addition, staying in someone else's home to pry other people¨s privacy, or, unique way of life, has also been my interest. I accepted the invitation, sorted up my things, checked-out from the hotel, and went to Xiao-Mao¨s home.

Although Ma Xiao-Mao¨s home was much better than my brother Danjin¨s, but was far away from our school mates Wang Shi-Yi and Lu Ying¨s. The room looked a bit messy, books everywhere, but with an atmosphere of a kind of elegancy. In fact I felt quite at home. On a glass cabinet I noticed a violin, and next to the violin there was a flamed picture of Ma and a handsome young man. No need to ask, that man must be Ma¨s husband Mr. Liu Kang-Kang. I moved half a step forward in order to take a closer look. Hey! Her husband looked a lot like a man, who? I could not recall at that very moment.

Ma Xiao-Mao thought I was looking at the violin on the glass cabinet, smiled shamefully ^It put there more like a decoration, not a very good violin, certainly in no way to compare with your old expensive Italian. ̄

That language took me straight back to the middle school year when I was fighting with Ma Xiao-Mao about who was the better violin player. After about 20 years the opportunity came to me. I fiercely opened my Italian violin, touched the strings to make some sound, and asked ^would you like to try? ̄

^Give me a break. I haven¨t touched a violin for years. ̄

Seeing me was taking the violin out from the case Xiao-Mao made a gesture ^xu, neighbors are having a nap. ̄

What a huge disappointment! But that also reminded me in China how important was to take a nap, and that foreigners could never understand.

I opened the refrigerator looking for something to drink, but found almost nothing inside. Ma Xiao-Mao explained ^as a matter of fact, since Kang-kang passed away, I seldom stay here. ̄ When someone lost her loved one, the loneliness was not difficult to imaging. But before I could find the most suitable language to comfort her, Ma Xiao-Mao actually added ^I'm too lazy to cook. To stay with his parents I need not to do any housework. ̄ I shivered, didn¨t know because of the cold weather or her cold bold confession.

Ma Xiao-Mao briefly gave me an instruction about computer power supply, kitchen facilities such as how to use the gas. When she explained the use of electric blankets on the bed she said ^when you get up from bed you must turn it off. Nowadays lots of counterfeit products often cause fires. ̄ Xiao-Mao walked towards the door and added ^here is the key. About lunch you can make your own or eat out, as you please. When you go out please lock the door. When I finish work I will bring some food back. You can make dinner, or we can do it together. ̄ After that the door was closed from the outside.

Since Xiao-Mao was so relaxed and casual, I really started to make myself at home. I boiled some hot water, made a bowl of instant noodle for lunch. After that I found nothing else to do. After having lived so many years in a foreign country I thought I had got rid of the habit of having a nap. But I was wrong, as not long after the lunch I started to feel sleepy. I made myself at home again by sleeping in Xiao-Mao¨s bed. It was very cold, so I turned on the electric blanket. The bed began to warm up. I had a dream, a day dream, actually a nap dream. In the dream I met Xiao-Mao¨s dead husband Liu Kang-Kang. To my surprise he was the same person of one of my colleagues at the Hunan Radio and Television Orchestra.

I woke up from the dream, looked at the photo again, felt a little uneasy. Then I decided to take a talk out.

There was a small book stall on the roadside, I stopped, took a look of some odd magazines. Not sure how much time had past I heard a fire engine's siren from far to near, and nearer, passed me towards the direction of Xiao-Mao¨s house, one after another. I was little curious, but still could not get my eyes away from a journalist report in a magazine titled ^an odd case of virgin prostitution ̄.

When I took my time returned to the residence of Xiao-Mao¨s spot, Oh my God! Heave smoke hanging on the sky, and fire vehicles piled. I rushed closer, the two-storey dormitory building of Ma Xiao-Mao¨s that was here a moment ago, was gone´

Looked at the miserable fire scene, my first reaction was ^my violin! ̄

Then I saw TV reporters interviewing the head to the fire department. The head replied ^Because the rescue was quick and efficient, so basically nobody is dead. ̄

^Is it `nobody dead¨, or `basically nobody dead?¨ ̄ A reporter asked.

^Nobody dead, basically. ̄ The head from the fire department said again..

^What was the cause of the fire? ̄ another reporter asked.

^The cause of the fire is under investigation, from the current situation, we do not exclude the improper use of electrical appliances... ̄

No need to mention, my that 50,000 USD worth historical Italian violin, as well as all my baggage in which some items had been with me for years, together with all the properties of Ma Xiao-Mao¨s, and memory of first half of her life, regardless old or new, high class or low class, east or west, expensive or cheap, had been equal material for the fire, and all gone in that short period of time. All left, were our two lives, and what the two lives wearing on our bodies and feet.

When my head cooled down, I realize I must go to tell Xiao-Mao as quickly as I could. Rushed on the road calling for a tax, I found I had not enough money for a taxi; therefore I rushed to a bus station. When I arrived at Xiao-Mao¨s working unit, the library of Hunan Medical University, she had left work early. One of her colleagues told me ^she went to a food market. She must have some very important guest coming, for normally she doesn¨t go to places like food market.

I was shocked, exhausted, could not walk any further, therefore I went to see Danjin. However, my dear brother had no idea why I needed his help to find a room at the most reasonable price, when I rejected a nice room at the guest house of his working unit when I first came? Perhaps thought I regretted giving him the traveler¨s checks of the 50,000 USD. However, he asked me no question, as he already read from my face that something big must had happened, except the question ^where is your luggage? ̄

^Hey, never mention that again! ̄ I almost cried.

Not for long after I got into a cheap room at the guest house Mei-Mei came to see me. She told me she first went to the hotel, told I checked out.

After I told her what had happened the day, she kept very quiet, only by the end she made a remark ^if I had known I should have taken a day off. ̄

"Don¨t ever say that again. ̄ I roared.

Mei-Mei was not scared; on the contrary she knew what she could do to ease my motion. This was probably why the always passive Mei-Mei, the first time to become active. However, under such condition, even the most sensitive part my body felt nothing, therefore was not able to become long and hard enough to extend into Mei-Mei. Realized that she was for time being useless to me she covered me with quilt and talked out.

I was in bed, alone, what had happened in the afternoon like a move repeatedly showing in the ceiling of the room. More and more I felt it¨s time I had to go looking for Xiao-Mao, but where to? But I had to go to find her. I got up, just about to go out, someone knocked at the door. Believe it or not, it was Xiao-Mao, brought in by my brother Danjin. From his face, no doubt he had heard everything about the fire. Danjin knew what the best for him to do was doing nothing, just passed Xioa-Mao to me and disappeared.

I was waiting for Xiao-Mao to burst out, crying even claiming to hang her. But beyond my expectation she did not cry or saying any extreme words. Instead, she opened a food box, said ^Italian Pizza ̄, you must haven¨t had anything for supper yet. ̄

Heard the word ^Italian ̄, reminded my violin. That made me losing control, tears flowing down the nose spray out. Ma Xiao-Mao was immediately infected, also consumed a stack of tissue.

In order to make my dear readers to understand my feeling more, I give following explanation. For that Italian violin was absolutely not easy to get, for anyone. In fact it took me many years traveling to many countries in Europe to find it. To lose this violin meant that the world never ever would hear the unique and extremely beautiful sound from the violin again, the sound not another 50 000 dollars could buy again. Let me put it in this way. There are millions of people in the world, but only one out of the millions is your taste and style that you would love with all your heart, and one could never replaceable. If you lose this person, how would you feel?

When we both calm down a bit, Ma Xiao-Mao sighed and said ^something gone is gone, nothing we can do about it. The most of the things can be bought again except those old photos... ̄ she looked at the other bed in the room, and went on ^I have no idea how to tell his old Baba (her ex-husband's father). Hey, anyway, I am too homeless and have nowhere to go; have to stay here for the night. ̄ Heard her comments I was little disappointed for her did not mention a single word about my violin!

We went to beds, separately, left only a very faint light on, for we could easily be terrified if the room was too bright or too dark.

After a while Xiao-Mao called me ^Hello ̄ to see if went sleep.

^What? ̄ I immediately responded.

Xiao-Mao said ^how come you always bring me bad luck? ̄

I asked back ^how could say that? ̄

Xiao-Mao argued ^forget? Who made all the trouble to me at the middle school that finally caused me being sent to Xinjiang after graduation? And this time, we meet only a few days, you see what happened... ̄ Ma Xiao-Mao made every effort to control her emotion, she changed a softer tone ^By now, I¨m cornered and have no where to go, you will have to keep your promise to get me out of the country, the sooner the better. ̄

^To get you out wouldn¨t a problem; the problem is what should I do with you after you are out? ̄

^I only need your help to get out, the rest you do not need to worry. This is an agreement and promise. ̄ She said firmly.

Next door to our room someone was playing a tape record. It was a very popular song by a half Chinese half American pop star. The song went something like this ^winter fire, winter fire, you are so cold and I am so hot, so my love for you is like a fire in the winter. Winter fire, winter fire´ ̄

Heard the word ^fire ̄, I couldn¨t help jumping up and punched the wall ^shut-up! ̄ The next door responded, in a bigger volume ^winter fire, winter fire´ ̄

Seeing me restless in my bed Xiao-Mao got up from her bed. She turned off the last lodge light, sat by the side on my bed. She put her hand into the quilt first touched my chest. As no objection from me she removed the quilt from my body, her hand from my chest down, and down, until a man¨s crossroad, caught the intersection paralysis ^guard. ̄ When the ^guard ̄ could no endure the disturbing it stood up. And then Xiao-Mao was on the top of me like riding a horse (I was bone in the year of horse), she rocked with the rhythm ^winter fire, winter fire´ ̄

Under extreme abnormal circumstances, ^sex ̄ could function as a kind of effective anesthetic, at least for me at that moment. Yet why did she take the initiative doing that for? To stimulate, comfort, seduce, or to express her determination that she would do anything to go abroad. Or may be something else much more propound. Hey, as a girl, then a woman like Xiao-Mao who never reveals her true feeling, how could I figure out what was exactly in her mind. Only In reality, after that fire disaster and bed connection, our relationship had unprecedented variation.

After the fire, I was literately penniless, a veritable pauper, even had no money to pay for the cheapest room at the cheap guest house, or everyday food, not to mention buying a plane ticket to Beijing. To ask brother for money I just gave to the family would loose face, to borrow from my little rich sister in law would be unthinkable. What should I do, and what could I do?

But, nothing to worry about, as the old Chinese saying ^when a boat reaches a bridge, naturally it would have a pass for the boat to go on. ̄ At this critical moment, Mei-Mei handed me 3000 rmb. I knew that sum was not easy for her to save, felt somewhat embarrassed. But she said she was not going to marry somebody soon, therefore no need the money for the wedding. If I feel bad about it I could just borrow from her, and give it back to her later, with interest. ^I am responsible for the whole thing too. For if I had taken a day off that morning´ ̄ Mei-Mei joked a little. This time I dared not be mad at her, but smile a little. Yet I knew that smile must look awful, worse than a crying.

Mei-Mei¨s offering was like Chinese old saying ^to send carbon to the people in snow ̄, in English it should be ^a friend in need, is a friend indeed. ̄

On my way back to Norway, I had completely empty-hands but on my shoulder a tattered violin case, inside that broken white violin I made when I was little, and smashed by father during the Cultural Revolution. Why did I bring that violin remains to Norway? I could think of all the reasons, reasons like ^it took too much space at Danjin¨s home ̄; or ^to take a violin with me everywhere had been my habit ̄; or ^nothing else belongs to me that I could bring with me except that violin ̄; but all the reasons are excuses. The real meaning of taken that broken white violin with me to Norway, probably was to take my last memory out of the country.

With empty hands, the most painful question at the airport, or immigration was ^where is your baggage? ̄ But that was not the worst. As before back to China, Marianne and I were about to go to the USA, therefore we both had quit our jobs, sold our apartment. All the money we saved for years had all given to my family. Like this, after I went back to Oslo and before Marianne came back from Yunnan, where should I stay? And what could I eat?

To be continued


畜 鷹(駅倬)
炎 籾(販吭)
坪 否(1000忖參坪夕頭哈喘鯉塀:[img]夕頭銭俊仇峽[/img])

    翌繁 Foreigner ┯薮塀 
    嚥弌宮斌閥^暢霧忽並 ̄ 
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