By Gao Weixi
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, yetit lingered in my soul. It seemed as if it would accompany me throughout mylife. 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 phoenixstanding in a flock of chickens — a rare treasure. Many eyes stared at you withadmiration. There was that short section director who would stand by youwhenever we had to line up, whether it was morning drill, meal time or eveningroll call. Everybody felt surprised, but your generosity allowed you to ignoreeverything, treating him with courtesy.
Perhaps he had somebody bragging to you about him — a tall, big manoften came to visit you openly. I did not take it to heart when I first saw youtwo sitting on a tricycle heading for town, but soon I sensed something wrongthere. Some said he exploited the crisis of a relationship; others said youinvited a wolf to your house.
By chance I once saw his coquettish look almost sparking a line ofself-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. Wemight have more common conversation topics. We did often have little disputesover 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. Ileaned against the tree trunk as you sat on the fork, opened your red lips, andin 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 toleave. Then what did I decipher from the dancing freckles of moonlight on yourface which crept through the flowers when the moon appeared in the east? It wasa poem written without words. It was a three-dimensional picture. It was holyteaching that exposed human secrets. My heart began to tremble.
Then it was another May, when the earth was covered with pomegranateblossoms again. Our old wounds had just healed, but we ran into each otheragain. You whispered to me when nobody was around, “Everything’s beenpre-arranged. I never knew I would marry him.” Didn’t your words spoil thescenery? “What do you mean?” I asked. You looked down, lost inthought for a moment. Instead of answering me, you gave a sad smile and trippedaway, leaving behind a lifetime mystery.
Always dim and vague, now visible, now invisible, you never faded inmy 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 feelingyou had left in me, picking up the fallen leaves and chewing on the days thathad passed. Using that drifting train of thought, I tried but never succeededto draw your clear figure: it was always like one drawn in water — once you wipedit, it was gone. Yet just like a spirit lingering around, momentarily you wouldappear in my mind again. As our ancestors said, hardly had I closed my eyeswhen I saw you again.
May God be our witness: we never said or did anything that loverswould have done. Perhaps because of this, it invites more guessing and provokesmore thinking. And probably because of that, our relationship has reached sucha lasting state that it takes shape after our thinking and creates kindredspirits. It was God’s will that this piece of blank paper be created, ready fora 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 anotherperson: “Tell him I wish him good luck!” You asked someone to forwardyour message even though today’s means of communication are so advanced thatnobody really needs anyone’s assistance. May I ask, you cunning woman, what areyou 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 younever did! It seems you just wanted to create a broken relationship that is nottotally broken. Several decades have flown by. Indeed, it is that “lastwish,” like gossamer, now drifting away, now clinging around me, that hasbeen resounding in my ears up till today.
I was told that you still live in my remote home city. Humanfeelings change day in, day out. Time can turn out tragedies, but wonders moreso. 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 thefeudal State of Lu, or today’s Shandong Province. He advocated a system ofmorality and statecraft that would preserve peace and afford the people stableand fair government. The influence of his doctrines has spread from generationto generation and far beyond China itself.