Maandelijks archief: april 2011

5 Weeks in Beijing (4)

Literatuur (4)

Hierbij het tweede en laatste deel van A Yi’s
excerpt uit “The Curse”.

The Curse (vervolg)
A Yi

“She’s faking it, Wu Haiying said.
“Just shut up,” her husband suggested. She wasn’t finished, though, even as he dragged her inside. “You all heard her; she said I stole her chicken. Strike me down if I did.” Now Zhong Yonglian sat up and stabbed a finger in her direction: “If you stole my chicken, your son will die this year. If you didn’t, my son will.”
“If I stole it, my son will die.” Wu Haiying accepted the terms of the curse.
“I still don’t believe her,” Zhong Yonglian muttered. Even as she cried herself to sleep that night, she felt that having the last word had mitigated some of the injustice of the encounter.

The next morning, the chicken came home, slick with rainwater, like a shabby hermit back from a retreat, scrabbling away at the ground, a red rag tied around its leg. She carried it inside and quietly killed it.
Zhong Yonglian felt guilty whenever she saw Wu Haiying, until one day she realized that even if Wu Haiying hadn’t stolen her chicken, it didn’t mean she was a good person, or that she wasn’t a thief. She remembered the salty bitterness of her bloods and tears, of Wu Haiying pulling her down to the concrete by her hair.

Whenever the two women encountered each other, Zhong would strive to match her antagonist ‘s look of contempt. She stretched some sheet plastic over the fence around the chicken coop, to prevent the birds from flying away, and asked her son-in-law to write “Death to thieves” on the strip of red cloth wrapped around every chicken’s leg.
The two women took care to have nothing to do with each other.

As the final month of the lunar year came round, the village spoke of nothing except the return of Wu Haiying’s son from Dongguan. He’d come back driving a white Buick that had rolled noiselessly over the frozen grass and stones of the road into the village. He pulled on the hand-brake and slammed the door shut behind him, with a perfect Politburo swagger. He tapped the remote control and the still car yelped, as if with fear. A girl – no local, for sure – somewhere in her early twenties also emerged from the vehicle, gazing adoringly at him. Her soft, white face could have been caught in a single handspan; her eyes shone with the luster that the villagers associated with foreign, not Chinese girls. Her hair – dyed sunset-red – was cut in a dense crop. Although it was winter, she wore nothing but a tight grey t-shirt and a pair of black leather trousers, her clothes clinging to her slim curves and long legs. She smiled guilelessly at her audience, revealing pearl-like teeth.

5 Weeks in Beijing (3)

Literatuur (3)

Zoals beloofd laat ik jullie kennismaken met het eerste deel van
A Yi’s excerpt uit “The Curse”.

The Curse

A Yi

A chicken can disappear as easily as an insect. And the owner of this particular missing chicken, Zhong Yonglian, had deduced that her neighbor Wu Haiying was responsible for the disappearance. There were two pieces of incriminating evidence: first, a trail of claw-prints ended in Wu’s vegetable garden; second, her house smelled of stew. Wu Haiying was not a woman you wanted to get on the wrong side of: she liked a fight, and would probably set fire to your house too if she felt pursuing the quarrel. If only Zhong Yonglian’s son, with his dark, murderer’s glower had been around, she thought to herself. But he hadn’t phoned for ages, or sent any money back.

As dusk approached, two aspects of the problem occurred to Zhong Yonglian: one, it was Wu Haiying who had sabotaged their outwardly harmonious relationship, and it would take more than Zhong’s own non-confrontational instincts to mend fences; and two, although the disappearance of a chicken was not a disaster of the first order, it could not be overlooked. If Zhong waited till tomorrow, her moment would have passed. And so she decided to take a tour around the village. “Have you seen my chicken?” she asked everyone she met. “Where could it have gone to?” “It was last seen on the east side,” she told anyone who seemed interested. She’d learnt this tactic from her husband. You need to prepare your ground first, he’d instructed her, near the end of the long illness that finally killed him. Finally, Zhong Yonglian advanced upon Wu Haiying’s house: “Who could have stolen my chicken?” she sang out three times.

“What’s wrong?” Wu Haiying asked .
“I’m trying to find out which lowlife took my chicken.” Once the words were out, Zhong Yonglian felt almost dizzy at her implicit declaration of war. “It’ll come back in its own time, Wu replied. “What if it’s already dead and eaten?” Zhong renewed her provocation. She quickly looked away. Wu Haiying at last caught on. “You think I stole it?”

“You tell me,” Zhong Yonglian pronounced, turning to leave. Wu Haiying pulled her back by the sleeve. Zhong shook her off: “Fuck off and die.”

“Are you saying I ate your chicken?” Wu Haiying screamed.
“No. But you just did.”
“To eat a chicken’s an easy enough thing. And tidy – no evidence left.”

The rain was coming down in sheets. Wu Haiying grabbed Zhong Yonglian – a thin, weak woman – by the collar, stared fiercely at her accuser’s face, then slapped it hard. Zhong Yonglian’s eyes and nose began streaming tears and blood, her face twisting with the double humiliation. As Wu Haiying was preparing to administer a second blow, Zhong remembered her deceased husband and – with a sob of melancholy outrage – charged at Wu Haiying, who lost her balance in the surprise assault. Scrambling back to her feet, she seized hold of Zhong Yonglian’s hair (as easily as if it were a bundle of grass) and twisted hard, pulling her to the ground. When witnesses reached the scene, there Zhong lay, screeching for her dead husband and absent son, with Wu Haiying standing alongside, ignoring her husband’s calls for her to go back inside the house. “She started it,” Wu explained. “She said I stole her chicken.” Zhong Yonglian beat the concrete with her fists: “Shameless bitch.” A few of the women tried to pull her up, but she refused to get up. Her hands and feet started to spam.

(wordt vervolgd)