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