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    經典散文

    【a Return to the Frontier】

    散文集發表于2017-11-21 08:57:01歸屬于張愛玲散文集本文已影響手機版

     EileenChang

     WhenIgotofftheplaneinTaipeionmywaytoHongKong,IdidnotexpecttoseeanyoneIknew.IhadaskedtheChusnottomeetme,knowingtheywerebusyjustthen.Butitwaspossiblethattheywouldgetsomebodyelsetocomeintheirstead,soIwasnotsurprisedwhenanefficient-lookingmaninneatwesternclothesapproachedme."YouareMrs.RichardNixon?"HesaidinEnglish.

    IhadseenmanyphotographsoftheblondeMrs.NixonandneverimaginedIresembledher.Besides,heshouldbeabletotellafellowChineseevenbehindherdarkglasses.Butwithawoman'sinabilitytodisbelieveacomplimentaltogether,nomatterhowflagrantlyuntrue,Irememberedthatshewasthin,whichIundoubtedlywas.Thentherewasthoseglasses."No,Iamsorry,"Isaid,andhewalkedawaytosearchamongtheotherpassengers.

    ItstruckmeasalittleoddthatMrs.NixonshouldcometoFormosa,evenifeverybodyisvisitingtheOrientjustnow.Anyhowtheremusthavebeensomemix-up,astherewasonlythisoneembassyemployeetogreether.

    "DidyouknowMrs.Nixoniscomingtoday?"IaskedmyfriendsMr.AndMrs.Chu,whohadturnedupafterall.

    "No,wehaven'theard,"Mr.Chusaid.Itoldthemaboutthemanwhomistookmeforherandwhatajokethatwas."Um,"hesaidunsmiling.Thenhesaidsomewhatembarrassedly,"There'samanwhoisalwayshangingaroundtheairporttomeetAmericandignitaries.He'snotquitesane."

    Ilaughed,thenwentunderFormosa'shugewaveofwistfulyearningfortheoutsideworld,particularlyAmerica,itsonlyfriendandthereforeinsomewaysafoe.

    "Howdoesitfeeltobeback?"Mr.Chuasked.AlthoughIhadneverbeentherebefore,theyweregoingalongwiththeofficialassumptionthatFormosaisChina,themothercountryofallChinese.IlookedaroundthecrowdedairportanditreallywasChina,notthestrangeoneIlefttenyearsagoundertheCommunistsbuttheoneIknewbestandthoughthadvanishedforever.ThebuzzofMandarinvoicesalsomadeitdifferentfromHongKong.Afeelingofchronologicalconfusioncameoverme.

    "Itfeelslikedreaming."Andtakinginallthefamiliarfacesspeakingthetonesofhomeland,Iexclaimed,"Butit'snotpossible!"Mr.ChusmiledruefullyasifIhadsaid,"Butyouareghosts."

    Mrs.Chutoldmeaswelefttheairport,"Thisisanuglycity,buttheminuteyougetoutoftownitisbeautiful."

    Theylodgedmeinamountaininn.IgottheGeneral'sSuite,wherethegeneralsstaywhentheycomeuphilltoreporttotheGeneralissimo,wholivesafewstepsawayacrosstheroad.Thesuitewasreachedthroughaseriesofdesertedlittlecourtyards,withitsownrockgardenandlotuspond.Inthesilencetherewasjustthesoundoftheeveningdrizzleonthebananapalmandinthebathroomatapofsulphurwaterconstantlyrunningoutofastonelionmouthandsplashingovertherimofthecementtank.Therewererattanfurnitureonthetatamiflooringandawardrobeandbedwithstainedsheets.Itoldmyselfnottobefastidious.Buttherewerebedbugs.FinallyIhadtogetupneardawntosleepontheledgeofthehonorrecess,whereinJapaneselivingroomsthebestvaseandpicturescrollaredisplayed.Themaidwasfrightenedwhenshecomeinthemorningandcouldnotfindme.

    ItwasplainthatthegeneralshadfemininecompanionshipwhilespendingthenightawaitingaudiencewiththeGeneralissimo.IwonderedattheeaseofprocuringgirlsalmostnextdoortothatChristianandConfucianfounderoftheNewLifeMovement.Surelyitwasunseemlywith"Heaven'scountenanceonlyafootaway,"asweusedtodescribeanaudiencewiththeemperor.AfterIleftTaipeiforthecountryside,Irealizedthatprostitutionwasmoreopenonthislandthanperhapsanywhereelseintheworld.Inasmall-townnewspaperfiveorsixadvertisementsofthistypeappearedinoneday:"JoyandHappinessProstitutes'Domicile,1stclass.124ShinMingRoad.Swarmsofprettygirlslikeclouds,offeringthebestservices."

    InthecountrysideFormosapeelsback,showingolderstrata.ThereweremorenativeFormosansthanrefugees.Themixedemotionsofmyhomecomingofsortsgavewaytopuretouristenthusiasm.

    FromtimetotimeMrs.Chu,sittingnexttomeinthebus,whisperedurgently,"shandi,shandi!"Ijustcaughtaglimpseofashandi,ormountaindweller,agraylittlewraithwithwhiskerstattooedonhercheekscarryingababyonherbackandloiteringoutsideashopalongthehighway."Shandi,shandi!"Againthebreathlesslittlecryandanudge.IsawgypsylikechildreninraggedT-shirtsandskirts,carrying

    smallerchildren."Theyallcometotownwhenthere'saJapanesepictureon,"Mrs.Chusaid.

    "Oh,dotheyspeakJapanese?"

    "Verywell."

    ManyofthebuspassengerstalkedJapanese.TheyweretheearlyChinesesettlers,andasurprisingnumberoftheiryoungpeoplestillspokeJapanese.Thebusstoppedatwhatseemedtobethemiddleofnowhereandayoungmangotoff.Theconductorfollowedhim.Suddenlytherewasafight,thetworollingoverandoveronthewayside."Chigaruyo!Chigaruyo!"IcouldmakeouttheoneJapanesewordtheyoungmankeptshouting:"Mistake!Mistake!"Thedrivergotofftohelpbeathim.Thepassengerlearnedthatthismanwasalwaysstealingrides.Ithoughthowun-Chinesethesepeoplewere.InHongKongIhadseenastreetcarconductorfollowingafreeridertothestreetandgradholdofhisnecktie,inplaceofthepigtailwhichusedtobethefirstthingreachedforinabrawl.Butthatwasjustascuffleandexchangeofwords.Lastyearabusconductorwastakentothepolicestationonthecomplainofawomanhehadhitwithhisticketpuncher,amurderoustoolconductorswereforeverrattlingtoremindpeopletobuytickets.Buttherewereneveranyrealfightslikethis.

    Finallythedriverandconductorletthemango.Hegotonhisfeetpantinganddustinghimself.Theydroveoff.Hestoodatattentioninhistornkhakishirtandsalutedthebusasitpassed.HedidnotlookoldenoughtohavebeeninthearmyinJapanesedays,butthatreverencewasdistinctlyJapanese.Oddlyenough,italsoremindedmeoftheCommunistChineseliningupalltheporters,sweepers,andpeddlersontherailwayplatform,eachpresentinghisbroom,pole,andbasketlikearmsasthetrainpulledout.Workershavebeentoldtolovetheirmachine,buttohavethempaytheirrespectstoitinthislittleritualseemedstrange.

    FromFormosaIwentontoHongKong,whichIhadnotseenforsixyears.Thecitywasbeingtorndownandrebuiltintohighapartmentbuildings.Wholestreetsweredugup,withapostboxburieduptoitsneck,stillfunctioning.Therefugeesweresettleddown,hopingonlytoliveouttheirlivesinHongKong.TheyoungergenerationspeakCantoneseinschoolandrefusetospeakanythingelseathome,agoodexcusenottotalktotheirparentsthatotherteenagersmayenvy.

    Themoreorlesswell-to-dohomesIsawweregettingincreasinglyAmericanized,withamahsbecomingtooexpensiveandwashingmachinestakingtheirplacealonewiththelastest-modelrefrigeratorsandhi-fiphonographsboughtontheinstallmentplan.Christmashadbecomeagreatoccasionforgiftsandpartiesfornon-Christianstoo.BoysandgirlshandedeachotherChristmascardsinschool.Onegirlwrotetoawomancolumnist:"Iamnineteenyearsold.MyfatherandIescapedfromnorthChinaayearago,crossingthecountrywithgreatdifficulty.WemadethelaststretchtoMacaoinasmallboatwhichwasfiredonbytheCommunists.MyfathercoveredmewithhisbodysohegotwoundedanddiedinthehospitalinMacao.IcametoHongKong,whereafriendoffather'sgotmeajobpayingaboutHK$100amonth[lessthantwentyAmericandollars],justenoughtokeepaliveandrentabunk.IamtheonlyonewithoutChristmasinallHongKong.PleasetellmeifIshouldgobackthemainland."

    Sidebysidewithharrowingescapeslikethis,thereisalotofwhatseemstobeneedlessandfool-hardytrafficofrefugeesgoingbackforvisits."We'vegrownpoorfromsendingparcels,"mylandladytoldmeoncewithalittlelaugh.Shenevercouldleaveoffexplainingwhytheyhadtotakeinalodger.Sheandherhusbandsetbothsetsofparentsandotherdependentsnoodles,poprice,preservedmeatsandherbs,sugar,soy,peanutoil,andsoapeachmonthandclothinginseason.OfonebrandofBritish-madechickencubes,hermother-in-lawhadwrittenecstatically:"Thesecubeshavesolvedalltheproblemsofourtwomealsaday."Thesugartheydissolvedinwateranddrankasatonic.Herbrother,inalaborcampforharboringafriendaccusedofbeingaNationalistspy,isstillabletowriteheraskingforpillsforhisailingkidneyandswollenlegs.Herbrother,inalaborcampforharboringafriendaccusedofbeingaNationalistspy,isstillabletowriteheraskingforpillsforhisailingkidneyandswollenlegs.Heryoungersisterisdoctorassignedtoworkinthecountry."Shehastogooutonsickcallsatnight,whereit'spitchdarkandthegroundisunevenandshe'safraidofsnakes.Youknowhowyounggirlsare,"shesaid,justassheapologizedforherdaughtersmonopolizingthebathroom:"Youknowhowyounggirlsare."

    Iwastheretoseeagreatpacking.Thelandladyhadarelativegoingback--awomaninherseventies--whocouldtakethingsinforthem.Thelandlady'shusbandwrestledwithloadsandropesalloverthekitchenfloor.Shebakedacakeandmadestewedpork.

    "Theycanusethepottoo,"shesaid.

    "HowisonetocarryapotofstewedporkallthewaytoShanghai?"

    "Itwillbefrozen;thetrainisarefrigerator."

    Shegotupatdawntoseetheoldladyoff,andshehadtogoalonetohelpcarrytheluggagepasttheinspectionsattheLohuborder.Thenextdayshecriedoutwhenshecameuponme:"Ha-ya,MissChang!Ialmostdidn'tcomeback."

    "Butwhathappened?"

    "Huh-yee-ya!Tobeginwith,therewerealtogethertoomanythings.Theoldlady'sfault,too---shehadsomanythingsofherown.Oildrums,cratesofsaltedfish,wholecartonsofcans.Clothes,bedding,potsandpans,enoughtofurnishahouse.Thecustomsmanwaslosinghistemper.Thenhecameuponsomechangeinherpurse,twenty,thirtycentsofJenMingPiaoshehadwithherwhenshecameoutlasttimeandforgottogetridof.You'renotsupposedtotakeCommunistmoneyin,soallhellbrokeloose.'Wheredidthiscomefrom?Ha?'And'Whatdoyoumeanbythis?Ha?'Turnedonmenow:'Whoareyou?AH?'"Mylandladyscrewedupherslant-eyedbabefacetoroaroutthe"Ahs"and"Has"."Ai-ya?aIsaidIknewnothingaboutthis,Ijustcametoseeheroff,butallthetimeIwasworriedtodeath."Shefrownedandcluckedwithannoyanceanddroppedhervoicetoawhisper."Thisoldladyhaddozensofnylonstockingssewninsideherthickpaddedgown."

    "Tosell?"Iasked.

    "No,justtogiveaspresents;womenweartheminsidetheirslacks."

    "Butwhy?Whentheycan'tevenbeseen?"Andwithallthehungerweheardwasaround,Ithought.

    "Notfull-lengthones."Thelandladygesturedtowardhercalves."Forthewivesofofficials.Shelikestobringeverybodysomething.Verycapableoldlady.SheimportsmoviesmadeinHongKong.Whatdoesshewantsomuchmoneyfor?Ha?Seventyandnochildren?Ha?"

    Irememberedcomingouttenyearsago,walkingthelaststretchacrosstheLohuBridgewithitsroughwoodfloorclosedinonbothsidesbyguardhousesandfences.AgroupofusstoodwaitingaftertheHongKongpoliceontheothersideofthebarbedwirehadtakenourpapersawaytobestudied.Theytookalongtimeoverit.Itwasmidsummer.TheHongKongpoliceman,aleantallCantonesewithmonstrousdarkglasses,lookedcoolandarrogantashepacedaroundinhisuniformandshorts,smartlybeltedandcreased.BesideusstoodtheCommunistsentry,around-cheekednorthcountryboyinrumpledbaggyuniform.Afteranhourinthehotsuntheyoungsoldiermutteredangrily,speakingforthefirsttime,"Thesepeople!Keepyououthereinthisheat.Gostandintheshade."Hejerkedhisheadatthepatchofshadealittledistanceback.Butnoneofuswouldlookathim.Wejustsmiledslightly,pressingclosetothewirefenceasifafraidtobeleftout.Still,foramomentIfeltthewarmthofracewashovermeforthelasttime.

    ThatfatefulbridgehasoftenbeencomparedtotheNaihoBridgebetweentherealmsofthelivingandthedead.Likemostclich?,itistruewhenyouexperienceityourself.Itmakesmeimpatienttohearwesternersquibbleaboutthefreeworldnotbeingreallyfree.Toobadthatmanyofushavetogobackoverthebridgewhenwecan'tmakealivingoutside.

    IhaveanauntwhohasstayedinShanghaibecauseshecouldnotleavehernewhouse.Herson,justoutofcollege,joinedhisfatherinHongKongbutdidnotlikeitthere.Hewentbackin1952,justwhenIwasabouttoleave.HismothertookhimtohavehisfortunetoldoneeveningandIwentalong.Hewouldfindajobsoon,thefortunetellersaid.Buttheremightbetrouble.Hemightgotoprison.Thepredictionsoundedreasonableatthetime,withamovementonagainstbusinessmenandmanysuicidesandarrests.Theyoungishfortunetellerlookedlikeashopassistantinhisgabardinegown.IhadnoconfidenceinhimandresolutelyavoidedhiseyealthoughIneededbadlytohavemyownfortunetold.

    MycousingotasmalljobinPekingaspredicted.Lifewashard,hewrotehismother.Getmarried,hismotherwroteback.It'stheonlywaytohavesomehappiness.Buthewasaquietboy,slowtomakeuphismind.TenyearslaterwhenIsawhisfatherinHongKongthistime,Iheardthesonhadwantedtogetoutagain.Checkinghisapplicationforpermittoleave,theauthoritiesseizedonthefactthathehadoncejoinedaNationalistgroupincollege.Hewassentencedtothreeyears'housearrestinhismother'smodernisticmansion,whichtheytooktheopportunitytosearch,probingthesofasforAmericandollars.Hehasallcomforts,evenservantstostandinlineforthedailyrations.ButthreeyearswithMotherisevidentlyconsideredenoughpunishment.

    Iheardaboutmymother'sfamilyfromonofmyuncle'smarrieddaughters,theonlyoneout.Theothertwostayedinbecausetheirhusbands,adoctorandthesonofahighNationalistofficial,chosetostay.Oneofthesistershaddied.

    "Sodidmybrother'swife,"saidmycousininHongKong."Andbothmenremarriedbeforetheirwives'boneswerecold.Fatherdiedofcancerafterlosingeverythinginthelandreform.MotheriswretchedlivingwithBrother.Hedoesn'tearnenoughandhisnewwifeisashrew.WeHuangsarefinished."

    Lookingback,Isawhowmyfamilyandrelativeshadallbeentaughtbyourancestorstohangontoland,theonlycleanandsolidthing,bycomparisontowhichallotherpossessionsareshowy,immoral,thereforeimpermanent.Nomatterwhatfoolsone'schildrenwere,aslongastheydidnotslaplanddeedsonagamblingtabletheyweresafe.Despiteancestraladmonitions,intimeofcoursealltheirdescendantstriedtheirhandsatotherinvestmentsforbetterandquickerprofits.Manysoonfoundtheywerenotcleverenoughandresignedthemselvestotheyearlyincomefromtheland?acutdownbywars,famines,inflations?aandgrewpoorerandpoorer.TheCommunistsmerelyhastenedtheend.

    NooneIknowisinacommuneorknowsanybodywhoisinone,withtheexceptionofaCantoneseamahwhowentbacktosweepthegravesthisspring.Herfamilybelongstothevillagecommune.Itisstillthefarmers,alwaystheworstoff,whoaregettingtheworstofit.Havingheardofthefoodshortage,theamahbroughtinabitofcookingoilandsaltedfishofherownuse.

    Whenshearrivedforatwentydayvisit,thecommuneallowedhertobuyalargequantityofriceandsmallquantitiesofcookingoilandporkasaspecialfavor.Theporkwasdividedamongherfamilyandneighborsbecausetheyhadnottastedmeatallyear.Sowenthersaltedfish.Herlasttendaysthereshelivedonsnailsthatalittlegirlgatheredforherfromapond.

    Therewasnocommunitydininghall.Everybodyqueuedupwithcanstogetthericeandwhatwentwithit,servedthroughtwoholesduginthekennel-sizedtempleoftheearthgod.Whentheygothomethefoodwascold,ofcourse.

    Everydayatfourinthemorningamanbeatagongtosummoneverybodytothefields.Breakfastatnine.Workatten.Lunchattwelve.Workagainatone.Supperatsix.Workagainatseven.Butnotinthefieldsthistime?ausuallyitwascarryingcoalormud.Quitattenatnight.Sometimes"leapforward"totwelvemidnight.NoSundaysorholidays,onlyafewdaysoffattheNewYear.Thisdespitetheslogan"Letthefarmersrest."WagesvariedfromadollarsomethingtofiftyorsixtycentsJenMingPiaoamonth.Medicineshadbeenfreebutnowyoubuyyourown.Herddoctorswereavailablebutherbsarescarce.

    WeChinesehavealwaysbeenatourbestwithinarigidframe,eveninpoetrywriting.It'swhenwearemosthemmedinthatweseemabletoriseaboveourselves.Aftertwentycenturiesofrulebythefamilywehavebeenfreeforperhapstwentyyears,andithasnotbeenapleasanttimeformanyofus,fullofconflictsandself-doubts.Nowthestatehastakentheplaceofthebigfamily,comingintoeverymomentandaspectoflifewithitsfamiliarpersuasivepressure.Thesheephasreturnedtothefold.Evenhungercanfeelright?auptoapoint.

    ThosewholivenearMacaoswimamileorescapebysampaninbandssometimesasbigasahundred,fightingthemachinegunsofpursuinmotorboatswithsharpenedbamboopoles.Buttheywillnotstayputandfight.ThetroublewithusChineseisthatwearetoosensible.SixtythousandcrashedthelandbordertoHongKonglastMay.Theborderguardswhohadshotatsmallernumbersevidentlyheldbackbecausethecrowdsweretoobig,thegovernmenthavingalwaysavoidedmassacresifpossible.Afterthisthecommunesweremodifiedbutnotabandoned.ThereisalreadytalknowoftheirbeingrevivedintheareaaroundCanton.

    Advancetwosteps,retreatsastep?aMaoTse-tunghassaidthisishiswayofmakingprogress.Whetherdanceormarch,thepeopledragon,hopingtooutlivetheirtormentors.

      (1963)

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