Writing Chinese

Wedding in Autumn 秋天的婚礼

Translated by Darryl Sterk and reprinted by kind permission of Balestier Press.

阿汝是道班房里的姑娘,她在消失了好一阵子后回来,并且还带了两个人,一个是未婚夫,一个是未出世的孩子。阿汝大肚子的模样我还未见识到,无法揣测是尖形或圆形,会生男孩或者女孩,不过,我倒先见识到了女人子宫的反覆无常,就像女人的脾气一样。

Ah Ju’s back! Ah Ju’s the girl from the road crew dormitory. That’s what we all call her, because that’s where she grew up. Ah Ju disappeared for a quite a while, but now she’s back, and she’s brought two people with her: her fiancé, and her unborn child. I haven’t seen whether her pregnant belly is protuberant or round, so I don’t know whether she’ll have a boy or a girl. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that women are unpredictable; and if there’s one thing I have seen, it’s that the source of a woman’s temper is her womb.

阿汝的婚礼选在十月。十月的婚礼特别多,十月的喜帖喜气洋洋的像十月的旗海到处张扬,十月很特别,武昌起义选在这月,台湾光复选在这月,蒋公诞辰在这月,有情人也特别喜欢选择这月结成眷属。我想,十月可是各式红色染出来的,随风飘扬的国旗是庄严红的,夜间绽放的烟火是灿烂红的,十月新娘的唇脂、蔻丹是喜气红的,一张张从天而降的帖子炸弹是恼人红的,我还看过一种红,浓稠黏腻有生命,在灼热灸人的沙地上颤抖呼救,自阿汝的体内汩汩流出,带着闷腥的气味,攀爬在木麻黄枯干的落叶上,求救似地向我延伸而来,却远不及我离开的脚步,而迅速渗入被落叶覆盖的沙地里,焦急的停止了呼吸。

They’ve chosen to hold Ah Ju’s wedding in October. Taiwanese folks sure do like October weddings. My family gets quite a number of invitations every October. The festive designs on the invitations remind me of all the national flags flapping on every street corner at this time of year. October is a special month. The Wuchang Uprising was launched in October. Taiwan was returned to Chinese rule in October. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was born in October, too. No surprise that lovers like to tie the knot in October. To me, it’s almost like October is dyed different shades of red. Our national flag is a dignified red. The fireworks display set off at night on the 10th of October is a dazzling red. The color of the Cutex makeup October brides apply to their lips and nails is a cheerful red. The wedding invitations that bombard us in October are an irksome red. And I have seen another shade of red – thick and sticky and vital, throbbing imploringly, stiflingly raw on the scorching sandy ground. It gurgled out of Ah Ju’s groin, scaled the fallen leaves of the horsetail she-oak trees, spread beseechingly towards me, but soon seeped into the sandy ground beneath, drawing a final panicky breath as I turned tail and ran.

若不是看过这样吓人自闭的一种红,我想我会比较爽快答应父亲代喝阿汝的喜酒,虽然我代父喝喜酒的纪录也不怎么风光。

If I hadn’t seen that shudder-inducing shade of red, I think I would have replied more eagerly when my dad asked me to go attend Ah Ju’s wedding on his behalf. Actually, I don’t mind attending wedding receptions at all, for my own not altogether honorable reasons.

阿汝结婚当天,我家有三处喜帖,我爸说他可赶地缘相近的两场,那离家近的,道班房姑娘阿汝的婚礼就你去喽。我爸不擅长用命令的口吻,他说家里已有一个法西斯大娘,所以他永远要扮笑脸,但他若再法西斯些,其实我的不情不愿会更彰显,他总说,菜不合口味啦,别人一天到晚敬酒没吃饱啦,喝了酒头晕啦,胃大爷消化不良啦,没去人家要说话……,我不想听他一长串的抱怨,所以在他面对红帖子自言自语的低调抱怨尚未结束时,便通常会说:“好吧!那我去。”

My family has three weddings to attend on the same day. There my father stood, looking down at a pile of October wedding invitations. He could make it, he said, to the two banquets that are close by, so: “Why don’t you attend the girl from the road crew dormitory’s reception on our behalf?” My dad isn’t too good at giving orders. He says we already have one Fascist in the family, which is why he’s always been Mr. Nice Guy, even though he’s a local official, a County Councilor. But if he’d actually ordered me to go, I might have refused him outright. What Dad is good at is whining: “They never have anything I feel like eating. Not that I ever get the chance to eat with all the toasting. I always get woozy when I drink, and my finicky stomach will act up for days afterward. But if I don’t go folks will say I’m…” Tired of listening to his litany of muttered complaints, I just cut him off in mid-sentence: “Alright! I’ll go!”

其实,我没有这么厌恶参加婚礼宴席,你知道有时候是有油水可捞的,礼金的多寡往往决定我揩油的多寡,当然,若是千元大钞就困难了些,我得要先把它换成伍佰与佰元大钞,才可能从中抽几张塞到我裤包里。这事神不知、鬼不觉,反正我家不请客,我爸说受帖子害太深,所以以后儿女结婚力求简约,我这仇既报不了,就在礼金上报,可我母亲不知打哪儿听来了这回事,“我看其他议员一律送匾额,这又省钱,结婚人家又喜欢,我们干脆也改送匾额算了。”然后,我就没了油水揩,倒是抱着一幅幅的匾额往喜事家里送,但奇怪喜庆人家反倒更在乎这匾额胜于礼金,吆喝并簇拥着我与匾额道:“挂上去!挂上去!议员公子呵。”

Actually, just like I said, I don’t much mind attending wedding banquets. There’s often something in it for me, you know: I get a piece of the action. Of course, if it’s a thousand dollar bill, it’s more complicated. I have to break it into 500s and 100s so I can pocket part of the sum. Nobody’ll know, and what they don’t know won’t hurt them. In any case, my family isn’t going to hold a banquet when me and my sister get married (you know what I mean): my dad says he doesn’t want to inflict the obligation of the red envelope on anyone, so we’ll just keep things simple. Which means we’re never going to get even with all the folks that invited us to their wedding banquets. I figure that by stealing a few bills from the red envelope I can reduce the pain, keep part of the money in the family. But then one time my mother got it into her head to give a plaque instead: “Your colleagues on the County Council give wooden plaques with auspicious idioms on them. It saves money, and the family likes it. Why don’t we just do that?” That time there was no proverbial oil for me to skim. I had to go to the ceremony carrying this plaque. But, strange to say, my mom was right: the family made more of a fuss over the plaque than anyone had ever done over a red envelope. They gathered round me and the plaque and hollered: “Hang it up! Hang it up! Councilor’s son!”

阿汝的婚礼选在秋天举行,奇怪阿汝为何大腹便便才请人喝喜酒?我母亲说她与夫婿早住在一起了,可我觉得奇怪,阿汝不在早些年就成了不会下蛋的母鸡吗,怎么这回又有了?!

So they’ve chosen to hold Ah Ju’s wedding in autumn. Strange that Ah Ju would wait until she was big with child before getting hitched. My mother said that her and her fiancé have been living together, but I still think it’s strange. Especially since I assumed she was the hen that would never lay eggs again. How’s she managed to get herself pregnant again?

阿汝无法生育一事,我在多年前刚上完健康教育第十四章时知道。那是一个初秋的清晨,我在鸡啼声与家里猎狗狼狗的汪汪吠声中醒来,阿汝拎着一只大公鸡,牵着她失明的父亲朱二伯来,这公鸡给倒拎在阿汝手上,翅膀大开死命做挣扎,抖落了一室鸡毛飘浮在我家客厅,牠咯咯咯怪叫惹的我家猎狗丁丁龇牙咧嘴盯着牠也怪叫。

I decided Ah Ju’s womb would be forever barren when we were reading Chapter 14 in health education class. It was a morning in early autumn. I’d woken up to the sound of a rooster crowing and our hunting dog and wolfhound barking. Ah Ju was carrying a big rooster by the feet and leading her blind father, Uncle Chu, by the arm. The bird spread its wings wide, struggling upside-down in Ah Ju’s clutches and leaving a roomful of feathers floating in the air. Our hunting dog Ding Ding found its weird clucking less than euphonious, bared his teeth and growled after his own strange fashion.

“议员兄,这是送你的。”朱二伯拄着拐示意阿汝把大肥鸡仔交给我母亲,“自己养的,是纯种土鸡。”

“Cownsler, this heeere’s fer you.” Supporting himself on his cane, Uncle Chu motioned for Ah Ju to give the fat rooster to my mother. “We raised ‘im ussselves. He’s a jenuwine Tah-wan rooster.”

我从被窝里坐起,将脸贴在门缝边。阿汝穿了一件白底黑点有腰带子的洋装,看起来憔悴极了,她的一双单眼皮眼睛因为浮肿的厉害,显得更加细小,阿汝八成又怀孕了,人家说怀孕的女人是一生中最美丽的时候,但阿汝怀孕却只变得更加憔悴,而且她家的鸡只每因她怀孕一次就要往我家送一只,这只已经是第三只了,朱二伯一脸忧戚:

I sat up under the covers and peeked through the crack in the door. Ah Ju was wearing a belted white dress with black polka dots. She looked haggard. Her eyes were all puffy, looking even smaller than they usually did. I bet she was pregnant again. Folks say that a pregnant lady is the most beautiful she’ll ever be in her life, but Ah Ju just seemed emaciated. And her family had to give us a chicken every time she had a bun in the oven. This was the third one. Uncle Chu looked really worried.

“我还是要她结婚啦,医生说再拿一次就不会再生啰。”

“I still want ‘er to wed. Doctor says, if shay has another one taken out shay’ll never have a baby again.”

“是那个阿兵哥吗?驻海防的。”

“Is it the boy in coastal defense again?” asked my mother, using the Taiwanese idiom for the coast guard.

“就是啊!他不要我们阿汝也就算了,还这样糟塌她,真是歹命啊!”阿汝头垂的低低地,看不出脸上的表情,就算她抬起头来,八成还是没表情,两眼茫然甚至有些呆滞,这是阿汝一张饼子脸的特有标志。

“That’s the one! It’ll be the end of me. He doesn’t have to want our Ah Ju, but does he have to spoil ‘er like this?” Ah Ju just stood there, hanging her head. I couldn’t see the look on her flat face. She was probably expressionless, actually, her eyes dazed or even a bit dull. Expressionless was about the only expression Ah Ju ever wore.

“就是住西部那个,跟上次同样的那个吗?”我父亲将脸朝向我妈,想确定把阿汝肚子弄大的是否是同一人,“他结婚意愿怎么样啊?”我父亲问。

“Are you talking about the boy from the west coast? The same one as before?” my father asked, looking at my mom – Dad doesn’t understand Taiwanese too well (he grew up in China). “Is he willing to do the honorable thing?”

“还不是相款,伊说伊做兵无钱娶某啦!”

“Same old excuse. He says he’s just a poor private recruit, with not a penny to his name.”

“啊!什么?”我母亲翻译并重复一次后,我父亲又问,“那他家里怎么说呢?”

“What did he say?” said my dad. My mom translated from Taiwanese to Mandarin and my dad asked: “Then what does his family say?”

“说没在管伊,也无钱给伊娶某啦!”

“They say he’s his own man, and that they can’t afford for him to take a wife!” said Uncle Chu.

阿汝曾经是个笨头笨脑的女人,肚子给弄大了几次,却没一个男人愿意娶她,朱二伯只好挨在她屁股后面替她擦屁股,守着十几年道班房修路得来的退休老本,等着给阿汝挑个好夫婿,虽然阿汝不过是个养女。朱二伯为了阿汝肚子大的丑事来找我父亲做协调好几次,大家也已习惯了阿汝的蠢事,“唉,阿汝啊──真是的!”她很轻易的就可获得大家的摇头惋惜,而我家敏特是比较激动的一个,她老在听闻了阿汝的每一项蠢事后,把双手摊在胸前,然后握紧拳头,咬牙切齿的说:

Ah Ju was a bit of a dolt to begin with, and now she’d gotten knocked up a few times without ever finding a man who wanted to marry her. All Uncle Chu could do was stand behind her, and help her clean up her mess. He was living off of his savings from a dozen years in the road crew and waiting for Ah Ju to find a good man, even though she was just an adopted daughter he’d purchased from a poor family. Uncle Chu had come to my father to ask him to mediate several times on account of the scandal of Ah Ju’s inflamed womb. Everyone was used to Ah Ju’s blunders. “Yeah! That’s Ah Ju for you!” folks would say, shaking their heads. A few folks got quite worked up over Ah Ju, no one more than Miss Sensitive, my elder sister Min-teh. Every time Min-teh heard about Ah Ju’s exploits she would clench her arms in front of her chest, grind her teeth and say:

“阿汝的脑袋瓜到那儿去了?”

“Has Ah Ju lost every brain cell she ever had?!”

我家敏特为什么那么激动,我不晓得,就好比我不懂她为什么热血沸腾的去参加什么“救援雏妓”游行,我想,她可能搞错,把阿汝当成妓女了,可是不是这么一回事,阿汝是出于自愿的,她非但不收钱,还应该给钱。

I couldn’t understand why Min-teh got so upset. It reminded me of how she sounded talking about taking part in the Child Prostitute Rescue Parade up in Taipei. I think maybe she’d gotten the wrong idea, and taken Ah Ju for a whore. It wasn’t like that at all. Ah Ju was willing, alright. She didn’t take money; heck, it looked like she wanted it so bad maybe she should have had to pay for it.

阿汝与我姐敏特曾经是小学同学,同样二十岁出头,我姐敏特现在已经出国留学,而阿汝却历经沧桑,拿了几次孩子,也给男人甩了好几次,现在肚子又大了,总算准备结婚。人的际遇可以相差上十万八千里,在我这般年纪,就已经体会到了。

Ah Ju and Min-teh used to be elementary classmates, and now they’re both in their early twenties. Min-teh has gone abroad to study, while Ah Ju’s had a hard life: she got knocked up and dumped several times, and here she is pregnant again and about to get married. People’s fates really are thousands of miles apart, even when they grow up in the same place. I never realized that before; I guess I’m growing up.

阿汝后来与猪哥兵的事不了了之,也不知哪来的勇气,可就真的远走他乡了好一阵子,听说这次回来,人变得精明亮丽许多,非但听懂了别人糗她的话,还能变本加厉糗回去呢!不过,为何大腹便便才结婚这个疑问,也因阿汝人变精明了,以致没有人敢当面问个究竟。

Later on the bad romance between Ah Ju and the swine of a coast guard recruit just fizzled out. God knows where she got the courage, but she went to the west coast for a while and I heard this trip home she’s gotten a lot more savvy and feisty. Now she understands how people talk dirt about her, and apparently she gives as good in return. But it’s still unclear to me and everyone else why she didn’t get married a few months back, when her belly wasn’t so big. It’s just that with Ah Ju being so savvy and all, nobody dares to ask.

阿汝几年前发生的蠢事,我后来回想起来,像电影中的情节迅速倒转,我发现自己一直扮演无意中打旁走过的角色,全剧里争取不到一句对白,阿汝是蠢剧中的女主角,她很称职的扮演了这个蠢角色,娱乐了他人,也愚弄了自己,而那时我实在太小,无法扮演男主角,惟一的一次机会,我也因为过于恐惧,在还来不及选择做角色的转换时,便惊惧,甚至嫌恶的落荒而逃。

The stupid things Ah Ju did back in the day seem in retrospect like a ridiculous movie played in reverse. Ah Ju was the heroine of the farce. Maybe “heroine” isn’t the right word. She was the one who made a fool of herself. At the time I was too young to play the role of the leading man, and I’ve come to realize I was always playing the same bit part. I never got a single line, and the only chance I had to change roles, I got stage fright. As I’ve already told you, I freaked out and fled the scene.

阿汝并不漂亮,她的外表就像早几年前那些笨头笨脑的事一样,不怎么愉悦人,但是前前后后倒有好几个男人,比村子里任何一个女孩都还要多,阿汝的最大优点是听话,她的话不多,表情也不多,可是你吩咐她的事,她“哦”一声后,转眼就给你办好,道班房里朱二伯修路的同事,麻将寮里的光棍大爹,甚至玩泥巴的小窝窝头,都习惯轻易的使唤她:

Ah Ju was never a pretty girl. Her appearance was like all those stupid things she did a few years back, less that appealing. But even so there’ve been quite a few men in her life, more than any other girl in the village. Back in the day, Ah Ju’s best quality was that she was obedient. She never talked much or showed her feelings, but if you told her to do something, she’d grunt and do it for you. Uncle Chu’s colleagues in the road crew, old geezers from the Mahjong Gazebo, and even little brats playing in the mud got into the habit of ordering her around:

“阿汝,帮我到杂货店买包香烟。”

“Ah Ju, go buy me a pack of cigarettes at the store.”

“阿汝,帮我提桶水。”

“Ah Ju, get me a pail of water.”

“阿汝,阿汝,我想吃棒棒糖,帮我买嘛!”

“Ah Ju, Ah Ju, I want a lollipop, go get one for me pretty pleeeeease!”

阿汝甚少说不,当然她不太说话也是一个原因,就使说话,声音卡在喉咙里一样含混不清,阿汝的脸蛋又尖又细,一双细长的单眼皮吊在饼子脸上,老像睡眠不足后的无精打采,当她开口说话时,薄薄的两片干嘴唇向外噘起,露出细小、排列不整并且呈现不规则形状的牙齿,她的声音就穿过这些过于疏漏的牙缝,更加含糊不清的到达他人耳际,一凑近听,很容易就能闻到一股青菜味(隔了夜的,塞在牙缝里的),从阿汝小小的口腔里传出。

Ah Ju rarely said no. Of course one reason was that she hardly said anything, and even when she spoke, she mumbled, like her voice was stuck in her throat. Ah Ju’s face was angular and thin, but also flat, and her slitty eyes were suspended in that flat face of hers. She always looked enervated, like she hadn’t slept enough. When she did speak, her thin dry lips would pout outward and expose two rows of narrow, uneven teeth, between which her voice sluiced indistinctly. If you edged closer to her tiny oral cavity to hear better, you might smell organic matter (stuck in the gaps between her teeth) rotting on her breath.

朱二伯因为白内障全瞎了之后,阿汝的话讲的比较多了…

But when Uncle Chu’s cataracts got so bad that he was basically blind, Ah Ju started talking more.

“脚抬高,走到旁边来。”

“Step up. Again. Good!”

“车子来了,把棍子给我,现在要上车。”

“Taxi’s here. Give me your cane. Get in.”

“嘴巴张开,今天的菜是吴郭鱼拌饭。”

“Open your mouth. Today it’s tilapia fish with rice.”

“注意,前面有一堆狗屎别踩到了。”

“Watch out! There’s a dog turd up ahead. Don’t step in it.”

朱二伯全盲的时间选的真好,就在阿汝小学毕业后的第一年,阿汝没再继续升学,成天料理朱二伯的生活起居,“阿汝是个听话的孩子。”那些看到阿汝牵着手持拐杖,一顿、一顿迟慢行走的朱二伯的人们,老远看到一老一少和着拐杖敲地的笃笃声行来的这对父女,便习惯不由自主的放下手边工作谈论起来,譬如朱二伯的可怜,存了那些积蓄有什么用,眼睛都瞎了,或者赞赏阿汝的孝行,对待朱二伯像亲生父亲。

Uncle Chu chose the right time to go blind, the first year after Ah Ju graduated from elementary school. Ah Ju didn’t continue to junior high, so she could spend the whole day taking care of old Uncle Chu. Ah Ju would hold his arm as he tap tapped his way along with his cane, like a daughter at her daddy’s side. Folks who saw them would drop whatever they were doing. Oh it’s too bad about Uncle Chu: What good has it done him to save all this money now that he’s too blind to see anything? Or they’d praise Ah Ju for being so filial, treating Uncle Chu like her own flesh and blood: “Ah Ju is an obedient child.”

在朱二伯渐渐习惯了盲人看不见的生活,并且懂得适时照顾自己后,阿汝到了阿桃姐开的杂货店里帮忙,这段期间,阿汝迅速长大,真的是迅速长大,你很难理解当时年幼的我(年幼这个字眼不好,也许你可以把我想像成少年郎),怎么会理解迅速长大这回事,当然我也是到这几年才慢慢搞懂,迅速长大的这个时期叫青春期,但是当时我的确被震惊了,这个迅速长大的事实在阿汝身上幻化成一种奇异的光芒,甚至氛围暧昧地展现,而这个难以掌握的情绪与变化,在我姐敏特身上看不到。知识使女人丧失了朦胧的美感,知识使女人的特质堕落成中性,而我姐敏特从小就是个小知识分子,我总是忘不了早晨六点钟匡匡当当的按闹钟声以及找眼镜发出的吵杂声,“Tom is my classmate, Eamon is my friend……”当我气急败坏被她反覆诵念并平板恼人的读书声吵醒(我很倒楣与她共有一个房间,她睡下铺,我睡上铺),她即便咬文嚼字起来:stupid嘛就是愚笨的意思,pig呢就是长的像阿忠这个样子。你说你说,我怎能从她身上捕捉到神秘的女性特质?!

After Uncle Chu grew accustomed to his blindness, and learned how to take care of himself, Ah Ju went to help at the sundry goods shop ‘Big Sis’ Ah Tao operated. Around that time Ah Ju changed fast. And I mean fast. You might find it hard to believe that I was too much of a kid (kid’s not the right word – I was older than a kid, but not quite a teenager) to know the significance of the sudden change that had come upon her. In the past few years, I have experienced a growth spurt myself, along with all the other changes that come with puberty. But at the time I was shocked: it seemed like someone had worked magic upon Ah Ju, giving her a strange, almost magical aura, a kind of provocative ambiance. It was a feeling I couldn’t imagine getting from my elder sister Min-teh. It was a kind of hazy beauty of which intellectual girls like Miss Sensitive are bereft. Intellect deprives women of their feminine qualities. And my elder sister has been an intellectual ever since she was a little girl. I’ll never forget how the alarm would ring at six o’clock every morning, time for her to get up, rummage around for her glasses, and then start reciting English sentence patterns: “Tom is my classmate, Eamon is my friend.” She’d wake me up with the sound of her chanting (I had the rotten luck of having to share a room with her: she slept on the bottom bunk, I on the top), and then enunciate: “‘Stupid’ means dumb. And ‘pig’ is what you look like if you look like Ah Chung.” Ah Chung is my name! Tell me, how was anyone supposed to see feminine mystery in a girl like that?

有一天,她没命似地在浴室里大叫,“妈──我的MC来了。”我姐敏特就爱自以为是,流血就流血啰,什么叫做MC?在我知道她屁股流血的秘密后,我无法克制自己像研究一件诡秘事物般的盯着她屁股看,我甚至疑惧她是否会因血流不止而随时昏死过去,尤其她的脸色持续多天的惨白泛青,没料到她居然发起火来,使劲他妈的垂死的力气,狠狠地朝我柔软的下腹部踢了一脚,并且口沫横飞的对我咆哮:

One day, she was in the bathroom wailing, “Mom! My MC has come.” Min-teh was such a know-it-all in those days. She was just bleeding, wasn’t she? Why’d she need to call it her Menstrual Cycle, like it was Science class or something? When I learned the secret, that she was bleeding from her behind, I couldn’t help staring, like it was some kind of paranormal phenomenon. Min-teh was so pale I even started worrying that she might pass out. So it took me completely by surprise when she blew up at me: she kicked me in the groin as hard as she could and shrieked:

“看什么看?!有什么好看?你别得意,过些时候你也一样,那叫做梦遗,梦遗你懂不懂?到时候你晚上睡觉要包尿布,包尿布的阿忠,走着瞧!”

“What are you looking at? Huh? Don’t be so smug. The same is in store for you. You know what a wet dream is? Pretty soon you’ll have to wear a diaper to bed. Can you imagine it? Ah Chung in a diaper! You wait and see!”

我痛的挨在地上打滚,感觉要断气似地如何挣扎也不说不出话来。我后来不禁怀疑,我十岁那年因疝气开的刀,就是在我还不懂事时,她趁我妈不注意,踢了我一脚,把我肠子给踢掉下来的。像我姐敏特这样稍稍蛮横,又爱放炮的女性人类,我想就我这般年纪,是很难理解神秘的女性特质有可能在她身上展现,而阿汝不一样,也比较笨些,这比较符合我所能理解的女性特质,至少她(?)们不会张牙舞爪得让我手忙脚乱,无从招架。

I was rolling around on the floor clutching my balls, unable to breathe. I can’t help wondering whether she was responsible for the hernia operation I had when I was ten. She used to kick me when Mom wasn’t looking. Had she kicked my guts through my abdominal wall? You get the idea: Min-teh was an ever so slightly imperious girl who threw temper tantrums. It was impossible to imagine a girl (or woman?) like that displaying feminine qualities. Ah Ju was different. She was a lot dumber. But she was feminine in a way I was more easily able to understand. Around her, at least, I never had to defend myself.

奥秘的女性特质在阿汝身上暧昧的展现。我站在阿桃杂货店百公尺外,都能嗅到勤快的阿汝、沉默的阿汝,细微的汗珠在她薄弱但俐落的手脚与身饇上流窜。初夏的微热风里,我打阿桃的杂货店走过,老听见阿桃对阿汝的吆喝,而阿汝一如往常不带情绪的反应:哦,哦。一篓篓的鸡蛋,可乐瓶子与木制箱子,阳光洒在放满了糖果罐子的摊子上,阿汝时常就站在摊子旁包槟榔,每当我打杂货店走过,总是闻到空气中带着一股潮湿温热的气味,是鸡蛋坏了,或者木箱子潮霉了,我不确定,后来我找了龙家阿马与钟家阿新一起来研究:

Ah Ju’s qualities were mysterious, but on full display. I could stand a few feet outside the sundry goods shop and smell her as she worked quietly and diligently inside, fine beads of sweat forming on her thin and nimble hands. In a warm breeze of early summer, I’d go walking past Ah Tao’s store and hear Ah Tao yelling at Ah Ju to do things, and Ah Ju responding woodenly: Mmmm. There were baskets of eggs, bottles of cola, and wooden crates, and the sun sprinkled down onto a display of candy jars. Ah Ju would often stand by that display wrapping betel nut, and every time I would smell hints of wet heat in the air. Were the eggs rotten? Was there mildew in the crates? I wasn’t sure. So I asked my buddies Ah Ma Lung and Ah Hsin Chung to help me figure it out.

“不就是女人的奶骚味吗!”阿马说。

“Smells like a bitch in heat!” Ah Ma said, sniffing.

“不,比较像狐臭味,狐臭味要浓些。”阿新边说边用鼻子嗅嗅,就迳朝杂货店大门拧着鼻子走去,结果给又圆又肥的阿桃给喝斥回来:“不买东西,就别在这撒野!”

“It’s basically B.O., but stronger. It means Ah Ju is a total skank!” said Ah Hsin, holding his nose as he walked toward the door of the shop, until big fat Ah Tao chewed him out: “Buy something or beat it, you little beast!”

我后来肯定这股气味从阿汝身上发出。初夏微热的风间歇性的从南方吹来,阿汝换上薄薄的洋装,淡蓝、粉红的浅色调,有浅咖啡色的污渍悄悄的印在上头,而阿汝的新长成形的乳蕾像两颗褐色的眼球凸立,悄悄的、秘密的、旁若无人的挂在她已褪了色并带有污渍的洋装上。我站在杂货店百公尺的街道上,总是可以清楚看到阿汝勤快的做活,她不说话,一天难得说几句话,而我隐约感到她其实用不同的方式与人对话,两颗吊挂在衣衫上若隐若现的眼球,那从身体不知何处部位散发出来的不甚文雅但又确实吸引你的气味。但是她在与谁对话呢?总不会是我吧!我想。

Soon I was sure that was Ah Ju’s smell. With the warmth of an early summer breeze, Ah Ju started wearing a pastel summer dress with coffee colored stains, and her newly budding breasts were like protuberant brown eyes, sticking out silently and secretly, insistently pendant in the chest of her faded dress. Standing outside, I could always hear Ah Ju working. She didn’t talk much. But I was vaguely conscious that she had her own way of communicating. With those two brown eyes. With that smell, that was none too elegant but nonetheless arresting, wafting from who knows what body part. But who was she communicating with? Can’t be me, I thought.

我后来知道了她在与谁对话。阿桃的小弟也到了杂货店,他的眼睛又黑又亮,脸蛋像可口的苹果派,他国中毕业后没事做,也到杂货店里帮忙,他长得很是俊美白皙,看起来又斯文又干净,每天穿着白色T恤与泛白的牛仔裤。我常搞不懂像他这样看起来冰雪聪明的人,怎么国中毕业后就不读了,就像我搞不懂像他这样一个好看的男生,怎么就这么容易的与阿汝这样的女生好起来?当然,起初是没有多少人知道这项秘密的,直到阿汝的肚皮隆起,大家的惊讶才像溃堤的河水宣泄开来。而我早知道这项秘密的。

Later I learned who it was. Ah Tao’s baby brother went to help out at the store, too. His eyes were dark and bright, and his face was like a tasty apple pie. He’d been at loose ends since graduating from junior high. He was handsome and fair, refined and clean. He wore a white T-shirt and washed out jeans every day. I couldn’t understand how a guy like that, so crisp and smart, would quit school after finishing junior high, or how someone so good-looking could click with a girl like Ah Ju. Everyone was so surprised when Ah Ju started showing, like a river bursting its banks. Everyone, that is, but me: I knew their secret.

阿弟嗅察到阿汝隐藏起来的秘密的对话方式,然后他伸出了他的手。阿弟真的伸出了他的手,那挽起袖口、有着细细软毛、年轻的青筋含蓄地被隐藏起来滴着汗珠的美丽手臂,窥察到了空气里隐而不张的对话,然后做了适时的呼应。我亲眼看到的,阿弟的手肘,原本干活的手肘,贴近阿汝胸前凸立的瞳眸,然后摩擦起来,像摩擦蓝宝石的摩擦起来,然后生了热,他们就退而到红色杂花的帘幕后面,温热的南风轻轻地吹来,装满货品的木架子旁的帘幕摇啊摇,它的角角婀娜多姿的摇曳起来,摇的阿汝怀了孕,而俊美的、羞怯的阿弟只有十六岁,他们结婚不呢?

Ah Tao’s kid brother’d smelled Ah Ju, too. He keened to her secret body language, and then he just reached out his hands. He really did. He rolled up his sleeves, revealing a shy fuzz on his comely, glistening arms, the veins concealed by youth. He sensed Ah Ju’s subtle monologue in the air of the shop, and made a timely response. I saw it with my own eyes. He’d been working around the shop, and then his hands settled on Ah Ju’s protuberant brown eyes and started petting them, or polishing them, like he was polishing a precious gem. All that polishing must have generated heat, because the two of them retreated behind the red curtain at the back of the store to cool off. The sultry southern breeze blew, and the corners of the curtain began to sway. They kept swaying until Ah Ju got pregnant. But that handsome, shy younger brother of Ah Tao’s was all of sixteen years of age. Should they get married or not?

阿弟后来走了,到陌生的城市学修水电去了,而阿汝留了下来,但还未成形的婴儿却不明所以的不见了,我想,这都是阿桃做的安排。

Ah Tao’s brother ended up leaving for the big city to learn to be an electrician or a plumber or something, while that unformed fetus in Ah Ju’s belly disappeared somehow. I think that must have been Ah Tao’s doing.

“阿汝看不出来是个母狗。”麻将寮的阿马在防风林里的大草坪上拄着他的棒球球棒,嚼着从他老爸那儿攒来的总统牌香烟对我与阿新说道,“还不是阿汝勾引阿弟的吗,阿弟这么帅的男人怎么会看上阿汝呢?”“你怎么知道阿汝勾引阿弟?”我无意替阿汝说话,我只是好奇粗线条的阿马是否同我一样发现了秘密,“你注意看阿汝的前胸就知道了。”“什么?”“你下次经过杂货店时,注意看阿汝的前胸,嘻嘻,哈哈,有两颗黑色的图钉挂在上面。”阿马与阿新互相交换了眼色又嘻嘻哈哈怪笑起来。

“Ah Ju really was in heat,” said Ah Ma, winding up his bat over the sandy pitch outside the coast guard, with one of his old man’s President brand cigarettes dangling from his mouth. “Ah Ju must have seduced Ah Di. How could such a handsome guy see anything in her?” “How do you know she seduced him?” I wasn’t trying to speak up for Ah Ju, just curious to know whether Ah Ma, who was usually so inattentive, had discovered the secret, too. “Take a look at her chest and you’ll see,” Ah Ma said. “What?” “Next time you pass the store, take a good look at her ta tas. There are two dark pegs just waiting for you to hang your hands on.” Ah Ma and Ah Hsin exchanged a look and sniggered.

阿汝仍留在杂货店帮忙。夏天走了,冬天来了,阿汝胸前凸立的瞳眸被厚重的衣裳包裹起来。冬天走了,夏天来了,阿汝胸前的瞳眸也像从冬眠中甦醒过来,重新散发更强烈的光芒。我想,阿马与阿新要重新想个名词来形容它,图钉显然已过小、过干瘪而不适用了。蘑菇。这是阿马与阿新又一发不可收拾并停止窃笑的另一名词,“你要不要吃蘑菇啊?阿忠,哦──哈哈哈。”蘑菇这个字眼好多了,它像远远的一座小山丘微微突起,有弹性,有肉感。

Ah Ju kept helping out around the store. Summer left and winter came and the two protuberant orbs on her chest were bundled up in a coat with cotton padding. Come spring, Ah Ju’s eyes seemed to open again after a long hibernation, shining more brightly than ever. I thought Ah Ma and Ah Hsin would have to think of a new word. A peg was too small, too thin. Mushroom? As soon as Ah Ma and Ah Hsin said it they couldn’t stop laughing. “Do you want some mushroom, Ah Chung?” Mushroom was much better. It was like a little mound in the distance, soft and plump.

阿汝仍旧沉默的、勤奋的在杂货店里干活,她总是很快的将顾客的要求办好,然后继续低下头包槟榔,总是有包不完的槟榔,卖不完的槟榔。当阿汝弯下身时,两个蘑菇轻轻的垂在洋装上,隆起的弧形更加彰显在阿汝的衣衫上,后来每次我妈买蘑菇煮蘑菇吃时,我总是无法抑制的缩在椅子上隐隐的笑。

Ah Ju was working in the sundry goods shop, in her usual diligent, quiet way. She’d always fulfill customer requests promptly, then continue to leaf the betel nut. When Ah Ju bent over, those two mushrooms of hers drooped gently upon the fabric of her dress, and the upside-down peak of each protuberance was even more pronounced. Next time my mom made mushrooms for dinner, I couldn’t help it: I curled up in my chair in silent mirth.

海防部队调来了一群新兵,采买的大头兵总是选择阿桃的杂货店耗上老半天,别家杂货店全是年老色衰的欧巴桑当家,他们自然选择虽不貌美但至少年轻的阿汝帮忙的杂货店做采买。我听说男人一当了兵,就全变成猪哥,这群做采买的猪哥老围着沉默的阿汝调笑,开一些很不好笑的黄色笑话,然后唏哩呼噜笑成一团,而阿汝多半微微地低垂着头,你不知道她究竟听不听这些脏笑话,因为她就是一贯微微笑着。猪哥兵们对她发出了许多邀约,阿汝不点头,也不说不,一个长有方正脸、蒜头鼻,脸上的毛细孔比猪皮还粗的猪哥兵哈拉拉笑说,“不说不就表示是吗!哪里约会好呢?”

It was right around then that the coast guard got a troop of raw recruits. The procurement sergeant chose Ah Tao’s shop, and would spend the longest time there with a team of recruits, because the proprietresses of the other shops were old and ugly. Ah Ju wasn’t exactly pretty, but at least she was young. I’d heard that when guys go into the military they turn into pigs. And the coast guard boys who helped buy supplies would surround Ah Ju and flirt with her and generally behave like beasts: they told dirty jokes that weren’t funny at all, and then laugh themselves silly, while Ah Ju would just hang her head and smile. You never knew whether she got the joke, because she was always smiling, no matter what. The recruits offered her lots of invitations, and she didn’t nod or say no. One square-faced fellow with a nose like a clove of garlic and skin like pig flesh laughed and said: “Not saying no means yes! Where’s a good place for a date around here?”

阿汝果真和那个方正脸、杀气腾腾的猪哥兵约起会来。我与阿马、阿新在海防部队旁的沙地上打棒球时,常看到工作完的阿汝倚正海防部队有一排尖玻璃片插上的围墙旁,等待她的情郎──猪哥兵里的大猪哥。猪哥兵从部队里出来的时候,总是大汗淋漓,穿着满是臭汗的白色汗衫与开叉开的很高的红短裤,伸过手挽住阿汝的细直腰肢往防风林里浓密的木麻黄树群走去,这时我们总是放下手边的游戏,很有默契的不发一语,注视阿汝与猪哥兵的身影,直到消失在木麻黄浓密的幽暗处,“阿汝是只发了情的母狗,母狗发了春,所以谁都要。”阿马像个智者庄严慎重的说。然后我们又继续手边才半场的游戏。不一会儿功夫,可能是半个钟头吧(我们三人没有一个人带表)!又看到猪哥兵与阿汝从林子里走出来,我们同样又放掉手边的游戏目视他们,有的时候,球便一时失去控制滚到猪哥兵粗壮、结实的双腿下:

Ah Ju actually started seeing the vicious swine. Ah Ma, Ah Hsin and me would be playing baseball on the sand by the coast guard barracks, and there was Ah Ju off work, leaning on the wall topped by glass shards, waiting for her lover, the biggest pig private of them all. He’d come out, sweating furiously and wearing a stinky white singlet and a pair of red shorts slit high. He’d reach out and take Ah Ju by her delicate waist and lead her into the horsetail she-oaks in the dense windbreak; then we’d put aside the game we were playing and follow them with our eyes until they disappeared into the depth and darkness of the grove. “When a bitch is in heat, she’ll do it with anyone,” said Ah Ma, with the solemnity of a wise man. (Do what? I thought.) Then we’d finish playing our game. After not so long, maybe half an hour (none of us had brought a watch), we’d see the private and Ah Ju come walking out of the grove, and we’d put our game aside another time to stare at them. Sometimes the ball would slide under the private’s thick and solid legs, and he would say:

“看什么看?!没看过啊?无人教使的囡囝,滚倒回去!”他说滚回去时,顺便也把我们的棒球丢过来,使我纳闷,他要我们的球滚回去呢,还是要我们滚回去。

“Whacha lookin at? Never seen it before? You little runts ain’t got no manners. Get rollin!” Or something like that. He’d toss our ball back over, and I was never sure if it was us he wanted to get rolling or the ball.

阿汝来海防部队的次数非常频繁,频繁的连阿马与阿新都累的不再讲图钉与蘑菇的笑话,常常我们虽然一边继续打球,一边却仍仔细聆听林子里阿汝与猪哥兵的动静,偶尔我们会听到猪哥兵本来就粗嘎难听的声音,这时更像发了疯的获野兽狂吼:

Ah Ju came to the coast guard really, really often, so often that Ah Ma and Ah Hsin got tired of telling the jokes about picture pegs or mushrooms. We’d keep playing ball, listening to what they were doing in the windbreak. Occasionally we’d hear the private shout like a crazed beast in that rough, ugly voice of his:

“干伊娘啊!给你死!给你死!”或者同样的语气不同的话语,“给你爽到死,给你爽到死!”

“Fuck yer mama! I’ll kill ya! See if I don’t!” Or, in a different tone of voice: “I’ll make ya cum! You’ll cum so hard!”

我不懂猪哥兵用这么难听言语来骂阿汝,为什么阿汝回也不回一句,我就想学阿马有时特帅,有时又像智者的口气说话:

I didn’t understand why the pig yelled at Ah Ju in such a nasty way, or why she never talked back. I wanted to sound cool or wise like Ah Ma when I said:

“起码阿汝可以回骂一句,『妈里个屌』,这绝对是个够狠够辣的好词,我爸妈就从不让我讲这句话。”我以为阿马与阿新会为了我难得说出的漂亮话喝采,可是没有,阿马将嘴巴伸到我的耳根旁,说,“阿忠,我告诉你一个秘密。”“什么秘密?”“阿忠,你必须知道,你是个不折不扣的笨蛋。”啊,笨蛋?

“At least Ah Ju should tell him: ‘Fuck yo Mama’s cunt!’ in return.” The C word was such a nasty word. It sure hadn’t been easy to say; my folks never let me use profanity. I thought Ah Ma and Ah Hsin would applaud my awesome insult, but they seemed unimpressed. Ah Ma put his mouth close to my ear and said: “Ah Chung, I’ll tell you a secret.” “What’s that?” “You’re a complete moron.” What? A moron?

我原先以为阿马与阿新不再讲图钉与蘑菇的笑话,是因为他们已经感到疲累,后来发现他们不知何时起竟累积了对阿汝的敌意,“阿汝实实在在是个贱人,众人骑,万人插。”“阿忠,以后不要到阿桃店里买东西,你不怕阿汝卖的东西吃了会拉肚子吗?”阿马与阿新语带尖酸的告诫我。而后每次放学回家,排路队经过阿桃的杂货店时,阿马与阿新会不约而同向地上啐一口痰,嘘道,“婊子”、“贱货”。但是,真等阿汝有难,他们又很有义气似地站出来讲话。

At first I assumed Ah Ma and Ah Hsin stopped telling jokes about pegs and mushrooms because they were tired of them, but then I discovered that at some point they’d turned against Ah Ju. “Ah Ju’s a ‘ho.’ Anyone can have his way with her. Anyone.” “Ah Chung, don’t buy stuff from Ah Tao’s store no more. Aren’t you worried about getting sick if you eat something Ah Ju’s touched?” Ah Ma and Ah Hsin warned me. Every day after school when the line passed by the store, Ah Ma and Ah Hsin would spit and say “Bitch!” “Slut!” But when Ah Ju was really in trouble, they stood up for her, and spoke up on her behalf.

那是一个火红的太阳即将陷入木麻黄树梢的傍晚,我们在班哨附近的沙地上玩吃晚饭前的最后一场球,下了班的阿汝依旧窝在围墙旁的柴火堆上,等那已经不太理她的猪哥兵悄郎,猪哥兵出来的时候还是那副凶残的、欠人揍的模样,他一见着阿汝就不耐烦的吆喝,“不是叫妳不要来,又来?!”他掉头走了几步,转过脸来,看见阿汝一点反应也没有,仍旧睁着那双细小的眼睛,灰濛濛地看着自己,更加火冒三丈:

The fiery red sun was sinking behind the tips of the she-oak trees. We were on the sandy ground near the gate to the coast guard barracks, playing our last game of ball before dinner. As usual, Ah Ju was off work, her ass tucked in a gap in the pile of firewood by the wall, waiting for her swinish lover, who didn’t pay her much attention anymore. He came out, his brutish face needing a bat to the head I thought, and as soon as he saw Ah Ju he lost his temper and said: “Didn’t Ah tell ya not to come round here no more?” He turned and walked a few steps, then looked back and saw Ah Ju hadn’t moved a muscle. She was still looking at him with a dazed expression in her tiny eyes. That pissed him off even more:

“啊妳是要怎样,我就跟妳讲过,不会跟妳结婚,妳到底是要怎样?!”

“Whaddya want? I told ya. I’m not going to marry ya. So what the fuck do ya want?”

阿汝一直没有反应,呆滞的望着猪哥兵的眼神似乎也看不出有任何的伤心,她蜷着腿蹲坐在枯干的柴火堆上,洋装的裙䙓覆盖着她细瘦的下半身,右手不停地将屁股下这些待燃的木麻黄枯干的树皮一片片剥下,然后无意识的丢到沙地上。

Ah Ju never replied, just stared woodenly at her swinish loverboy, with no sadness in her eyes. She squatted on the dry wood pile, the hem of her dress covering her skinny lower body, her right hand ceaselessly peeling the bark of the dried she-oak logs beneath her butt and tossing the peels on the sandy ground.

“滚倒回去,以后迈阁来烦我啊啦!”猪哥兵欲离开前,又说,“干伊娘,我岂会特衰!”并且从沙地里捡一小粗石子,又狠狠地掷回去。这时阿马不知哪来的勇气,居然走到比自己高大、壮硕数倍的猪哥兵跟前,仰着头说道,“喂,你不要以为我们东部人好欺负,随便让你踩在地上践踏,要滚,也是你滚回去!”

“Roll on home! Quit harassin’ me!” Before he got on his way, he added: “Fuck yer mama! Since when did my luck turn so bad?” Then he picked up a rock and tossed it at her. Who knows where he found the courage, but Ah Ma walked over and stood in front of the guy, who seemed many times bigger than he, looked up and said: “Hey! You think we easterners are easy to push around? You’re the one who should roll on home!”

“哦──呵──呵──呵,”猪哥兵阴阳怪气笑将起来,“看不出来,你人小鬼大,其实盖大条哦!”并且用右手食指顶在阿马脑袋瓜上,用力一推,就把阿马推向两公尺外,这回轮到阿新尖细、语带颤抖,但又宏亮异常的声音,说:“喂,西部来的,你,你不要臭屁,我爸爸打共匪时当过司令,我要他跟你们士官长讲,给,给你关禁闭。”

“Ho ho ho look who’s talking!” laughed the private in a creepy voice. “You talk pretty big for such a little guy. Must be a little big man!” Then he used his right index finger to push Ah Ma on the head, hard, several feet away. Then it was Ah Hsin’s turn to say in a high-pitched, trembling voice that was loud and clear: “Hey, you smelly westerner! My dad was a commander in the civil war. He fought the commies before you were even born. I’ll get him to tell your superiors what you’ve been up to. They’ll put you in solitary!”

我在一旁惊吓得说不出话来,尤其那个猪哥兵这种场面还能拚命呵呵大笑:

I was scared speechless, especially when the pig started laughing his head off.

“哈哈,呵呵,你爸爸要是当过司令,那我还当过中华民国的总统哟!哦──哈哈哈,没大没小的囡囝。”

“If yer daddy was a commander, then I was the President of the R.O.C. Ya little shit!”

阿马收拾散了一地的球棒、球套与球,便赌气般地对我与阿新说道,“走,我们回家去。”经过阿汝身边时,阿马朝地上呸了口气,并说声“婊子”,阿新也一样,“呸!婊子”阿新说。轮到我经过时,我望了望眼里一点神采也没有,手掌里沾满木渣碎屑的阿汝,什么话也没有说。其实,我真正想说的是,“回家啦,阿汝。”

Ah Ma gathered up the bat, gloves and balls and said: “Let’s go home.” When we passed by Ah Ju, Ah Ma petulantly spat on the ground and said: “Bitch!” Ah Hsin did the same. When it was my turn I took a look at Ah Ju, who was staring blankly, her hands covered in wood shavings. I didn’t say a thing. Actually, what I wanted to say was: “Come on home, Ah Ju.”

阿汝这次怀孕,没等肚皮隆起就先将孩子拿掉,经过这次事情,大家都以为,阿汝会开了窍,对猪哥兵死了心,但是没有,她仍旧下了班就到防风林外的班哨徘徊。拿过两次小孩的阿汝,透着一种早衰的沧桑,与她仍旧非常年轻的行为举止,有着怪异的冲突,例如:她的外貌像个对生命感觉疲惫的中年女人,尤其无精打采于她的容貌穿着,她的头发本就稀疏,用橡皮筋扎成一束后,总是残留一些长短不齐的发丝贴在颈子上,身上的洋装不是有污渍印在上头,就是拉链的齿链生了锈,裙角或袖角的车缝断了线头,但是她的行为举止,有时又无邪的像搞不懂世事的人。猪哥兵有时出来会她,有时不,她好像一天也没费心想过,今天见不见得到情郎,或者情郎对自己的态度究竟如何?似乎每天到岗哨外等待是一件例行公事。我就老看到她坐在柴火堆上无意识的几乎把枯干的树皮剥光,或者摇晃着双腿踢沙子,把脚底的沙子踢到旁边,形成个弧形优美的小小土丘。

This time Ah Ju didn’t wait until her belly got all swollen up before getting rid of it. And this time folks assumed Ah Ju would wise up, and give up on her brutish beau, but she didn’t. She kept coming to wait for him outside the gate by the windbreak after work. Having had two abortions, Ah Ju seemed headed for an early decline, which didn’t reconcile with her juvenile manner. She looked like a world-weary middle-aged woman. She didn’t take care of herself, didn’t dress up or make herself up. Her hair was thin to begin with, and when she tied it into a ponytail with an elastic band there were always stray wisps at the nape of her neck. Her dress was just old, stained, trailing loose threads, with a rusty zipper. But she acted so naïve, like she had no idea how the world works. The private would come out and see her, every once in a while, and it was like she’d never wondered whether or not she’d get to see her loverboy tonight, or what his attitude towards her actually was. Going to wait by the gate every day seemed part of her daily routine. I used to see her squatting on the pile of firewood absentmindedly pulling almost all the bark off the logs, or kicking the sand into a little pile, a pretty little hill.

猪哥兵出来会她时,好像也常常忘记曾经把阿汝肚子搞大这回事,在还未消失在林子里时,就迫不及待的把手伸进阿汝的衣服里。不过,他倒是不常忘记提醒阿汝不要再来烦他。

The private would come out and see her and promptly forget he’d ever knocked her up. He couldn’t wait to stick his hand up her shirt, and take her into the bushes. But when he was done he seldom forgot to remind Ah Ju not to come and bother him, ever again.

阿汝第三次怀孕,朱二伯照例又带了阿汝与猪哥兵到我家来做协调。阿汝怎能三番两次在短时间内不断怀孕,那是个让我参不透的道理,因为我没有子宫,阿汝的脸色因着怀孕次数的增多,变得愈来愈贫病、憔悴,我想,那是因为该吸收的养分全到子宫去了,女人的子宫绝对是个奇怪的地方,它孕育了新的生命,又将新的生命遗弃,这个样反反覆覆,有点像我姐敏特,前一分钟欢喜的要与我玩跳房子,后一分钟就拿水瓢敲我的脑袋,表明不与我玩了,但是没多久,她又说,“阿忠,过来,我们重新比赛。”

The third time she got pregnant, Uncle Chu brought Ah Ju and the private to our house to negotiate again. How could she keep getting pregnant in such a short time span? It was over my head, because I didn’t have a womb. Ah Ju’s complexion got more and more wan and pale on account of all the pregnancies, because her womb was sucking up all the sustenance she put into her body. Women’s wombs are strange places: they can nourish new life, and discharge it, over and over again. In that respect, a womb’s kind of like my big sister’s temper. One moment she’d say she wanted to play house hopscotch, the next minute she’d be whacking my head with the wooden spoon saying she’d never speak to me again. Soon she’d forget all about being angry and say: “Ah Chung, want to play again?”

他们几个人到我家来做协调几次,总是没什么皆大欢喜的结果,上一次,猪哥兵到底还是拿出了做手术的费用,但是他就是坚持不结婚,现在不能养孩子,他说:

Overall, nobody was satisfied with the result of the negotiation. Last time the pig had paid for the procedure in the end, but he was adamant he wasn’t going to marry her. He couldn’t raise a kid. He’d said:

“啊我也不是不想负责任,啊是我能负什么责任,我现在在做兵,没有办法工作,家里只有我老母一人,去哪里变钱出来养孩子?啊况且你们也不能全怪我,我早先就叫阿汝不要跟着我,跟着我一世人不会幸福,可是她都不听,还是拚命来找我啊!”

“Yeah it’s not like I don’t want to do what’s right. But how can I, eh? I’m in the coast guard now. I can’t work. My old mama’s the only family I got. Where am I s’posed to get money to support a child? And you can’t blame it all on me. I told Ah Ju not to come round no more, I told her no girl who’s sweet on me is ever going to be happy, but did she listen? She kept on coming to see me, every chance she got!”

阿马说,猪哥兵当然不会娶阿汝,阿汝是只破鞋,谁会要她?医生说,阿汝这次再拿孩子,以后大概就无法生育了,听说还斥责了阿汝一番,怎么拿孩子拿成了习惯?!

Ah Ma said: “No surprise he wouldn’t marry Ah Ju. Ah Ju’s a broken shoe. Who’d want her? The doctor said, ‘If Ah Ju has this abortion, she’ll probably never bear a child again.’ I heard the doctor even chewed Ah Ju out. ‘How could you make a habit of having abortions?!’”

接下来我要告诉你的不仅是阿汝肚子里孩子的去向,也是为何我不太情愿去参加阿汝婚礼的原因。

Now I’ve got to tell you what happened to the baby in her belly, which happens to be the reason why I don’t want to go to Ah Ju’s wedding reception.

阿汝仍旧到岗哨外守候。我们居住的村子到海防部队还有一小段距离,必须穿过防风林,循着一条小径才能到达。那天,我像往常一样,带着我的球棒与球套准备到岗哨外的沙地上打球,阳光从木麻黄枝叶缝隙里筛漏下来,奇怪,十月的阳光仍旧能把沙地烤的火热,烫着我着拖鞋的脚板,有风吹过,就是十月的秋天的风,温温的,属于这个岛国东南部的,远不及沙地的炙热。发现地上黏液般红黑的血块零星附着,就是为了躲避沙地上接受太阳的直射面,就血块的腥臭而言,我断定又是我家狼狗、猎狗出来耍狠撒野了,你知道我家的这些狗畜牲们前八辈子便与鸡只结下梁子,每回解下牠们的狗链子,就恶狠狠的追着我家公鸡母鸡喔喔叫,有些惨的就在防风林里因为痴肥的飞不起来而命丧黄泉,致命伤全一样,鸡脖子给咬成六分断,我们常常就循着血迹找到惨死的鸡尸。

Ah Ju continued to make the hike from the village to the gate. And there she would wait. That evening, as usual, I took my bat and mitt and was on my way to hit the ball on the sandy pitch. As I made my way through the windbreak, the setting sun was getting sieved through the foliage of the horsetail she-oaks. Funny that the sun in October could scorch the sand just as well as in summer, burning the bottoms of my flip-flops. A warm wind of autumn was blowing, still too warm to cool the sand down, a wind which would only blow in the southwestern corner of the island. But what I saw in the windbreak that day was anything but typical: on the sand, scattered all around, were ruddy clots of bloody mucus, hot on the sand, raw under the sun. The smell reminded me of this one time when we let Ding Ding off his chain. He barked ferociously, and chased the chickens around the yard. One of those chickens, too fat to fly, met a terrible fate: Ding Ding snapped its neck, and carried it away, then came home, tail between his legs. I followed the droplets of blood all the way to the windbreak.

可这回循着血迹我没找到鸡尸,却发现颓坐在沙地血泊中的阿汝,吓,一大摊血,阿汝的屁股流血了,像我姐敏特一样,可阿汝流的血真多,沾的裙角、腿子上都是,还透着一股腥臭气味,阿汝一手抱着肚子,一手撑在沙地上,我看到阿汝的手背、指甲上也沾满了细沙与血渍,阿汝痛吗?──可能。她的一张饼子脸给纠结的扭曲变形起来,一双原本就细小的眼睛更是起了许多皱褶眯成一条细缝,我家敏特屁股流血时,也曾这么痛过,窝在床上打滚,并且又哭又叫,不过,她沾在衣服上的血顶多一小块,大部份的血都包在靠得住里,丢到厕所垃圾桶,而阿汝的血就流的多了。

This time the trail of blood didn’t lead to a dead chicken but to Ah Ju, who was sitting there miserably in a pool of her own blood. It was gruesome! Ah Ju was bleeding from her butt, like my sister Min-teh. But there was a huge amount of blood, and I mean huge. It was all over Ah Ju’s skirt and legs, and it gave off a raw stench. She was holding her tummy with one hand, and supporting herself on the sand with the other. Her hands and fingernails were covered in fine sand and blood stains. Was she in pain? It was certainly possible. Her flat face was contorted, and her eyes were scrunched into slits. Min-teh sure hurt when she bled from her butt. She used to hole herself up in bed and roll around and cry, even when there were just a few small splotches of blood on her clothes. Most of the blood was absorbed by her Dependable tampons, which she used to toss in the bin in the bathroom. By contrast, Ah Ju was covered in gore.

我停下脚步望阿汝,她又将头低垂着,并且弓起背来,我之前忘了告诉你,关于她的胸部,已经长成疏松柔软的荷包蛋,女体奥秘的氛围此刻又开始展现,我从来不知道女人的体内可以流出大量的血,我想我给震慑住了。这是后来几年面对挥之不去的罪恶感,我比较能自我开释的一种说法。除了震慑之外,还有三种心态是我还能依稀记得的。

I stopped and stared. Ah Ju’s head was hanging, and her back was bowed. I forgot to tell you about her chest. Her mushrooms had morphed into jiggly, soft-cooked eggs, sunny side up, the latest display of her secret fleshy ambiance, but I never knew that much blood could flow out of a woman’s body. I was stunned. “Stunned” has been my excuse, my attempt to release myself from a sense of guilt that has haunted me ever since. In addition to being stunned, I recall three other impressions.

“脏”,女人的经血是身体新陈代谢的秽物,而这秽物爬满了阿汝早就不洁净的身体,我有难以言喻的飘移的嫌恶。

First, “Dirty.” A woman’s period was the waste product of her metabolism or something, and that waste had crawled all over Ah Ju’s unclean body. I had an indescribable sense of disgust.

“女人家的事情,男生得避开”,像我姐敏特,她屁股流血的后续动作,便是用挑拨离间之计,联合我妈把我赶到原本做杂货堆积、布满尘埃蜘蛛网的仓库间睡去。而关于女孩子家的这档事,阿汝即使再笨,也不该弄成这种难堪场面。

Second, “You’re not a woman, so mind your own business.” Whenever my sister Min-teh started bleeding there was a step she had to take, to gang up on me with Mother and consign me to the storage shed, where I would sleep on the dusty floor among heaps of stuff, with spider webs all around. A woman’s business was her own; but no matter how stupid Ah Ju was, I thought, there’s no way she should have gotten herself in this kind of trouble.

另外一则就是我的心病,我曾经在关心敏特会否因屁股流血而惨白死去时,被她恶狠狠的踢了我鸟蛋一记,这滋味我到现在想起,还能感觉欲死的痛楚从我下腹部缓缓升起。这情形,我得避开。

It was at this point my own neurosis kicked in, the consequence of the trauma Min-teh had inflicted upon me. I’d been worried my sister was going to die a pale death, so deathly white she was on account of all the blood flowing out of her behind, and she’d given me that nasty kick. I’d not forgotten. It was excruciating, the pain rising up from my abdomen. Oh no, I thought. I can’t let anything like that happen again.

如你所知,我在阿汝确曾吧(其实我还是不确定),向我求救的情况下,拔腿跑了,顾不得与阿马、阿新的球约,像梗了一件如石头沉重的懵懂心事,直奔回家,躲在我的小仓库间里装睡,并不停地咀嚼阿汝前一刻钟的表情,那是我第一次看过阿汝的饼子脸上出现异于平常的表情,仿佛一个木头人,瞬间被赋予了生命。

Third was Ah Ju’s expression. As you’ve probably gathered, Ah Ju must have been sending out an SOS when I hightailed it out of there. I couldn’t make the appointment to play ball with Ah Ma and Ah Hsin. I raced home, a heavy stone weighing upon my heart. When I got there, I hid myself in the shed and pretended to be asleep, but all I could think about was the expression on Ah Ju’s face, which I’d seen the moment before leaving. It was the first time I’d ever seen her flat face expressive. It was as if a wooden mannequin had been given life.

当晚,我在混沌睡梦中被叫醒时,家人都已用过晚餐,我无甚食欲的扒着凉了的剩菜剩饭,听到坐在院子里乘凉的爸爸、妈妈、敏特在聊天。

That evening, I was called awake out of fitful sleep. My family had all eaten dinner. I wasn’t hungry, but I tried to eat anyway. I shoveled cold leftovers into my mouth as I listened to my parents and Min-teh shooting the breeze in the cool of the front yard.

“明天去看阿汝,先挑几只肥一点的土鸡,给阿汝好好补一补,现在身子骨一定挺虚的。”

“I’ll choose a few fat chickens when I go and see Ah Ju tomorrow morning. She’ll need something wholesome to help her recover her health.”

“看不出来阿马跟阿新平常滑里滑头,真有事情发生,还是能够见义勇为,不简单。”

“Ah Ma and Ah Hsin are usually such slippery customers, but when someone really needed their help they did the right thing. It was big of them.”

“是啊,他们俩把阿汝扛到卫生所时,听说也不知道阿汝在防风林里昏死了多久,衣服上沾的血早就干掉、硬掉。若不是阿马跟阿新,恐怕连阿汝的小命都难保。”

“Yeah, when they carried Ah Ju to the clinic they didn’t know how long she’d been unconscious in the windbreak. The blood on her clothes was long dry. She’d been left for dead. If it hadn’t been for them, Ah Ju might not have survived.”

“好啦!这下那个阿兵哥也不需要推托没钱结婚、没钱养小孩,甚至连拿小孩的钱也不需要他费心啦!说来阿汝也真薄命,从小就不知道父母是谁,现在又搞的不能生小孩,上下全断了,怕以后也没人要她了,不过话说回来,阿汝真跟了那个阿兵哥一辈子也不会幸福。”

“This time that private is off the hook. He won’t have to make any excuses. He won’t even have to pay to get the baby out of Ah Ju’s belly. It looks like Ah Ju is just not a lucky girl! She’s never known who her parents are, and now she’ll never have children. She has no flesh and blood, and maybe nobody’ll ever want her. The only good that’s come of it is that that man is out of her life. He never would have made her happy.”

“就算把这个小孩生下来,怕会流掉的孩子多半还是有些问题。阿汝的肚子被刮了几次,其实要保住这个孩子也不容易。”

“Even if she had wanted to keep it, her womb has been scraped out so many times she would have lost it sooner or later.”

“我实在搞不懂,阿汝为什么愿意这么笨,人家都不要她了,她还一天到晚往人家那里跑。爸妈,我跟你们说哦,要是有男生胆敢这样犯我,我一定先把他阉割掉,让他一辈子绝子绝孙。”

“I just can’t understand how she could be so stupid, going back to a guy who didn’t want her. Mom and Dad, let me tell you, if a boy ever insulted me like that, I’d fix him so he’d never be able to carry on the family name: I’d cut his balls off!”

“敏特,女孩子不准讲这么粗的话。”

“Min-teh, girls shouldn’t say such things.”

“阿汝这次流产,我看还是要找那个……”“哇──”

“A miscarriage is never easy to recover from. I still think we should take Ah Ju…” “Waaaaaa!”

我想,我突如其来爆裂的哭声一定吓坏了院子里正在交谈的家人,因为他们不约而同奔进了屋子。我扩张了好几倍的嘴巴,塞满了嚼不碎而显酸涩的饭粒,但这似乎阻碍不了我自喉头释放出的哭泣声量。我明白了一件事,我是见死不救的罪人,自阿汝体内汩汩流出的腥臭血液,其实是最后一个在阿汝体内滋长成形的小婴儿,而这个单纯的新生命死了,母亲阿汝也半死。

I think I must have given my family quite a scare when I burst into tears, or they wouldn’t have rushed into the house to see what was the matter. My mouth, expanded to several times its original size, was stuffed with sour tasting rice that I wasn’t able to chew, but which somehow was no impediment to the volume of my cries. All I knew was that I was a sinner who’d refused to help Ah Ju in the moment of her direst need. I’d left her on death’s door. The reeking bloody mass that oozed out Ah Ju’s groin was actually the last fetus that would ever form in her womb. And this innocent life had died, almost taking its mother with it.

我年少时代发自内心底层的惊悚哭声还未及遥远到消失时,阿汝又奇迹似的怀了孕,并且即将结婚。

That anguished cry of self-remorse hadn’t completely died down when Ah Ju reappeared, miraculously pregnant, and planning to get married.

 

*  *  *

阿汝的婚礼选在十月。十月的放假节日多,结婚喜帖也多。阿汝结婚这天,我家有三张喜帖,我被派去参加阿汝的婚礼。我爸我妈虽然一天到晚抱怨帖子炸弹到处放,可是对阿汝的喜事倒也特别礼遇,不仅送了一幅“百年好合”的匾额,还包了一个金额超常的礼金,想来大家都很乐意见到阿汝有了终身归宿,而且又有了生育能力,显然阿汝多年前的蠢事并没有被遗忘的一干二净。

They chose to hold Ah Ju’s wedding in October. October’s a holiday season, and a wedding season, too. We got three invitations for the day Ah Ju got married, and I was assigned to Ah Ju’s event. My parents kept complaining about getting bombarded with wedding invitations, but they were especially generous to Ah Ju. They gave her a “Match of the Century” plaque and a thick red envelope. Now that I think of it everyone was happy that Ah Ju found someone to spend the rest of her life with, and that she was still able to have a baby. Obviously nobody’d forgotten about all the dumb things Ah Ju did a few years back.

阿汝的婚礼就像其他喧哗吵闹的婚礼一样,在自家广场上搭起了临时的棚子,从办桌人家里调来了十数桌圆桌圆椅,大厨就在棚外搭起的灶头施展身手,看起来可口但又不大引起人们食欲的菜肴一道道端上来,苍蝇也凑热闹似地嗡嗡叫盘旋不去。秋天还好,已有了一点凉意,夏天就惨了,塑胶棚子底下,大家吃的热汗直冒,还得不时躲避移转中的太阳光照射。而参加喜庆的人们,来吃一顿应酬意义大于饱餐的饭,结婚的仪式便告完成。

Ah Ju’s wedding was just like any other: noisy and boisterous. They put up a temporary awning that shaded part of the courtyard, and brought over a dozen round tables and stools; and the cook set up his stove off to the one side. The catering staff kept bringing out apparently tasty dishes that people had no mind to eat. The flies came, too, buzzing over our table. But at least in autumn, there was a cool in the air. It would have been torture in summer, under a plastic awning, with everyone eating and sweating. We would have had to keep moving to avoid the direct light as the sun made its way across the sky. Anyway, the folks at the festive event weren’t there to fill their bellies, but to eat a meal with a social significance. This meal would complete the ritual of marriage.

阿汝不算个漂亮的新娘,但是浓妆艳抹的她像是换了一张脸,全是红色染出来的,被发胶固定的额发上有细小的红色人造缎带花,眼皮上有掺杂亮粉的粉红色眼影,双颊有晕开的酡红,唇膏则是明亮的艳红,指甲是柔和的朱红,当然,她的礼服也是红色,是带有黑褐的暗红,而腹部地方明显的突出了半圆。

Ah Ju was not a beautiful bride. But thick makeup almost gave her a new face, a face that was painted red. There were red ribbons in her gelled hair. She was wearing pink eye shadow with sprinkles. Her cheeks were flushed scarlet. Her lips were a gorgeous red, her nails a soft vermillion. Her wedding dress was red, of course, a dark and brownish hue. And her belly was conspicuously bulging.

阿汝的夫婿是个矮个子男人,甚至比阿汝还要矮,头发秃了,年纪想来比阿汝大上一截,虽然阿汝此刻看来比实际年龄起码大上十岁,矮个子男人脸上一脸和气,呵呵咧齿笑着,满足得意的样子不下于坐在主桌情绪异常高昂的朱二伯。

Ah Ju’s fiancé was a short guy, even shorter than Ah Ju, and he was bald. He must have been quite a bit older than her, though Ah Ju looked about ten years older than her actual age. The man had a genial air. He appeared satisfied and proud, and he smiled a toothy smile. Uncle Chu was smiling no less toothily and proudly. He was in high spirits.

阿汝巡回敬酒到我们这桌来时,阿马与阿新正口源横飞的讲述军中的荤笑话。我年少时忧虑的事情果然印证在阿马与阿新身上,他们当了兵之后全变成不折不扣的大猪哥,我有点伤心,又有点好奇的听阿马与阿新讲述“军中乐园”的事情,阿马说:

When Ah Ju came round to toast our table, Ah Ma and Ah Hsin were telling dirty jokes they’d heard in the military. What I’d feared as an adolescent had come to pass: the army had turned both of them into out-and-out swine. I was a bit sad, but also a bit curious to hear Ah Ma and Ah Hsin brag about their exploits in the “military paradise” on Quemoy Island. Ah Ma said:

“那女的,就是要那样操她,我从后面进,她娘的她就真像狗样趴在地上,屁股翘的老高,嘿,我一抽她,一抽,她还真汪汪叫起来,妈的,真狗样,乐透了。”

“That one I always have to do her from behind, and she, well she just crawls around on the ground like a dog, with her ass in the air. Ha ha ha! I give her a thrust, another thrust, and she starts barking like a dog. Christ! Frigging doggy-style! It’s sweet.”

“阿马,这有什么,有个女的,哦,还挺年轻的,每回看到我啊,就像患了百年相思,顾不得难看,就迳是扯我裤拉链,呵呵呵。”阿新说。

“Ah Ma, that’s nothing. There’s this one girl who’s quite young, and every time she sees me it’s like she hasn’t gotten any in the longest time. She doesn’t worry it’s not ladylike or demure or something, she just yanks down my zipper, he he he,” said Ah Hsin.

阿汝靠过来的时候,我发现阿汝不仅变了一张脸,也像变了一个人似的,她居然将手搁在阿新肩上,敬酒的塑胶杯子贴到阿马脸上,调笑似的说:

When Ah Ju leaned close, I found it wasn’t just her face that had changed. She was a completely different woman. She actually put her hand on Ah Hsin’s shoulder, pressed a plastic cup of liquor against Ah Ma’s face and started joking around:

“阿马啊!你当初不来追我,要不然今天嫁的就是你啰。”敬完我们这最后一桌酒,阿汝准备回房换装时,突然像想起了什么事,伸出细直多骨的手掌摸摸我的脑袋,说:

“Ah Ma! Why didn’t you ever make a move on me? If you had it’d be you I’d be gettin’ married to today.” After her last toast, she would go change outfits, as brides at weddings in Taiwan always did. But then it was like she remembered something. She reached out her bony fingers and fondled my head and said:

“阿忠,几年不见,长这么大啦!”

“Ah Chung, how many years has it been? You’re getting so big!”

原来,一个女人的成长面貌是可以如此多变的,我想我有些恍惚了。

She really had changed completely, in every way. Women were unpredictable. Ah Ju’s transformation must have left me a bit dazed.

阿马与阿新把荤笑话搁在一边,开始拚酒,并且不停的尝试灌我喝酒。

Ah Ma and Ah Hsin had put aside the dirty jokes and starting toasting like there was no tomorrow.

“不喝怎么行,以后还要当兵哩。”阿马说。

“You have to learn how to drink. Otherwise how’re you going to survive in the military?” said Ah Ma.

“阿忠,你不要受不了的正直好不好,当兵以后怎么办?”阿新说。

“Yeah, don’t be so straight-laced, you’re killing me! What’ll you do when it’s your turn to do a tour of duty?” asked Ah Hsin.

同桌的人也嬉皮笑脸看我们闹酒。我不是不想喝,只是还记得上回代我爸喝喜酒,别人灌酒我也来者不拒,结果吐的一桌子秽物,不只丢了我爸老脸,也惹的一桌人纷纷走避。阿马与阿新劝酒也劝的不勤,一下子话题又绕到阿汝的肚子上打转,阿马打赌准生男,阿新打赌准生女,我挺有兴趣参与他们的赌戏,但我八成吃坏了肚子,一股坏气咕噜噜在我肚子里打转,离开座位,我憋着气就找厕所去。

The others at the table saw us playing drinking games and laughed. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to drink; but I couldn’t forget the last time I’d gone to a reception. People kept toasting me, and I wasn’t going to refuse, until I barfed all over the table, embarrassing my father and disgusting all the wedding guests. Maybe because they’d heard I couldn’t hold my liquor, Ah Ma and Ah Hsin weren’t too keen on getting me drunk, and soon the conversation switched to Ah Ju’s belly. Ah Ma bet she was going to have a boy, and Ah Hsin was sure it was going to be a girl. I wanted to place my own bet, but I felt sick to my stomach: a nasty gas was gurgling around in my gut. I left my seat and went to find the bathroom, holding my breath.

阿汝家的厅房又黑又暗,只有一个房间有微黄的灯光点着,半开的门,我看到阿汝在里头换装。那是我第一次看到女人的身体。

Ah Ju’s house was dark, except for one room in which a yellowish lamp was lit. The door to the room was half open. And I saw Ah Ju inside, changing clothes. It was the first time I’d ever seen a woman’s body in my whole entire life.

阿汝解开身后的拉链,自肩上把暗红色、因在昏黄灯光下而显得温暖的礼服褪下,她裸露的肩膀很是瘦削单薄,也因而显得她的乳房很是丰满柔润,图钉、蘑菇、荷包蛋都相形变成丑陋不堪、粗糙万分的语汇,晶莹剔透,它其实像个眼眸,饱含情欲的对话,却又浑然不自觉。阿汝继续将包住身躯的礼服往下褪,一个孕育生命的母亲的肚腹,我看到。

Ah Ju unzipped the back of her dark red wedding dress, which seemed warm under the yellowish light, and slipped it off her shoulders. Her naked shoulders were thin, accentuating the fullness of her breasts. Pegs, mushrooms, eggs cooked sunny-side up now seem ugly, rough figures for her bosom. No, her breasts were limpid and luminous, like eyes, like an instinctive speech, like a dialogue of desire. Ah Ju slipped the sleeves off her arms, and pulled her dress down, until—

霹哩啪啦──随着憋不住的一声响屁与恶臭,我知道我失去了控制拉了一身屎。的的确确的一身臭屎。

Whoosh—I thought I was letting out a smelly fart, but it turned out I’d lost control of my bowels. I really shit my pants.

而阿汝的肚腹。她轻轻地扯下了附在腰间的白布条,她像抽出毛线团里遗失的线头,将包紥的无瑕疵的半圆体布团,哗一下挥洒开来,在尘埃中抖了一抖,又熟练的将布团缠成一个半圆体,在换上旗袍式的礼服前,小心翼翼的,像爱抚一个婴儿般的将它缠绕在腰腹间。

Ah Ju unwrapped the white strap around her waist, revealing a flawless hemisphere of fabric, like a pillow, which she shook out, parting the dusty air. Then, with a practiced hand, she folded the fabric into a perfect half globe and, very carefully, like she was caressing a tiny infant, placed it upon her belly, and wrapped herself up again.

新换上的旗袍又是一身红,你相信我眼睛看花了吗?!那是血块晕开,染成朵朵红花的中国式礼服。

The cheongsam she changed into was also red. Would you believe me if I told you my eyes blurred? The clots of blood upon the sandy ground finally dissolved, and when my vision cleared, I saw the reddest flowers upon Ah Ju’s Chinese-style wedding dress.

空气里持续弥漫发自我身上稀屎的恶臭。

While in the air the stink of diarrhea hung.

关于秋天的婚礼,还有好几场。

There’ll be many other weddings in autumn.

但是我爸再也不让我参加任何一场。

But my dad won’t ever let me go to another one.

关于阿汝的胸部,我总算见到了,

As for Ah Ju’s breasts, well I finally saw them.

它比想像中美丽好几百倍。

They were hundreds of times more beautiful than I’d imagined.

而关于阿汝反反覆覆的肚腹子宫,我始终搞不清楚这是怎么一回事。

And as for Ah Ju’s unpredictable womb, I never managed to figure out what was going on in there.

你知道吗?!

Did you?!

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