A Patch of Sunlight 譯／ Nicholas Koss
Spring Rain 譯／Karen Steffen Chung
1230 Spots 譯／彭鏡禧
白玉雕牛 作／ 阿盛
The White Jade Ox 譯／湯麗明
Life in Taipei 譯／吳敏嘉
Five Paths through the Dusty World 譯／Daniel J. Bauer
A Declaration of War against Time 譯／杜南馨
The traditional, Chinese courtyard house is an enclosed, confining type of architecture. The single-story rooms on the four sides of the building wall in the courtyard, and all the doors and windows of the rooms face the courtyard. Looking at the house from the outside, one has the impression that this type of residence is a fortress built with great precaution and safeguard. The thick walls and high eaves prevent any breezes as well as block out both the cold and thieves. Because of this, however, the residents living inside have sacrificed both fresh air and sufficient sunlight.
I was born in such a "fortress". As was common then, our fortress was built of dark bricks. Black tiles covered the roof and gray tiles the floors. The walls, the window shutters, the tables and chairs, the doors, the flower vases, and the books had no bright colors. Even though it might be bright and sunny outside, the space inside was dark and dreary, creating an atmosphere of severity. From ancient times, it had been believed that the souls of one's ancestors dwelt in the dark, shadowy corners. Crying babies would often be born near these shadowy places, which further showed that these babies had a close, inseparable relationship with their ancestors.
The courtyard outside was indeed a "well.'1 One had the feeling of being in a "well" when trying to stay cool during a summer evening by lying in the courtyard. Looking up at the sky, one saw the lofty roofs on the four sides of the courtyard enclosing a square in the starry sky.2 In winter, half of the courtyard was filled with slow-melting snow, and icicles were always hanging from the eaves of the roof. Workmen inevitably had to be called in to knock down the icicles and remove the remaining snow. The courtyard, too, always had icy places which left playful and active children lying flat on their back, with all fours pointing skyward.
The main rooms in a courtyard house were to the north, with the doors and windows facing south, thus allowing for a little more sun. The noon sun was like a bushel basket of sunlight being poured out from the south on the walls of the main rooms. The windows on these walls were already glued with a layer of cotton paper and pictures of 81 days of cold winter wonders.3 Therefore, the sunlight could only enter through the door, making a long rectangular shape based on the design of the door frame on the square tiles. What a warm and bright "concession" this space was, making it the prized place in the home.
Now, in the future, and forever, I will always vividly see that patch of sunlight busting through our family door to make a shining carpet. Next, I see a stool made of wheat husks and covered with a cotton cloth that is placed in the sunlight. And next, I see a pair of bound feet carefully and hesitantly step into the sunlight and stop at the stool. Near to these feet appears her sewing basket. A brownish, stripped cat meows and jumps in her lap. Finally, a little boy kneels before her knees, intently sorting through the things in the sewing basket and playing with the old, bronze thimble and the pink cutting paper. I am the little boy and I am with my mother.
If at that time someone would have asked my mother what she liked best, she would most likely have replied that it was that patch of sunlight inside our door during a sunny winter day. She would sit there doing her needlework in the company of her cat and her son. How clearly I remember a flash of warmth entering my cotton clothing making it so incomparably soft and fluffy. How clearly I remember my pores to open to receive the light and gentle warmth. It was no longer necessary to shrink up to fortify oneself against the cold. It was as if at the moment every care and concern disappeared. My blood would carry this happiness to my heart and then my cheeks would blossom a ruddy contentment. The purring of that cat still resounds clearly in my ears. It would either be on my mother's lap or stretched out over my feet, chanting the mystical sutras brought so long ago from India.
My assignment while sitting in that patch of light was to take a book such as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms or The Stories of Yueh Fei and read aloud for my mother. My mother would correct me each time I mispronounced a character. And if I came upon a character I did not know Mother said that a new character is a tiger blocking the way she would put down her needlework and kill the tiger for me. Eventually I came to realize that Mother's interest was not in enjoying once again those old stories and events with which she had long been familiar, rather it was to have me as much as possible by her side. At the conclusion of each episode, I would give Mother's eyes a rest by threading the nearly indiscernible eye of a needle for her. Sometimes and it was probably the warmth playing tricks on her Mother would complain, "My head is so itchy!" and I would lean on her shoulders and look for lice and gray hairs.
When I was most comfortable enjoying the sunlight, it was almost as if, while the adventures of Yueh Fei at Bull Head Mountain were about to roll out of my throat, I became so intoxicated by pleasure that I could not continue creating the sound of my reading. For our cat, however, it was just the opposite. The more comfortable it was, the louder it purred. One time, Mother stopped her needlework and, looking at the cat asleep and purring in her lap, said, "Listen to that. Do you know what our cat is saying?"
"It's not saying anything," I responded. "It's purring."
"No, our cat is speaking. And there is a story from long, long ago about what cats say ...."
Mother then told the story, "In the earliest of times, when the world was still most primitive, men and beasts fought over land. Men joined together and drove the tigers to the mountains and forced the crows to the trees. It was only the rats scattered across the earth that they were helpless to control. There were rats in every house and bedroom. Even in places most secret and secure, they could come and go at will wrecking havoc. So smart, so crafty, so quick, so malicious were the rats that even after trying every tactic, men still found no escape from them.
"One day, a mother was gently patting her child to help it fall asleep. She then locked the room and went to prepare supper. After she had finished, she returned to the bedroom, but her child was not to be seen. On her bed, she saw a pack of rats noisily sucking the flesh from a heap of bones. The rats had eaten her child.
By this time, I was shivering in fright.
"Broken-hearted, the mother prayed to Sun Wu-kung, the Monkey. 'I have no way to bring those rats under control, either. he replied.
"Still, there must be a force to destroy those cruel, evil, dirty, little monsters. There has to be justice in Heaven and on Earth!
"Sun Wu-kung thought it over, and then traveled to Heaven on his Somersault Cloud. He went to the Throne of the Jade Emperor to find the pair of Divine Imperial Cats. The cats asked where he had come from, to which he responded that he was from the Earth. The cats next asked what the Earth was like, and he responded it was a wonderful, exciting place. Now what Divine Creature does not think about visiting the Earth? The cats, however, were afraid of getting lost on Earth and not being able to return to Heaven. Sun Wu-kung confidently patted his breast and said, 'With me as your guide, you will indeed return.
"And so, with his Somersault Cloud, Wu-kung whisked them down to Earth.
"The Imperial Cats triumphantly used their divine might and killed rats beyond number. Thereafter, the surviving rats scampered into holes to continue their miserable lives.
"But, thereafter, the Imperial Cats also lost their home in Heaven. Wu-kung presented them to the human race, while he himself flew off never to be again concerned about them. He knew that if the cats were ever to leave the Earth, rats would again eat humans, so he hardened his heart and broke his promise. Thereafter, the cats remained on Earth, becoming the favorite pets of humans. But, hidden in the breasts of the cats were worry and regret, and a longing to return to Heaven. They hoped to see Wu-kung again, so continually on their lips were the words: 'Y'promised, y'promised, y'prom ..., pro, purr, purr, .... And this sound was even heard as they purred.
And so came about man's beloved cats, who still felt they had been misused. Their seemingly purrs of contentment contained as well the forlornness of loss. If Mother had not told this story to me, I could never have imagined such things, or understand just what a cat's purring meant.
Full of love and indebtedness, I held our cat tightly and kissed it.
It lazily gave a long stretch, revealing its round, thin ribs and resisting my teasing. To my surprise, it escaped from my arms, and ran away.
Mother looked askance, and gently corrected me, saying, "Why don't you just sort out the yarn? What's the use of teasing the cat?
As I remember it, each winter Mother would complain about the pain in her feet.
Her feet had suffered from cold weather. When she had first married into our family and was living in the rooms on the dark south side of the house, there would be no sunlight all year long. The piercing cold dampness would come up through the ground as well as enter inside the rooms from the outside. It badly affected her feet so that they had ever since suffered from being cold.
Subsequently I heard that there's no medicine to heal muscles that have been injured by severe cold. So, year after year, at the first signs of winter, the soles and heels of her feet would have an immediate reaction, with the muscles in her feet swelling, changing color, and becoming stiff. If you pressed there with your finger, you could see a small indentation. What you could not see was the pain that penetrated to her bones.
After moving away from the extended family, she had the master rooms facing south and her situation improved immensely. But the pain in her feet was still there, having become a chronic complaint. Even though Mother would be sitting in that patch of sunlight permeated with a gentle warmth, she would still sometimes knit her brow and try to endure the pain.
It was the same reaction she had when she was embroidering and would accidentally stick her finger with the needle.
Mother often stuck her finger. When she would be embroidering a pillowcase, there would be many, many little spots of blood. After she had finished, the first thing she did was to wash out all this excess coloring.
I've heard it said that if one is very upset while embroidering, it is easy to slip and have the needle go into the soft flesh of your finger. Was Mother upset so often?
When Mother would also show signs of pain even when she was not embroidering, it was because of the sudden pain in her feet from the cold.
In that patch of sunlight, Mother would always sit sidewise, so as to give half the sunlight to me, but that would mean half her body was left in the shadows.
So, often only Mother's left foot could enjoy the comforting warmth of the sun as she was sitting upright by the door. Her right foot would be in pain. In this way, her left foot did not become better, and her right foot would feel even greater pain.
When Mother was trying to hide her pain, there was no sound to it; her body would only shake a little bit. But no matter what I was doing and no matter how sweetly the cat was sleeping, we could feel it.
At this time, the cat and I would look up at her and examine the quivering wrinkles on her nonetheless peaceful face.
Then suddenly I had an idea. "Mother, what about if I turn your chair around? If I change it, then your right foot would get some sunlight, too.
Mother shook her head no.
I stood up and started pushing her from the shoulders. She lowered her head and laughed, saying not to do it. The cat became frightened and its white claws appeared from the cracks in its paws.
By the time the chair had been turned around, the cat had made off for the courtyard. Mother called it back again and again, but it pretended not to hear. I went to get it, but that left Mother without even me by her side.
Afterwards, when Mother has settled down in her chair, she was never again willing to be moved. Obviously, she was reluctant to have her child and her cat leave her alone in that clean, sunlight place. They must be together for the sunlight to bring them all into the warmth of togetherness. Mother enjoyed that togetherness. She needed that experience so much, even more than the precious sunlight from the depths of winter.
The bombing at the Marco Polo Bridge dizzily disrupted our family life for a while4. That winter, everyone was excited and talked more and did more than previously. Mother's world seemed to be racked with cataclysmic shocks.
In her patch of sunlight, she told of many dreams and recounted numerous stories.
And that winter was the last time we had our own rays of sunlight.
She told me a dream, and for me, it was the last dream I heard from her.
In her dream, holding me in her arms, she stood on a dim space of dark ground and could not move, because her feet were buried in several inches of broken glazed tiles and could not move. As far as the eye could see, there was desolation. The broken glazed tiles extended in every direction as if a world created of tiles had been destroyed and all the remnants were stacked there, emitting a sulfur-flame light. Where the tile pieces were the sharpest and the thinnest, there was a layer of blue light. A knife blade of pure steel would have that kind of sharpness and it would be a ruthless threat to any one unprepared. Mother was barefoot and dozens of tile knives were stuck in the floor around her feet.
I was resting in Mother's arms, sound asleep and completely unaware of her difficulty. She was infinitely alone and sweat poured down her face. She felt my body become heavier and heavier, not knowing how much longer she could hold me. Mother's only thought was how terrible it would be if she fainted and her child would be dropped. At this moment, she realized that I was naked, without a stitch of clothing. Her heart was then immediately pierced by broken tiles. A pain slowly rose up from her feet, rising to her shoulders and arms. She gritted her teeth and endured it, praying to God for help.
The moment Mother reached the point of complete despair, a spot of bright, clean land suddenly appeared at her side. It was just the size of our beloved patch of sunlight. The space was completely flat and just the right size to accommodate a baby. Full of thanks and gratitude, she used the last of her strength to place me gently down. I remained sound asleep. Who could have imagined that as soon as I reached the ground, the earth suddenly tilted. My place of rest was then on a slope which was like a long, steep sliding board. Its length was terrifying. There was no end to it. I started to slide down so very quickly. It was faster than flying. In a flash, I was no larger than a speck of dust.
Mother cried out in inestimable desperation. Awaking from her dream, her consolation was not that I was sound asleep in the room, but that she recalled from the dream that as I was sliding down, I suddenly grew up and was, from a distance, waving good-bye to her.
Mother knew that her son could not be together with her forever in that little square. A son must grow up, and once grown, he would disappear without a trace.
Time is the Great Winnower. It tosses everybody and leaves them destitute and homeless. Only a minority of us survive and emerge victorious.
Therefore, she felt a sadness mixed with pride.
She put down her needle and held me in her arms, asking, "If you grow up and go to a faraway place and cannot come home, will you think of me?
At that time, the farthest I had been was to Grandmother's house, which was a very delightful place to me. Each time I went there my parents had to force me to leave. I had no thoughts of Mother then, so I could not answer her question. At the same time I was enchanted by the brilliant image of the sliding board. It made me want to go ice-skating and I rushed to change my shoes to go to the frozen pond.
Thus, a son eager to make his way in the world made every effort to get away from his grieving mother, who only wanted her son to be with her.
Mother released me from her hold, took a long look at me and said, "You only have to go and give it your very best, and grow up to be a man. Even if you go away and forget me, I won't blame you.
——From Ting-chun Wang,s Broken Glazed Tiles, Taipei: Elite Publishing Co., 1978.
雖然從幼稚園到安老院都在學英語，文學的英文仍在另一些國度。誠品書店很慷慨地給了我們一角地，放十本、二十本The Chinese PEN (Taiwan)試售，都賣不完，他們的廖經理有一次建議，也許中英對照會引起讀者興趣。
譬如說英文動詞的時態（tenses），文學中太多的夢境和今昔之感，如《一方陽光》中母親的夢境、《將軍碑》中將軍的幻覺，He sees? saw? has seen? had seen? 怎樣決定都不能完全放心。
另一個困境是諸神的名字。在各地鄉土文學中都有太多的神，但是我們若敢用西方神話中遊戲人間的神名作任何聯想，必會引來災禍，所以像《春雨》中的「上帝公廟」，我們只能譯作“Shang-di-gung Temple”，這樣的例子太多，大家搖頭，歎息，沒有什麼更好的辦法。《紅塵五注》大談算命，「天機」應該是“Eternal Will”還是“Hidden Providence”？譯者Daniel J. Bauer是位天主教神父，他也沒有精準的答案。
在為中英對照本定稿時，我們不敢採取不甚忠實卻比較瀟灑的策略，譬如《解嚴年代的愛情》譯者是著名的John Minford先生，他將篇名譯為“Love in a Time of Change”實在很有包容性，但是對照本的讀者一定會問，「解嚴」怎麼不譯？所以我們誠惶誠恐地把標題改為“Love After The Lifting of Martial Law”，它應該是比較忠實的，但是實在有點笨拙，不夠靈活。這樣的斟酌，討論，妥協的過程，三天三夜也說不完。
書名是《中英對照讀台灣小說》，但是在全稿送請Mr. Ronald Brown審閱修潤的時候，感謝他指出原選十篇小說偏重死亡、哀傷主題，令人讀來頗感沉重，所以我們換上了《人在台北》和《給時間的戰帖》，但它們是散文而非小說。現在翻開書看到從陽光到戰帖，好一番蓬勃氣象，這兩篇散文（《銅夢》亦可作小說讀）就當作美好的bonus吧。
Our thanks to Prof. Nicholas Koss（康士林）,Mr. Ronald Brown, Ms. Kathleen Ahrens（安可思）for their reading of the manuscripts and their constructive suggestions.
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