2010年5月31日 星期一

Buluoge (My Personal Blog)

#2010-0531

Dacong Muqinjie de getian (wuyue shiri) qi, wo kaishi renzhende jingying buluoge -- Mookoo's Home (木咕子的家).

Na zhiqian, wo zai Yahoo ye kaichuangle yige "Muguzi de Jia," danshi wo faxian, tie shangqu de yingwen zuopin, bing buneng yi "yingwen moshi" zuo shidangde chengxian. Yudao mei hang zuihou gai huanhang de yingwen danzi, zong bei dangzuo zhongwen zici yiban, suibian chaikai (bing wei anzhao yinjie lai chaikai) liecheng shang-xia liang hang. Yinci, wo buzai jixu jingying nage buluoge.

Buzhi guole duo jiu, wo juede haishi xuyao youge zhuanshude yuandi, zuowei zhangtie xin-jiu tu-wen zuopin, jilu shengming licheng ji shenghuo diandi zhiyong. Zhongyu, zai Google de yemian-shang, wo zhengshi kaiqile zhege mingcheng wanquan xiangtong de buluoge.

Wo xiwang, suizhe suiyue wuqingde xiaoshi, zhe buluoge-li, que ke qingchu kanjian yuelai-yueduo de "chucun" -- er meiyijian chucun, dui rihoude wo eryan, dou shi mizuzhengui de huiyi a!


- - -

2010年5月30日 星期日

愛是什麼

---- by 帆影 (Fan Ying, one of my previously used pseudonyms) and published in Taiwan Fu-Kan (台灣副刊) on Mar. 25, 1974.

● 有回我寫信問一位正在寫羅曼史的同學:「她和我,哪個重要?請說真心話。」那位同學回信說:「關於你問我的問題,就好比考我一斤和一尺哪個大,你自己作答吧。它倆哪個大?」

● 有回我查字典的「愛」字,發現註解是「喜歡」。我在學生辭典裡翻出「喜歡」,解釋作「快樂」,想查一下「快樂」,卻找了半天只找到「快」字和「樂」字。

● 有回老師告訴我:「李商隱的『春蠶到死絲方盡,蠟炬成灰淚始乾,......』表明愛的本質;白居易:『......在天願作比翼鳥,在地願為連理枝......』說出了愛所含的精神,『天長地久有時盡,此恨綿綿無絕期......』道出了愛的時間性,至於『生命固可貴,愛情價更高......』更點出愛的價值。」無奈我還是不懂。「能說得更具體些嗎?」我問。老師凝思片刻,說道:「這和『智力』是什麼一樣,眾說紛紜不一。」

------ 1974.3.25 刊於 台灣副刊

2010年5月29日 星期六

First Part of My Family Tale

---- by Mookoo Liang in April, 2001



When dad and I arrived at our "old house," a little cottage located half way up the mountain, both he and I were somewhat excited. I had not come back here in a few months, so I was longing to see it again. But dad visited this place almost every day; working on the land surrounding the cottage was just the same old familiar routine for him. Could he be excited too?

Perhaps he was not really excited. Yet obviously he was very pleased about my idea (and act!) of visiting the old cottage again that afternoon. When I said I missed our "old home" very much and asked if he would like to go together with me, dad said "Let's go!" immediately.

Dad couldn't care more for the old cottage, the land surrounding it, and all the plants he grew over there. His fondness for those things was expressed in his eyes, and I noticed it while we both were walking across one of the terraced fields.

The terraced fields were originally created for growing rice. Now rice became rather cheap, and dad was over seventy --- too old to grow rice. These level fields were also used for growing bananas, grapefruits, and betel nuts, just like some sloping fields on the hillside.

We walked and talked in a leisurely way. Dad suddenly stopped, pointed to a banana tree with some brown leaves, and sighed, "It's very odd that recently banana trees are dying one after another. That must be a new type of disease that the chemicals fail to deal with."

He explained to me why he had to substitute something else for the diseased bananas. If he planted a new banana in the very same spot where a banana had been killed by disease, that new tree would be infected and die soon. "Mostly I would put a betel nut in the place," dad added. "I'm getting old and weak. Growing betel nuts involves less labor."

For quite a few moments neither dad nor I spoke. I thought of the fact that, in order to have a better job, all his children had already moved out of this mountainous area. Even dad and mom lived in a new house several kilometers away from this single and solitary cottage, so that they could obtain, as his children suggested, some next-door neighbors.

Standing in the shade of trees, I watched dad cutting off brown banana leaves. He was adept at using a banana knife, which he usually hid somewhere in the field after work. And right in the middle of the field, dad had previously set up a garden sprinkler --- by tying a revolving tap at the top of a bamboo pole. He walked toward the pole and moved it a little further to water more betel nut seedlings. His blue shirt was partly wet now, as I could see, with more sweat than water.

I looked around for anything else that I would have missed so much. The rugged mountains with different kinds of trees gave me a vivid picture, so familiar and so special, so amazing and so meaningful. Such a landscape could be seen from various "standpoints." To get more "good views," I moved around and looked in different directions. As I turned to the west, I noticed that the sun was sinking. Is the daytime always shorter in the mountains? I looked at dad again. He had stopped working and was walking toward me.

"Dad," I called out. "Why not take a rest?"

"No problem."

"You must have spent a lot of time working here. In these and those fields, fruit trees are tall and weeds are few. How could you make it, dad? You have even set up such a perfect piping system!"

"Oh! No water, no crops. Like vegetables, some fruit trees need special care." Sometimes dad spoke just in a typical fathers' tone.

"But you should be a retired farmer," I reminded. "You might as well come and exercise here, but don't work too hard."

In fact, all my brothers and I asked dad and mom not to work too hard. Being their children, we had grown up, we had got married, and we had our own children. It was time for us to support and wait upon our parents. However, we younger generations lived far apart in different cities. Only during holidays could we return to pay a visit to them.

"Does mom come here often?" I asked dad.

"Well, she hasn't come in a couple of days. She will come more often after new vegetables are planted here."

Mom was also a hard-working type of person. She had two vegetable gardens, one next to the old cottage and the other behind the new house where dad and mom were living. She would take care of them in turns. She did not follow us that afternoon, so dad said he would water the vegetables before leaving the cottage.

Dad carefully sprinkled water on each vegetable plot. It was getting dark, and yet dad refused any of my help that would possibly spoil what I was wearing. I was in a white shirt, black trousers and leather shoes that afternoon. Having expected to see my birthplace again, I was not ready to work at all. I was embarrassed, though, to be an onlooker all afternoon.

As we were leaving the cottage, dad told me that he would call all his four sons together on a "good day" so that the parents and children could discuss how to divide his land into four "equal shares."

His plan was: first study the quality of each part of his land; then let a gentle and better slope be combined with inconvenient paddy fields while a steep slope be joined with better rice fields; finally, let all the sons draw lots to decide which share to take. "But the cottage should not be divided," dad said. "It had better go with the piece of land that it is on." I heard and understood dad's plan, yet it made me sentimental.

Is dad so old that he can't help thinking about how to distribute his property? Dad has been living in this mountainous area all his life; is he leaving for somewhere else soon? How can mom live without dad? Or how can dad live by himself? . . . Such silly questions occurred to me one after another. I was puzzled. Then I felt sorry, and somewhat angry!

I didn't want to think about those lousy things. Only philosophers and/or religious people can "grasp" the full significance of life and death. I am a son of farmers. How can I indulge in such difficult subjects? I told dad that mom had wanted us to go home early, and that at that moment she might have dinner prepared. Dad and I hurried back to my car, which I previously parked near the foot of the mountain.



I was woken by a telephone call, still feeling a little sleepy because I had sat up late the previous night. It was Janet, my second sister, who was coming from her place 30 kilometers away.

"You are in your Spring Recess, aren't you?" she asked.

"Yes. So you're most welcome to come!"

"Oh, I mean, if you are available, I'll drop in on you. If you're busy, I'll go with my family. They are leaving for the museum, to see bingmayong."

Of course I told her to come, not only her but also her family being very welcome. In fact, Janet and her family rarely visited us. It's my wife and I that went to them more often, because their house was just halfway between our parents' house and ours. Whenever mom gave me vegetables that she had picked from her gardens, she would make me take some to Janet on my way home.

Janet said she was not very interested in seeing bingmayong, that is, a big group of "soldier-and-horse sculptures" of Qin Dynasty style. She would rather come and chat with my wife and me while her husband and her sons were visiting the National Science Museum.

"Only I am at home," I said. "Maybe I'll stay alone for two more days during the Spring Recess." I told Janet that my wife had gone to her parents and that Tony, my only son, had not come back from the campus yet. But my personal plan for this one-week vacation remained a secret.

I had always wanted to write a story about dad and mom. And I started writing it when Spring Recess came. That's why I had not gone with my wife to see her parents. That's why I sat up late the night before Janet gave me a surprising "morning call." I was quite busy. But Janet was coming at the right time, wasn't she? She could definitely help me recall those "good old days" when she and I lived with our parents in the mountains.

I was sleepy no more. Before hanging up, I cheerfully said, "Please come, Janet. I'll be happy to see you soon." I did not reveal my writing project, though.

♫♪

Talking about childhood, both Janet and I had a strong feeling: Our older generations had lived in very poor conditions, and in those years not all children were as lucky and happy as we were.

Ah Zung, for example, was not a lucky boy. Although he had a "no problem" life when he was small, he lost his daddy at the age of 11. Two years later, when he was just 13, his mommy died, too. The situation became very bad after that. He was a frail teenager. He had to depend on his elder brothers.

Ah Zung had two elder brothers, not to mention his sisters. All of his brothers and sisters were already married, but how could a teenage boy get a wife without money or anything like that? Ah Zung didn't care about marriage; instead, he missed his parents very much.

Ah Zung's daddy and mommy used to be pioneers, coming from their faraway hometown to this sparsely populated mountain area. Then they worked mostly as woodcutters; they also opened up some virgin soil. When they passed away, they left their sons a piece of land on the mountainside, which was not formally allotted yet.

Land was important to every peasant; therefore, a senior relative of theirs came to Ah Zung and his 2nd brother's dwelling, to help divide the land for the three sons. (At that time, Ah Zung's 1st brother had built his own house in the neighboring village, where he lived with his family.) The senior relative carefully checked the size and the quality of the land, divided it into parts, and then allocated them by making the three sons draw lots to decide which share to take.

The senior said, "Let Ah Zung live with his 2nd brother and 2nd sister-in-law, sharing this cottage (which was not the cottage mentioned above). As for the cow, it has been working for you all these years; it should not be killed and divided. I strongly recommend that the cow belong to Ah Zung, who is still single, so that he can sell it for getting a wife in the future."

Aha, so the boy got the cow! His extra special gift! It's ridiculous that every morning, when the sun had just risen from behind the eastern mountain, the thin and small teenage boy Ah Zung should lead his "personal property" (or his pet?) to an open field, where the big "working capital" grazed by itself.

In the slack season, being a "cowboy" out in the open air could be fairly enjoyable. While grazing his big pet, Ah Zung was allowed to do whatever he liked: to lie on the grass and watch the floating clouds, to collect wild flowers or beautiful butterflies, or to climb up a tree and imagine that he was a knight fighting on horseback.

And yet, in the busy season, which seemed ten times as long as the slack season, Ah Zung had lots of farm work to do in addition to the so-called "soft job" of grazing a cow. Ah Zung was a good boy. He listened to his brother and sister-in-law. He worked very, very hard, whether he was up the hill or down the rice field.

Ah Zung started to learn how to plow the rice field at the age of 12. The plow he used was an old-fashioned farming tool, with a long wooden handle that was even higher than Ah Zung's height.

Ah Zung raised his right hand overhead to hold the handle, and he held the hemp rope in his left hand to control the cow ahead of the plow. When the animal, the plow, and he reached the edge of the field (after making a furrow), he would make a U-turn for another furrow. It was an embarrassing moment for Ah Zung then. Because he was so short and small, he had to lift up the plow with his "shoulder" instead of his hands to turn the plow around.

The question is: were his brother and sister-in-law satisfied? No, they were not very pleased with him. They regarded him as an extra heavy burden, and they were always complaining about what he had done.

Poor Ah Zung! He never had a chance to go to school. Most of the time he worked either on the hillside or in the paddy field. And he even worked all by himself, as his 2nd brother had to work for other families to "make money."

Ah Zung was too young to go "making money." He could only work on his brother's or his own land, to earn his "three meals a day" (not to mention "new clothes" for the Chinese New Year). In reality, all the harvest from Ah Zung's land was "kept" by his 2nd brother, who once said, "The harvest? As you can see, the harvest was so limited. Do you think I have cashed in on him?"

As he had no watch, he could just tell the time by watching the sun. One cloudy day, he returned home from the field at about two o'clock in the afternoon. He felt hungry, but didn't know if it was time for lunch. (By the way, his 2nd brother was then "making money" somewhere else. When doing so, he did not usually come home for lunch.)

It happened that that very noon Ah Zung's 2nd sister-in-law cooked later than usual. When she saw Ah Zung coming home for lunch, she became angry, and yelled, "Don't you know I was also busy in the morning? You, lazybones; you're good for nothing! You know nothing but eat!"

How upset Ah Zung was! But he said nothing in response. Now his daddy and mommy had died and his 2nd brother and sister-in-law had taken their place. There was a Chinese saying: Zhangxiong ru fu; zhangsao ru mu. (Your eldest brother is like your father; eldest sister-in-law, mother.) Ah Zung was unable to make a living himself then, anyway.

♫♫

Usually I visit my dad and mom once a month, but last month I went back to see them twice, on the first and second weekends in March.

I've got a teaching job at a high school. I'm busy on weekdays and I spend almost every Sunday in the church, and that's why I failed to visit my parents (and my parents-in-law) more often. Of course I have another excuse; that is, my three younger brothers will usually take turns visiting dad and mom in our hometown.

It was Friday, if my memory serves me, that I was informed that Uncle Xi had died. Dad asked me on the phone if I could return to attend the funeral that was going to be held nine days later.

"It'll be Sunday," said dad, with sort of emphasis.

"Oh, I will. I'll certainly go to his funeral. Uncle Xi used to be so kind to us!" I told dad that I should be present in such an important ceremony, whether it is on the weekend or not.

A few years earlier, I took a day off in order to attend the funeral of dad's 2nd brother; and when dad's 2nd sister-in-law passed away afterwards, I asked for leave, too. How could I neglect to show my respect for Uncle Xi, dad's eldest brother?

In fact, I went back to my parents the following day. Uncle Xi's death must have caused some discomfort to dad, I thought. And I knew Uncle Xi probably as well as dad did. He was a well-known good man. Even mom said he was our da-en-ren, a kind and generous benefactor who had saved us from suffering.

"In those miserable years," mom said, roughly referring to the five years before and six or seven years after she was married to dad. "We lived in abject poverty. If Uncle Xi had not offered us so much help, your dad would not have succeeded in establishing such a family."

Mom made a pause and then began telling a story, which I guess all her children had already heard more than once:


Three years had passed since dad started living with his 2nd brother and sister-in-law. Dad was 16 then. His days were just work, work, and work! Yet he owned no savings.

One day, dad was very sick, lying painfully on the bed. Uncle Xi, his 1st brother, happened to come and saw him lying still in the bedroom. The 1st brother asked the 2nd what was happening to the 3rd. The 2nd answered that he had no idea how the 3rd could pretend to be ill like that.

When the 1st brother touched the 3rd on the forehead, he was shocked to learn that this youngest had so high a fever. The 1st said something to the 2nd. The 2nd replied loudly. The 1st said something more, trying to hide his anxiety or something, just in a louder voice. The 2nd replied even more loudly. Then, both of them lost their temper and became really infuriated. The sudden sharp quarrel between the two "elders" was so terrible that the youngest was scared half to death!

"Okay, since you don't care for Ah Zung at all, I'll take him with me from now on." Uncle Xi said with great determination.

"It's up to you!" said dad's 2nd brother. "You say I don't care, so I don't care any more."


As far as I know, dad was reluctant to go with his eldest brother at first. It was rumored that Uncle Xi had been a "tough guy" on the farm, meaning that he was as strong as a superman while working. Some people saw him working from dawn to noon (or from noon to dusk) without taking a break to drink water. Then, at the end of the job, he drank a large pot of water at a time.

Dad was afraid to turn to Uncle Xi, thinking that he might be going from bad to worse. "I did have an idea," dad said to me. "I thought of escaping from home!"

"What did you do, then?" I asked curiously.

"I picked up some clothes, and got ready to wander far from home."

"If you had done so," mom interrupted, laughing at dad, "you would have become the most pitiful tramp in the world. What a shame that you've got no sense of direction!"

"Oh, mom! There's no way that dad would possibly become a tramp!" I said. "Dad has always been a good man! A good man is blessed by God."


It was around 9 o'clock on Sunday morning. The funeral of Uncle Xi had just started, with so many "friends and relatives" attending the ceremony.

Like many other relatives, my mom, my brothers, and I got there shortly before the ceremony started. But dad had arrived at the place an hour earlier. He was one of the most important persons that day. He was supposed to "nail" the coffin during the service, because he was Uncle Xi's only brother still living.

"It would be very hard for dad to do the nailing," my youngest brother said in a soft voice.

"Well, dad will only hammer a nail symbolically," another of my brothers explained. "Somebody else will do the rest --- to fasten the cover of the coffin!"

The funeral service was held according to the Chinese folk belief. In addition to loud and noisy "lamentation music" played by a brass band, from time to time the "wailing & crying" could be heard through a loudspeaker. It was a special group of singers that were hired to perform the crying. I didn't like that, and neither did my brothers.

In the middle of the service, all the "friends and relatives" were invited to go forward, four by four, to the picture of Uncle Xi. As we were guided, we burned some joss sticks, offered the meat and fruit and wine as sacrifices, and at the same time we kowtowed to the picture.

Suddenly I remembered I had been converted. Is it appropriate for a Christian to do those kinds of things? Is it possible for me to refuse to carry out their religious ceremony on that occasion? If I didn't follow their rules, what did I come for? What would my family (especially dad and mom) think of me? . . . Once again, many a silly question occurred to me. I was puzzled. And I felt very sorry!

My younger brothers asked me if I really believed in an afterlife. I said I had to keep praying to the Lord my God. Perhaps Jesus Christ would let me know more about it someday.

♫♪♫

My second sister Janet had been chatting with me in my house. We talked about all kinds of things: from jobs to interests and hobbies, from old places to new surroundings, from our nuclear families to dad and mom and many others that we both know.

It was interesting for the brother and sister to have such a free-and-easy talk in the morning. Especially I enjoyed it very much, because I had kept working hard on my creative writing since the Spring Recess. When Janet called me by phone, asking if I was available that very morning, I decided that I would take a rest. I needed to relax for a while, indeed.

"How is your Spring Recess?" Janet asked.

"Oh, quite busy."

"Busy? What have you been doing?"

"Writing a family story."

I regretted letting out the news about my writing project. Actually, I had not expected to reveal it so soon --- at the very beginning of our conversation! Now that a slip of the tongue completely changed my mind, I thought of the saying: "honesty is the best policy," and I told Janet everything about my plan for the "vacation."

"Ge!" (As I am her elder brother, Janet does not call me by name; she always calls me ge or ge-ge, meaning "elder brother" in Chinese.) Janet said, "Aren't you in your Spring Recess now? Why not take a rest?"

"No problem."

"You must have spent a lot of time working on this short story . . . My goodness! You've already written more than 20 pages, but you don't even know how to make your short story short!" With a particular smile, she added, "Don't be a workaholic, Ge."

"Oh! 'No pains, no gains.' Have you heard of that?" I smiled back. "And 'practice makes perfect.' I need to get some more practice!"

At times I would speak just like a ge-ge. Or in a typical teachers' tone! For many years I'd been teaching English, a foreign language to me as well as my students; yet I found it very difficult to overcome the different ways of thinking between English and my mother tongue. That's why I told Janet I needed to get more practice.

By "I needed more practice," I possibly meant either (1) I should lengthen my short story and make it a novel, so as to get more writing practice, or (2) I should be able to make my short story even shorter, after getting more writing practice, or (3) both of above, or (4) none of above.

It was as if I were plowing deep in my professional field again. I asked myself: Which one really matters, language or notion? Can you actually (or significantly) separate form/container from matter/content? Can you really (or completely) separate a "tool" from its "function"? . . . These were some of the silly questions that came to my mind. Interesting as language it, it always seems too simple or too complicated for me to use when I want to define something further.

I was woken by Janet's question:

"Ge, what did you tell about in the story?"

"Oh! Mostly about dad," I said. "And I mentioned dad's brothers as well."

"Didn't you tell about mom?" Janet said, "She is not only active but also talkative. She's quite special, isn't she?"

I couldn't agree more. Telling about mom's childhood would be more interesting! Mom was also born in a poor family. Her father, about 20 years older than her mother, also passed away when she was 13. Her mother, the 2nd (or 3rd) wife of her father, had to support the family by cooking or working for others.

For a long period of time, mom and her 2nd sister lived with their "old papa" at home while their mother was cooking for a faraway family. (Their 1st sister was married, living somewhere else.) Perhaps due to the distance, their mother rarely came home. So they had little money. And every time mom was sent to get something on credit or to buy a very small bag of rice in cash, she felt so embarrassed that she would try to hide what she got when she was walking home.

One day, something very bad and sad happened. Mom and her sister found no rice to cook and they had no money to buy anything for their old and sick papa to eat. They . . . they became thieves --- digging sweet potatoes out of somebody's garden. They quickly took the stolen potatoes home. They put them into the empty rice bowl; but, in no more than 2 minutes, they took them out and hid them under the bed. Then they became so frightened that they kept changing the hiding place.

"Did grandpa find out about that?" Janet asked me.

"No. It's hard to imagine what would have happened if he had learned about it."

Among all our grandparents, only mom's father could read and write. He taught classical Chinese language at a si-shu, a type of "private school" in the past. He passed down several old books and a photograph. (I've seen the photograph myself, and I've always been curious about him.)

"Where is that gentleman now?"
"Impossible to know!"


"Where was dad's 1st brother going?"
"Who knows?"


"Where is my son Tony?"
"He's still in his university, but he'll be back home soon."


"Where is Janet's husband?"
"He's visiting the National Science Museum, together with his children."


"Where are bingmayong shown?"
"Oh, don't be silly any more. May the Lord be with you."  <#>

2010年5月28日 星期五

樹之高、遠、美(共 4 張)

圖片編號:001

樹好像在比賽,
看誰長得高!

不知他們今年幾歲,
老還是不老?

只曉得如果我走過
省議會(現已改名立法院中部辦公室
後山,
這些生命體
離我住的地方很近。

真的很近!
----就在我心裡。



圖片編號:002


While the above picture was taken in the nearby Memorial Park of Taiwan Provincial Assembly, this photo (see left) was brought back from afar ---- palm trees in the sunset, by The Dead Sea in Holy Land.

椰影夕陽下
--- Jerry 攝於 死海 岸邊








圖片編號:003

楊桃樹 開花了!花藏枝枒間,仍逃不出我的眼!
Have you seen such beautiful flowers? They will turn into fruits
and we'll call them "star fruits" -- sweet plus a little sour!


圖片編號:004

瞧!這是真正的「老榦發新枝」----樹齡數百年,甚至上千年
也不死的「橄欖樹」。翻閱聖經,你多少能懂得它的價值。
They are called "olive trees." Maybe you will refer to The Bible
 for more information about this kind of tree.


2010年5月27日 星期四

Wode Tuixiu Shenghuo

#2010-0527

Zai guo 10 fenzhong, wo hui kaiche jie xiaopengyou qu. Zhe shi wo shangban gongzuo de yi bufen.

Zicong jinnian eryuefen qi, wo zai Shen Yage de "quanshi gongzuo" (mei zhou 5 tian ban, mei tian shangban 8 xiaoshi) gaiwei jianchai xingzhi de "part-time job" yilai, wode shenghuo youle jidade zhuanbian -- biande zizai xuduo, ye gengjia meihao le.

Laopo shuo, wo gen ta dou ying dada ganxie (bing zanmei) Shangdi. Ruo bushi Shangdi si women tebiede enhui, wo han ling-yiban qineng xiangshou wuyou-wulu de tuixiu shenghuo?

Laopo muqiande shenghuo "guilu zhong, you xuexi". Er wo, youkong jiu papa shan, shaishai taiyang; zai jiali ze kankan shu, xiexie dongxi; chuci-zhiwai, [mei zhou zhishao liangri] dao Shen Yage jianchai, ye suanshi hen you yiyi de yizhong "tui er buxiu" a!

Suoyi, wo dui muqiande shenghuo jiwei manyi. Wo zhende hen ganxie Shangdi.


- - -

2010年5月26日 星期三

無題(二首)

----- by 金浪 (Jin-Lang, one of my previously used pseudonyms ) and published on May 15, 1987 in the school magazine Tou-Shang Qingnian (投商青年)

《無題 #01》

夕陽 防風林 海邊
妳的腳印比我的
小 卻同樣的多

書房 望月樓 山巔
我的思念濃過
霧 還比冬夜長

唉!
是誰使海風變甜?
是誰使山鳥不歌?


《無題 #02》


往事
已被撕下
的日子層層層層裹住
藏於心海
深處

舊情凝固
於一度行雲流水的筆心
遂難譜出
綺麗的夢
如詩

憶無意
忘無心
奈何潮汐落了又起
想過朝朝
夕夕

筆心既死
我身為啥活?
只好望眼潮汐起落中
看穿春夏
秋冬
 
---- 1987.5.15 刊於 投商青年 第24期

2010年5月25日 星期二

In the Pupal Stage

- - - - by Mookoo Liang in April, 2000




Burning off the diaries

It was a tiring afternoon in the fall. There was little wind near the earth's surface; the sun, partly covered with the floating clouds in the sky, seemed to be setting earlier than usual. Moodee, a tall and thin man in his early twenties, was staggering toward the small canal that passed by the front yard of his parents' cottage.

He was extremely upset at the moment, holding a number of notebooks in his hands. The autumn wind, though gentle and cool enough, failed to make him comfortable. He dragged his feet as if the written stuff in his hands had been too heavy; but it was clear to him that there was something much heavier in his heart, his mind, and his body.

For several months he had not added anything new to his personal notes. If he had, there would have been a lot more to clear up now. He thought of those "good old days"---especially the five-year period when he was far away from home, staying and studying in Green Garden. But recalling the most beautiful things in his life did not prevent him from returning to reality. He had been in great pain, physically and mentally. He had to do something to improve his miserable situation.

Indeed, it was time for him to be decisive. He made up his mind to go back to the hospital the next day; if possible, he would ask the doctor for a once-and-for-all medical operation, however dangerous it would be. Of course it was necessary to convince his parents that such an operation was a must. They had been shocked to learn that the famous singer Su Pei-Ching could no longer stand or walk after having an unsuccessful operation of this kind.

Now, to promise himself a brand-new start, what should Moodee do in advance? He thought of burning off all his old memories, good or bad. When he came to the irrigation canal, he carefully sat down on the bank, and then he started to tear his personal notebooks apart. At first, he just tore them page by page, as if he were reluctant to destroy all of them; then he speeded up, for the pains in his waist and his buttocks became severe.

These notebooks were Moodee's diaries. Before going to Green Garden, Moodee had been asked by one of his junior-high-school teachers to keep a diary; that's why he had formed the habit, and consequently he had so many notebooks in which his private affairs were recorded. He would be embarrassed if such secrets of his should be let out---Suppose he could not return from the hospital to deal with these notebooks, who would see them and what would they do about them?

Moodee struck a match and set the heap of torn pages on fire, as if a solemn ceremony were in progress! He continued to tear the other notebooks. He added the torn pieces to the heap that was burning. What a strange scene! It seemed that Moodee was formally saying "Good Bye" to all his yesterdays. Could he free himself in this way?

Meanwhile, the very same scene was a bit familiar to him. It seemed that he was worshiping En-Chu-Kung, the deity that his parents had long believed in, by burning the particular kind of "paper money." Could what he was now doing bring him better luck in the future?

Anyway, all that had taken Moodee a long time to write was going to burn up in just a few minutes. Some of the paper ashes, lifted up in the hot air around the flame, looked like tiny black butterflies, flying here and there attractively---until falling down to the ground again. With a bamboo stick, Moodee pushed all the burned stuff into the irrigation canal, hoping that the water down there would carry everything away.

The previous experience

You may recall your childhood; you may recount a past event or reconstruct a fading dream; you may even actually go upstream to the source of a river; and yet, it is impossible for you to become younger---in terms of age. Life is a no-returning matter, just as the water in the irrigation canal (Moodee has done something special beside it!) was always flowing in the fixed direction.

Sure enough the canal was not a straight one. There must have been many curves in it; otherwise, it would have been too boring---and, what's more, it would have lost its function of irrigating the rice fields.

There were rice fields in all shapes and sizes, higher or lower, in the village where Moodee spent his childhood. Moodee did not leave his hometown until graduation from junior high. Basically, he loved his place of birth, not only because it was a beautiful mountainous area, but also because he loved his parents and all his brothers and sisters.

He was the eldest child in the family. He was sure that his parents, a peasant and his wife, loved their eight children so much---with all their heart, their mind, and their might. They had been working very, very hard to support this family. So, Moodee was willing to do everything for them, as long as he could. On weekends or during the winter or summer vacation, he followed them either up to the hill or down to the rice field, to help with some laborious work.

Different seasons brought different jobs. Accordingly, he would scarify the soil in the dry fields so as to grow sweet potatoes; he would cut down the weeds in the plum orchard on the hillside; he would pick pears and carry them to the "fruit market"---with two large bamboo baskets on a shoulder pole.

It was no easy job to shoulder the crops. Every time Moodee and his father carried something on the shoulders to a market or somewhere, he would fall behind his father, because the heavy loads always made him take some additional rests on the way.

The easiest thing for him to do was lead the cow to an open field, where it would graze by itself. Moodee was then allowed to do whatever he liked: to lie on the grass and watch the floating clouds, to collect wild flowers or beautiful butterflies, or to climb up a tree and imagine that he was a knight fighting on horseback. How enjoyable! But, as soon as his brother was old enough to graze the cow, Moodee had no more chance to do that "soft job."

In those days farm machinery was not widely used. Even if there had been some good machines available, Moodee's family could not afford them. How could the eldest son be too lazy to work on the farm? One morning, as expected, Moodee got up earlier than usual. He was ready to experience something new by following his father to the rice fields.

Dawn was just breaking when Moodee and his father arrived at the first field. The water in the field had been let out; on the soft soil were young plants of rice standing in parallel rows. These less-than-a-foot-tall plants, slightly shaking in the morning breeze, made the whole piece of land look like a huge trembling chessboard with green lines, which formed thousands of squares. Moodee felt a little chilly. He knew he would be kneeling right in the "mud" for the work.

Moodee's father demonstrated how to "mop" (or "wipe") the weeds with bare hands. You kneel low in the wet field, bend your upper body forward, and move both your hands among the plants skillfully---rubbing the surface of the soft soil. You must tell weeds from rice at first sight, so you can properly "push" or "pull" or "pick" the unwanted and then "press" them down into the mud. Moodee was a quick learner, though he was then only twelve years old.

The father and son were like two chessmen moving steadily from one side of the field to the other; then they made a U-turn to remove weeds from other rows of rice. Normally, five rows of plants were dealt with at a time. Owing to his shorter arms, Moodee was unable to reach so far as to cover five rows. He just took care of three rows: one passing between his legs, the other two separately on his right and on his left.

There came a villager with whom Moodee's father was acquainted. The man appeared to be surprised at what he saw, telling Moodee's father that he had got a really good boy. Moodee's father replied with a smile, "Oh! I am mo-ngiu-sih-ma, ain't I?" The phrase mo-ngiu-sih-ma literally means, "Having no ox, I therefore use a horse." It was used as a modest expression in the Hakka dialect. Moodee realized all that.

Basically, Moodee was a "healthy boy" who had a good self-image. He had wanted to be an obedient son, a hard-working student, and a helpful friend. As a matter of fact, high praise from his teachers, his relatives, and his neighbors had made him quite sure of himself.

Now that he was working in the rice field with his father, the only obstacle for him to overcome was his physical weakness. He was getting tired. He had, again, fallen behind his father. Could he catch up with his father later? It was improbable! But, at least, he could manage to "make progress."

Trying hard to escape

Although he loved (and respected!) his father so much, Moodee did not want to be a peasant. He had been studying hard and learning well in school. He found it attractive to explore somewhere other than his home village. Above all, all his teachers and most of his senior relatives told him that he should go to senior high for further study, and then go to college, and then . . .

His future was thought to be bright, promising, as boundless as the sea and sky, so to speak. How could he confine himself to this mountainous area for all his days to come? Was he able to fly out of this "small cozy nest" so as to have the whole world in view? Looking back, he didn't really know what to think---he had very mixed feelings on his personal plight.

Moodee's parents as well as their children had been living in straitened circumstances. That's why Moodee spent his "holidays" working on the hillside or in the fields. It seemed clear that his desire for further study had made his parents uneasy, because tuition and accommodations were usually so expensive. Only in a military school, a policemen's school, or in a teachers' school could you study free. And, you know, very limited students were admitted to the teachers' school each year.

Now Moodee was going to graduate from junior high in less than three months. He was very worried about the Entrance Examination. He was aware that, although he had been one of the top students in his school, he might not be as good as competitors from other junior high schools. He had to "labor" on the hill or in the fields in his "spare time," yet many others were just spending every minute and second preparing for the tests.

The more Moodee thought about his future, the more anxious he was. "If I fail in the entrance exam, what will become of me?" He thought he would possibly become a pitiful peasant, or something like that, just like all his cousins that had grown up in this mountainous village. What a shame for a young student to lose his ambition! Moodee was so eager for success that he would concentrate on studies right off.

From then on, he studied even harder; he buried himself in books day in and day out. This moved his parents so much that they did not ask him to work outdoors any more. Once in a while, Moodee would think of his father's metaphorical phrase "mo-ngiu-sih-ma." He felt like working as patiently as ngiu (oxen) and ma (horses); however, he preferred ma to ngiu because the former run much faster.

One day, Moodee was told by his mother, "Boy, you've been studying hard for weeks. Why don't you take a break and follow us to the Temple? Your dad and I will ask En-Chu-Kung to help you pass the exams." Moodee was grateful to know that his parents would pray for him. Whether En-Chu-Kung was really helpful or not, he went to the temple with his parents.

After they worshiped all the deities in the temple, Moodee's mother returned to the main hall in the middle and prayed to En-Chu-Kung for revelation. On the altar was a tube-shaped container with a hundred long bamboo sticks in it, each stick indicating a number. She lifted up the container with her hands, said something softly, and then drew lots. She asked three questions, so she got three numbers in all.

According to the numbers, three poems were found on three separate slips hanging among others on the wall. They were En-Chu-Kung's words about what Moodee's mother had asked: "Can my son pass the exam for a teachers' school?" "Will he go to a vocational school?" "How about the general senior high?" Oh, no. All three poems were terribly negative!

Moodee's mother, an illiterate person, was not satisfied with her son's explanation of the poems. She thought she might have prayed in a wrong way. She wanted her husband to re-ask the questions. To their surprise, one of the two sticks drawn by Moodee's father was marked with the very same number as one of those that Moodee's mother had previously picked.

How could it be so? There were one hundred numbers all together. The probability of the same number being picked twice would be very little. All of a sudden, Moodee became very, very frustrated. He almost burst into tears when his parents tried to comfort him. His mother told him that En-Chu-Kung had meant to stimulate him to greater efforts. But he was quite puzzled. "Is it true? Is it true that I have no chance at all?" He kept asking himself, in silence.

That night, he put all five poems into his diary by gluing the slips. They functioned as a bookmarker, warning the writer and reader of the notebook that he had no time to waste. Moodee was really a hard-working student. And it sounded true that where there's a will there's a way. Two months later, the results of the Entrance Examination came out. Moodee was one of the happiest young people who were allowed in Green Garden.

A sharp turn in life

Those five years when Moodee was in Green Garden was the golden age of his life. He was in his element, feeling like fish in water. He made a lot of friends, who were interesting and helpful; he also got some very good teachers, such as Mr. Tung and Mr. Liu, who were men of great character and great learning.

With such "idols" leading or guiding, how could a young man be too "idle" to look and move forward? Moodee made rapid progress, indeed. He was interested in most of the courses that dealt with education, knowing that he himself would become a schoolteacher someday.

Besides the required courses, he enjoyed himself in a variety of activities. He had more "spare time" (also called "leisure time" or "free time") than ever before, so he could do many things that were really interesting and meaningful.

He found it fascinating to explore the world of literature---those well-known masterpieces, ancient or modern, Chinese or Western! He loved reading and also writing. Every so often he would stay in the school library all day long. He loved arts and music as well. Though he could not afford to learn from "private tutors," he learned how to appreciate different artistic forms and styles.

From an objective point of view, Green Garden was much smaller than the hillside where Moodee used to work; and the plants in Green Garden were not so colorful as those in Moodee's home village. But Moodee liked Green Garden even better, because in this place he could get himself much more cultivated.

Time flies. When graduating from Green Garden, Moodee was already twenty-one years old. As a qualified teacher then, he was sent (by the Government) to an elementary school near the seashore, which was also far away from his home village. His future should have been bright and promising, as boundless as the sky and sea; but in reality he became very sick.

At first, he did not care at all; then he found himself in a more and more difficult situation. There was pain in his buttocks, then in his legs and buttocks; finally, his waist also caused trouble. He was so weak that he could not sit or stand or walk for long. Frequently he had to take a rest by lying down in bed. He went to see a doctor, and then another doctor; it seemed that no one was able to find out the real cause.

Time of suffering was hard and long. Moodee had spent almost one year trying to find the solution; he had been introduced to many doctors, even to those unlicensed; and yet, after each trial period, the illness turned out to be worse. Moodee as well as his parents were very discouraged, without knowing what to do.

One evening, Moodee's parents were preparing for rice-planting. They were fixing the bamboo baskets that were to be used the next day to carry yong (very young plants of rice) to the wet fields. Moodee came to them, thinking that he might be able to help. No sooner had he squatted down than his stomach started to ache. The great pain made it necessary for him to be sent to hospital at once. He underwent an "emergency operation" on the stomach that night.

What a "snow plus frost" situation! Moodee did not come back to "normal" quickly. During the first few months, he had to strictly control what he ate and drank; if he drank more than half a cup of water at a time, he would be streaming with sweat. And, when his health gradually improved, he realized that his original problem had not been solved yet. He became nervous; he felt unlucky and unhappy.

Day after day Moodee's life was like a time-consuming struggle, just like a small boat rising and falling on the rough sea. "What is my destination? Am I going to reach home safely?" Moodee felt lonely---and helpless! Sure enough his family and friends were willing to help, but they were unable to do so.

After the operation on his stomach, Moodee went into hospital more often. For several times, he had to stay in that unpleasant place for over one month. He had asked for long-term sick leave from his job. He was forced to rest in bed---either in a hospital or in his parents' cottage. How miserable he was! He wished that he could have worked very well in the elementary school, or even in his father's rice fields!

Wishes for a new day

Moodee was now lying in bed in the hospital, far away from his hometown. He was alone and lonely. He thought of those "good old days" again, and began daydreaming that he would transform into a bird, or a butterfly, or part of the clouds in the sky . . .

If he had been a cloud, he would have been floating above his home village; if he had been a bird, he would have flown to many of his former classmates and teachers. "But, could I become a beautiful butterfly?" he suddenly had such a question.

The ward in which Moodee had been staying was originally painted yellowish white. Now it looked rather old, somewhat like a prison. Confined to this cocoon-like space, Moodee imagined that he was a pupa.

Fortunately, he was a thinking pupa; he would not stop thinking or feeling until he fell asleep. (After falling asleep, would he have a nice dream?) Anyway, he was not so depressed as in the previous weeks.

Some ten days before, he was totally disconsolate---his heart and mind broke; his strength and courage collapsed; his hopes and dreams crumbled. It was a Friday afternoon in the fall. Moodee suddenly felt so sorry for himself that he wrote a strange letter to Mr. Tung, one of his favorite teachers in Green Garden. Then, at noon on Sunday, Moodee saw Mr. Tung standing beside his bed.

Moodee burst into tears then and there. He was surprised to see that his respected teacher also did so. The teacher and student chatted in the ward all afternoon. They talked and talked and talked. When the elder left the hospital late in the evening, the younger seemed to have grown very mature.

It was Mr. Tung's stories that made Moodee regain the faith and the courage. One of the stories was about Mr. Tung's eldest son, who had gotten serious polio when he was very small. Mr. Tung described in detail how difficult the situation had been. At the end of the story, he asked Moodee, "Can you imagine how anxious a father who has such a child would be?"

Moodee nodded. He then thought of Mr. Liu, another of his favorite teachers in Green Garden. Mr. Liu, who got a PhD in Spanish literature, had been much respected by his students. He had a retarded son. Oh! How come good men could not have avoided "problem sons"?

Again, how come an obedient son, a hard-working student, and a helpful friend---such three-in-one would become a pupa? Was the pupa going to die or to transform? The doctor had finally promised to perform a medical operation on Moodee's spine. Although Moodee did not really believe in En-Chu-Kung, he placed beneath his pillow the "blessing bag" that his father had asked for in the Temple.


2010年5月24日 星期一

圖片寫真:共 4 組

圖片編號:001                      "新社花海"
One day, Jean and I visited Xinshe Flower Sea together with the Zhan's and the Yang's. Look! Our wives were so excited and happy, especially when posing for a photograph!

In this picture, the one holding the camera D80 is my good friend Lao Zhan.

And standing behind him, I used another D80 to take this picture, as you can see.




圖片編號:002       日月潭的 噴 水  簾    幕 ..........!


A tranparent curtain made with water, or water drops up and down:
a picture taken at Sun-Moon Lake, the biggist lake in Taiwan!


圖片編號:003             <結縭三十年 同登西奈山>



We've been married for more than three decades.

On the very day of our 30th anniversary (Jan. 30, 2009) we successfully climbed up the holy mountain Mt. Sinai.







圖片編號:004


"The winter is over; the rains have stopped; in the countryside the flowers are in bloom. This is the time for singing; the song of doves is heard in the fields." (from Song of Songs, 2:11-12)

冬已過,雨已止;花開鳥啼,鳩聲遍聞。
(錄自 雅歌 第二章第11至12節)

2010年5月23日 星期日

The Seagull and Me

------- by Mookoo Liang in April, 2004


I started grazing cattle when I was twelve or younger. In those days I was still an elementary school student. I went to a small-sized school not too far from my house every morning. But when school was over in the afternoon, I returned home and naturally turned to be a "cowboy."

I would graze an old cow and a newly bought young one by leading them down the hillside, so they could eat the green grass along the banks of a brook. Usually, with these animals browsing freely over there, I would enjoy myself watching the beautiful sunset; meanwhile, I would hear lots of birds singing loudly, or amazingly, in the woods near the hill. It sounded as if the birds were in a hurry to return home, or as though they were arguing about their nests or something.

From that resounding "orchestra" presented by them at sunset, I could tell what kinds of birds they were. I recognized such birds as crows, sparrows, baitouwong (white-headed bird), wuqiu (black bird with a distinct Y-shaped tail), banjiu (turtledoves), etc. Among these flying creatures, I loved wuqiu the most, for they were supposedly friendly with farmers. As for banjiu, I also like them very much, because they looked like the doves my neighbor Uncle Jiang had had.

Sometimes I would come across Uncle Jiang's nephew Minghui while he and I were grazing our own cattle. Brother Minghui had moved from a distant town to live with his uncle here in the mountain village. Very soon he became my best friend, leading his ox to the sides of the brook more and more often. We chatted and laughed together; we sang together the songs "Cuckoos," "Sweet Family," "Little Lambs Are Going Home," etc. But the most exciting thing for us to do was to look for birds in the woods.

When we were tired from playing, we would both lie still on the grass, watching the colorful clouds in the sky and, particularly, the setting sun that was being swallowed up by the mountains in the west.

"How marvelous it would be," I once said excitedly to Minghui, "if only I were a dove!"

"Oh, no!" His reply impressed me, "A dove is just nothing. I wish I were a seagull, instead. A seagull isn't confined to these mountains; it can fly a long way, playing between the sea and heaven!"

My goodness! What did a seagull look like? I was very confused at once.

And time flew! I graduated from the elementary school and started going to junior high. The junior-high school was several kilometers away from my house. I had to spend more time commuting to school. And I needed much more time for studies. My father no longer wanted me to graze our cows; such a job had become my younger brother's duty. However, during the long summer vacation for students, I felt like grazing cattle again. I felt it most enjoyable to graze our cows along the small stream as I had usually done before. But now Brother Minghui had gone somewhere far away as a seaman.

When I was in the second year of junior high, one of my favorite elementary-school teachers Mr. Zhang moved to Pingdong, in southern Taiwan. I missed him so much that I sent him a Christmas card made by myself. A few days later, I received a surprisingly beautiful card from him: It was a picture of the ocean, with a fiery sunset as the background, with two ships moving in different directions on the colored waves, and with quite a number of seabirds flying . . . Well, are they so-called "seagulls"? I asked myself.

I was too excited to sleep soundly that night. Closing my eyes, I couldn't help murmuring to myself: If only I would become a great sailor when growing up! Yes, I really wished to sail across the biggest oceans in the world someday.

Then, time flying fast, I graduated from junior high. I passed a particular exam and was therefore admitted to Provincial Teachers' Junior College. For the first time in my life I left my "cozy nest" in the mountains, where I had lived for sixteen years. And, with many new dreams in my heart, I flew to the "Green Garden" in Jiayi City.

By the way, Jiayi City is located in the middle of the Jia-Nan Plain. Though there are no mountains blocking your view, it's impossible for you to see any sea or ocean from there.

In Green Garden, I enjoyed watching beautiful sunsets as much as before. Frequently I looked through the tall baiyang (poplar) and dawang-yezi (palm trees) on campus for a sight of the setting sun. The big setting sun looked much bigger here (and more fiery red?) than in my home village. Seeing such a splendid burning ball made me homesick, though.

Two years passed in the twinkling of an eye. As I studied and learned more, my original "motive" for pursuing a dreamy seagull became less strong. I told myself that it was unlikely to see seagulls in Taiwan and that they were rare species! Even when (once in a long while) I heard the caws of seagulls on the radio, I would rather believe that they were just sound effects. How could they be true?

During my third year in Green Garden, I was given a very interesting storybook by my xue-jie (a female schoolmate senior to me) named Yuchan. It was a Chinese version of Richard Bach's "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" -- Ah, how similar the seagulls and the human beings are! In either group there are many different members, some being more active and admirable than others. And Jonathan Livingston, unlike his food-oriented companions, was an idealistic seagull, always trying his best to improve his skills in flight.

"Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect." I was most impressed by this definition of "heaven" in the book. Actually, the phrase "being perfect" had been put into Chinese as "wanmei de zhuangtai" (perfect state). I loved this translation, with zhuangtai meaning "state" as in "state of mind" "state of affairs" etc. (Anyway, I wish to express my gratitude to Sister Yuchan again, for such a significant story.)

Now I had been studying in Green Garden for three years. When the fourth year came, I was elected chairman of the Youth Writing Association, one of the organizations for extracurricular activities in my college. I tried to decline the position, thinking that I was not good at writing at all.

"I used to be a cowboy," I said. "And, as you can see, it is extremely difficult for a cowboy to become a good writer."

"That's no problem!" The nominator replied, "If you don't write any longer, you can put all your attention into administration."

My goodness! Being rather introverted in those days, I was afraid of administrative work.

However, I became the chairman and started to do such things as organizing a formal or informal meeting, inviting professors or guest speakers to us, soliciting contributions for the school magazine, editing and proofreading the collected pieces of writing which were good enough to be published, and even keeping in touch with our publisher! Sometimes I got into difficulties. Yet, most of the time, I just had to solve the problems that I was faced with. So I did my best to improve my "problem solving" skills, like Jonathan the seagull.

Now I had learned more about administration, and I made quite a few new friends. The vice-chairperson of the Writing Association was one of my favorite schoolmates and helpers. She was a beautiful girl, very intelligent, and always kind and helpful to others. Her smiling face, I believed, was the most attractive one in the world. Though one year younger than I, she was my idol, with too many merits and virtues to number.

She and I often did our "official duties" in the school library. I was very pleased about that. But I dared not ask for a personal date. It was no easy job for me to do so in those days. Nevertheless, I must confess that there was a strange power that made me able to notice her in the midst of a crowd 100 meters away. And my heart began beating fast every time I caught sight of her.

One day, I stayed alone in the school library reading the essays and poems submitted for the school magazine. Among the piles of papers I found an article beautifully written under the pseudonym of Hai Ou, literally meaning "seagull." I was interested in reading it; to my surprise, it was written by my vice-chairperson.

And time kept flying! It came to the end of the first semester of my fourth year in Green Garden. Just before the winter vacation, my classmates** and I had a farewell party in the evening. We had a good time. After having some cookies and soft drinks, my classmates started to share their love stories. Some expressed their desire to take a course in "Romance" the next semester, while others said they had to repeat the course. I said nothing. As a cowboy growing up in the mountains, I told myself, "You'll be back there sooner or later. Why not forget about her right now? A cowboy cannot really get hold of any seagull."

Notes:

* This story is a slightly modified version of its original, Chinese version with the same title (海鷗與我), which I wrote 30 years ago and published in the literary supplement (台灣副刊) of Taiwan Daily on February 1st, 1974, under the pseudonym of Fan Ying (帆影), implying that I was just like a small sailing boat in the ocean.

** In those days all the students in any of eight Provincial Teachers' Junior Colleges had to live in the school dormitories except summer or winter vacations. Basically, men students were not mixed with women students in the same classes; only when attending a school ceremony or taking a selective course could we get together with the opposite sex in the same hall or classroom.

2010年5月22日 星期六

飄航

---- by 涼紫 (Liang-Zi, one of my previously used pseudonyms) and published in Jia-Shi Qingnian (嘉師青年) on Nov. 24, 1974

一葉扁舟飄航於汪洋大海,
一隻小海鷗飛行至遠方;
妳,聰明活潑的星眸,
可曾注意這平凡的影子?

天邊昇起含笑的雲彩,
海洋滾動著夢的潮浪;
當美麗的鷗影掠過桅帆,
舟子的笛遂在風中歌唱!

直到潮浪捲走了青春,
晚風帶來了山鄉的招喚,
舟子猶酷愛灰藍色的飄航:
回憶著,如雲起的笑靨,
冥想著,風動的髮絲。

          ---- 1974.11.3 寫於水長流

2010年5月21日 星期五

Rang Jintian Chengwei Lingyige Zhide Jinian de Rizi

#2010-0521

Meiyige "jintian" dou wubide zhongyao. Jiu na jintian -- 2010 nian 5 yue 21 ri -- lai shuo ba, wo juede, zhe you shi yige man zhide jinian de rizi, yinwei Antony and tade biaomei (wo hai buzhidao tade yinwen mingzi) jijiang kaishi "ren wo wei shi": liyong mei zhouwu wanshang, you wo jiao tamen yingwen!

Wo hui xiangfazi rang tamen zai yingyu fangmian "tufei-mengjin" de. . . . Jiayou, jiayou! Go, go, go!



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2010年5月20日 星期四

爭辯

---- by 常流溪 (Chang Liu-Xi, one of my previously used pseudonyms) and published in Guoyu Ribao (國語日報) on Nov. 17, 1981

日前,我到澄清湖參加為期一週的「中小學教師自強愛國座談會」,除了研討各項建設的課題,參觀中船、中鋼、高雄港等設施之外,更在湖光山色的陶冶下,結識了多位朋友,溝通了彼此的觀念及做法。

在第六天的晚上,看完名片「皇天后土」各回寢室之後,我們這幾位同桌的老師,竟然為了一個切身的問題爭辯了起來。

「你認為『禁止體罰』這條規定合理嗎?」不知是誰冒出這樣一句。

「你覺得有理,它就合理;你覺得它沒道理,它就真的沒有道理。」有一位老師應道。

「嘿!話不能這樣說啊!」在台中任教的廖老師一本正經地表示:「政府當局會設下這樣一條規定,勢必有它的理由存在。一定是經過專家學者審慎地研究,證實了體罰在教育上的害處,容易造成學童身心發展不良影響,政府才會三申五令地嚴禁體罰。」

「我認為,這問題牽涉很廣。不過,我有個簡單的原則,那就是『少用為妙!不得已時偶爾為之』。我想這樣做不會有甚麼問題,也比較適用一點。」彰化的陳老師,說完笑了一笑,好像還要補充些甚麼似的。

「這存粹是個技巧問題嘛!」年輕的林老師來自北部,他的嗓門特別亮:「既然政府明令禁止體罰,我們當然要留意。以一般常理看,適度的體罰是難免的。老師打學生也是出於一片愛心啊!如果.........」

「不!我不同意以『打』來解決問題,」廖老師插斷林老師的話,他說:「我以前也是被打出來的,我也打過學生,但是我發現『打』真的只能治標而不能治本。表面上看,打的威力很大,其實那些小孩只不過『敢怒不敢言』罷了!」

「所以我說這是個『技巧』啊!」林老師辯駁道:「我們斥責學生,無非要他學好。我們打學生的時候,第一要注意不傷害到學生的身體安全。再來要設法讓他們明白我們為甚麼打他;要使他們不但不懷恨,反而感激老師。」

「老天!這真是天底下最大的『技巧』啦!」陳老師誇張的語調,惹得哄堂大笑。我趁機向大家問道:

「各位!關於體罰的事,反對派和贊成派爭辯已久。誰是誰非姑且不論,請問:站在訓導的立場,如果有位學生調皮搗蛋,破壞秩序又不聽勸告,我們是否要處罰他?處罰時用甚麼方法最安全、最有效?」

「方法很多種啊!」廖老師說:「你可以向全體學生宣布,讓大家看看誰在吵鬧,誰是這個團體中的害群之馬........或者你把他找過來,利用時機做個別談話........我們不必以『打』來處罰他;我們可以用輔導的方法來糾正他的行為,這要比『訓導』一味地『訓』來得好。」

「我說啊,老廖!」自始三緘其口的莊老師發言了,他是廖老師的同鄉:「輔導!輔導的效果雖然卓著,可是,並非萬能丹啊!」

「輔導的方法有很多種,」廖老師仍然堅持著:「比方說諮商、約談,都須要耐心。只要有耐心、愛心,學生自然而然會被感化........」

「如果是『頑石不點頭』怎麼辦?」莊老師打趣道。

「怎會呢?他是人,不是石頭啊!」廖老師笑了起來。

「我覺得,」彰化的陳老師掉過頭來,笑一笑說道:「莊老師的話並不假。每一個學校甚至每一個班級,都會出現一兩個『寶貝』;有時候我們能以團體的力量來影響他,有時候他們卻能在老師不在的時候,帶頭做一些不可思議的事,影響了大家的安寧。」

「我們這個社會何嘗不是如此?」我企圖進一步解釋:「法律的存在,犯罪的人應受刑法制裁,這好比我們教小朋友一樣,好的要鼓勵,難道壞的不應處罰?只是處罰的方式如何擺脫『體罰』而能做得恰到好處,這才是我迫切想知道的。」

「常老師的話有道理。我想『體罰』二字必須明確地定義出來,」陳老師一針見血地說:「否則罰站個五分鐘、罰寫十行生字、罰掃廁所........統統都是體罰,老師難為矣!」

「身、心本來就相連相通的,」林老師的嗓門真是響亮:「說罰站是一種體罰,也可以啊!如果怕事,說成『訓練立正』不就得了?我覺得我們不必這樣說。因為教育本來就是良心事業,事事本諸良心就行了。我每接過一個班級來,都會自動去家庭訪問。說真的,我花在學生身上的時間不少,我暑假訓練選手還自掏腰包呢!家長都信得過我,我偶爾打了學生幾個手心,家長也都能體諒。」

「要留意!年輕人千萬別過火了!」莊老師又澆起冷水了。坐在床邊的廖老師站出來,環視上、下鋪一周,說道:

「你們這幾位年輕的老師,在學校裡一定有很好的表現。凡事嘛!多思考、多體驗總是好的。」

我拿出「手冊」印證了一下,果然我是這寢室中最年輕的一個。由於今夜這場氣氛和諧的「爭辯」,我學到很多很多。這無異是「中小學教師自強愛國座談會」課表之外最寶貴的一課。我除了對「體罰」有更深一層的認識,更領略到「吾愛吾生」的思想多麼濃烈地顯露在這次爭辯中。

---- 1981.11.17 刊於 國語日報 「國民教育」第1551期

2010年5月19日 星期三

草之風光:共 2 組

圖片編號:001

曷為衣服慮耶?試想野有百合花,如何而長,不勞不紡。我語汝,當所羅門榮華之極,其衣不如此花之一。
--- 錄自 馬太福音 第六章 28-29 節

And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers.
(from Matthew 6:28-29)



且夫野草,今日尚存,明日投爐,上帝猶衣被之若此,況爾小信者乎?
--- 錄自 馬太福音 第六章 30 節


It is God who clothes the wild grass -- grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won't he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have?  (from Matthew 6:30)





圖片編號:002                坡邊長草有誰看?看 誰  有   草    長     邊      坡!









白花草邊路,路上少人行,=====
=====,行人少上路,路邊草花白


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2010年5月18日 星期二

Xinde Kaishi

#2010-0518

Changchang, wo you yizhong ganjue; najiushi, cishi-cike nai shi xinde kaishi.

Meicuo! Jiu shi xianzai. Xianzai zhe yi miaozhong, bian shi quanxinde kaishi -- a brand-new beginning! Yinwei, guoqu de, yi chengwei buke zhuihui de meng; er weilai, dingduo zhi shi xinzhong na meiyouren neng danbao shixian de chongjing. Zai "meng" yu "chongjing" zhi jian, cai shi wo keyi shaoshao bawo de fenfen-miaomiao a!

Danyuan ni, wo qin'aide pengyoumen, ye neng you zheyangde ganjue, ye neng jinjinde zhuazhu zhe fenfen-miaomiao, kaichuang shuyu ni de "xinde kaishi."

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2010年5月17日 星期一

攸關我家:共 3 張



圖片編號:001               "老家廚房的門"

"Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it."
(from Gospel of Matthew, 7:13-14)

當進窄門;引而之死,其門也闊,其路也寬,入之者多;引而之生,其門也窄,其路也狹,得之者少。
----錄自 馬太福音 第七章第13-14節




圖片編號:002            老爸說故事,事關921, 以及很以前的 .....

My dad was telling us a story:
A part of our old cottage was damaged
by the well-known "9-21 earthquake" in 1999
and so on and so forth!


圖片編號:003           孫子長得比爺爺更高----符合我們的期望!


After my dad finished telling some stories, I quickly took this picture -- just in front of the door to the ruined kitchen of our "old house." I'm quite sure that this picture will remind us of many, many "good old days."

By the way, do you see that my son is much taller than my dad? This is something interesting, isn't it?

2010年5月16日 星期日

午後陽光

----- by Mookoo Liang in August, 2009


吞下一顆鈣片,喝了一口水,我興匆匆對另一半說:爬山囉!我幫你拿襪子來……沒想到老婆立即回嘴:太陽這麼大,誰這個時候出門爬山?要去自己去,這回我可不陪!

果然,午後三點鐘,烈日當空。「秋老虎」的威力令人望而生畏!

我,頭戴寬邊帽,手持輕杖,獨自走在家附近「霧峰」山中的產業道路上。眼前一片亮麗,藍天、白雲、配上青翠蓊鬱的草木;沿著山徑蜿蜒而上,響徹耳際的是夏末秋初的蟬鳴:唧唧唧......唧唧唧……唧—唧—唧—唧———。

無霧的霧峰,亦是一種美!而我的另一半寧願逗留家中,小憩片刻。

我完全能理解,這半個多月來,她回娘家附近的醫院陪伴及照顧生病的父親,日夜勞累,已到了「身心俱疲」的程度。她需要休息。她的媽媽[就是我慈愛的岳母]也再三勸她,要她回到霧峰來休息一陣子。

我因為工作的緣故,週間沒能前往醫院探視,只得利用週末假日,驅車前往。而週日上午,教堂英語禮拜的事工,巧逢其他「司禱員」出缺、牧師又出國開會,一向擔任「司禱」工作的我,責無旁貸,總要親自到場。於是,週六專程探病之後,必須返家過夜,等週日上午做完禮拜,方得再次趕往醫院。

在帶領會眾進行祈禱的同時,我內心感觸特深:懇求全能上主,亦即我慈悲天父,賜平安與眾人,務必……務必治好我岳父的病!——我們依照《公禱書》逐項禱告,不知怎地,為岳父的病求神醫治,我卻不想公然說出,彷彿「默禱」更能讓自己全神貫注。

心裡明白,凡血肉之軀的,不免會有病痛之苦。但當親人、好友(或自己)身體患病之時,苦的可不單是一個人啊!小病微恙,尚可輕鬆應付;若是重病急症,往往令人方寸大亂、手足無措呢。

回想起半個多月前那個週六上午,我們位於霧峰鄉的房子,電路檢修及牆面重新粉刷的工程剛一結束,九點五十分許,工人方才離去,就接到內弟來電,說岳父出狀況了。我和她立即驅車趕回。一路狂飆,離她娘家還蠻遠,半途又接到電話說:「直接到醫院來吧!……」岳父失去意識,必須緊急開刀。

多麼令人緊張著急啊!老婆的體質個性,原本就屬於容易驚慌的敏感型,此時此刻,身為丈夫的我,更需要一份沉著冷靜。

我還算鎮定。向來我主張維持平衡:一種情感與理性之間的平衡、一種思維與行動之間的平衡、一種「盡我心、盡我力」與「仰望神、俯求神」之間的平衡。沒錯!天助自助者。牧師也常說:Just do your best, and God will do the rest! (有點像「盡人事、聽天命」的說法!)

倘不如此,情況又將如何?更好嗎?或更糟?

走在山中的產業道路上,我獨自一人,踩著穩健而規律的步履。我調整呼吸。百般不願胡思亂想。

舉目所見,是青山、綠樹、白雲、藍天,一片耀眼的浪漫景象。而午後炙熱的陽光,是唯一我不敢正眼注視的,它把僅有的幾陣涼風都給蒸散了。我沒走幾步路,就已經汗流浹背,全身濕透。

耳際,又響起熟悉的《夏秋更替交響曲》:唧唧唧......唧唧唧……唧—唧—唧—唧———。

好不熱鬧的應景曲目啊,充滿生命力,此起彼落、交相應和。那音色同中有異,那旋律高低有致,分明是一種渾然天成的共鳴。至於那節奏,快慢自如,力道十足,就像是十幾二十出頭的年輕人,所當展現的「旭日東昇、前程一片光明」的美好寫照。

腦海裡驀地浮現兒子陽光般燦爛的笑容。也想起幽默的他,以年輕一輩的說話方式逗笑「準媳婦」的種種,不禁令人莞爾。最近我常跟老婆說:真好!我們的兒子找到了「另一半」,小倆口恩愛模樣,看來他倆一定會很幸福的。

正因為他倆的婚事,我們才請人裝潢他們即將遷入的公寓「新居」,也順便整修我們霧峰的老房子。

霧峰山上,午後的蟬鳴樂章,依舊無始無終,綿延不絕交響著。配上四周圍的青山綠樹、頭頂上的藍天白雲,我彷彿置身於一巨幅「有聲圖畫」中。……能有此機會,學習將身、心、靈三者,漸漸融入這既真實、又美善的大自然之中,何其有幸!

我寧願依賴大自然的化育功能,促進本身的健康;也祈求這大自然(及其中一切萬物)的原創者,天父上帝,眷顧世上所有人,包括我的家人,無論男、女、老、少!

醫師說,沒有足夠的「陽光維生素」,即使吃下再多的鈣質也吸收不了。醫師還特別叮囑我:骨質疏鬆負二點五以上,好比七十多歲老人家的骨齡,你,應該多注重飲食和運動,並且到醫院定期追蹤、做必要的治療。

我今年五十幾,得了一身超齡老骨頭,算不算「小病微恙」?

其實另一半是蠻擔心的。她說剛認識我的時候,我身子就不太好。才二十出頭的人,前一年動了胃部切除手術,隔年又開HIVD大刀,身體兩度走過「死蔭的幽谷」,怎能跟那些「健美先生」比?直到現在,她似乎還擺脫不了三十年前那段灰暗日子所殘留的幾絲陰影。

她的身體,也好不到哪兒呀!依我看,是我該擔心她這位「弱女子」才是!

我常邀約她一起爬山——除了年初參加聖地之旅,隨隊攀爬「西乃山」之外,我們鮮少 mountain-climbing 爬大山,頂多只是 hiking in the mountains 山中健行罷了——邊走邊聊,她竟然幾次有感而發地說,希望比我早些離開這世界。「很難想像要是你先走,我日子要怎麼過?」天啊!這問題太難以回答,誰知道天父如何安排?

「這是上帝的事,完全交給祂處理吧!」我說道。心中卻暗自祈禱:誰先走都不好,能否教我們「比翼齊飛」「一起老」?

岳父住院開刀以來這段期間,大家的心情都七上八下。隨著不同的檢驗報告,醫師每日的說明,身為家屬的,時而振奮,時而失望,時而緊張又難過。幸好岳父的子女、孫子女們,都很孝順,且能通力合作,日夜輪班到醫院陪伴及照顧,可謂鉅細靡遺、無微不至。

而我慈愛的岳母,是家人中最受煎熬的一位吧,就算不明講,她那心急如焚的無助與茫然,全寫在臉上。

那天我再到醫院的時候,也是午後。岳父已經從待了五、六天的加護病房,轉到八樓西側的普通病房,又過三天了。雖然身上還插著注射管線,總算可以坐起來一下子,讓我輕拍他的背——他們說如此輕拍背部,有助於病人把痰水咳出。岳父仍然虛弱,卻意識清楚。顯然,他記掛著家中每一位大小,尤其岳母。

他對我說[有氣無力地]:好啦,不用再拍了,你的手會痠的。

哪會呢?我說:拍這麼幾下,不會痠的。倒是,爸,您要有耐性喔!要聽醫師的話,安心養病,才會好得更快……

他又說:現在幾點鐘了?你跟琴[他的二女兒,我的另一半]是不是該回去了?路途遙遠……這裡有你媽媽在,就可以了。

我有種莫名的感動。心想,天父上帝一定要讓岳父早日康復,一定,一定要。我們的確還有許多事要做,要分享;例如,岳父的外孫[我的兒子]就要結婚了。婚禮那天,身為爺爺、奶奶、外公、外婆等,所有至親長輩都要親臨給予祝福,不是麼?

我跟守在床邊的岳母說,這一間病房的方位不錯,打開部分窗簾望外看,就可清楚地看到遠處「大安港」附近的海面。在午後陽光照映下,海面上有幾艘大船經過,甚至可以數得出來。我建議,夕陽西斜之際,不妨適度打開窗簾,讓和煦的陽光照進房內,給岳父來個有益健康的「天然日光浴」。

或許,這正是極需要「正向思考」的時候。哪怕有人曾經嘆息:夕陽無限好,只是近黃昏。此刻我們一家人,卻必須改口說:縱使近黃昏,夕陽無限好。

我差點忘了自己身在何處。在霧峰山中產業道路上,我默然前行,踩著緩慢而規律的腳步。我邊走邊思索:健康何等重要,應採取什麼「行動」以維護身、心、靈健康?健康之外,學識和品德也同等重要,又該如何「精進」才能領悟最真的智慧與至善的愛?今人所求「真、善、美」的境界,與古人所謂「智者不惑、仁者不憂、勇者不懼」的理念,有何異同?......

啊!有太多我應做、想做,卻未做的事;也有太多我想問,卻難有解答的問題。最終,我只好轉向那「三位一體」神!懇求祂「恩典憐憫」助我一臂之力,教我面對人生各樣課題,皆能以「信、望、愛」為憑,慢慢理解、逐步實現。

我看看手錶,發現這一日,在炙熱的陽光下,我已然走了很遠、想了很多。不過,我仍要為岳父、岳母虔心祈禱,如同為親生爹娘那般。我要為「另一半」禱告、感恩,因她是我的better half(更好、更重要的)。我也要為兒子,以及他的妻小,求神降恩賜福,讓他們的人生多采多姿、歡喜快樂。

假如人生一世如一日,年輕晚輩就像旭日東昇,可望前程似錦;年邁長者如同落日餘暉、理應霞彩滿天。而我,此刻的我,順著山路蜿蜒而下,儼然還穿戴著一身火樣熱情、燦爛奪目的午後陽光。

我不時環顧四周,發現沿路綺麗的山光樹影依舊在。而當我駐足片刻,立即有更強烈的感受,彷彿那熟悉無比、綿延不絕的《夏秋更替交響曲》已將我完全淹沒:唧唧唧......唧唧唧……唧—唧—唧—唧———。   <全文完>

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2010年5月15日 星期六

The Pond and Something

------ by Mookoo Liang in April, 2002



"Something ordinary, something special;
something imaginary, something sensible."

※  ※  ※

Every morning I spend about 20 minutes jogging at a senior high school near my house. When walking toward the school, I pass by a very charming pond on campus.

The pond is charming in a mysterious way. I am delighted to see it with my eyes, and I enjoy thinking of it when it is "out of sight." Its attraction, existing outwardly over there and inwardly in my heart, is some sort of "wholeness of beauty" -- composed of quite a number of beautiful things.

The pond is well fenced around, partly with a concrete wall and partly with steel bars, not to mention the deep ditch just outside the bank. On the narrow bank are some of my favorite trees such as lemon, banana, and plum trees. There are, of course, some shorter bushes and some very tall weeds.

Neither these plants nor the fences keep me from seeing the beautifully designed and constructed pavilion on the island in the middle of the pond.

The small island, with such an eye-catching pavilion standing on it, is surrounded by greenish blue water in the pond. I like this pond very much. There are no fierce billows here, but glistening ripples on the surface of water.

In the water there must be lots and lots of fish, as the signs "No fishing!" imply. (Both fish and fishing are significant symbols for many people, aren't they?)

Another two signs read: "Water deep & dangerous!" I am unable to swim. But every time I pass by the pond, I am attracted to those graceful swimming birds -- a pair of geese and about a dozen ducks.

At this pond, most of the ducks (called Green Heads) are dark in color; only two of them are as bright as the two geese, which are snow-white. They all swim in a leisurely and lovely way! There seems every reason to believe that this pond is their Garden of Eden.

In addition to the ducks and geese, I sometimes see a particular bird flying out of the woods behind the pond.

That kind of bird (also pure white, rather thin, with long legs and a long beak; called Bai Lusi in Chinese) used to be the best of my natural friends when I was a teenager helping graze a cow in the country. Unfortunately, due to environmental changes, the population of Bai Lusi has been greatly reduced these years.

So the bird, supposedly dwelling somewhere in the woods, doesn't come out very often. I miss it very much in some particular seasons.

Oh, my! I'm missing quite a few beautiful things: Although I go to the nearby school for a jog every morning, I seldom pay a true visit to the pond; although I am interested in meditating (or daydreaming), in no way do I feel really free to stay in such a picturesque scene all afternoon.

Like many others tied up in this busy earthly world, I seem to have lost my paradise. But I still have strong feelings toward the pond. I feel it practical to regain my own "secret garden" by visiting the pond more often.

※  ※  ※

In fact, there is a bridge (named Rainbow and shaped like one) which leads to the small island in the middle of the pond. Before crossing the bridge, I need to walk across the front yard of a destroyed building.
According to educated seniors in this village, the building lying in ruins was originally used as a library, and it was named Wu Gui Lou just because there were five osmanthus trees in front of it.

By the way, a well-known advocate of the Reform Movement in the last years of the Qing Dynasty, Mr. Liang Qi-Chao (1873-1929) came from afar and stayed here at Wu Gui Lou for some time. Interestingly, his surname happened to be the same as mine!

Now the five osmanthus trees that produced tiny sweet-scented flowers are no longer seen, and the old two-storied library is almost completely "out of sight." Yet in my mind there always remain lots of things, some of which are so special. For example, the broken walls of Wu Gui Lou remind me of the devastating 9-21 earthquake (in the year 1999).

I hate to say that not all my memories are beautiful. They do include things good and bad, happy and sad!

Anyway, I just want to reform my way of thinking, in addition to improving my physical condition. I will spend more time jogging in the nearby school; and if possible, I will go near (and ponder over) the mysteriously charming pond every day.

※  ※  ※

The horrible 9-21 earthquake devoured numberless valuable lives; it also destroyed such beautiful things as Wu Gui Lou and the pavilion on the small island in the pond.

However, reconstruction was necessary . . . .

Although thinking of the quake made me sick and sad, pondering over the pond (just like jogging) made me healthy and happy!

※  ※  ※

Well, I was born a few months ago. No sooner had I been born (or hatched) than I fell into a huge pond -- Please don't be confused! I've turned into a full-grown frog now.

Before I grew up, I was just a tiny creature with a tail, but without hands or feet. I was called kedou in Chinese, or tadpole in English.

As a newly-hatched tadpole, I fell into a state of "complete ignorance" at the very beginning -- Is ignorance bliss? -- Yet, very soon I found myself deep in the water, either floating or swimming.

Thanks to my long tail, it made me a quick swimmer!

For quite a long time I enjoyed myself alone in the water. My semi-transparent body was perfectly wrapped up by the water, which was also semi-transparent.

In such a liquid my eyesight was limited, yet I could hear something special in the distance. Furthermore, I could breathe freely in such a "water-world"! -- I could move around my familiar "corners," and I could explore a little bit farther every single day.

Traveling into an unknown world was indeed the most exciting thing for me, though my travel in this huge pond could be very risky.

The fact is, my life journey was risky but I was quite lucky! I was lucky to escape from all kinds of dangers and troubles. When I had been alone for some time and began feeling lonely, I ran into a half dozen creatures that looked like me.

"Where are you from, friends?" I asked, badly in need of a friend or two.

"Oh, I have no idea!" one of them replied.

"I don't know, either!" all the others followed.

Then they asked me the same question. This startled me! I myself didn't know where I was from.

Anyway, they and I had a long and pleasant talk that afternoon. We shared our personal experiences with each other. Each of us was glad to be the others' good brother or sister.

Then, later in the same afternoon, we bumped into another six creatures of the same kind. Three of them joined us, forming a nice "brothers and sisters" group.

The other three, as I noticed, were really newly-hatched tadpoles. They couldn't swim; they had just fallen into this pond from somewhere above the surface of the water!

"Where on earth are they from?" I was burning with curiosity, in secret.

Having been with my "brothers and sisters" for hours, I thought of being alone again. So I said goodbye to them, and swam along in a different direction.

I seemed to be rather introverted. "Introspection" was, therefore, an important way of living for me. That was another type of exploration.

"Where do I come from? And where to go?" I couldn't help asking such questions. I found no answer that really satisfied me. I began to suppose that the mysteries of life were definitely beyond my comprehension.

Maybe the only thing I could do then was practice swimming. I hoped I would become one of the best swimmers when I grew up.

I swam and swam. Suddenly, I heard something very peculiar behind me. I turned quickly to hide myself, and saw my "brothers and sisters" thrown into a panic -- they were being scattered by a big monster!

"What's that? … Is that a bad fish? … Or an evil snake?"

Nobody answered me.

Before long, the ugly creature was gone, all the noises were gone, and the whole pond was back to normal.

Nevertheless, a similar event occurred shortly after. The third, the fourth, and the fifth incidents happened successively in the same pond on the same day.

Some monstrous creatures were obviously more "ugly" than others. They even caused tens of deaths at a time!

Several days later, some of my best friends lost their lives in a fatal accident. I was shocked to see that kind of "sudden change" occurring in the pond.

And three weeks after that, my own body began to change in a very strange way. One morning, the pond being silent as the grave, I woke up early and saw something extremely unusual. I was scared stiff when I saw my first pair of legs coming out of my belly.

Before long, another pair of legs (also functioning as my arms) came into sight, while my long tail quickly atrophied -- and eventually disappeared.

"Is this a normal transfiguration? … Or a harmful deformation? … What should I do -- or what can I do about it?" I had mixed feelings about what was going on. Unable to face up to my own problems, I became very upset again.

If I had not met Mr. Turtle, a very good teacher of mine, I wouldn’t have learned how to deal with such a miserable situation.

※  ※  ※

As a matter of fact, I had been a curious amphibian, trying very hard to learn. I'd like to get not only a clear picture of my surroundings, but also a better understanding of myself.

But my learning ability seemed very limited. The only thing I knew for sure was that my knowledge could never keep up with my curiosity; the more I had learned, the more I felt I had to learn.

"Hey, Froggy!" a hoarse voice came from somewhere near the pond. I saw a strange-looking creature resting under the fruit trees on the bank. It was an old turtle (as I later learned) with a friendly smile on his face.

"You are a good student," he said to me.

"Are you sure, sir?" I didn't think I was doing well in my studies.

"Yes, you are eager to learn! You'll be a great scholar!"

"Oh, I'm just …well, if I could, I would … try harder …"

At first the gentleman-turtle embarrassed me a little. However, his encouraging words, together with his practical guidance, were great magic that fantastically promoted my life.

Very soon Mr. Turtle became my best friend and mentor!

Mr. Turtle was also an amphibian, but much older and wiser than I. He was born two decades before the 9-21 quake, and had been living in this pond for 15 years. He was very knowledgeable about the pond; he knew quite a lot about the living and nonliving things in and around the pond.

More importantly, he was so kind and generous that he would share everything good with others. Whenever I asked him for help, he gave me valuable advice, making my dull days colorful, and my ordinary place meaningful!

Sometimes he would initiate a chat like this:

"How are you, Froggy?"

"Well, so-so."

"Why, you look so down! You're badly in need of a chat right now."

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Turtle. But may I ask you lots and lots of questions at a time?"

"Don't hesitate to ask. Let's see how many questions you have."

Sometimes my questions were as many as the number of the fish swimming in this pond. Speaking of fish, some are much bigger than others. If you were fishing, wouldn't you try to catch big fish first?

I tried to raise those questions that I thought were the most important.

"What's that?" I pointed to a turning machine fixed on the surface of water near the island. The machine looked like a small watermill but kept turning at a high speed.

"It's a fish-pond pump," Mr. Turtle explained. "It forces gas into the water so that living creatures under water have enough oxygen to breathe."

"You mean even fish cannot live without oxygen?"

"Exactly. They need oxygen as well as food."

When I asked what food fish fed on and who fed them, Mr. Turtle taught me something about natural selection. He said that the famous English scientist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) had written about this idea in his book The Origin of Species.

I disliked the idea of "survival of the fittest," but I had learned that there were lots of fights among different schools of fish, and that even in the same school there was intense competition (in addition to cooperation).

Mr. Turtle told me not to be discouraged. He showed me something more interesting and encouraging.

"Do you know why that bridge was named Rainbow? Think about it."

"Yes, sir." I replied.

"That Rainbow connects the ruins of Wu Gui Lou and the beautiful pavilion on the small island. What does that mean? Have you learned the English phrase at the rainbow's end?"

"I guess I've learned it before." I said. "But would you mind making comments about those swimming birds?"

"Not at all. But first of all, please regard fish swimming (and struggling) in this pond as people living (and working) in a human society. Then, you may compare those ducks to your brothers and sisters, or your best friends."

Mr. Turtle paused and then continued, "Pay attention to the colors of the ducks. It's possible that your personality is very different from that of your good friend."

"How about the geese?" I interrupted.

"The two snow-white geese represent an intimate husband and wife. Look! Those geese are always near each other, whether swimming in the pond or standing on the bank -- By the way, have you seen the white egret (that is, Bai Lusi) flying out recently?"

"Sorry, I haven't. What would you say about the egret?"

"It stands for one's self. In Freudian psychology, there are three parts of the mind: ego, superego, and id. The bird sometimes stands near the pond, sometimes flies high up in the sky, and sometimes hides itself in the woods. Whether it is three-in-one or not, try not to lose your self."

Suddenly I felt very sorry for myself. I didn't even know where I was from. I begged for further interpretation of my life, my being! And in the end Mr. Turtle concluded that I was a particular kind of tree frog, created in my Master's imagination.

According to Mr. Turtle, my Master was now jogging again at the high school near his house, and I was going to lay eggs very soon in the branches over the still water near the edge of the pond.