Notes on My Artworktt
Last Part of Portland Journal
Other writings


Portfolio Writing in English Writing in Chinese Events Biography


Book Resume Contact

Exert from DOUBLE IMAGERIES / Chapter 23

Place: Da Fen Farm / China
Time: 1976

It was New Year, everyone went back to Shanghai for vacation. There were only few of us left here at the farm. It was quiet, exquisitely quiet. It seemed nature was suddenly, yet timidly, sneaking into its existence.

There was not much for us to do. My daily job was taking vegetables to a restaurant which cooked for only a few people. So I had much time to read the books I liked. I had the whole sky and land to wonder about. To my surprise, I didn't have to hide any more as all those people were no longer around.

It was a sunny day. I took a book and stroked along the River Five. It was one of those warm afternoons after many cloudy, chilling days. This salty, barren land now became quite promising; the singing of the birds was brighter than ever. I felt the temptation of Spring even though there was no sign of green yet. The surface of the water was calm, like a flat transparency. Imagine, just a few days ago, the noise, anguish and bitter struggling fight had torched this remote coastal land; now all had disappeared and left it in peace. I was utterly amazed that even such ugly, infertile soil could be so lively without our human effort. I sat by the river bank on a dome, my head laid against a tree that was high and straight enough to pierce though the blue sky. I opened the book, turning the pages like flipping the reflection of warm light. I tried to make my body close to the ground while I was reading down the lines. The soft breeze was hitting me and spreading a comfort space between my winter coat and skin; sunlight gradually heated up the book's pages in my hands, and the reflection burned my eyelashes. The color of the yellow orchard made me feel dizzy and heavy. Gradually, a very small hand held the tiny soul bathing and floating away into an infinite open land of tranquility. My conscious slipped away...

A slight waking up without knowing the time or space. I felt many flickering little chips of knives with sharp lemon light chopping a vast, vibrating web that was surrounded by an endless blue sphere. These moving knives were cutting the surface of my barely-opened eyes. It hurt. I noticed that the sphere was supported by the tree trunk on whose roots my head was laying, but I was hardly able to move my gaze away from this flirting game on the tips of the branches. After a while, I became accustomed to it, and I tried to follow the game of sunlight. It was quiet; even the birds had stopped talking. I felt slightly cold, yet enough to have a gratitude to the warm intimacy in the open sky. It was like a fairy tale; the story was distant enough to be exclusive, which created a single channel alone to the one who enjoyed it. The purity and surreal environment was not the story itself, but was the way in which the story was being invented and communicated. It was a distilled air which could never be physically reached. It was a massive wave of transparency that I was hardly able to feel...

Light, the warmth of the light upon my eyelash, I dozed into another nap...

En-n-ar, a soft yet distant sound like an image of a thumb gently pushing upright under a huge flat sheet of silk, as a flower petal dropping on the surface of a windless pond. It was a sudden movement of flood through moving-less-vein; a tiny heart fluctuated in tranquility. I slightly moved my head to where the sound was emanating: there was a little boat slipping on the surface of oily green water and silently drawing many moving V lines from its tail. The water looked like the gem of an ancient mirror. I never knew water to be this rich or green. Sunlight was going down to the edge of the land and brushing its intense color on the water from the horizon, where the boat was coming from. It was a fishing boat. Fishing boats rarely came through the Rive Five this time of year. An old man and a little girl with a country-style, flowery winter coat were on board. The old man was asculling while the girl tried to help, but she was too little to follow the to rhythm. They were having fun each other without saying anything. Suddenly an image of a poem came to life from a literary recitation of the past; a poem which had never made such vivid sense as it now did in this very moment, written by Lu Zhong Yun, a poet who lived fifteen hundred years ago:


Chapter 3

Rat Poison

Time: 60's

Place: Shanghai

            Since Mamma's extreme clean habit and father's medical career, we had many straight rules in our house.  For instance, all the plates had to be cleaned by either hot water or alcohol before each meal; fruit had to be washed by potassium permanganate. Mamma had many different outfits for doing different things. All the neighbors viewed us with some kind (alienation) differently.

            Both my brother and I had our own set of bowls, spoon and little plates that had image of our sign: my brother is rat and I am monkey. Once there were food in our bowl and no way to see the image, we would have little flag plugged on the top of food for proper indication. Sometimes my brother would change the flag if he wanted the food in my bowl.  Everyone had to wash their own bowls, spoon or little plates after meal. Of cause Mamma had help me when I was a little.        

            We had to take many different pills everyday, things like calcium, vitamin and so on so forth, which we didn't like at all. Mamma said I needed these pills particularly. It said that I couldn't wait in Mamma's belly and came out too early, so doctor had put me in an incubator. Mamma had tried to make me stronger ever since. I remembered there was a pill for better digesting that we had take after each meal, I think 食母生Shi Mu Sheng was the name. None of my brother and I liked that routine. Later there was a new pill called 宝塔糖Bo-Ta-Tan arrived to replace the previous one. It was kind of candy that made of many different colors as lemon, pink, light green and blue. The size was like our little thumb and shape like temple, so we called it temple-candy.  We were so crazy about the temple-candy that our parents had to hide it from us. Once a while, either my brother or I would find the lively yellow and pink box and stole it. So it became some kind of game in our house.

            One day out of blue my father asked me: "Suikang did you take rat poison?"  "What?" we all knew the game of temple-candy, but not the rat poison. He asked my brother, who was old enough to shrug his shoulder and ignored my father's blame. 揑t must be Suikang?" Father said. I didn't know why he had this idea. I never knew even rat had pill. "I doubted the kids would take the rat poison." Mamma said quietly, "but where are they? I just placed the pills this morning; rats wouldn't come out to get during the day." "The kids might take temple-candy, but not rat poison. The rat poison looked like the Shi Mu Sheng we used before. You knew they hate that." Mamma tried to reason with father. Well, the steeling and hiding game of  temple-candy was open to public now, brother  and I stared at each other,  we both had tried to keep the secret from each other and now we realized it was a secrete to no one. By now we can care less about this, especially me; it seemed I was the only one to be suspicious of taking the rats poison. Everyone was smarter than me even rats would be rational enough not to come out to fetch their poison during the daylight.

            The search through the whole house made me frizzed at the corner where I was temporary left alone. I wanted those pills magically to be discovered more then anyone else in the house. However, the effort was in vain. My body sunk, while I have to put myself together to accept the interrogation to come.

            Here was my father standing in front of me, with ironically grin. I had no courage to look at him. "You didn抰 take the pills, did you?" Mamma sound a little tired. I lift my head and saw her face had a vial of weary. With my begging look, I shook my head. If it was the other time, I would immediately throw myself into her arms. "Hai" Mamma sighed. "So?" father lost his cynicism, and shout his voice out like bullet. He turned to Mamma: "Er, who do you believe? A little brad or us?"  My brother was very much detached from the incident. He was a little glad it was not his business this time. Usually, family problem with kids were always went to him, while I was a little enough to be spoiled, and sheltered by parents, as my brother put it: I was a dear "toady" particularly  to M-Ma, so I was untouchable.

            "No I didn't do it." I raised my voice to father. "What? You tell me you didn't, now tell me who did it?!" As suddenly finding a target, he had excused to be outrages "all right, you want to go find the bills yourself? Go, get up, let's go." I mechanically walked away from where I was, and pretended looking yet didn't know how. I even didn't know what rat poison looked like. "Pu ci," I much am so stupid that made my brother busted a short and nervous laugh and that caused my father抯 angry look at him. I walked around the house, obviously purposeless.  I closed my eyes and hoped the pill would miracle fall from roof and I could show my father: "here were your evil pill!" but miracle didn't happen. Father stood there with a stilled cynical smile. "You know," there was Mamma's voice, 搑ats might take it during the day, we never know." Mamma suggested to search house completely, " this time, let's looking for dead rats as well," She talked to father who gave me a very suspicious look. Well, father agreed and seemed he had no intention to be the enemy with me.

            I tried my best to help my parents though I didn't quite know what to look for. Four of us went through the all house for another two hours. There was no result. It was at noon when father started notice the missing pills, by this time it was evening. Everybody was tired and desperate. Again, I became the center of anguish. It was worst then ever. I could read the look from my father and brother, it said" you made fool of us, you, wicked damn little thing!"

            "I really didn't take any of those pills, I swear to Chairman Mao!" (It was very popular swear among the kids who didn't know what mean during that time. It usually was a deadly truth, yet absolutely means nothing at all, something like " I swear to the God" ) This time I started without being asked and raised my voice to protest my sincerity, partially  I thought I gained credit by helping them to search the house at least. This, by the contrast, got father violently anger. I had always afraid of fathers merciless and anger towards my brother. Some times I could feel Mamma was afraid of him too. This was the first time I could remember that father acted this to me. I was scared and withdrew myself梩his was all for me!  "You are scaring him." Mamma said in very low voice. "Right, you have spoiled him all the time. Yes, he is your little baby; your spoiling is going to kill him. Do you know how much rat poison he had taken since, and how many hours have been? We don't have time, you knew it..." Father and M-Ma started a quarrel which I rear saw in my limited age. I wished the floor would suddenly open up so that I could hide in. Finally, Mamma came to me; I could feel her shaking intensive voice in a desperate tone: "Suikang, do you understand the rat poison can kill you if you eat it? You are Mamma's dearest, if you did eat it, just let me know, Papa and I would not punish you for what you had done, but we are running out of time. You must not lie to me, Suikang?" My tears like sudden opened faucet, just the blink of the eyelashes, the river of grievance formed two streams falling along my little skinning cheeks梕ven my dear Mamma wouldn't believe me. Every one thought my tears was the sign of breaking through my stubborn lie, including my brother. Three of them were standing high and close enough that made me feel they were all on the top of me. One after another they were all saying same one thing in different voice. "Don抰 be afraid, oh, don抰. It is OK just lie for once. Well, you are such a lively body; you will not torment us, will you? Please, please have messy on us, on every body, say it, please, please just say it, yes? Oh just say yes, yes, yes, every thing then will be over, oh, oh, oh..."

            I was desperate and my small hands could not stop the running tear. Mamma started cry: 搚ou just let us know, I will do every thing for you my dear." Her voice shaking badly and her hands touched me nervously as I was a little devil she clutched in with unbearable love. She was anxious and up to the point that she couldn't wait for me to admit my lie and take me right to the hospital. Father's anger and Mamma's anguish, irrational pressure and emotional sob made me very upset "No! No-no-no! 揑 screamed like a little rat in the hell of boiling oil. My crazy of stubbornness spit out such a hysterical outcome that made a sudden unbelievable moment of silence. I was, usually quiet and obedient kid, would only get out of mind in rear occasion like this. "No---" I was crying and throwing myself on the floor in a desperate tone of wanting to die. Mamma was frightened and walked away with a soundless sobbing. Father was stupefied and stopped his blaming. Once more, another search was on the way.

            Yet, nothing was found again. It was midnight.  My tear was dry Father抯 voice was still full of anger, but tired, and Mamma was completed torn by contradicted emotion. The most detached person, my brother was in tear. I was horrified by the scene in front of me. All of these were because of me. They made me believe the world was going to collapse with my stubbiness. The word "yes" became the only salvation of every one who was involved, especially me.

            "Yes. I..." I was in an exhausted voice. Mamma lifted me without let me finished the sentence rushing me out of house. All of sudden, I realized what I admitted would do me no good. I hated hospital, my father's career made me feel even worse. I cried in my last effort, not because grievance, but only for the last will of fighting to survive. I struggled on Mamma's back when she was carrying me on the way to a hospital. "I promise doctor will not use needle, my boy" Mamma's voice was out of her breath. My head was leaned over her shoulder looking at her heels shafting in a rhythmic pace, but this time was not cozy as usual.

            "No needle I promise.?"

            In the hospital, I stopped to cry and gave myself to fate of my lie. I was given one bowl of dark brown liquid to drink which tested horrible, instead of, it said, using a needle. I had a very painful vomit few minutes later. The nurse in white checked what I had vomited.  With a suspicious look, the nurse asked Mamma if she was sure that I took the poison 揧es". So, I got another cup of the drink, and another vomit. There was, of cause, nothing there either. Mamma was too nervous to be rational. When nurse came back with sure answer, Mamma looked at both nurse and me asked 揇id you really take the poison?" After more then ten hours interrogation and two vomits, I was lying on an uncomfortable wooden bench face red and hot, very sick and hardly can speak.

            I breathlessly shook my head with the voice that barely can be heard. Nurse was making a face, Mamma was about fainting out.

             I was about the age of five.