Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chapter 2: Hiding From the Rain

[Translator's Note: Wow. Just wow. I always knew that translation was not going to be easy, but I'm finding it extremely difficult to find words in the English language that can even somewhat match the breadth of feeling that is the Chinese language. English is obviously my first language, but this exercise was completely eye-opening. I cannot say that I'm confident in my work below, but hey, it's a start. Also, you will notice that there's a lot of commas going on here. The Chinese love their long sentences but they become run-ons only when you convert it into English. I had to chop some of these behemoth sentences up to my own discretion. There's also a bit of slight added improv to make the translated sentences make sense in English. Now, I present to you my first Frankenstein.]

The migration from Chun'an was a difficult and arduous one, hopping from train station to train station, passing through rivers, through lakes, over mountains. After a year and a half, it was impossible to understand how things came to be. Mei-jun was confused to find herself standing at this chaotic port on Hainan Island. Here, waves of migrants surged towards docked vessels, looking for a way to salvage their lives, having already lost communication with their husbands stranded on the wrong side of the shore.

Hainan Island was the official point of retreat. It was May of 1950 and the People's Republic of China had already been officially established for half a year, but not for Hainan Island and parts of the southwest. Here was war. Battalions of Nationalist soldiers under orders to provide cover for this official retreat fulfilled their responsibility as they were hotly pursued under gunfire from the Liberation Army, only to reach the port and find themselves standing helpless by the shore, abandoned by their very own warships. As cannon rounds hit the warships' bulwarks, those now safely on the ships fought back heavy tears as they witnessed their saviors, these soldiers who had protected them from incoming assault, left behind and completely forsaken. Injured soldiers stranded at the port and now devoid of hope, crumpled to the ground and sobbed. Those yet uninjured stood at the shore as if they had reached the edge of the world -- behind them were their homes cut off by ten thousand li of war front, before them was the cruel rejection of the vast sea.

The soldiers that made it onto the vessels were stunned senseless at the turn of events. Virtually wiped out at The Battle of Xu-Bang, the remaining survivors from the 64th Corp made it onto the emergency boat evacuation. Out of the 7,000 officers and men, over 1,000 were young prisoners captured en route.

The boats were to depart for Taiwan, but where was Taiwan? The captain of the ship didn't know either.

After the vessel pulled away from cannons' range of fire, the Navy navigators took out their map and searched for Taiwan.

A soldier asked his superior, "When will we reach this place?"

The officer said, "I'm not sure, but we'll know when we get there. We've never been to this 'Taiwan', but I heard it's not a bad place."

Even as Officer Jian Bu-Cheng from the 64th Corp comforted his men, he too was filled with profound dread and anxiety. He himself hadn't the slightest clue as to where Taiwan was or what it was like. Like faithful and courageous Su Wu in his shepherding days, Officer Jian had endured and survived battles from snow-covered lands all the way to Hainan Island, his body and spirit now completely depleted and consumed. After consoling his soldiers, he turned to comfort himself. "Life is hard and the journey is long. We can take a short break and hide from the rain at this place called 'Taiwan'."

Never in his wildest dreams did he think that while waiting out this period of "rain" it would soon be 1964.

Pale faced Mei-jun warmly held an infant sound asleep in her arms, welcoming the baby to the world just a few days after her birth, but make no mistake, this was another child. Mei-jun's other child that she had brought with her from Chun'an was just dispatched to his grandmother in Hunan, but this particular infant was born on Hainan Island. She was given the name "Ying Da" (應達). The reasoning behind this was to bestow hope amidst insurmountable obstacles so she could reach (達到) her goals. This was a good name, an appropriate name.

Countless small boats jammed and bumped against each other as they ferried soldiers and their families onto the large ships that could not dock at port. Once the boats were positioned, hysterical passengers crawled like spiders up a web of rope ladders draped against the bulwarks. Many did not have the strength to climb, many could not hold on, and so many fell into the sea.

The cannon blasts exploded overhead, triggering a stampede and causing many of the small transport boats to flip over. Some of the boats were almost within reach of escape but could not make it in time, their passengers left blinking in a stupor. Distressed pleas for help from the port filled the air as the ships sailed off, falling on deaf ears. A heavy curtain of fear fell.

The sea that day was a scene from a silent picture film, with head tops bobbing, sinking, floating, struggling as far as an eye could see across the horizon. Whenever a head popped above water, you could discern a pair of eyes filled with dread, a mouth wide open gasping for air... but no sound. We cannot hear words projected from the bottom of the heart. We cannot hear their mind's dying shout. History is always silent.

Suitcases, countless suitcases that now blanketed the water, bobbed up and down amongst the oil-stained ocean.

2 comments:

  1. 仔細看過一遍,你寫的很美很切原意,真是不容易。
    人命值多少? 不如一隻螞蟻。

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a good post. This post gives truly quality information. I'm definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good works. Marine Transportation.

    ReplyDelete

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