Chinese Stories in English
1. The Man Who Lost His Senses
2. Oil Crisp Cakes
3. Doubt Disease
Midis Page Seven
1. The Man Who Lost His Senses (一个失去感觉的人)
Lu Zhenhong (鲁振鸿)
I'd been having major problems with all my physical senses ever since I'd become a leader. My senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch had all gone bad.
I first noticed that my sense of taste wasn't working one time when I was dining out on public funds. I'd eaten Japanese ami-abalone, newborn sea-beach cucumber and basking shark's fin, and I'd drunk Maotai and Five-Grain Liquor, but I felt that none of the things I ate or drank had any flavor at all. It was like chewing on wax. The feeling I used to get eating like a gourmand was completely gone! I noticed that the other leaders were still eating and drinking with relish, and I had to follow suit and pretend I was having a good time. That was one tough banquet.
From that day on I found that nothing I ate or drank had any flavor. I had no sense of whether anything was bitter, hot, sour, sweet or salty. What was I going to do? I still hadn't had a Louis the Thirteenth [brandy] or an '82 Chateau Lafite Rothschild!
The loss of my senses of smell and vision was brought about entirely by my job. It was a work-related injury and I felt that my employer owed me compensation for this one. I'd gone to an area in the county to investigate a large and influential company – a chemical factory – that was discharging pollutants. Innumerable complaints had been filed against this enterprise, so the boss had no choice but to send me down there.
When I got to the place where the pollutants had been discharged, I saw those onlookers all gazing at the brightly colored surface of the water. They were covering their noses like there was a stench in the air and looking like they were going to throw up. But what I saw was entirely different. The clear, limpid surface of the water and clean, fresh air…. It was a paradise on earth! Where were the pollutants, and where was the stench? That was all nonsense, wasn't it?
I reported my findings of fact to my superiors when I got back to the unit. My boss and his brother-in-law were both quite satisfied. But since then my senses of sight and smell have both been completely off. "When your senses can't sense, it smells good even when you go to into an outhouse." I was really indignant about this, and if they hadn't sent me a hundred thousand Yuan as compensation – it was either the head of the chemical factory or my boss's brother-in-law – I really would have gone and filed a worker's comp claim.
My sense of hearing…. Oh, Jeez, if I talk about my hearing my eyes will tear up. My perfectly good set of ears had gotten so bad on the job. In my unit, things that "everybody knows" are crucially important. When your bosses say something, you really have to listen to the undertones! When your co-workers say something, you really have to listen for the hidden barbs! And you really have to listen for the things that your subordinates say and do behind your back! You really have to listen to news passed along the grapevine from sister units, too! I can't hear anything anymore because of the overuse of my ears.
It was especially hard on Public Welcome Days [when people can come in to present complaints and requests]. I'd look on helplessly while people with problems were moving their lips up and down, and I just couldn't get a word they were saying. Because my vision had gone bad as well, I wasn't clear about anything they wrote down, either. I'd get so upset that even my memory became useless. Whenever the bosses asked me about what was going on with the public and what kinds of things they'd been complaining about, I always said that the people in our county are full of vigor and enthusiasm for their jobs, that times are good and that they're living and working in peace and contentment. There were no forced demolitions or requisitions, and no soil contamination, either. What's more, there were no concerns about food safety.
If you want to talk tragedies, the trouble with my sense of touch was the most tragic of all. After I became a leader, my sense of touch only worked some of the time. I had no feel for [what people were doing] when they sent money or gifts. Of course I couldn't see them either, since my sense of vision was also gone.
I won't mention these small annoyances any further, though. The greatest problem with my sense of touch was the effect on the affection between my wife and I. With no sense of touch, I no longer had any interest whatsoever in my wife's body. I neither wanted to touch her nor to feel her, and wanted even less to kiss her.
Touch is a man's most important sense, and when there's a problem it's serious. Fortunately the trouble with my sense of touch was not beyond fixing. Young Li, a secretary in my unit, and Little Red, an office worker, were able to arouse some "feelings" in me. To tell the truth, there was a time when, if it hadn't been for them, I really wouldn't have wanted to go on living.
Up until last month, I was still living this utterly feeling-less life. Sometimes I truly felt like I was turning into a vegetable. If I had to add an adjective to that last sentence, I'd say I was becoming a "masochistic" vegetable. And if "masochistic" needed a time limit, I'd hope it was… ten thousand years.
Today, though, I suddenly realized that my sense of taste has gotten better and I can taste the things I eat; my vision has improved and I can distinguish colors; my sense of smell has returned and I can tell whether something stinks or smells good. My hearing is better and even my sense of touch has improved. The only bad thing is that, except for my bosses, all my other fellow prisoners in this jail despise me. I really don't know if I'm sad now, or if I should be happy.
2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 254
Translated from .gif version here, also available here.
2. Oil Crisp Cakes (油酥烧饼)
Wei Ruhui (韦如辉)
Oil crisp cakes are a famous pastry of Whirlpool Shores. According to historical texts, they've been popular there since the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Visitors from other parts generally say they're a good nibble. When they bite in they get a mouthful of juice, nod their heads and say it's a unique experience. The locals all strongly recommend this pastry to people who aren't familiar with the traditions of the area, for a taste they'll never forget.
The place that made the best oil crisp cakes was most likely Three Wood Wang's at the West End Entrance of the Ci-Huai Road Farmers Market. Wang's great-great grandfather made oil cakes to sell, and the business was been passed down maybe six or seven generations to Three Wood.
Three Wood's technique was passed down over the generations, too. He even got his oil cake stove from his ancestors. The stove was made completely from adobe bricks, using yellow mud from Big Yellow Bend on the upper reaches of the Whirlpool River. After the bricks are beaten into shape, a smattering of hemp fibers and quicklime is sprinkled on them. The more they get baked and scorched in use, the stronger they get. They keep their shape through rainstorms, sunshine and frost.
A bit of ancestral wisdom, the "Three No's" of Doing Business, was passed down in the Wang family over several generations in succession: Don't cheat the gullible, don't short on the weight, and don't play favorites.
If you went to Three Wood Wang's for oil cakes, you'd have to wait patiently in line. Wang wouldn't make them for people who wouldn't wait, or for those who crowded in. Over time everyone came to know the house rules and they'd wait in apple-pie order.
Three Wood was neither slow nor rushed, moving around as steady as Mount Tai. He kept the fire in the stove so low that you'd think it had gone out, but the cakes he made were truly a cut above: thin crusts, flaky and crisp, scorched on the surface; and filled with tender, savory meat.
People hurrying to the early shift at work would get two scalding-hot oil cakes wrapped in coarse paper, and eat them in big bites, chewing slowly over the delicious flavor as they rushed down the street. They'd drink a couple of glasses of water when they got to their job, and the first of their daily three meals was complete.
Most of the customers were on very familiar terms with Three Wood Wang. They'd talk to him in hackneyed similes, as close as beans stewing in a pot of rice porridge. "Three Wood, bring two. Faster! I'm on the way to Shanghai and I'm gonna be late!" Wang would break out in a smile as bright as the first rays of the morning sun, a return gift to whoever was calling him. But in fact he still carried the cakes over as slow and steady as always, and if needed, he'd tend to the heat in the stove before he brought the cakes.
Then the city government opened a new restaurant in its compound. It was called The Government Organ Cafe, but it actually wasn't just for government employees. Those in the know had a gut feeling that the name was intended to fool people. The furnishings inside were all first rate. After people checked it out and thought about it, even those not in the know figured it out. What was this Government Organ? Who went there to spend their money? If it were a lower level place, would the business really be able to make a go of it?
One day the manager of the Government Organ Cafe, a Mr. Liu, came to Wang's place. Shortly thereafter, Three Wood drifted away like a cloud, and sadly disappeared from the Ci-Huai Road Farmers Market.
Where had he gone? His customers noticed that not only Three Wood was missing; that blackened old stove had disappeared from their sight at the same time.
Wang had gone to work at the Government Organ Cafe as the oil cakes chef. There were more customers for oil cakes there, and he couldn't keep up with them. He was always tired, working his fingers to the bone.
When the government ordered physicals for some personnel, Manager Liu finagled an extra spot on the roster and gave it to Three Wood Wang. "Three Wood, my man," he said with unparalleled concern, "I see the work's laying heavy on you. You go get a physical, too. But there's one condition: Absolutely do not tell anyone outside the restaurant about it. This round of physicals is just for the tech staff and above." Three Wood felt like a spring breeze was blowing over him, and he thanked his boss profusely. It was like when he used to see his late grandfather.
But he was drenched in tears when he came back from the physical, like when his grandfather had passed away without warning. There was one finding he couldn't keep silent about. Three Wood Wang was suffering from pulmonary emphysema, and as it developed further, it would become lung cancer.
Of course he couldn't keep working. One's life is more important than anything else.
Three Wood's wife, overcome by grief and with tears flowing, sought out Manager Liu and made a scene. "He wouldn't have had a problem if he hadn't come to the Government Organ Cafe, would he? All that time in the smoke and the heat, he would have had problems even if his lungs were made of metal!" The Vice-Mayor in charge of Social Affairs learned about this through the grapevine and it made him extremely concerned.
The Government Organ Cafe arranged an early retirement for Three Wood on grounds of ill health, with full retired employee benefits.
These days Three Wood Wang strolls all around town with a big jar of tea in his hand. The tea sloshing around in his jar is [expensive] jade-green Maofeng tea from Yellow Mountain. When he gets tired of walking he cranes his neck like a bird and sips a little. He's always had a soft spot in his heart for that area in the farmers' market, so, every day in his wanderings, he goes over there and walks through the market, no matter how crowded it is. He sees the old familiar faces, and asks after people's health, and spends some time laughing happily.
Some people point at his back as he's walking away. "He used to sell oil cakes," they say, "and now he's eating at the public trough. Even his meds are all paid for."
China Annual Short Fiction, 2011, p. 120 – Guilin: Li River Publishers, December 2011
3. Doubt Disease (疑心病)
Liu Feng (剑锋)
I don't know if it's external environment influences or just the vagaries of my own personality, but I'm not only stubborn, cold and detached, with a tendency to go to extremes; I'm also constantly on edge, suspicious and wary of everyone and everything.
I'm suspicious of phone messages saying I've won a prize. It doesn't matter whether it's cash or a computer, or even free cell phone minutes or data, I immediately delete any messages, without exception, that I see saying I've won something. I might occasionally delete a message where I actually have won something, but I've never felt any regrets about that.
Occasionally I encounter people with disabilities begging on the streets. I suspect that they've become disabled as a "begging tool". However poor or miserable they are, I look straight ahead or turn a blind eye, and absolutely never make a frivolous gift of even a penny. I'm not willing to be taken in by appearances and become a public laughing stock.
If my wife takes a second look at a handsome fellow, I suspect her of being unfaithful. If she works overtime and comes home late, I suspect her of having an assignation. Sometimes I even doubt that Xiao is really my own son. I've often wanted to sneak him off for a DNA test.
When I go to a hospital for treatment, I suspect they'll do the same endless tests over and over. I expect exorbitant prices for medicines that are extraordinary treatments for minor illnesses. I even suspect that the hospital will deliberately prolong the treatment as a way to extract more money by pointless charges.
When I take a crowded bus or train, or go to a terminal or a pier or any other place where there are crowds of people, I always suspect that pickpockets or "third hands" will be milling around right by my side. I'm always on the alert, with my eyes wide open and a tight hold on whatever pocket my money is in.
If I travel with a group, I expect to get fleeced during the shopping. I absolutely will not set foot in a shop no matter how much the guide cajoles or threatens, and regardless of any carrots or sticks. At scenic spots where we have to pay our own admission and they promise there are no pickpockets, I suspect that the guide's overly enthusiastic sales pitch conceals some "murderous intentions."
When I leave my hometown to get a job, I figure the boss will make me do "volunteer work" under the guise of a probationary period. I expect them to use any excuse to take deductions from my wages. I even suspect that they'll "run off" and disappear from the face of the earth [before payday].
If friends and acquaintances invite me out for dinner, I suspect that the restaurant is unsanitary and uses recycled cooking oil. I suspect even more strongly that the host has some other reason, some ulterior motive, for asking me to dinner, so I turn them down cold every time.
When I get home after shopping at the farmers' market, the first thing I do is weigh the things I bought on my own home scale. That's because I think the vendors may have shorted me an ounce or two.
If I'm shopping in a store, I always check and recheck the date of manufacture, the use-by date and the list of ingredients and additives. I look to see if there's a manufacturer's certificate of authenticity. I'm afraid that, if I'm not careful, I'll buy food that's expired, or a low-quality, counterfeit product.
When I happen upon a luxury car like a BMW or a Mercedes, I immediately head in the other direction. I suspect that the owner sitting in the car is the child of some high-ranking government official or some super rich family. I figure they've been drinking and are driving impaired or drunk, and maybe drag racing. I'm afraid there's an accident waiting to happen and that it'll all come down on me.
If I won the lottery, I don't doubt that my relatives and acquaintances would come to my door to "borrow" money. I figure the criminal element would try extortion or some other racket, and I expect I'd become a target of public criticism leading to ostracism. I'd have to wear full-body armor up on the stage to accept the prize, leaving only two slits for my eyes.
When I go to play mahjong, I suspect that the other players are in cahoots to "cover the basket" [swindle people]. I figure they're using a special cheating card that I imagine [they can see because] they're wearing high-tech contact lenses. So if the other players aren't familiar to me, I won't be rash enough to join in the game no matter how much it's been hyped.
If my bosses say, "Not bad, not bad," I suspect they're warning me not to be "opportunistic". When one says, "Needs more research", I suspect it's a veiled hint that he wants some "cigarettes and alcohol" from me; and a leader who says, "I'll think about it" is no doubt reminding me that I'm being "put to the test."
If I suspect that one of the staff has snitched on me, I figure that my coworkers are trying to dig the ground out from under my feet and that my superiors have got me in a bind. I believe that people who don't take advantage of others are acting for appearances' sake, and that crusaders for truth and justice are just seeking the limelight. I suspect that my friends are hypocrites playing on my feelings, and that my children pretend to respect and obey me just to get an inheritance. I have no doubt that relationships among people are raw financial arrangements….
Who has a magic potion or miraculous procedure that can cure my doubt disease quickly? I don't want to sit and watch myself succumb to this terminal illness.
Translated from 分节阅读, also available at http://hlj.rednet.cn/c/2013/06/09/3036685.htm
4. New Students, We Welcome You! (同学，我校欢迎你！)
Song Xiaoyue (宋小跃)
It was time once again for Welcome New Students. School banners were hung out and colorful flags were flying everywhere. It was remarkably exciting. Tables had been set up on both sides of the boulevard on campus, with the various departments and academies each occupying a space to greet their new students. With so many tables stretching into the distance, it looked like there was going to be a banquet for a hundred families.
We upperclassmen didn't need any encouragement. We came on our own without an invitation. Even my roommate in the dorm, Blackhead Hua, was there. We all know this guy is so lazy he doesn't even like to pull down his pants when he goes to the bathroom. When even someone as lazy as he is comes out, you can tell how enthusiastic we were about meeting our new underclassmen. Especially the coeds.
An Interesting Event while Occupying Territory
We occupied a spot by the main gate so that the new students in our Business School would see our friendly waves as soon as they came onto the campus. The previous evening our Student Committee had done up a few flyers with "Business School" printed on them and stuck them on the table closest to the front in the first row. We wanted an ironclad reservation for the next morning for this best of locations.
We were a little slow getting going the next morning because we thought the preparations we'd made the previous evening would allow us to relax and sleep in. When we got to the boulevard intersection, though, we saw that people from the Department of Architectural Engineering had stolen our spot. The flyer we'd put there was gone.
Do you think we weren't mad? We huddled up and decided right then and there that if they could tear up our flyer, we'd fight first and ask questions later. We went up to them and asked, "What about our Business School table?"
One of the engineers, a coed, stood up and acted innocent. "I don't know. Is it the one back there with the paper stuck on it?"
What a pisser! This gang of idiots had actually moved our table several rows back! Our position had gone from number one to number four.
This made us totally unhappy and affected our mood for the entire day's orientation. As night fell, our anger was getting harder and harder to put a damper on, as hard as putting out a Russian forest fire, so we decided to go recapture our territory. But when we got to the boulevard intersection, ye gods! The architectural engineers really do learn construction! They'd nailed several tables together and put pilings in the ground to steady them. All they needed was the cement. That was the fucking end of it. They must have figured out early on that we'd come back and try to recapture our territory.
Since we couldn't get our site back, we figured we’d just have to do something else. The engineers had used a bulletin board to make a large sign reading, "Architectural Engineering Department's New Students' Reception Table". The Chinese characters had been cut out of Styrofoam. We thought about it and decided to simplify the sign for them. We changed a few of the characters around to make the sign read, "Architectural Engineering's Birthing Table."
The next day, we and our brothers and sisters from other departments had a good laugh at the architectural engineers' expense. We made so much fun of their coeds that their faces didn't turn red, they turned purple. They had to make a new sign to put up in front of their table. When it came time to put things away that way, we noticed that they carried the sign away with them.
Interesting Happenings while Greeting New Students
Plenty of interesting things happened while we were greeting the new students. Our school is quite large, and with the new students coming in one after the other, we had almost more than we could handle. We had thought that we could just "pick out the best looking" coeds to greet, but the way things are these days, we had to rely on luck. If we encountered a good looking one we'd greet her warmly, and if we encountered an ugly one we'd have to greet her warmly, too. Even if we encountered a boy, we'd greet him, too, just not so warmly.
That morning, Old Three was greeting a tomboy. She looked like Li Yuchun [AKA Chris Lee, a pop singer noted for her androgynous good looks] and was dressed like a dashing male student.
Old Three didn't realize she was female. He asked Old Ma at the Registration Desk what room this new student had been assigned to, and Old Ma said "three twenty-five." Old Three picked up her bundle and said, "Let's go to the dorm," and led her straight to room 325 in the boy's dorm.
After putting down her bundle, Old Three took this new student, who hadn't said a word on the way over, and showed her the window. He pointed to the girl's dorm across the way and said, "This room is really positioned well. Five stars! Too much to look at! You just lift up your head and you can see the coeds in the girl's building over there! Ah! What a great location!"
When Old Three had finished sighing, this "brother student" asked him in a silvery female voice, "Brother, are you sure I'm going to be living in this dorm?"
Old Three was dumbstruck. He looked this new student up and down, taking her measure. "You, uh...." he said finally, "you're a girl."
"Uh-huh!" This time her voice was softer and incomparably feminine.
"Why didn't you say so!" Old Three's entire face broke out on a sweat. He tossed her bundle over his back and headed straight off for the girl's dorm.
Old Three had an interesting experience when he took on this errand, and Old Ma also had one while he was doing his duty registering new students.
While he was at the registration table, a little girl with a pink book bag, who looked to be less than 4'11" tall, appeared suddenly before him. As she came up to the table, she asked in a "childish" voice, "Is this where new students report?"
Old Ma took one look at her and thought, "Where did this little girl come from, and what does she want to report?"
Then he remembered that there's a high school attached to the college and figured she must be a new student there. So he told her, "The high school isn't open yet, child. I'm the grown-up who's here to greet new students at the college."
The little girl pulled a Notice of Admission out of her bag and said timidly, "Yes, Uncle, I'm here to register at the college...."
Old Ma was stunned and stammered, "Uh, welcome, child, uh, no, young coed."
All right, so now we've all started calling Old Ma "Old Uncle Ma".
Translated from here, also available here.
5. Which Country's Humor is Superior? (哪国幽默最高级)
Booming Gun [Hao Lianhui] (东东枪 [郝连会])
I like to buy all kinds of joke books, including those whose editorial selections are based on nationality or ethnicity, such as Japanese jokes, Jewish jokes, British jokes and the like. Reading them comparatively, I feel the thing we call a "sense of humor" is differentiated along cultural and racial lines. Also, the more I read, the more I feel that, in the realm of jokes, whether you're talking about quantity or quality, our China does not seem to occupy a superior position.
"Dong Yong practiced filial piety, so the Emperor of Heaven gave him a fairy maiden in marriage. When the other fairy maidens escorted her on her way, they enjoined her, 'When you get down to earth, if there are others who practice filial piety, you absolutely must send us a letter!'"* —— This kind of joke has all the earmarks of profoundly good humor, but I don't quite believe it would make anyone roar with laughter.
Japanese jokes are of the same type. The Japanese are renowned for their lack of a sense of humor. It's said that a Japanese can laugh three times when he's told a joke: first, when he hears it; second, when someone explains it to him; and third, a week later when he really gets it.
However, I have read a good joke relevant to Japan. But actually it was a Russian who told it ——
A Japanese technician and a Russian technician were discussing the problem of making automobile bodies airtight. The Japanese technician said, "In my country, we'll shut a cat inside the car overnight to test its hermetic seal. If we find the cat has suffocated when we open the door the next day, that means there's no problem with the seal."
The Russian technician said, "In my country, we'll also put a cat in a car overnight to test the seal. The next day when we open the door, if we find the cat is still inside, that means there's no problem with the seal."
Everyone says British-style humor is superior, but as I see it, it's Russian humor that's top grade, at least equal to the British. Chinese and Japanese humor is like soup, useful for mental and spiritual health; British humor is like tea, mainly for relaxation and relief of boredom; Russia's humor, then, is like wine, thick and full-bodied, and one whiff can knock you for a loop.
I can give you two examples ——
• The President of a certain country was visiting the Soviet Union and came to inspect a factory which had been opened especially for foreigners. Someone had briefed the workers on how to answer questions raised by the President. The President asked the workers, "Do you live well?"
One of the workers, Ivan, replied, "Yes, Mr. President, I have a very happy life. I have a villa in the countryside with many valuable pieces of furniture inside. Every morning I drive my new Kiel sedan to work."
The President was very surprised. "Really? Well, then, do you still have anything valuable you want to buy?"
Ivan thought it over and said, "A pair of shoes."
• Two criminals were talking in their prison cell. One said, "You were sentenced to seven years in here. Really, aren't you worried that your wife might toss you aside and run off to marry another man?"
The other said, "How could you have such a stupid idea? You obviously don't know my wife. First, she's a good woman, very well behaved. Second, she loves me very much. Third, she was sentenced to nine years."
These two jokes of course cannot represent the highest level of Russian humor. My own experience, though, is that the more one comes in contact with Russian jokes, the more one feels that many other peoples are simply not worthy of talking about jokes.
The jokes of the "Fighting Race" are certainly not word games played by priggish literati. Still less are they wretched grumblings tossed out by shameless old biddies and young wives on street corners and in alleyways over a cup of tea after dinner.
Their jokes are the whole world that they face every day. And the absurdities in their jokes are real life that they live all day long every day.
Some people compose new expressions to give voice to their worries. Others deliberately manufacture conflicts to fabricate jokes. Only the Russians have no need to waste their energies in these ways.
*[Fannyi tries to explain a joke: Chinese jokes often rely on ambiguity for their humor. Do the maidens want to know about other filial men in hopes of being sent down to earth, or so they can hide to avoid that fate? ]
读者, 2015-9期 (5月上), p. 64, Readers Magazine
Translated from version at http://tieba.baidu.com/p/3803282357
6. A Doctor's Story (医生的故事)
Chai Jing (柴静)
I met a doctor at dinner. He was both red and expert, and could tell a story, too.
He used to live in Xinjiang Province, working with the government's Help Xinjiang [improve its standard of living] Program. He hadn't been there long when he ran into a thorny problem. A very prestigious old man had come down with a serious illness. He was unconscious and breathing through his mouth, and had muscle spasms.
Facilities for good medical care were not available there. Neither open-chest surgery nor a using a respiratory machine were possible.
He stood to one side, empty-handed, and watched for a while. Eventually he said he wanted a newspaper.
The locals thought he was a witch doctor, but there was nothing they could do, either. "What kind of paper?"
He thought for a moment, then told them he wanted that day's official Party newspaper.
Someone ran off and bought him a brand new one.
After searching through the paper he selected the front page and rolled it into a conical tube. He placed the large end on the old man's face, covering his nose and mouth.
Everyone stood there waiting. After five or six minutes, the old man began to breathe normally. After an hour he was able to speak. The relatives were falling all over themselves to kneel down and call the doctor a genius.
The people at our table were also struck dumb. He told us that the patient had actually been suffering from respiratory alkalosis. Because of his rapid breathing, too much acidic carbon dioxide was being exhaled from his body. So, covering his face with the paper cone was like using a respiratory machine. He re-inhaled some of the exhaled carbon dioxide and fixed the problem.
I asked him, "Why did you want the official Party newspaper?"
He smiled. "It's good paper. Rigid."
After that he cured many people's diseases. He became known as a "godly lantern" by the people of Xinjiang. Once when he cured a Uygur woman of a serious disease, she shook his hand gratefully and said, "You must convey my best wishes to Chairman Mao, that honorable old gentleman."
He told her sincerely, "Auntie, we're already in the third generation of leaders."
I think of this sometimes late at night, and laugh so hard I shake.
He said he'd never come across any medical malpractice in his entire life, and there was none in the Department of Andrology he headed. I listened to him, but I didn't believe it.
He smiled and told a story about a comrade he supervised in the Department. He'd spent his whole life taking care of common ailments in the elderly; his youngest patient had been eighty. One time – he didn't know how it had happened – a young woman came in seeking care. The two of them chatted and laughed, and he spent fifteen minutes using the stethoscope to listen to her heartbeat. The next patient was an old lady who had been waiting there in the same room the whole time. When it was finally her turn, the comrade paid her no mind, and just stood there saying goodbye to the girl. The old lady said, "Gimmee that!" She grabbed the stethoscope impatiently and pressed it up against her blouse. The comrade finished speaking to the young woman and, a minute later, he'd finished the old lady's exam.
The old lady wasn't happy. "You lout!" she shouted.
The doctor heard the shouting from upstairs and sent a nurse down to invite the old lady up. When she got there, the nurse very ceremoniously introduced him as "our leader, the doctor with the most authority."
He went up to the old lady and took her hand. "That was too much," he said with a sorrowful expression on his face. "Tell me all about it. I'll fire him."
The old lady was embarrassed. "No, that won't be necessary, really. It'll be enough to just discipline him."
Then he proceeded to personally give the old lady a check-up. She handed him her medical history and it
was about as thick as a novel – the old lady had been taking her own blood pressure every 15 minutes every day.
He said that such things aren't actually useful in an exam, but what's most important is for a doctor to be positively "enthralled" while perusing the figures. After he finished looking at them, he listened carefully to the old lady's heartbeat with his stethoscope for a long time. The most significant thing he told her was, "vision's a bit occluded."
On her way out the old lady said, "I'm already half cured."
He went to work at a free clinic in Shaanxi Province, where he treated a patient who was paralyzed on one side of his body. He saw the man again the next year. The man limped up to him and said he was cured, and couldn't thank the doctor enough.
The doctor said it was nothing, that he was just doing what he was supposed to do. After all, that was why the Party's Central Committee had sent him there.
The man was happily surprised. "The Party's General Secretary is so busy," he said shyly, "but still thinks of me?"
The doctor coughed lightly. "Yeah, really."
百年百篇经典微型小说 100 Years, 100 Classic Mini-stories, 2nd Printing, March 2012, P. 116
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