1. The Amazing Rooster (一鸣惊人)
Sun Shan (孙山)
Believe it or not, for the last several days a big rooster owned by the Xu family of our village has been squawking out a person's name whenever crows. Is that weird, or what? Some people didn't believe it and ran over there to listen, and it really did caw out a person's name!
Auntie Xu, the boss lady of the family, was the first to notice that this rooster could spit out human speech. One morning just after she'd opened the gate to the chicken coop, it came strutting out all puffed up with pride, flapped its wings a few times, stuck out its neck, and from deep it its throat cawed out, "gu-xiao-lu—"
Who is Gu Xiaolu? She's the daughter of the family that lives next door to Auntie Xu. She's nineteen and has been going to the senior high school in town. Since the end of this year's gaokao college entrance exams, she's been staying at home waiting for the results.
Auntie Xu couldn't believe her ears, but she listened closely and heard it again: "gu-xiao-lu." She told Big Brother Xu about it when he came back from the fields at noon, and at first he didn't believe it, either. But he listened closely when it crowed again and, sure enough, it really was calling out Gu Xiaolu's name.
News gets around quick in the countryside. One guy told a second, who told a third, and pretty soon everyone in the whole village knew about it. Everyone except the Gu family, that is. And why was that? Because Old Man Gu and his wife have both been in poor health lately, one with high blood pressure and the other with diabetes. If they heard about it they'd work themselves into a tizzy for sure.
Think about it. In country villages, when old people die, a rooster is used to lead their spirits into the next world. It's called a "soul-taking rooster". So if a rooster calls out someone's name, isn't it trying to hook onto that person's soul?
Gu Xiaolu is really a good girl. She obeys her parents. She doesn't laugh or speak out of place when she sees people in the village; she speaks sweetly and calls them "uncle" or "auntie", and when people hear her their hearts feel like they've just drunk a cup of honey tea. For the last few years we've heard that she's an excellent student, too, and now she's taken the college entrance exam. If her spirit gets called away by that big rooster, what good could possibly come of it? Once Big Brother and Auntie Xu had added up all the plusses and minuses, they decided it would be best to kill the rooster.
But all of a sudden, just when Big Brother Xu had grabbed on to the rooster and picked up his knife to kill it, he heard firecrackers from the yard next door. He looked over the wall between their two yards and asked, "Gu, old man, this isn't New Years' or any other holiday, so how come you guys are setting off firecrackers?"
Gu Xiaolu's father was all smiles. "Xiaolu's been admitted to Tsinghua University, one of the best schools in the country! We just got the Notice of Admission! Come on over and we'll hoist a glass to celebrate!"
Big Brother Xu was really happy to hear that and let the rooster loose right away. Auntie Xu came outside and asked him, "Hey, how come you let the rooster go?"
"This isn't a soul-taking rooster," he answered, feeling very pleased. "It was bringing good news. Gu Xiaolu's gotten into Tsinghua University, you know. That's what the bird was crowing about!"
新聊斋故事 New Liao Zhai Ghost Stories Magazine
September 2011, First Bi-Monthly Issue, p. 1
2. The Hypocrite's Mask (画皮)
Liu Lang (刘浪)
"Lying to the family again," joked Old Gu to Rainbow as she put down the phone. She was wearing a full-body pink uniform, and he was sunk in a sofa, his whole body completely relaxed.
Rainbow's hand went back on old Gu's feet. "Ach, there's nothing I can do about it," she replied, sighing quietly. "I don't know why he does it. It's inconvenient, but lots of times I have to take my Pa's calls while I'm on the clock, or he'll get suspicious. These days he's always calling to ask me what I'm really doing."
"He's worried about you," Old Gu said. "He's afraid you're gadding around learning bad things! You ought to just tell him straight out that you wash people's feet. That might put his mind at ease a little."
"That wouldn't do. It would make my Pa cut me off. You don't how feudalistic the people are where I'm from. If he knew I spend my days washing men's feet and kneading their backs, he'd spit on me until I drowned in it."
Old Gu smiled. "Washing feet is a respectable career. Every profession has some good people in it. There's no reason you have to hide it!"
Rainbow glanced at him. "You think everyone in the world knows enough to be as understanding as you are!"
Rainbow was a new female technician at this foot-washing salon. She hadn't been working very long, but Old Gu had already come in seven or eight times, and each time he'd requested her. Sometimes she was on the clock with someone else, and Old Gu went in another room to wait. Rainbow found this touching. "Old Gu," she said, "if I'm not available, you can make an appointment with another technician. Who wastes time waiting around like that?"
Old Gu was stubborn. "I'll wait," he said. "I like hearing you say the word 'cut'." Rainbow puckered her lips in a cute smile.
Once, when Old Gu came in to have his feet washed, the two of them were chatting when the movie The Hypocrite's Mask came on the television. Rainbow watched it intently, then suddenly sighed, "Truth is, I'm living my life in a hypocrite's mask, too. Even now I don't dare tell my family I'm working as a foot washer. I always say I'm sales clerk at a shopping center. Jeez, it's the first time I've lied to my family, and just to make a little more money."
Rainbow's feeling that she took this job only because she needed the money made Old Gu think she was untarnished. That was the reason he liked to come here to see her. When he was with this girl who had so little experience and knowledge in the ways of the world, Old Gu liked to ramble on and on about everything under the sun. And she was always saying "Wow, so that's the way it is!" as she listened to him talk about these strange and wondrous things. That made him feel like an accomplished man of the world.
But if you said Old Gu didn't have any other ideas, you'd be underestimating him. He used to not care much about having his feet washed, but since that time when he'd come here with some friends and picked Rainbow, he'd been captivated by her delicate beauty and untarnished demeanor. As a matter of fact, when he saw her tender white thigh revealed under her pink skirt, he couldn't keep from reaching out to touch it. The cool smoothness of her skin made him as giddy as if he'd suddenly been sent back to the days of his youth.
When she didn't stop him, his hand began to roam upward toward the top of her thigh. Then she grabbed his hand. "Don't do that. That'd be just like people say, wouldn't it? That washing feet isn't a respectable job!"
As good with words as Old Gu was, there was nothing he could say to that.
But Old Gu always hoped something would happen, so he phoned Rainbow for an appointment whenever he had the time. If she was on the clock with someone else, it was de rigueur for him to book a room and wait.
Rainbow always brought a small gift for Old Gu with her when she came into the room, something like a bunch of grapes, a few strawberries or a bucket of ice. He knew this was a technique the girls used to coax tips from their guests and he gladly accepted them. And Rainbow gradually opened up to Old Gu, talking about anything and everything. They were exactly like a pair of close friends, despite the difference in their ages.
Coincidences sometimes happen. One day when Old Gu was out shopping with his wife, he ran into Rainbow carrying a bag on her back, wandering through the mall. She was startled when their eyes met and blurted out "Old Gu". The affection revealed in her voice made his heart jump, but after only a brief moment, he turned quickly and left as though nothing had happened.
"Hey, I think that girl was talking to you," his wife said.
"How could that be?" he responded. "Where would I know such a young girl from? Besides, she said 'Old Gu'. Is that my name?"
"Yeah, that's right," his wife thought. Everyone knew her husband's name was "Li".
Old Gu never again went to see Rainbow after that. Their story didn't end there, however.
If you ask what else there is to tell, it's that Rainbow was very depressed when she went home that day. She was living with her coworkers and asked one of them, "That Old Gu has always been good to me, so why did he pretend not to know me when he saw me at the mall? That's harder to take than if he'd just cut me off!"
Her friend looked at her with disdain. "You fool! What customer has ever greeted a foot washer like a friend when he met one of us outside the shop?"
"But why? Why? Old Gu was always my friend! And he always said that washing feet is a respectable profession, so why was he afraid to admit he knew me?"
Her friend ignored her. "Don't think about it," she said impatiently. "Watch TV!"
"Yeah," Rainbow said, but when she turned her eyes to the TV, she exclaimed, "How come they're showing The Hypocrite's Mask again?"
养成晚报, 2014/08/11, p. B4, Yangcheng (Guangzhou) Evening News
3. The Rice Plant by the Entryway (楼道口的一株水稻)
One day when I was wandering around the city, I happened to notice a sad-looking little rice plant growing by the entry to a building. Perhaps the soil was too thin, or perhaps the sun wasn't disposed to shine there. It could even be that the rain was ignoring it, or the 17-story building by its side was crowding it out. Whatever, it was growing all crooked like a weed and was yellower than it should have been. Unless a real farmer came along, no one who saw it would take it for a rice plant.
To tell you the truth, I thought it didn't look much like a rice plant myself, and I'd been a farmer for twenty-plus years. But I took a closer look, and it really was rice. I didn't know how it'd come to be there, but at the time, I had the following three conjectures or scenarios.
First, maybe someone who used to be a farmer lived in this building. He'd planted the rice there in the entryway when he moved into the city because he missed his fields and crops.
Second, maybe a migrant worker had planted it there when they were constructing the building. He'd done it because, one, he missed his home village, or two, he had an itch after not working in the fields for so long. In either case, though, he was a man from the countryside who really knew how to enjoy life.
Third, maybe an irresponsible flower vendor had brought it here on his cart by mistake. Later, when he noticed the little guy was neither a flower nor a houseplant, he threw it away beside the building.
Anyway, this rice plant was just like me, a long way from home, trying to survive under duress in the big city.
I got all emotional when I saw the rice plant swaying back and forth to greet me. I walked over right away and crouched down beside it. "Rice plant, how did you get here?" I asked with a tremor in my voice. "Look how skinny you are. If my dad saw you looking like this, I'd be amazed if he didn't die from sadness!"
I said, "Rice plant, you can stop worrying now that you've met me. From now on, I'll come here every day to watch over you, right up until you go to seed." I squatted next to the rice plant, crying, because only I knew how alone and lonely it must be!
After I found that rice plant, I went to see it every day. Later I went and stole a small bag of fertilizer for it from a vegetable gardener. I took care of it like it was my own brother.
One day a building security officer stopped me. Maybe it was because, hanging around the entrance to the building every day, I didn't look like a respectable person. At the time my hands were full of wet soil that I was going to put around the rice plant. The officer stared at me with razor-sharp eyes and asked, "Hey, what're you doing?"
At the time I was I was terrified by that kind of tone of voice, so when the officer asked that, I wanted to pick up my heels and run. But wouldn't you know, this time the officer had ahold of my arm. He said, "Where you goin', scumbag!"
"I'm not a scumbag," I pleaded quietly when I saw I couldn't get away. "I'm a farmer."
"I could tell by looking at you that you're not from the city," the officer said. "Who do you think you are?" He told me to say exactly what I was doing there.
I told him there was a rice plant by the entryway and I wanted to give it a little bit of soil.
The officer immediately covered his mouth and snickered. "I think it's odds on that you left the village a long time ago," he said. "The thought of a rice plant gets you crazy, so when you see a weed you think it's rice!"
I said, "No, it really is rice, and if you don't believe me I can take you to see it."
After he'd inspected the plant carefully for a moment, a look of mild surprise came over his face. "How is this possible?" he asked. "How can a rice plant be growing here?" He said that maybe there'd been a rice paddy here before.
I noticed that he appeared lost in thought, and a little sick at heart. There was a quiver in his voice as he told me to go on with what I'd been doing, that he wouldn't bother me anymore.
I watched his back as he walked slowly away. It suddenly occurred to me that he might have been a farmer once, too.
Later on the rice plant, under my watchful eye, finally started to go to seed. It turned the color of gold.
The day before harvesting, I went to a store especially to buy a sickle. I could have pulled the whole plant up manually by the roots with just a gentle tug, but I didn't want to because that way would undoubtedly have been blasphemous and injured the plant! It was just a rice plant, and not even a particularly fine one. As a farmer, though, I had to treat it well, as well as I'd treat my brothers, because this was not just a solemn ceremony, but also a way of respecting rice and its farmers.
Next day, when I was about to harvest that rice plant, I felt like I had those times when I'd harvested innumerable plants. My expression was solemn and devout. I cut down the rice plant carefully with the sickle, and carried it away in both hands as my tears poured down.
小小说名作、佳作阅读与欣赏 Famous Mini-Story Masterpieces to Read and Appreciate
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6ceb4af10101f1qd.html, Story #16
4. Dorks Looking for Jobs (一群席丝都在找工作)
Zhuang Jinjuan (庄金娟)
June is definitely not an ordinary month. Junior high students take the high school entrance test, and high school kids take the "gaokao" college entrance exam. College students don't have an easy go of it, either. Although we don't have to take a test, we face even greater pressure – finding a job.
Recent graduates who already have jobs tell us: "Finding work will cost you dearly in terms of mental and physical energy, and money, too, but take your time about it; you'll find something before you starve to death." In fact, though, even before those of us in this year's graduating class had formally joined the army of job seekers, we'd discovered that we'd have more fun than grief.
* * *
Fatso got bored while he was taking a train to Guangzhou for an interview and spent his time cruising social media sites on the internet. A drunk boarded the train at the Zhuzhou station and, when he saw Fatso surfing the net, watched him closely for ten minutes before saying, "Ah-ha, an organization man. How ya' doin'! I spend 24 hours a day soakin' in the network."
After a moment a middle-aged woman sitting nearby whispered to the person beside her, "Stay away from those two. They're selling some kind of pyramid scheme."
* * *
Red Liu was taking a train to Beijing. He got hungry in the middle of the night and decided to make some noodles, as did the fellow sitting across from him. While they were waiting for the water to boil, the fellow asked Red what flavor of noodles he had.
"Beef braised in soy sauce," Red said.
"I've got Temple of Heaven pickled cabbage here, Temple of Heaven pickled cabbage," the man responded. "It's a green food, a green food."
His tone of voice showed that his standard of living was like several notches above Red's.
* * *
Woody Wang took a cab to an interview. When they arrived, the cabbie said the fare was 24 Yuan. Woody emptied his pockets but found only 23 Yuan.
"That's enough," the driver said, "Have a good day."
Woody thought to himself that, since he was about to get a job, it wouldn't be right to take advantage of anyone so casually. He'd have to come up with that extra Yuan no matter what.
"Wait a minute, sir," he said to the driver, "let me look some more."
To his surprise, the driver looked impatient. "Go on about your business, bro'. Don't waste my time."
Woody stared blankly at the driver. Then his eyes followed the green Volkswagen as it drove off, out of his sight.
* * *
Because she'd been rejected after several interviews and had no prospects for a job, Little Swallow was feeling very irritable. One time when she was crossing the street, she didn't see the stoplight and was almost hit by a Jiangnan Alto car.
The driver rolled down the window and shouted: "Are you trying to kill yourself?"
Not to be outdone, Little Swallow shouted, "Don't you know how to use the brakes?"
The driver had had enough. He pulled Little Swallow into the car and went to find a cop. But after she got in the car, the two of them got to talking and discovered they liked each other. In due course the guy romanced her and eventually, by using soft-sell tactics, won Little Swallow's heart.
We sighed: "A match made in Hell!"
* * *
Rice Paddy Ridge took a bus back to school after going to an interview with a training organization. He happened to overhear someone by him using WeChat's "shake" function to chat on his mobile phone with random people nearby. He immediately decided to play a little trick.
He muted his phone, started the "shake" function and shook out a profile photo of someone nearby using WeChat. He looked up and it was indeed the guy. So he texted him: "Your humble servant, a Buddhist monk, has come from the Great Tang Empire of China. To chance to meet you today, My Patron, is truly a wondrous fate."
"Are you nuts?" the guy replied.
Rice Paddy stifled a giggle. "Your humble servant casts a diagram on the I Ching every day. Today it forecasts that you will be riding the 201 bus when something unfortunate will happen. If it pleases you, may you take good care of yourself."
After sending this message, Rice Paddy closed his phone and looked up. The fellow had already skittered off the bus.
* * *
At the Qing Ming Grave Sweeping Festival, Wiggle Walk cried out to the group in Dorm Room 00, "Happy Qing Ming, everyone!" Her roomies' awesome replies began.
Girly Girl said: "The manager called me in to work. You guys go ahead and have a good time."
Piano Liu said: "A company has made me an 'offer', as they say in English. After the holiday I'm going to sign my life away to them, so today I've gotta live."
Wishes Teng said: "I don't want to live. I'm talented, poised, distinguished, elegant, loved by all and in full flower, but I've interviewed ten companies and haven't got an 'offer'. This society owes me an apology."
Princess said: "In fact, it's you that should apologize. You're obviously female, but with a style like you were born male. The question is, what company would want you?"
* * *
Before you know it, graduation season is going to be "out of season". From now on, when we meet our dearest friends, it won't be grades and ranking that we ask about. What we'll chat about mostly will be where we're working, how many thousands we make a month, and whether we get along well with our colleagues. As for us poor dorks who are still looking for work, though, such a conversation would be tantamount to sprinkling arsenic powder on our fragile young souls. But, as Buddha said, "There's no need to hurry. Take your time."
That's right, listen to what Buddha said. There's no need to hurry, we'll just take our time. Our group of graduating students will always find the next place to settle down before we starve to death!
2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 195
Translated from version at http://55txt.net/bbs/html/view_60725_8.html
5. One Kiss in Thirty Years (一吻三十年)
Gao Jianqun (高建群)
Age Eight Red was a member of a Shaanxi opera troupe in a certain city who specialized in playing prima donnas. She was rather well-known in Shanxi and nearby provinces. (Bio in Chinese here.)
Red started out playing heroines at the age of eight. She played thirty or forty roles in all, but everyone recognizes that her best role was Li Tiemei in the Legend of the Red Lantern, a play that had been transplanted from Beijing opera during the "Cultural Revolution". The Ministry of Printing even selected a photo of her playing Tiemei in full makeup and published it as a Spring Festival photo. A lot of people put this photo up in their homes.
These days Red is retired and living at home. The taut skin and soft white complexion of those years is now flabby. She wants to make use of whatever is left of her fame to run drama classes for juveniles, and hopes to raise funds for that. But her legs can't dance like they could in youth, and her face is no longer so pretty. Until recently she hadn't been able to raise even a penny.
Red's granddaughter, a college student, published some news on the Internet. Red was sitting at home not too many days ago, taking it easy, when suddenly someone knocked on the door. The door opened, and in came the classic image of a businessman. As the man came in, his eyes first fixed on Red for a moment. Explaining his presence, he said he'd come in regard to sponsorship of the juvenile drama classes.
Red was naturally overjoyed to hear that the man was a sponsor and greeted him even more attentively. The man smoothly took a black leather satchel from under his arm, unzipped the zipper and took out a wad of cash, which he stacked neatly on the table.
"Here's a hundred thousand Yuan," he said to Red. "It's the first payment of the grant. The remaining two hundred thousand will come in installments."
"This is out-and-out fantasy." Red picked up a bunch of the money and put on her reading glasses to look at it.
"Don't worry, it's not counterfeit," the man said with a smile.
She asked the man's name. Laughing, he said, "Don't bother yourself about that. I'm just an ordinary fellow."
"Well, you must be an avid fan of Shaanxi opera, huh?" Surprisingly, when Red asked that, the man shook his head.
"Then what the heck are you doing this for? If you can't tell me where you're coming from, I won't be able to accept this money!"
The man's expression grew cold and aloof, and a distressed look spread across his face. His manner was reminiscent of the Japanese actor Ken Takakura.
"I was in a Reform through Labor camp because of you, from the time I was twenty until I was thirty, the best years of a person's life. That was thirty years ago. I was a young worker in a factory back then. Remember that poster of you made up as Li Tiemei? We had one of them stuck up on the wall in the dormitory at our collective. You were so young back then!"
The visitor glanced at the woman in front of him, the doddering old lady that Age Eight Red had become. He sighed and continued: "All eight of us guys in the dorm room liked you, even adored you. But the one who liked you the most was me. But I did something stupid. Even now I get red in the face when I think of it."
The visitor paused, then went on: "Every day when we went to work, I was always the last one to leave the room. The reason was that I wanted to say goodbye to you. My farewell ritual was to kiss your lips – of course, it was the poster that I kissed on the on the lips. Later my roommates told everyone what I was doing. Those lips had been kissed so many times over the months and years that the color had faded, which had raised their suspicions. Finally, one time when I was kissing it the door burst open and I was taken into custody on the spot. Later I was convicted of hooliganism and punished for it."
What a strange story. "And then you got rich while you were in the labor camp," Red said, "like the Count of Monte Cristo did. So you started a company and went into business when you got out."
The man laughed. "The Count of Monte Cristo got a windfall. That's something only a novelist could think up. To tell the truth, I didn't make my fortune until after I was released. Since I'd lost my job, I had to go to sea, and I earned it bit by bit."
Red accepted the man's sponsorship and soon "Age Eight Red's School of the Arts" opened to great fanfare. She recovered her youthful vitality and everyone said she'd been rejuvenated. Later the remaining 200,000 Yuan of the grant the man had promised was deposited into the school's bank account in two installments.
Something had happened when the man left that day; he'd kissed her. She'd felt that long, long kiss down to her toes. Only when she'd heard footsteps coming up the stairs had she awakened from her dream and pushed the visitor away.
"My granddaughter's coming," she'd said. "Hurry! Go!"
Then she'd gone back inside and lain down on her bed, and begun to cry.
[Note: Chinese authors often write fictional pieces about real people – Fannyi. ]
传世经典微型小说108篇 / 108 World-Wide Classic Mini-Stories, page 336
武汉长江文艺出版社; 高田宏, 方莹, 孙琳 主任编辑 Gao Tianhong, Fang Ying, Sun Lin, Eds.
Translated from version at http://2007.hnzqw.com/dispbbs.asp?boardid=85&id=20047
6. China's Gen II Rich Kids* (中国的富二代)
Liu Xiaobo** (刘晓鸥)
A group of Chinese elementary school students caught my eye coming through the border entry in New York. They were all wearing the same uniform and waiting in line behind their teachers and tour leaders to go through U. S. Customs. I asked a girl, "What have you come here for?"
"We've come to America to go to summer camp!" she answered.
I see Chinese children at every scenic spot, restaurant or airport I go to. A woman tourist told me, "You could say the tourist areas in our country are empty right now. Grade school and high school students are all spending their vacations in the U.S.!" That's an exaggeration, but in Times Square in New York, or on a tour boat taking in the view of the Statue of Liberty, in Yellowstone Park or at Niagara Falls…. Everywhere you go, you'll run into one group of Chinese children after another.
If you did a survey, you'd find that an absolutely amazing number of children go abroad for summer study these days. It costs tens of thousands of Yuan to have a child come to America for ten or fifteen days, and the tour itinerary is no different than it would be for an adult. Even if they go to Harvard University, it's just to take a walk around the campus. Nevertheless, the parents feel it's valuable. It's a luxury that almost couldn't be imagined a few decades ago.
On the plane, every child plays games on an iPad or mobile phone. In luxury shops, little boys and girls line up to swipe their credit cards to buy designer handbags. It reminds me of the old song, "It's not that I don't understand, it's that the world is changing fast."
While waiting for a plane at the airport in Washington, I met a husband and wife from Wuhan. They had come to the U.S. on an unescorted tour to take their daughter, a girl who had just entered the fourth grade, on a tour of Harvard, Stanford, Houston and other famous schools. They wanted her to get an idea of what America is like and then she could come here for high school. But that's the thing about wealthy Chinese parents: They dote excessively on and lack education about their children.
A Ms. Wu, a lawyer from Beijing, was in the same group as me. She'd brought her two daughters, ages seven and twelve, to the U. S. for a vacation. She said she takes the girls abroad every winter and summer vacation. They've been to both France and Italy.
While Ms. Wu's daughters are as young as flower buds, they were not everyone's favorites. Towards the end of the trip, the tourists voted privately to choose the worst travelers. Old Cui's family came in first, and second place went to these two sisters. They were unjustifiably arrogant, and they talked dirty in English and German while sitting in the bus. Not only that, they distorted Tang Dynasty poems into doggerel that you couldn't bear to listen to, and screamed the lines out accompanied by explosive laughter. Ms. Wu never criticized them or told them to stop. An old doctor and his wife whispered, "These kids really weren't raised properly!"
On the tour bus during the trip, everybody except these two girls had listened quietly and attentively as the tour guide graphically explained American history. The girls had played noisily. I often wished Ms. Wu would control her children, but she just sat there in the front row, completely indifferent.
Once when we were chatting she told me, "My daughters go to high-class schools. They can both speak some English and some German. Their Papa doesn't care how noisy they get at home. They like their Papa!"
"How did they get so tan?" I asked her.
"A lot of the students in their school go abroad for summer vacation," she replied. "After they get back to school they compare their tans, and being darker proves that you spent the vacation abroad. Pale skin means your family doesn't have any money so you had to spend the summer nesting at home, and people look down on you."
All of a sudden I felt like Ms. Wu's gentle and quiet features had become quite vulgar.
*[The term "Gen II Rich Kids" refers to children born in the late 1980s or '90s whose families are nouveau riche – Fannyi]
** [The Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (刘晓鸥) is not likely the author of this essay, since he was in prison when the essay was published and his writings are banned in China. The essay was apparently first published in a newspaper without attribution, and Mr. Liu was credited only later on a couple of websites. – Fannyi]
Also here (and here under the name 中国小孩)
7. Amnesia (健忘症)
Lin Huayu (林华玉)
Maria has been quite worried recently because she discovered that her husband Jeffrey has a very serious case of amnesia. Once, he went off to work but left his briefcase at home; when he came back to get it, he left his cell phone behind; and when he came back to get the phone, he left his keys in the house. Another time, he drove their new car to work, but when he got off he forgot he'd driven in and took the bus home.
Maria consulted their doctor, Jack, who said that the problem was brought on by long-term exposure to excessive pressure at work. It would be difficult to treat and medication would not be effective. Maria nervously asked what kind of treatment could be done, and Jack said that a simple and practical method would be: Every time Jeffrey wanted to do something, Maria should be at his side to remind him to look around carefully and make sure he had left nothing behind. After stimulating his memory like this for period of time, his symptoms would show a marked improvement.
The next day, as Jeffery was leaving for work, Maria remembered what Jack had said. "Don't forget your briefcase, Dear," she reminded her husband, and Jeffery picked up the briefcase. "And remember your phone," she said. Jack felt his pocket and the phone was there. Maria reminded him of several things and he indicated that he remembered them all.
After a few days of this kind of stimulation, Jeffrey's memory was indeed greatly enhanced. He no longer left things behind when he was going to work or coming home.
Then one morning after Jeffrey had eaten breakfast and was about to go to work, Mary cautioned him, "Don't forget anything, Dear." Jeffrey carefully checked the things he had with him: cell phone, in pocket; briefcase, in hand; suit, wearing; watch, on wrist. Everything was there when he checked, but Jeffrey was still uneasy, so he checked them carefully again. Only after verifying that everything was indeed there did he calm down and leave for work.
When Maria had eaten her breakfast and was just about to leave for work, she heard the doorbell ring. She opened the door and was surprised to see that it was Jeffrey! "Did you leave something behind, Dear?" she asked.
"I've got everything with me," he said gravely, "but I did forget one thing."
When Maria breathlessly asked what it was, he said: "I got canned yesterday, so I don't have to go to work today."
2012 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 119
Translated from text at http://www.hw010.cn/article/40762.html
Also available at http://www.11zazhi.com/2012_16/dzxy20121641.html
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