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2013年11月16日星期六

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图片取自 The Bibliotaphes Closet -
Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Beach Reads

  The town of Granby was warmly belly that sheltered us during our first year in Canada. The locals cosseted us one by one. The pupils in my grade school lined up to invite us home for lunch so that each of our noon hours was reserved by a family. And every time, we went back to school with nearly empty stomach because we didn't know how to use a fork to eat rice that wasn't sticky. We didn't know how to tell them that this food was strange to us, that they really didn't have to go to every grocery store in search of the last box of Minute Rice. We could neither talk to nor understand them. But that wasn't the main thing. There was generosity and gratitude in every grain of the rice left on our plates. To this day I still wonder whether words might have tainted those moments of grace. And whether feelings are sometimes understood better in silence, like the one that existed between Claudette and Monsieur Kiet. Their first moments together were wordless, yet Monsieur Kiet agreed to put his baby into Claudette's arms without questioning: a baby, his baby, whom he'd found on the shore after his boat had capsized in an especially greedy wave. He had not found his wife, only his son, who was experiencing a second birth without his mother. Claudette stretched out her arms to them and kept them with her for days, for months, for years.

  Johanne held out her hand to me in the same way. She liked me even though I wore a tuque with a McDonald's logo, even though I travelled hidden in a cube van with fifty other Vietnamese to work in fields around the Eastern Townships after school. Johanne wanted me to go to a private secondary school with her the following year. Yet she knew that I waited every afternoon in the yard of that very school for the farmers' trucks that would take us to work illegally in the fields, earning a few dollars in exchange for the sacks of beans we picked.

  Johanne also took me to the movies, even though I was wearing a shirt bought on sale for eighty-eight cents, with a hole near one of the seams. After the film Fame she taught me how to sing the theme song in English, "I sing the body electric," although I didn't understand the words, or her conversations with her sister and her parents around their fireplace. It was Johanne too who picked me up after my first fall when we went ice skating, who applauded and shouted my name in the crowd when Serge, a classmate three times my size, took me in his arms along with the football and scored a touchdown.

  I wonder if I haven't invented her, that friend of mine. I've met many people who believe in God, but what I believe in is angels, and Johanne was an angel. She was one of an army of them who'd been parachuted into town to give us shock treatment. By the dozen they showed up at our doors to give us warm clothes, toys, invitations, dreams. I often felt there wasn't enough space inside us to receive everything we were offered, to catch all the smiles that came our way. How could we visit the Granby zoo more than twice each weekend? How could we appreciate a camping trip to the countryside? How to savour an omelette with maple syrup?

  I have a photo of my father being embraced by our sponsors, a family of volunteers to whom we'd assigned. They spent their Sundays taking us to flea markets. They negotiated fiercely on our behave so we could buy mattresses, dishes, beds, sofas —— in short, the basics —— with our three-hundred-dollar government allowance meant to furnish out first home in Quebec. One of the vendors threw in a red cowl-necked sweater for my father. He wore it proudly everyday of our first spring in Quebec. Today, his broad smile in the photo from that time manages to make us forget that it was a woman's sweater, nipped in at the waist. Sometimes it's best not to know every thing.

  Of course, there were times when we'd have liked to know more. To know, for instance, that in our old mattress there were fleas. But those details don't matter because they don't show in the pictures. In many case, we thought we were immunized against stings, that no flea could fierce our skin bronzed by the Malaysian sun. In fact the cold winds and hot baths had purified us, making the bites unbearable and the itches bloody.

  We threw out the mattress without telling our sponsors. We didn't want them to be disappointed, because they'd given us their hearts, their time. We appreciated their generosity but not sufficiently: we did not know the cost of time, its fair market value, its tremendous scarcity.

Ru - A Novel, p21-24
by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman
ISBN 978-1-60819-898-6





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寫下映入眼簾的第一個句子,
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標上書名、ISBN和頁數,當作回應。

閱讀讓思想更有力量,我們一起來讀書。

~ 松露玫瑰 ~


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