Quotes – A Cruel Hand

A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon us. As a people, we feel ourselves to be not only deeply injured, but grossly misunderstood. Our white countrymen do not know us. They are strangers to our character, ignorant of our capacity, oblivious to our history and progress, and are misinformed as to the principles and ideas that control and guide us, as a people. The great mass of American citizens estimates us as being a characterless and purposeless people; and hence we hold up our heads, if at all, against the withering influence of a nation’s scorn and contempt.

-Fredrick Douglass, in a statement on behalf of delegates to the National Colored Convention held in Rochester, New York, in July 1853


 

我们被一只又狠又重的手摸到了。作为一个民族,我们感觉不仅伤害得很严重,也完全误会了。我们的白人同胞不认识我们。对我们的人格他们是外人,对我们的本事无知,遗忘了我们的历史和进步,还有对治理指导我们这个民族的原理和志愿,他们也误读。美国公民大多数估计我们是一个没有本事、又没有目的的民族;因此,为了反对全国的鄙视和轻蔑的丧气影响,我们要抬头来。

——弗雷德里克·道格拉斯,在各位全国有色人大会的声明, 1853年七月,纽约,罗切斯特。

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Translation of Yang Jiang’s Cadre School Diaries – Notes on Leave Taking – P6

shuangyashan_maj_lampa

得一掮着、拎着别人的行李,我和阿圆帮默存拿着他的几件小包小袋,排队挤进月台,挤上火车,找到个车厢安顿了默存。我们三人就下车,痴痴站着等火车开动。

我记得从前看见坐海船出洋的旅客,登上摆渡的小火轮,送行者就把许多彩色纸带抛向小轮船;小船慢慢向大船开去,那一条条彩色的纸带先后迸断,岸上就拍手欢呼。也有人在欢呼声中落泪;迸断的彩带好似迸断的离情。这番送人上干校,车上的先遣队和车下送行的亲人,彼此间的离情假如看的见,就决不是彩色的,也不能一迸就断。

默存走到车门口,叫我们回去吧,别等了。彼此遥遥相望,也无话可说。我想,让我们回去还有三人,可以放心释念,免得火车驰走时,他看到我们眼里,都在不放心他一人离去。我们遵照他的意思,不等车开,先自走了。几次回头望望,车还不动,车下还是挤满了人。我们默默回家;阿圆和得一接着也各回工厂。他们同下一校而不同系,不在同一个工厂劳动。


 

With Deyi hefting and shouldering other people’s luggage, Ayuan and I helped Mocun carry his small number of bags and squeezed into line to get on to the platform and from there onto the train. We found a compartment to settle him in and then the three of us got off to watch quietly until the train moved off.

I remember once seeing travellers departing for an international voyage, they were boarding a small paddle steamer that was to ferry them out to a much larger vessel. Those seeing them off were casting multicoloured streamers over the small ship. As it moved away from the dock and towards it’s larger counterpart, the colourful streamers snapped one after another as the people on the bank waved and cheered. Some of the well-wishers shed tears as they waved, and it seemed as if the snap snap snap of the streamers rang out in sympathy with the pain and sorrow of those left behind. If you could see the parting sorrow of the advance party on the train and their relatives waiting below, it most certainly would not be colourful, and it would not snap so readily.¹

Mocun came to the carriage door and bid us return,  no need to wait. We locked gazes from afar, but there was nothing we could say to each other now. I thought to myself, we three should return and rest easy, if only to avoid the possibility that when the train finally pulled away he would see the worry in our eyes as we watched him departing alone. We respected his wishes and did not wait for the train to go, we left early. I looked back many times, the train hadn’t moved and the platform was still packed to bursting point. We returned home in silence; Ayuan and Deyi followed and then went back to their respective factories. Like working in the same school but in different departments, they laboured at separate factories.²

¹This paragraph is quite descriptive and emotive, I purposely moved further away from a direct translation so as to better capture it’s emotional impact.
²This seems to be a metaphorical allusion to the similarities between the children and their parents. Their working in separate factories is being compared to the parents working in the same institution but in different areas.

 

Translation of Yang Jiang’s Cadre School Diaries – Notes on Leave Taking – P5

shuangyashan_maj_lampa

经受折磨,就叫锻炼:除了准备锻炼还有什么可准备的呢。准备的衣服如果太旧,怕不经穿:如果太结实,怕洗来费劲。我久不缝纫,胡乱把耐脏的料子用缝衣机做了个毛毡的套子,准备经年不洗。我补了一条裤子,坐处象个布满经线纬线的地球仪,而且厚如龟壳。默存倒很欣赏,说好极了,穿上好比随身带着个座儿,随处都可以坐下。他说,不用筹备得太周全,只需等我也下去,就可以照看他。至于家人团聚,等几时阿圆和得一乡间落户,待他们迎养吧。

转眼到了十一号先遣队动身的日子。我和阿圆、得一送行。默存随身行李不多,我们找个旮旯儿歇着等待上车。待车室里,闹嚷嚷、乱哄哄人来人往,先遣队的领队人忙乱得只恨分身无术,而随身行李太多的,只恨少生了几双手。得一忙放下自己拿得东西,去帮助随身行李多得无法摆布的人。默存和我看他热心为旁人效力,不禁赞许新社会的好风尚,同时又互相安慰说:得一和善忠厚,阿圆有他在一起,我们可以放心。

To experience suffering, is to temper oneself: apart from preparing for this ordeal, is there anything else one can do? If the clothes you prepare are too old they may wear out, but if they are too tough they may be difficult to clean. I hadn’t sewn in many years, but on a whim I used my sewing machine to fashion a felt covering from some dirt resistant materials- it would last a long time before needing to be washed. I used it to patch a pair of trousers, the seat ended up like a globe, with lines of latitude and longitude going this way and that, it was thick as a turtle shell to boot. Mocun really liked it! He said it was brilliant, better than carrying a seat around with him and he could sit down wherever he pleased. He told me not to work so hard on my preparations, I could wait till I had followed him down to look after him properly. As far as reuniting our family, we would have to wait some time for Ayuan and Deyi to settle in the country and look after us in our retirement, as is customary.

In the blink of an eye it was the 11th, the day the advance party would be setting out. Myself, Ayuan, and Deyi went along to see him off. Mocun didn’t have much luggage, and found a little corner to rest in while he waited to board the train. In the waiting room there was a great hustle and bustle, people were coming and going this way and that. The leader of the advance party was so busy he was being run off his feet, not to mention the fact that he had too much luggage and was regretting being born with too few pairs of hands. Deyi put down his load and hastened to assist those who were overburdened. Seeing him ardently exerting himself on behalf of others, Mocun and I could not help but praise the customs of the new society, and we simultaneously comforted each other, saying: “Deyi is gentle and honest, as long as Ayuan has him by her side, we can rest easy.”

 

Translation of Yang Jiang’s Cadre School Diaries – Notes on Leave Taking – P4

shuangyashan_maj_lampa

我们到了预定的小吃店,叫了一个最现成的砂锅鸡块——不过是鸡皮鸡骨。我舀些清汤泡了半碗饭,饭还是咽不下。

只有一个星期置备行装,可是默存要到末了两天才得放假。我倒借此赖了几天学,在家收抬东西。这次放是所谓“连锅端”——就是拔宅下放,好像是奉命一去不复返的意思。没用的东西、不穿的衣服、自己宝贵的图书、笔记等等,全得带走,行李一大堆。当时我们女儿阿圆、女婿得一,各在工厂劳动,不能叫回来帮忙。他们休息日回家,就帮着收拾行李,并且学别人的样,把箱子用粗绳子密密缠捆,防旅途摔破或压塌。可惜能用粗绳子缠捆保护的,只不过是木箱铁箱等粗重行李;这些木箱、铁箱,确也不如血肉之躯经得起折磨。

We arrived at the small food shop we had agreed upon and ordered the speediest dish of clay pot chicken chunks – it was all bones. I ladled some clear broth onto the half eaten bowl of chicken but I still couldn’t get it down.

There was just one week to purchase supplies but Mocun was only given leave for the last two days.  In the end I had to cut class for a few days so I could stay home and pack his things. This leave taking was being called, “everything but the kitchen sink”——it was uprooting the entire home to be sent down, like receiving orders to go and never return. Things we didn’t use, clothes we never wore, precious books and notes; all of them had to be taken, the luggage was piled up into a great heap. At the time, our daughter, Ayuan, and our son-in-law, Deyi, were working in factories, so we couldn’t call them to help out. On their day off they came to assist with the luggage, and they even copied what others were doing and used thick ropes to tie it up ever so tight, in case it should fall and break or be crushed on the road. Unfortunately the protection those thick ropes afforded stopped at the bulky iron and wooden trunks; in terms of torment, those metal and wooden trunks simply could not match the resilience of human flesh.