Literary reportage: when red stars fall into Qigulin Mountains
CHEN Yingzhen (Translated by LIU Yi-hung)
May 27, 1993, at a bleak corner overgrown with weeds in the LiuzhangliPublic Cemetery, Ceng Mei-lan, from Tongluo Township of Miaoli County, as he expected, finally found his elder brother XuQing-lan’s decrepit and small tombstone that he had strenuously searched for 30 years. The tombstone was only15 centimeters in width; the exposed part on the ground, slightly tilted and damaged, was about 30 centimeters in height. Most of its inscriptions had been pasted by mud, while a relatively clear Chinese character of “Xu” was shown.
Using his sturdy hands developed over the past few decades as a cement mason, Ceng Mei-lan grabbed a handful of sprawling weeds to rub determinedly against the tombstone. Characters inscribed on the tombstone gradually became clear. He widened his eyes to decipher the characters. On the tombstone it read:
August 8, 41stYear of Minguo
Ceng Mei-lan cried at once, with tears and snot all over his face. While he was crying, he spoke in Hakka, “Dear brother… I had been looking for you so hard for so long…”
Paying no attention to Old Xu the thóo-kong-á (bone-collector) who was standing silently beside him, Ceng Mei-lan indulged himself in crying.
“Dear brother... you, several times, coming into my dreams...saying you are living under a bamboo grove, oh, my dear brother...”
While Old Xu gazed at this heartbroken younger brother, he looked at a small cluster of wild bamboo ten steps away from the tombstone. He took out a cigarette and lit it up, mumbling soundlessly in his mind to himself:
“There, a couple of steps in front of the tomb, that bamboo grove had been much bigger. It was all shoveled away when those houses were built.”
Chen Yongshan [陳永善] was born in 1937 in Taiwan. Chen Yingzhen [陳映真] is his literary pen name, whereas the pen name Xu Nan-cun [許南村] is used for his review articles. He started writing literary works in 1959, and was incarcerated for seven years since 1968. After his release from prison, he continued writing and involved himself in various leftist social practices. His writings and deeds remain one of the most important resources for leftist thoughts and practices in Taiwan, East Asia and the Chinese speaking world.
Liu Yi-Hung [劉羿宏] is a first year PhD student of American Studies at University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her current research includes critical histories of American empire and US imperialism, and cultural exchange between the US and the East Asian region.