CHEN Yingzhen (Translated by LU Yiting and LIN Chia-Hsuan)
I have a particularly comfortable pair of leather shoes, but the heels are both worn out. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away, so I plead my wife to get the heels repaired.
“I have seen no one walking like you,” my wife says. “Why do you always drag your heels when you walk?”
I look at the leather shoes carried in my hand. The heel of the right shoe is worn out to the right as though it’s been shaved by a knife, while the left one is shaved to the left.
It reminds me of my father’s leather shoes.
It was the summer of 1949 when I was in the fifth grade that my father, who was then the principal of an elementary school in Tao Town, came to visit my foster family. For many days, with mixed feelings, I had been looking forward to the day my father would come and bring me back to my birth family for a short stay. As a young boy, I was unwilling to depart from my foster parents who treated me as their own child—my foster parents were my father’s third elder brother and sister-in-law, thus my third uncle and aunty. But meanwhile, the temptation of playing with my biological sister and four younger brothers in my birth family was so strong that I could neither withstand it.
In the dark living room, while my father had a long talk with my foster father, with whom he had shared intimate brotherhood when they were young boys, my foster mother already had me changed into a starched student uniform. Squatting beside the well to watch my foster mother washing vegetables, I chatted with her from time to time, trying hard to conceal my unwillingness to leave her even for a short time, as well as the irresistible expectation of returning to my birth family, knowing both would make her sad.
But the time of leaving still came.
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 mainly 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.
Lu Yiting is Ph.D. student at the School of Journalism, Fudan University, Shanghai.
Lin Chia-Hsuan is the managing editor of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. She has also been working as a translator for years.