Loyalty and Filiality Park
CHEN Yingzhen (Translated by CHEN Po-hsi)
Ma Zhengtao stands beside the worktop in the kitchen, looking at the meat stewing in the little white iron pot with slow fire. He is fond of roasted pork shoulder chops stewed with tomatoes, making a small pot of it every couple of days, and soaks the rice in the meat broth that carries the taste of umami and fruit tartness, eating it with the over-stewed meat. The ventilator is humming and buzzing. From time to time, he would take a clean rag, wiping and rubbing the stainless steel worktop next to the stove. Ma Zhengtao is a neat freak. They say that Northeastern Chinese don’t like to takeshowers, but this old Northeasterner particularly loves to take showers. After retiring from his government job due to diabetic condition in 1979, he managed to secure a relatively small loan from a bank through nepotism and bought a timeworn bungalow on an old street in Ho Town. By then, the bungalow was almost twenty years old. Reinforced brickwork, flimsy and worn. Yet itsdetached building and courtyard had taken Ma Zhengtao’s fancy, sparing him the hassle of dealing with his neighbors, and allowing him to lead a solitary life.
However, even for such adecrepit house, Ma Zhengtao basically did not refurbish it other than having it thoroughly cleaned and repainted. The one thing he didn’t hesitate to do was to tear down the entire shower room at all cost, modifying it into a larger and brand new bathroom with imported ceramic tiles and bathroom fixtures.
Ma Zhengtao is from the North, with Northerner’s look. Though an octogenarian, he does not appear to be ostensibly senile for his old age. After coming to Taiwan, he has been a bachelor for decades and is used to eating alone. He has an old and square mahogany dining table. Now he puts the small pot of meat stew on the center of the table and begins to eat alone in silence. He is big and tall in stature. Although there are still three seats unoccupied at the dining table, with the sheer size of his body occupying merely one side of the table, it does not seem empty nor lonely under the warm electric light that hangs from above.
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.
Chen Po-hsi is a Ph.D student in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University.