Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A moment on Sad Heights


Monday, April 11, 2016

THE CHINESE GENERAL


Kay Hassan

Characters. 
 Mao -Zi - Ziyang: The general. 
Lien:     General's Daughter- Biyu's  Mother 
Biyu: General's Granddaughter, and  Chen Chung wife
Bai Jangwei : Biyu's Husband. 
Chen Chung (Dead):  Biyu's Father- Lien's Husband.
Crystal: Biyu's Daughter.
Place : -Somewhere in Arlington.

                                                                  -1-
Biyu, a beautiful Chinese lady invites me to a private party ; a rare event at her -Arlington house. Though, I am aware how bad -I am in putting up with strangers -I murmur to myself, and swear to God. “ I will be among-st the first attendees .” I don’t refuse Biyu’s request, in fact no one does.

And when the time comes Biyu -at her house- introduces me to her mother Lien M. Ziyang . (Spiritually, she feels for a moment I am Chen ’s ghost- that is why she tries later to teach me some tricks of her gambling skills.) I know - Lien is in my age-Buyi says . “She is a strong woman, but is obsessed and stubborn .” Biyu works with me - in the same place.

“My husband will be leaving the house, when the party starts,” Buyi says, and leads  me to meet her husband. And I say. “How do you do, sir .” Gasping almost simultaneously ."Why is that, Biyu ?” She is hesitant. “It is a family issue,” says Biyu. Bai Jangwei is her husband, Bai is leaving soon- Hard to understand that- I think confusedly . Bai tells me.” I don’t understand women's mood. Now,they want me out-I am sorry, guys.” He sighs and gasps again strangely. haha- “ Man, you neither need to understand them, nor to be sorry.” I say.

He respects me. “Look, how quickly, men can understand each other,” says he upon our  easy start-without any need to ice breaking-struggle. “If I were a woman, wouldn’t envy such a quickness,” I say. He laughs--“ Biyu is beautiful” I say. “I Know, everyone says that,” says he grudgingly, and cast a restless glimpse at me, and roves  his gaze over the guests' faces.“I am sorry to leave, you -hope catch up later,” says he and leaves me.

The guests say during the gossip time - Bai Jangwei - is leaving , because his grandfather Jangwei was a traitor-and betrayed the revolution -Bai’s presence may bother the guest of honor - Biyu think that way. I can’t speak Chinese, but I agree.

More realistic than Aristotle ,they say, females are the fundamental material of the nature's harmony- besides  the oriental women come in all incarnations; their chemistry is indescribable without their four ingredients : fragile charm, allure, poise and femininity.( And the secret fire!) I think- additionally, Biyu is magnificently glowing with every steps she takes -to please the guests. Biyu efficiently pays attention to everyone -she is brilliantly growing her name. “ My father- I mean my grandfather will be here soon,” says she to me, anxiously . I think she prepares me for something crucial. “What is wrong with that,” I say…I mean the general’s visit.
“Right, but he is - General Mao -Zi Ziyang.” Says she. “ “General Mao -Zi Ziyang!” I muter.
I think about  General Mao -Zi Ziyang- inside their heads . and tell  myself. "Stop.  You try to understand your peers but you can't enter  their veins."

The name is suggestive though I seem reluctant to proceed. “You don’t know him, do you?” Biyu says. “Not, really,” I say- (I am a bad liar; for certain the worst one.) My son always suggests -“Don’t be smart-ass, with due respect . People hate that.” I feel I am safe-  Bai, the prominent male-(And supposedly the potential host- in the place.) Leaves-all the same,but among-st women I feel I am safe

I would say. "Mao-"  in remembrance of the great magician of his time- Mao Zedong! But my mouth is shut, by Biyu’s filtering-looks . She has to be honest and specific. “ In fact the general visits my mother Lien- his only daughter ,” says Biyu
 “Have you seen him recently ?” I say .
"Oh, no -never ,” she says.
 “ What would you expect us to do, Biuy? ” I say.
“ You know, how Mothers bear the burden ,” says Biyu.                                                                 “Right,” I say.
 “I believe, Lien had involved in all kinds of the traditional experiences needed for such occasions .In particular, how to receive a Retired General,” says Biyu. I would not miss such an opportunity as a big mouth “With all due respect - I thought , they kill them, ” I say cynically. “ Don’t be silly,” says she plainly. “It is just a stupid thought,” I say. “Whatsoever,” she says.

Emptied or extinguished though, we are eager to achieve a massive stimulation-inside our souls. I feel Biyu. won’t resents such kinds of comments all the same ,but she readies to leave gently. “General would not visit Lien, if was not for a personal interest, “ says Biyu. “What do you mean?” I said. “Aaa . It is a family issue,” says Biyu “ I am sorry.” … “You can ask, I don’t mind, but won’t tell you- much details,” says Biyu.    “ Actually I am wondering, what a Chinese retired general might be doing here ,” I say. “In United States. Oh, America?” says she. “Definitely Yes,” I say. “Looking for a giant hunt in New Work city- it is worth it- (the journey.) ,” says she and grins broadly. ”I see,” I say. “ The detail is none of your concern,” says Biyu. “Fair enough,” I say. She leaves, however, naively I risk later to find the truth, and to satisfy my ego, I tell myself.  "He HAS A PLAN."
                                                               
                                                                -2-
Prior to the party’s start , Lien announces the arrival of her father. “ General is her,” Lien says… ” Oh, my God, General Ziyang- in my house!” screams Biyu. Biyu is shaking. Lien doubtless, had planted in her head an image of a gross general

Lien leads the old general in- with his two valets. General watches her daughters guests’ response -and the humble panorama of the living room- which is in fact opened to the backyard . The backyard is lit up by strings of hued lights and traditional Chinese kindles-the space looks like a fancy wing added to her place-bordered by the shadows of two old juniper trees. (The two women receive the general passionately.)

I can see now how his memory bursting out through his eyes and speculate the effect of prosperity -on his flabby face. I think, probably- his frowning face used to be oval or-flat- with a longer articulated nose ,and full cheeks- of a large head which believes in the famous statement -‘Face is superior to truth and justice.’ Obviously had never Eaten Bitter- , or experienced the cycle of frenzy and fatigue, or tasted the Chinese way of living.
"He was articulate," says Lien.

The celebrants are too many for such a little party- but in my point of view , is to fulfil the desires- (Which have never been satisfied.) of our General, here-- in- Arlington- the unique sample of the suburban community- in the country. But,sadly, the suburb is being now forced to retreat to the fringe of its border by the rising of the high buildings.

I think , cynically, such kind of diversity might make me envy anthropologist and ethnologist for having such accessible- mobile laboratories . “I would like to introduce General Ziyang ,” Lien says insistently---she looks at me-she feels I am a random ghost, not Biyu’s father’s-- wondering where her daughter had collected me, even -sooner- she says. “ General is not everyone’s concern.” Anyway Biyu can’t keep her mouth shut. “He is my friend and I am honoured to share with him secrets,” Biyu says.

Quicker than ever, I make my point. “This assembly is either to please the general or to show him how successful they are here-in exile.” I mumble to myself.” Why they don’t take things simply?” The general anyway deserves a round of applause, and in response -he smiles broadly, and grudgingly says. “Xièxiè.” My ear receives the voice as such.

The party is going on ,and we are mainly enjoying the Chinese food, about which The more we speak, the more the intimacy prevails , especially when in detail the history of Chinese cuisine- becomes a hot topic ; it is stretched back for a thousand years, mixing over time techniques, and ingredients -through its long journey-which ended up in the crucible of the expanding empire.

The party’s material for the night has been incredibly organized earlier by Lien -and the-activities included : Traditional dances, and two songs are sung in hurry, and an opera song., was written for Biyu’s six years old daughter- Crystal and her friend - Biyu says- “General , and his assistants can read the song’s translation on the screen-is set on his table .We sing in English.”

The two songs- which are ignored- come to the end- and a Little boy -Jamie- and- Crystal- bloom on a portable plastic stage where three kids pop up to play on some .miniature- like-instrument - Lien and Biyu prepared to introduce the little performers. “ Our young artists : Chan - piano , Julie - flute, and Caroline - violin. “ says Biyu- and smiles in response to the applause. “ The Opera song is performed by Crystal -the general’s grand granddaughter, and Jamie the grandson of the Mr. Bingween who died in the general’s prison for having said -one word-you know what I mean,” Biyu says, without any visible response to the applause. “The song is written by an anonymous poet. It is a pure story of love ,” says Lien, before she remember- Biyu is the director. They are ready for the director’s signal.
                                               ***
The Signal is Launched .

Steppe’s Butterflies.

                - Liang -
 Let me be your soul mate
Not your comrade
You sob like a child -
Lost his mother in the storm
[In the crowd ,]
Let me contain your sorrow
And rub the grieve of your eyes.
Speak up your mind, You won’t need to walk in disguise

               - Zhu-
Shall you love me in all seasons ,
Filling my heart with our breezes,
Love stories -and sages’ wisdom
And love me with all those emotions-
Mother’s planted in your heart
Promise me - you are a true man
For a virgin full of genuine souls-

            - Liang -
Let me be your home
A home of- iron walls,
Where you stay forever
As a baby: In the heart of the motherland
As safe as the ruby with poets
Where none of those villains,
Dare to bruise your skin
Tell the generals- our story-

        - Zhu -
I want freedom, in
A world -architecture-d
for noble feelings-

                          - Liang-
You never stay alone, in this crowded country.
I promise , I promise .

                           - Zhu -
Well, we shall become as simple as the truth.
Have no comrades, has no big brothers, has no almost, and no fear
-
                       -Together --
 Share me this brave world --
 Share me this brave light.
Share me this brave truth
(They kiss, and spring into each other’s arms.)

                      -Phantom-
I shall give you the soul of love.
And bless you as much as music got tongues.

                     -Together-
We are always her for love

                    [Phantom]
And I am always here for you.

Cheering…a huge cheering rocks the place.
-I am certain, linguistically the General has no concern about the translation into Mandarin, but on contrary- I mean emotionally the old man is cracked down, and in response is bitterly tasting the defeat and triteness. And probably is now silently shedding tears. “I am not supposed to be treated that way, Lien,” the general says. I know tears can talk. “Is there any inappropriate behaviour, Ba…” said Lien. “You just showed yourself- my girl-. Where is our discipline, traditions. You deny seventy years of honour , bravery , and triumph,” says the general.

Fortunately my neighbour voluntarily is interpreting the brawl .Hence, I enjoy the luxury of being Listening to Lien’s rage- upon the growling of the general who once banned her ascending the opera’s stages . “We should have told the world what actually went on, earlier - very earlier,” says she “What went on, was a matter of honour , regardless of everything,” says he. “That is your point of view, sir,” says she. “And if you bear the truth, listen to my song,” says she. ” I would risked it.” Says the General. “I hope the facts bear it out,” says she. “Mother, you wreck the party,” says biyu. “Not yet baby. It’d better show him- what he had banned me from,” says Lien in the moment of her glowing - probably to rock up herself and her general .

And, then, magically as much as her long lasting pain had been crying -she is now triggered - to sing, but so profoundly that the general who always bragged not having shed tears even on his foremost adorable leader’s coffin , sooner for the first time reduces to tears.

“-Lein- is the name of my song,” says she.

Listen to the stories of China’s women
From the time of Bound Feet,
To the glory of Red Buds,
when books were ,just-
a cursed Bourgeoisie phenomenon ,
and girls like me were imperialist’s dogs
when she let her plait and curl
falling free on her shoulder,
Even doctors were sworn
 “-ye must not treat the bitches,”
"She got a traitor ancestor."
And when she found a book,
in an underground library,
 Followed by the red guards, screaming--
 “ you are a bitch of Imperialists”
And the teacher woke her up-
after the mid night, and screamed
“Go to the refectory and memorise Mao’s quotes.” -
She reads his first quote- saying-stoically
"Reading too many books is no good. “
And when a mother failed
to abort her pregnant girl
were forced together to walk,
 on the streets in a convoy - screaming -
“How an Imperialist bitch and a torn shoe you are.”
 But it’s fine for the generals ,
 to have the nationalist -Moguls’ presents .
 Registered - in the name of that orphan girl -
 Even if it was a paramount apartment in New York.
To let them run their wealth easier in Beijing .
 This is my song :The story of Chinese Women.

Regardless of the fierce brawl fallout, the party is about to come to the end. “The party is wrecked ,” Biyu says desperately.   “No. It is the right time to go home,” I say for a courtesy reason..                      “Guys, let’s go home. The party is over,” I say
 “Right. You are right.”
 “Right. You are right.”
“GOOD NIGHT .”
 “GOOD NIGHT EVERYONE.”
 “HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.”
“GOOD NIGHT.”
"HAVE A GOOD TIME GENERAL."
                                                         
                                                                ***

Lien fails to teach me her gambling skills. " I have no such a gen, Biyu," I say.                                         " My grandfather's got one," Biyu says and laughs.                                                              
  In the launch time- I sit with Biyu talking occasionally about our families.                                                 “The general is still living in the shock of the Crystal’s song.He visits us to shed tears on his lost paradise, worried about the military discipline, ”  Biyu- says  “It is hard for anyone to forget a half century of his life- he lived the longest party ever,” I say. "Party!" says she, confusedly. .
 "I mean his life," I say.
"He, mostly, quotes from the diary of an English general when he talks about; Obedience; cleanliness; sobriety and honesty,”   Biyu- says                                                                                                      
“Probably, he is kind of a person who magnifies his reason and idols,"I say.
   ‘He is, deliberately shedding tears to defuses the stress on his head,’”  Biyu- says                                      “What else, Biyu.”I say.
 “After he restores himself- he says. ‘Lien, look what is going on in Europe-You can’t let things unleashed,” Biyu- says.
  "Lien says- why?...by the way they restore their relation," says Biyu.
"It is harder than his wars," I say.
“Have you a spiritual definition of WAR?” Biyu says unexpectedly -(For she is very plain and clean.)

“ There are many- but let’s say-It is the meanest -human- tragic farce- and try to elaborate the statement , ” I say.
 "Man, I am serious,” Biyu says.
“ I am serious too," I say.
“ The fact is-Listen, listen and tell me your judgement immediately - Lien is obsessed with gambling- she is addicted  , and usually attends a local veterans club- she is always wining a satisfactory amount of backs," says Biyu.
"I won't blame her," I say.
 "But ,in his recent  visits General accompanied her to the club- and the worse thing is -He spends his time there with some American veterans-" says Biyu.
"Great, absolutely great. They will compromise- the fatal disputes of past," I say.
"I mean justify them...then things will become different," I say.
" They show him their permanent- contra-plans- But he keeps tell them how strategically was helping the Vietnamese against them,"says she.
"Probably in the same way they play now," I say cynically.
 "But , worse than that, the veteran are now  convincing  him to write their memoirs in a book revealing what -went on- during the last century.” Biyu says.
“ Woman- you don’t need to worry, any more, he is safe- they just recall their past in peace-on the gambling machine- " I say.
  “I hope so,”Biyu says
 “By the way- Bi-", I say.
She says." WHAT?" Excitedly.
 "I told your husband how beautiful you are,” I says.
Biyu screams loudly . “Really?”
And kisses me, for the first time.                                                                                                              "Oh,  my lost Ba," yells she, and leaves the place..


The End

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