Dear Deuce

Second Eileen Chang

February 10, 2018


“留情”

“Spared Love”, by Eileen Chang

米先生不由得想起从前他留学的时候。他再回过头去,沙砾地上蹲着一只黑狗,卷着小小的耳朵。润湿的黑毛微微卷曲,身子向前探着,非常注意地,也不知它是听着什么还是看着什么。米先生想起老式留声机的狗商标,开了话匣子跳舞,西洋女人圆领口里腾起的体温与气味。又想起他第一个小孩的玩具中的一只寸许高的绿玻璃小狗,也是这样蹲着,眼里嵌着两粒红圈小水钻。想起那半透明暗绿玻璃的小狗,牙齿就发酸,也许他逗着孩子玩,啃过它,也许他阻止孩子放到嘴里去啃,自己嘴里,由于同情,也发冷发酸——记不清了。他第一个孩子是在外国生的,他太太是个女同学,广东人。从前那时候,外国的中国女学生是非常难得的,遇见了,很快地就发生感情,结婚了。太太脾气一直是神经质的,后来更暴躁,自己的儿女一个个都同她吵翻了,幸而他们都到内地读书去了,少了些冲突。这些年来他很少同她在一起,就连过去要好的时候,日子也过得仓促糊涂,只记得一趟趟的吵架,没什么值得纪念的快乐的回忆,然而还是那些年青痛苦,仓皇的岁月,真正触到了他的心,使他现在想起来,飞灰似的霏微的雨与冬天都走到他眼睛里面去,眼睛鼻子里有涕泪的酸楚。

He recalls the years he spent abroad. He turns back and there sits a black dog on the gravel. Little folded ears, wet curled black hair. Leaning its body forward, it seems to very attentively — either listen to, or watch for something.

He thought of the dog-shaped brand mark on some gramophones back in the days, and music coming out of the gramophone, western women’s temperature and smell he could feel from around their neckline. He remembers also a toy that belonged to his first child — a green glass dog about an inch tall, sitting exactly like that one, eyes made of rhinestones with red rings.

As he remembers the glass dog his teeth felt sore. Maybe he had played with his child by chewing on it. Or maybe he had forbidden his child from chewing, and because of empathy his own mouth felt the sensation of coldness and soreness that would have happened. He cannot remember which case exactly.

His first child was born abroad; his wife was a classmate of his, Cantonese. Back then it was rare to see a Chinese classmate out abroad, and once you do, quickly you fall in love and get married. His wife was ill-tempered and neurotic. Later that turned into a worse form of irritability, which constantly brought up fights with even her own children, eventually driving them all away until there’s finally peace.

All these years he had spent little time with her. Even during the period where there’s a good amount of passion, days moved fast and ran in chaos; he only recalls rounds and rounds of arguments, nothing cheerful really worth memorizing. However still it was those young and fast-moving years that touched him; thinking of them now, dusty drizzles and a whole winter walk into his eyes, a tearful moment is tangibly close.