Translation:Call to Arms (Lu Xun)/A Madman's Diary
|某君昆仲。今隱其名，皆余昔日在中學校時良友；分隔多年，消息漸闕。日前偶聞其一大病；適歸故鄉，迂道往訪，則僅晤一人，言病者其弟也。勞君遠道來視，然已早愈，赴某地候補矣。因大笑，出示日記二冊，謂可見當日病狀，不妨獻諸舊友。持歸閱一過，知所患「迫害狂」之類。語頗錯雜無倫次，又多荒唐之言；亦不著月日，惟墨色字體不一，知非一時所書。間亦有略具聯絡者，今撮錄一篇，以供醫家研究。記中語誤，一字不易；惟人名雖皆村人，不為世間所知，無關大體，然亦悉易去。至於書名，則本人愈後所題，不復改也。七年四月二日識。||A certain pair of brothers, whose names I shall conceal for now, were both good friends of mine back during our school days. I have been away for many years, and gradually lost touch with them. A few days ago, I suddenly learned that one of them had come down with a serious illness. I was on my way back to my hometown at the time, so I diverted my route so that I could visit them. However, I only saw one of them, who explained that the sick person was his younger brother. He expressed sympathy for my having come such a long way in order to see his brother, but then informed me that his brother had long since recovered, and had moved away in order to fill a temporary post. He thereupon proceeded to laugh aloud, and produced his brother's two-volume diary. He said that one could ascertain the nature of his brother's illness by reading it, and that there was no harm in showing it to an old friend. Upon taking it home and reading it through, I could tell that his brother had been stricken with something like a "persecution complex". His words were slightly disjointed and incoherent, and there were also a lot of preposterous statements. Furthermore, he did not include any dates. It was only by the differences in ink color and penmanship that one would know that it was not all written at the same time. Nevertheless, parts of the diary did have some amount of consistency. I have excerpted those parts here, so that medical experts may use it for research. I have not altered any of the errors in the text. However, I have altered all of the personal names. Although they are all from the same village as him, none of them are known to the outside world, and none of them are relevant to the overall subject matter. As for the title, he chose it himself, after recovering from his illness. I have not changed it. April 2, 7th year of the Republic (1918)|
Tonight, the moonlight is very good.
I have not seen it in more than thirty years; after seeing it today, my spirits are especially refreshed. Only now do I realize that for the past thirty years, I have been in a complete daze; yet, I must be extremely cautious. Otherwise, why would the Zhao family's dog have looked at me twice?
I have reason to fear.
Today, there was no moonlight whatsoever. I know that can't be good. I was careful when I went out this morning. Zhao Guiweng gave me a strange look, as if he was both afraid of me and also wanted to do me in. There were also another seven or eight people discussing me in hushed tones, hoping that I wouldn't see them. Everybody that I encountered along my route was like this. Among them, the most intimidating was a person who gave me an open-mouthed smile; it sent a chill from my head straight to my toes. I knew at that moment that their plans for me were already set.
I couldn't show fear, so I just continued along my original route. There was a group of children ahead of me that were also discussing me. They gave me the same look that Zhao Guiweng had given me. Their eyes were filled with rage. I tried to think what possible enmity I might have with these children that they might behave in such a way. I couldn't help but yelling out, "Tell me!" They ran off.
I tried to think what possible enmity I might have with Zhao Guiweng or with the others along my route. The only thing that came to mind was when I had stepped on Mr. Gu Jiu's account ledger twenty years ago. It was quite old. Mr. Gu Jiu was not happy when I did that. Even though Zhao Guiweng doesn't know him, he certainly must have heard something. Perhaps that's why he's mad at me. Maybe he turned the others along my route against me. But what about the children? They weren't yet born when that happened. Why would they give me such strange looks now, as if they both feared me and wanted to do me in. This caused me to be truly afraid. It also took me aback and hurt my feelings. I understand. Their parents are making them act like this!
他們——也有給知縣打枷過的，也有給紳士掌過嘴的，也有衙役佔了他妻子的，也有老子娘被債主逼死的；他們那時候的臉色，全沒有昨天這麼怕，也沒有這麼兇。 最奇怪的是昨天街上的那個女人，打他兒子，嘴裏說道：「老子呀！我要咬你幾口纔出氣！」他眼睛卻看着我。我出了一驚，遮掩不住；那青面獠牙的一夥人，便都哄笑起來。陳老五趕上前，硬把我拖回家中了。 拖我回家。家裏的人都裝作不認識我；他們的眼色，也全同別人一樣。進了書房，便反扣上門，宛然是關了一隻雞鴨。這一件事，越教我猜不出底細。 前幾天，狼子村的佃戶來告荒，對我大哥說，他們村裏的一個大惡人，給大家打死了；幾個人便挖出他的心肝來，用油煎炒了喫，可以壯壯膽子。我插了一句嘴，佃戶和大哥便都看我幾眼。今天纔曉得他們的眼光，全同外面的那夥人一模一樣。 想起來，我從頂上直冷到腳跟。 他們會喫人，就未必不會喫我。 你看那女人「咬你幾口」的話，和一夥青面獠牙人的笑，和前天佃戶的話，明明是暗號。我看出他話中全是毒，笑中全是刀，他們的牙齒，全是白厲厲的排着，這就是喫人的家伙。 照我自己想，雖然不是惡人，自從踹了古家的簿子，可就難說了。他們似乎別有心思，我全猜不出。況且他們一翻臉，便說人是惡人。我還記得大哥教我做論，無論怎樣好人，翻他幾句，他便打上幾個圈；原諒壞人幾句，他便說「翻天妙手，與眾不同」。我那里猜得到他們的心思，究竟怎樣；況且是要喫的時候。 凡事總須研究，纔會明白。古來時常喫人，我也還記得，可是不甚清楚。我翻開歷史一查，這歷史沒有年代，歪歪斜斜的每葉上都寫着「仁義道德」幾個字。我橫豎睡不着，仔細看了半夜，纔從字縫裏看出字來，滿本都寫着兩個字是「喫人」！ 書上寫着這許多字，佃戶說了這許多話，卻都笑吟吟的睜着怪眼睛看我。我也是人，他們想要喫我了！
That evening, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't fall asleep. No matter what it is, one must study it in order to understand.
These people -- some of whom had been forced to wear a cangue by the county governor, some of whom had been slapped by members of the gentry, some whom had had their wives ravaged by the yamen bailiff -- even when those things happened to them, none of their faces had ever shown the kind of fear and ferociousness that they had shown yesterday.
The strangest was a woman on the street yesterday. She was hitting her son. From her mouth, I heard her say, "Young man! I'd like to take a few bites out of you just to vent my anger!" Yet, her eyes were fixed on me. It gave me such a start, I couldn't help but flinch. That terrifying gaggle of bystanders burst out laughing. Chen Laowu ran over and dragged me home.
After dragging me home, everybody at home pretended like they didn't know me. They looked like complete strangers to me. I went into the study, and they locked me in, as if caging a chicken or a duck. This episode made it even harder for me to figure all this out.
A few days ago, a tenant farmer from Wolf Cub Village came to report that the crop had failed. He told my elder brother that there was a notorious thug in his village that had been beaten to death by the villagers. Some of them had dug out his heart and liver, fried them in oil, and ate them. This was meant to give them courage. I made some comment to them. The tenant farmer and my elder brother just looked me over once or twice. It was only today that I realized that their eyes had the exact same look as the people outside.
I thought of something that sent chills from my head straight to my feet.
If they're capable of eating people, there's nothing to say they won't eat me.
The woman saying, "I'd like to take a few bites out of you," the terrifying gaggle of bystanders bursting out laughing, as well as what the tenant farmer said, were all obviously secret signals. I can see the venom in their words and the daggers behind their smiles. Their menacingly white teeth are all lined up in a row. These are the kind of characters that eat people.
If I think about it, even though I'm not a bad person, ever since I stepped on the Gu family's ledger, it's hard to say where things stand. They seem like they have something in mind, but I can't guess what it is. In any case, once they turn on someone, they will call him a bad person. I still remember when my elder brother was teaching me to write essays. No matter how good the person, if I included a few critical remarks, he would circle that part in approval. If I included a few words of forgiveness for a bad person, he would say, "You have real talent. Truly unique." How could I ever guess what they were really thinking in any case, especially when they were about to eat me.
No matter what it is, one must study it in order to understand. In ancient times, people ate each other. I can vaguely recall reading this somewhere. I skimmed through a few history books. Regardless of the era, the pages were filled with words like, "virtue and morality." In any case, I couldn't fall asleep, so I spent half the night carefully reading. It was only then that I was able to read the words between the lines. The books were filled with the words, "Eat people!"
A lot of words had been written in these books. The tenant farmer had said a lot of words. Yet, he gave me that strange look with that eerie smile.
I'm also a person, but they want to eat me!
我說「老五，對大哥說，我悶得慌，想到園裏走走。」老五不答應，走了，停一會，可就來開了門。 我也不動，研究他們如何擺佈我；知道他們一定不肯放鬆。果然！我大哥引了一個老頭子，慢慢走來；他滿眼兇光，怕我看出，只是低頭向着地，從眼鏡橫邊暗暗看我。大哥說：「今天你彷彿很好。」我說「是的。」大哥說：「今天請何先生來，給你診一診。」我說「可以！」其實我豈不知道這老頭子是劊子手扮的！無非借了看脈這名目，揣一揣肥瘠：因這功勞，也分一片肉喫。我也不怕；雖然不喫人，膽子卻比他們還壯。伸出兩個拳頭，看他如何下手。老頭子坐着，閉了眼睛，摸了好一會，呆了好一會；便張開他鬼眼睛說：「不要亂想。靜靜的養幾天，就好了。」 不要亂想，靜靜的養！養肥了，他們是自然可以多喫；我有什麼好處，怎麼會「好了」？他們這羣人，又想喫人，又是鬼鬼祟祟，想法子遮掩，不敢直捷下手，真要令我笑死。我忍不住，便放聲大笑起來，十分快活。自己曉得這笑聲裏面，有的是義勇和正氣。老頭子和大哥，都失了色，被我這勇氣正氣鎮壓住了。 但是我有勇氣，他們便越想喫我，沾光一點這勇氣。老頭子跨出門，走不多遠，便低聲對大哥說道：「趕緊喫罷！」大哥點點頭。原來也有你！這一件大發見，雖似意外，也在意中：合夥喫我的人，便是我的哥哥！ 喫人的是我哥哥！ 我是喫人的人的兄弟！我自己被人喫了，可仍然是喫人的人的兄弟！
This morning, I sat quietly for a while. Chen Laowu sent me some food. It was a bowl of vegetables and a bowl with steamed fish. The fish's eyes were white and hard. It's mouth was open, just like that bunch of people who eat people. I ate a few bites with my chopsticks, but it was so slimy that I couldn't tell whether it was a fish or a person. I ended up vomiting the whole kit and caboodle.
I said, "Laowu, tell my elder brother that I am going stir crazy and would like to take a walk in the courtyard." Laowu left without responding. After a while, the door opened once again.
I didn't move. I thought about what they had planned for me. I knew for certain that they were not willing to let me go. No surprise there! My elder brother brought in an old man, who slowly walked in. He had a menacing look about him. He must have been afraid that I would notice, so he kept his head lowered, stealing glances at me from the corner of his glasses. My elder brother said, "You seem better today." I said, "Yes." My elder brother said, "Today, I've invited Dr. He to come and give you a check up." I said, "Ok!" In reality, how did I not realize that this old man was to be my executioner! He was simply checking my pulse as a pretext to feel how plump I was. For this services, he will probably be given a portion of me to eat. I'm not afraid. Even though I don't eat people, I'm still more courageous than them. I extended both my fists to see what they would do. The old man sat down and closed his eyes. He felt my wrist for a while, then sat still for a while. Finally, he opened his dastardly eyes and said, "Don't make too much of this. Take it easy for a few days and you'll feel better."
Don't make too much of this! Take it easy! If I take it easy and fatten up, they will naturally have more of me to eat. But, how does that benefit me? How can that make me "feel better"? Not only do these guys want to eat people, they also want to be sneaky about it. They want to cover it up. They don't dare do anything too overtly. I find it all thoroughly laughable. I couldn't stand it anymore and started laughing out loud uncontrollably. I knew that my laughter contained a certain amount of bravery and defiance. The old man and my elder brother both lost their composure. They were paralyzed by my courage and defiance.
However, the more courage I displayed, the more they wanted to eat me in order to bask in my courage. The old man stepped outside. Before he got too far, he said to my elder brother in a low voice, "Let's hurry up and eat!" My elder brother nodded his head. So, it's you too! This major revelation, however unexpected, was actually predictable. The person who will join with the others to eat me is my elder brother!
The person eating people is my elder brother!
I am the brother of a person that eats people!
I will be eaten by people, but I'm still the brother of a person that eats people!
|這幾天是退一步想：假使那老頭子不是劊子手扮的，真是醫生，也仍然是喫人的人。他們的祖師李時珍做的《本草什麼》上，明明寫着人肉可以煎喫；他還能說自己不喫人麼？ 至於我家大哥，也毫不冤枉他。他對我講書的時候，親口說過可以「易子而食」；又一回偶然議論起一個不好的人，他便說不但該殺，還當「食肉寢皮」。我那時年紀還小，心跳了好半天。前天狼子村佃戶來說喫心肝的事，他也毫不奇怪，不住的點頭。可見心思是同從前一樣狠。既然可以「易子而食」，便什麼都易得，什麼人都喫得。我從前單聽他講道理，也胡塗過去；現在曉得他講道理的時候，不但脣邊還抹着人油，而且心裏滿裝着喫人的意思。||These past few days, I've taken a step back and thought, "Even if that old man wasn't an executioner, but really a doctor, he still is someone that eats people." In the "Materia Medica something or other," written by their patron saint Li Shizhen, it clearly states that human flesh can be fried and eaten; can he still say that he himself doesn't eat people? As for my elder brother, I haven't treated him unfairly at all. When he was teaching me, he would personally say things like: one can, "Exchange children and eat them." Another time, while discussing a bad person, he said that not only should the person be killed, but that someone should, "Eat his flesh and then sleep upon his skin." I was still quite young at the time and my heart skipped a beat. The other day, when the tenant farmers from Wolf Cub Village talked about eating hearts and livers, he didn't think it strange in the slightest and kept nodding his head. It is obvious that his heart is as cruel now as it was then. Since he can, "Exchange children and eat them," then he is capable of exchanging anything and capable of eating anyone. Before, his attempts to reason with me had always left me confused. Now, I know that when he was attempting to reason with me, not only were his lips dripping with the oil of human flesh, he was masking his desire to eat people.|
It's pitch black; I don't know whether it's night or day. The Zhao family's dog is barking again.
It reminds me of the ferocity of a lion, or the timidity of a rabbit, or the cunning of a fox...
I know their methods. They're unwilling to kill me outright. They don't dare do that, for fear of jinxing themselves. As a result, they have all conspired with each other to lay a trap, forcing me to kill myself. One can surmise most of this merely by observing the demeanor of the men and women on the street these last few days, along with the behavior of my brother. Ideally, I would take off my belt and hang myself from the rafters. That way, they would be able to satisfy their desires without being guilty of murder. This would naturally make them howl with laughter. On the other hand, if I die of worry and fear, even though it would make me somewhat thinner, they would still nod in approval.
They can only eat dead meat! -- I remember there being a book that talked about something called a "hyena," the eyes and appearance of which were both hideous. It usually eats dead meat, even to the point of chewing up and swallowing large bones. It is quite a scary thing to think about. The "hyena" is a member of the wolf family. Dogs are also members of the wolf family. Judging by the way the Zhao family's dog was looking at me the other day, it has been in cahoots with the others for quite some time. The old man can't fool me by staring at the ground.
The saddest part is my brother. He is a person. How could he not be even the slightest bit afraid of joining with the others in eating me? Has he gotten used to the idea, and therefore does not think of it as being wrong? Or, has he suppressed his conscience, knowing full well that it is wrong? I curse all people that eat people. In cursing people that eat people, I shall start with him. If I were to dissuade people from eating people, I would also start with him.
忽然來了一個人；年紀不過二十左右，相貌是不很看得清楚，滿面笑容，對了我點頭，他的笑也不像真笑。我便問他：「喫人的事，對麼？」他仍然笑着說：「不是荒年，怎麼會喫人。」我立刻就曉得，他也是一夥，喜歡喫人的；便自勇氣百倍，偏要問他。 「對麼？」 「這等事問他甚麼。你真會……說笑話。……今天天氣很好。」 天氣是好，月色也很亮了。可是我要問你：「對麼？」 他不以為然了。含含胡胡的答道：「不……」 「不對？他們何以竟喫？！」 「沒有的事……」 「沒有的事？狼子村現喫；還有書上都寫着，通紅斬新！」 他便變了臉，鐵一般青。睜着眼說：「也許有的，這是從來如此……」 「從來如此，便對麼？」 「我不同你講這些道理；總之你不該說，你說便是你錯！」我直跳起來，張開眼，這人便不見了。全身出了一大片汗。他的年紀，比我大哥小得遠，居然也是一夥；這一定是他娘老子先教的。還怕已經教給他兒子了；所以連小孩子，也都惡狠狠的看我。
Actually, they should have long since understood this kind of reasoning...
Suddenly, somebody came. He was about twenty years of age, but I could not make out his face clearly. He had a big smile on his face, but it was a fake smile. He nodded his head toward me. I asked him, "Is it right to eat people?" Still smiling, he replied, "It's not a year of famine; why would someone eat a person?" With that, I knew that he was with the rest of them. He liked to eat people. I screwed up my courage and continued my line of questioning.
"Is it right?"
"Why do you ask such a thing? You must be fond of making jokes...The weather is nice today."
The weather is nice indeed. The moonlight is also bright. But, I want to ask you something else.
"Is it right?"
Disapproving of my line of questioning, he vaguely responded by saying, "No..."
"If it's not right, then why do they continue to eat people?"
"I don't know what you're talking about..."
"You don't? People are being eaten in Wolf Cub Village as we speak. It's also written in all the books in fresh red ink!"
His facial expression changed. He became quite pale. He stared at me and said, "That may be. But, it's always been that way..."
"Does the fact that it's always been that way make it right?"
"I'm not going to talk about these things with you. In any case, you shouldn't talk about this. It's wrong to talk about it!"
I jumped up and opened my eyes widely, but the man disappeared. I broke out into a sweat all over my body. He was much younger than my older brother, yet he was a part of their group. This was definitely something that he had learned from his parents. I'm afraid he may have already taught it to his son as well. That's why the little children are glaring at me with that look of hatred.
They themselves want to eat people, but do not want to be eaten by others. They all look upon each other with deep fear and suspicion...
If they could just rid themselves of these ideas, they could work, eat and sleep without any worries. How pleasant that would be. That is the only threshhold they must cross. Yet, fathers, sons, husbands, wives, friends, teachers, students, enemies and even strangers have banded together. They egg each other on and coerce each other, so that they cannot take that final step.
| 大清早，去尋我大哥；他立在堂門外看天，我便走到他背後，攔住門，格外 沉靜，格外和氣的對他説：
「大哥，我有話告訴你。」 「你説就是，」他趕緊回過臉來，點點頭。 「我只有幾句話，可是説不出來。大哥，大約當初野蠻的人，都喫過一點人。後來因為心思不同，有的不喫人了，一味要好，便變了人，變了真的人。有的卻還喫——也同蟲子一樣，有的變了魚鳥猴子，一直變到人。有的不要好，至今還是蟲子。這喫人的人比不喫人的人，何等慚愧。怕比蟲子的慚愧猴子，還差得很遠很遠。 「易牙蒸了他兒子，給桀紂喫，還是一直從前的事。誰曉得從盤古開闢天地以後，一直喫到易牙的兒子；從易牙的兒子，一直喫到徐錫林；從徐錫林，又一直喫到狼子村捉住的人。去年城裏殺了犯人，還有一個生癆病的人，用饅頭蘸血舐。 「他們要喫我，你一個人，原也無法可想；然而又何必去入夥。喫人的人，什麼事做不出；他們會喫我，也會喫你，一夥裏面，也會自喫。但只要轉一步，只要立刻改了，也就人人太平。雖然從來如此，我們今天也可以格外要好，説是不能！大哥，我相信你能説，前天佃戶要減租，你説過不能。」 當初，他還只是冷笑，隨後眼光便兇狠起來，一到説破他們的隱情，那就滿臉都變成青色了。大門外立着一夥人，趙貴翁和他的狗，也在裏面，都探頭探腦的挨進來。有的是看不出面貌，似乎用布蒙着；有的是仍舊青面獠牙，抿着嘴笑。我認識他們是一夥，都是喫人的人。可是也曉得他們心思很不一樣，一種是以為從來如此，應該喫的；一種是知道不該喫，可是仍然要喫，又怕別人説破他，所以聽了我的話，越發氣憤不過，可是抿着嘴冷笑。 這時候，大哥也忽然顯出凶相，高聲喝道： 「都出去！瘋子有什麼好看！」 這時候，我又懂得一件他們的巧妙了。他們豈但不肯改，而且早已佈置；預備下一個瘋子的名目罩上我。將來喫了，不但太平無事，怕還會有人見情。佃戶説的大家喫了一個惡人，正是這方法。這是他們的老譜！ 陳老五也氣憤憤的直走進來。如何按得住我的口，我偏要對這夥人説： 「你們可以改了，從真心改起！要曉得將來容不得喫人的人，活在世上。」 「你們要不改，自己也會喫盡。即使生得多，也會給真的人除滅了，同獵人打完狼子一樣！——同蟲子一樣！」 那一夥人，都被陳老五趕走了。大哥也不知那里去了。陳老五勸我回屋子裏去。屋裏面全是黑沉沉的。橫樑和椽子都在頭上發抖；抖了一會，就大起來，堆在我身上。 萬分沉重，動彈不得；他的意思是要我死。我曉得他的沉重是假的，便掙紮出來，出了一身汗。可是偏要説：「你們立刻改了，從真心改起！你們要曉得將來是容不得喫人的人……」
Early in the morning, I went to look for my older brother; he was standing just outside the entrance to the hall looking at the sky. I walked up behind him so that I was between him and the entrance. With unusual quietness and politeness, I said to him, "I have something I want to tell you."
He quickly turned and nodded, saying, "Go ahead."
"I only have a few things to say, but I don't know quite how to put it. I'm sure all primitive humans ate a little human flesh at first. Later on, some people stopped eating human flesh because their thinking changed. They wanted to be good, so they changed into human beings, real human beings. There were some that refused to stop eating human flesh. It's the same with insects, some of which later became fish, birds, monkeys -- and eventually, humans. Some of them did not want to improve, and remain insects even today. How ashamed these people who eat people must feel compared to people that do not eat people. I'm afraid they are way more ashamed than insects are compared to monkeys.
"We all know the ancient story about Yi Ya steam cooking his son for a tyrannical ruler. Who knew that from the time Pangu split the heavens and the earth down to Yi Ya's son, and then from Xu Xilin to the man arrested in Wolf Cub Village, people had continued to eat people? Last year when a criminal was executed, a man afflicted with tuberculosis had even dipped his steamed bun into the blood so that he could lick it.
"They want to eat me. I know that there's nothing you can do about it as just one person. But, why do you have to join them? A person that eats others is capable of anything. If they can eat me, they can eat you as well as each other. But, if you change your ways immediately, everyone can live in peace. Even though it's always been like this, we could make a special effort to do better starting today and say that this is unacceptable! I believe that you can say such a thing. The other day, when a tenant farmer asked that his rent be reduced, you said it was unacceptable."
At first, he just smiled coldly. Then, a look of hatred flashed over his eyes. By the time I began to talk about their secrets, he started to turn green. A large group of people was standing outside the big gate. Zhao Guiweng and his dog were also among them. They were all pressing in to catch a glimpse. There were some whose faces I could not make out. It was as if they had covered their faces with a cloth. There were others who had that same terrifying look from before. Their lips were pursed. I realized that they were a part of the group of people that eat people. However, they each had different demeanors. Some felt that things had always been this way, and that people should be eaten. Others knew that one should not eat people, but wanted to eat them anyway. These others were afraid that I might talk them out of it. So when they heard my words, they became angry. However, they maintained their tightlipped cold smiles.
It was at that point that my older brother suddenly gave them a dirty look and shouted, "Get out of here! What's so interesting about a crazy person!"
It was also at this point that I began to realize how ingenious they were. Not only are they unwilling to change, they had this all arranged. They had made sure that I was labeled as the next crazy person. In the future, when they eat me, not only will nobody take issue with it, they will probably receive sympathy. When the tenant farmer told the story about how everyone had eaten the bad man, it was this same tactic. This was straight out of their old playbook.
Chen Laowu angrily stormed in as well. No matter how hard they tried to keep me from speaking, I could not help but say to them, "You can change. Make a change in your hearts! You must know that in the future, there will be no tolerance in the world for people who eat other people. If you don't change, you will be eaten yourselves. Even if more of you are born, you'll eventually be wiped out by real humans, just like wolves who have been hunted into extinction!--just like insects!"
The gaggle of people was driven off by Chen Laowu. My older brother dissappeared as well. Chen Laowu advised me to return to my room. It was pitch black inside my room. Above my head, the beams and rafters were shaking. After a while, they became larger and piled up on top of me.
They were very heavy and I could not budge an inch. His intention was to kill me. I knew that the weight was not real and began to struggle more. I broke out into a sweat. Despite this, I could not help but saying, "You can change. Make a change in your hearts! You must know that in the future, there will be no tolerance in the world for people who eat other people..."
The sun has not come out and the door has not opened. I have been getting two meals per day.
Taking up my chopsticks, I started thinking about my older brother; I realized that he was the sole cause of my little sister's death. At the time, my little sister was no more than five years old. I can still see her cute, pathetic, face in my mind's eye. My mother would not stop crying. He begged my mother to stop crying. It was probably because he had eaten her. When she started crying, he could not help but feeling remorse. If, that is, he was still capable of feeling remorse...
I have no way of knowing whether my mother knew if my little sister was eaten by my older brother. I think my mother knew. However, she did not explain herself at the time, probably because she also thought that things were as they should be. I remember being four or five years old and enjoying the breeze in the front parlor, when my older brother told me that if one's parents were ill, the son should cut off a piece of his own flesh, cook it, and feed it to them. This was the mark of a good person. My mother never said this was unacceptable. If one can eat a piece of flesh, one can naturally eat the whole thing. However, to be honest, when I think of how she cried that day, it still pains me. How truly remarkable!
I cannot think about it.
It is only now that I have come to understand that I have been dwelling in land where people have been eating people for the last four thousand years. Since my older brother was in charge of handling family affairs, I cannot rule out the possibility that he secretly mixed some of my little sister's flesh into my food after she died.
It is possible that I inadvertently ate a few pieces of my little sister's flesh. Now it's my turn to be eaten...
Even though I was unaware of it at first, I am the product of four thousand years of humans eating humans. Now that I know, I cannot bear to face real people!
Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten people.
- Zhao Guiweng's name is a play on words. Guiweng means aristocratic old man. Zhao is meant to serve as a not-so-subtle metaphor for the corrupt aristocracy of China at that time.
- Gu Jiu's name is a play on words. Gu Jiu means old. Gu Jiu is meant to serve as a not-so-subtle metaphor for China's feudal past.
- The actual name of the book is Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu).
- "Exchange children and eat them" is an idiom from Zuo Zhuan. It is used to describe a dire situation.
- "Eat his flesh and then sleep upon his skin" is an idiom from Zuo Zhuan. It is used to describe one's utter disdain for someone.
- Yi Ya lived during the Spring and Autumn Period in the State of Qi. He was Duke Huan of Qi's beloved chef. Once, Duke Huan of Qi had commented that the only food that he had yet to try was the flesh of an infant. Upon hearing this, Yi Ya steamed his own infant and served it to Huan.