Translation from 稻草人的微笑 by 三毛/Echo Chen
With the wheat fields nearly harvested, the farmer’s son tugged the scarecrow by the sleeve and said, “Come along, let me take you home to rest!”
The scarecrow looked out to the small patch of the wheat field that had not yet been harvested and said with unease, “Let me watch over it a few more days. Maybe those birds might come and eat the food!”
So the child went home and the scarecrow, all by his lonesome, stayed behind to watch over the wheatfield.
At that moment, the sparrows that had been in hiding flew out in a drove, resting on the scarecrow’s body without any trace of fear in their actions. They “chirp chirped” in ridicule of the scarecrow: “This fool! He’s just a scarecrow that can’t move at all! He thinks he can actually protect the wheat fields?”
That being said, the sparrows pecked away at the scarecrow’s hat. This scarecrow seemed to not feel a thing, its emaciated arms stiffly portuding outward, its eyes facing the golden wheat fields. When the night breeze swept through his tattered clothes, the Scarecrow reacted in a surprising and unexpected way – he smiled.
a somewhat faithful translation to the Beatles’ song
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
How clever – I will have to hold onto my bowl and take care of it, otherwise the bowl will break. No bowl, no food, no life – forget all the other stuff!
Ma and I walked through Fort Totten for Fourth of July. Throughout the island are dilapidated buildings, vines creeping around the sides. Some are boarded with wood, featuring signs of what will be coming soon. WOMEN’S CENTER OF NEW YORK. Or some remaining plaque will glimmer in the sunlight. POLICE RECREATION CENTER.
Originally an army base from the late 1800s, the Department of Defense eventually sold the parcel of land to the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Though Fort Totten is a public park, it actually looks like a small town, featuring a church and colonial-looking houses overlooking Little Neck Bay. FDNY, the Coast Guard, NYPD and other groups still occupy most of these buildings for trainings and administration.
Ma makes a face as we pass by a two-story home with boarded windows. No one else is around. I snap a photo of Ma’s grimace and move the phone to film the house.
Ma waves her hand at me. “Don’t do that! There are bad vibes here!”
“What does that have to do with the video?” I ask.
“If you take the photo and bad spirits are around, you will capture that bad spirit! And they will stay with you!”
I laughed out loud then. But in retrospect I have a queasy feeling in my gut.
This place was a fort so there have definitely been casualties. What if those people had unsettled matters? Definitely did not want to be at Fort Totten after dark.
Forgot Ma was so superstitious. She’s definitely told me stories of “encounters” in Taiwan. Seems to be prevalent in Taiwanese / Minnan folklore.
I am making a conscious decision to choose my inner passion over obligation to others.
It’s so hard to gauge my own feelings when I absorb the energy of those around me. I become a chameleon, wanting what others want.
I need the solace to think through what’s best for me. Otherwise I will be old and realize when it’s too late that I’m living my life for others, and not for myself.
What are my passions? Which are the dreams I want to chase?