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?
I have so many ambitions to learn languages to a certain level that I’m scared to write it all out. Too frightened to make mistakes. I overthink and end up not posting a blog entry. I am indecisive between what language to work on next. What makes the most sense? Which language speaks to me?
To a certain extent, each language speaks to me in a different way. And I hope to explore that in the course of the coming months in blog entry form.
English is the language of my wittiness and academia
Spanish is where I feel safe in my language wordplay, freedom to be sensual and defy expectations
Mandarin is my language of organizing, but it is also a language of expectation and other’s authority over me
Taiwanese reminds me of grandma, home, overdramatic teleseries & broken-hearted love songs
Arabic is the language of insurmountable challenge and the class that my boyfriend and I took together
Korean is the language that has surrounded me my entire youth and the language my Pakistani friend and I chose (unsucessfully) to be our “gossip language”
Tagalog is the language of my partner
Cantonese are both the seniors in my community work and the languages of middle school AZN friends who played handball, and HK pop icon Jacky Cheung (<3)
French is the souvenir from that long Quebec trip and that class where I first interacted with rich kids from the Upper East Side
Italian is senior year high school, professor leather boots
Latin is tutoring my friend in high school, declensions, and corny perverted Latin jokes
Brazilian Portuguese, Burmese, Vietnamese are travels in my favorite places
Hakka and Fuzhounese are the languages of loss and exile, after my paternal grandparents fled from Mainland to Taiwan