Cry me a sad river by Guo Jingming, translated selected sections


Different people live in different worlds. Red ones; blue ones; green ones; white ones; yellow ones; even pink ones.
Why is it that only you live in a black world?

Jessie had requested this, so I’m going through my old files to put this up again. I’ve only translated parts of it, but it should be enough to understand what’s going on, although there’s a lot of subplots and nuances you’ll be missing.  I’ve added the section numbers for easier comparison to the original.  Here are the first few parts.

Two endpoints make a segment.
One endpoint makes a ray.
No endpoints make a line.
Qi Ming and Yi Yao are like two different rays beginning on the same point but going different directions, so they grew further and further apart. Everyday is even more different than the previous one. Their lives were written separately in print and cursive, and then lost its color with the brushing of time until it’s hard to tell the two apart.Before the age of thirteen, every bit of their lives met on the same dot.
They grew up in the same suffocating, long nongtang, went to school the same year, and liked to watch the same cartoons during dinner. At that time, Qi Ming’s family was still a normal family. His father didn’t have $2 million to buy high-class apartments. Even the sun shined at the same angle on the two thriving lives hidden in the shadows.
Yet the year they were thirteen, life pointed at two different directions and rapidly shot out rays.
In Qi Ming’s memories, one sunset that summer, Yi Yao’s father left this nongtang with a heavy luggage bag. When leaving, he kneeled down to hug Yi Yao. Qi Ming looked out the window and saw the hot tears rolling inside her father’s eyes.
When they were fifteen, he heard Yi Yao say, “my mom is a prostitute. She’s a horrible woman.”
Every life is like a ripe and sweet fruit. Only some lives were broken too early, revealing the crinkled tough core inside.

Yi Yao sat on the toilet as her heart turned cold.
How many weeks has it been since it has last came? Three weeks? Or a month?
The fear grasped her, her hands ashen from squeezing. Only when her mom violently  shook the door did she put on her pants and opened the door.
Not surprisingly, her mom said, “Why so long in the bathroom? Do you want to die in there?!”
“It might be better if I had,” Yi Yao answered in her heart.

The cafeteria is always filled with people.
Qi Ming looked around for a long time before finding a place for two people, and then waved to Yi Yao and called for her to sit down.
Yi Yao ate slowly. Every time Qi Ming looked at her, she’s just holding the chopsticks motionlessly and staring at the bowl as if she were waiting for it to grow flowers. Several times, Qi Ming tapped the rim of her lunchbox with his chopsticks, and only then would she wake up and smile lightly.
Yi Yao and Qi Ming did not finish eating until most people in the cafeteria were gone.
Behind the cafeteria, the sink room has also become empty.
The faucets line up in a row, letting out a few drops of water once in a while.
Qi Ming rolled up his sleeves and put the lunchbox under the faucet. Turning on the water, he felt it freeze his fingers, and involuntarily gave an yelp and retracted his hands.
Yi Yao stretched her hands to take his lunchbox, and then began washing it.
Qi Ming looked at her hands as they washed the lunchbox. They didn’t have the pretty nails that girls liked to keep, nor did they have the soft texture that girls have after careful manicuring. Her little finger has a red chilblain.
As he watched her quietly wash Qi Ming’s lunchbox, it was as if a stone rolled into his chest, and somewhere in the dark came a weak bang.
Involuntarily, he looked up and touched the girl’s head.
“You are really going to touch my hair with with your oily hands?” Yi Yao turned around, smiling.
“You speak so…”Qi Ming tightened his eyebrows, a bit annoyed.
“so what?” the girl turned around with a cold expression,” so like my mom?”
The sound of the water poured.
Like a suddenly opened cork, if no one plugs it back in, it will just continue to pour water out, until there was nothing left inside.
Connecting the cafeteria and classrooms is a quiet woody road. On the two sides, the tall oaks are left with bare branches in the winter.
The leaves covered the ground. Some yellow, some red, slowly rotting in yesterday’s rain. In the air floats the smell of the leaves.
“Why do I smell rot?” Stepping the leaves on the ground, Yi Yao suddenly said.
Qi Ming didn’t reply and continued to walk forward. When he realized that there is no sound next to him, he turned around to see Yi Yao three or four meters behind.
“What?” Qi Ming raised his eyebrows.
“Can you buy something for me later today?”
“Okay, what?”
“A pregnancy test.”
Above them, a bird flew past. The sharp bird cry teared a clear cut in the air. The still wet hands froze as the wind blew until he couldn’t feel it anymore.
The two stood facing each other. No one spoke.
The wind almost blew away all the clouds in the sky.

Qi Yao cleared the bowls on the table.
Mother laid on the sofa, watching an inane soap opera. Next to her hand was a plate of sunflower seed. She cracked them open as she watched TV, leaving a large pile of shells on the ground.
Yi Yao finished washing the bowls and came out with a broomstick, thinking of how to ask mother for money. “I want money, give me money,” phrases like that are equivalent to a declaration of war at home.
When the broomstick reached her feet, she reluctantly raised her feet, as if Yi Yao interrupted her watching.
Yi Yao moved the broomstick back and forth, then took a deep breath and said, “Mom, do we have any extra money…”
“What extra money? Money is never extra.” Classic Lin Huafeng tone of voice. Mocking and cruel.
Yi Yao pushed aside the anger in her. Some seed shells fell between the sofa and the ground, and couldn’t be brushed away.
“Can’t you eat nicely? They’re all over the ground. You’re lucky you’re not the one cleaning up. Why can’t you put them on the table?”
“So what if you are cleaning up? Aiya, is it too lowly for you? Do you really think you’re worth anything? I’m taking care of you for free. Sweeping the ground? You have to lick the ground if I ask you.”
“Be clear. What did I get for free?” Yi Yao drops the sweeper. “Dad pays the school fees, and give you money every month. Plus, I serve you food and drinks. Even if you hired a servant, you would’ve have had to pay her, I…”
Before she could finish speaking, a handful of sunflower seeds flew over. Her hair and clothes were covered in sunflower seeds.
Although they’re very small and very light, and almost didn’t hurt at all when then hitting the face, somewhere in the body, they caused real pain.
Yi Yao brushes aside the sunflower seeds on her hair and said,”Just tell me, do we have any extra money at home. If yes, give them to me. Otherwise, just pretend I didn’t ask.”
“Look for anything of value at home and you can just sell them! You might as well as sell me, too!”
Yi Yao smiled, and returned to her room. As she closed the door, she said to Lin Huafeng, “Haven’t you already been selling yourself?”
And then the door slammed.
A cup followed and hit the door, falling to pieces.

In the dark people become weak. They become easily angered, and shook easily.
Currently, Lin Huafeng is weak and angry and shaking at the same time.
Inside the closed door, there is no sound. The whole room was as silent as death.
She stood up from the soft, putting up the slightly gray hair that fell earlier. Then she silently walked back to her room. Her hands turned open the door, and her tears fell on her hands.
The tears burnt more than any other time in her memory.

What living expenses, what school fees. Your father stopped caring for us a long time.
Lin Huafeng’s hands shook. Over the years, they shook harder and harder.
“Haven’t you been selling all along?”
Yes, selling all along.
But every time she laid down under a men, in her heart was the thought, “Yi Yao, you have enough money to go to school now. I don’t owe you anymore.”
As for the lies about her father, even she doesn’t know whether they’re said to lie to Yi Yao or herself.
She didn’t open the lights.
The lights shone through the window, showing the silhouettes in the room.
She opened the closet and felt for a bag. In there were five hundred and eighty yuan.
Minus utilities, minus living expenses, there were three hundred and fifty yuan extra.
She took out three 100’s, and then closed the closet door.
“Open the door,” she violently smashed at Yi Yao’s door. “Open!”
Yi Yao opened the door from inside. Before she could see what her mother outside wanted to do, three 100 yuan bills hit her face.
“Take it. I owed it to you in my past life!”
Yi Yao kneeled and picked up the three bills,” You don’t owe me, you don’t owe me anything.”
Yi Yao threw the money on her hands back at her mother’s face, then slammed the door.
In the dark, no one can see anyone else’s tears.
It wasn’t Yi Yao’s laughable pride, but that she suddenly remembered. She remembered on the road home one day, she saw her mother standing in front of a shop, holding a dress, looking it over and over again. In the end, she sighed and put it back.
The shop’s glaring “20 yuan each” blinded Yi Yao’s eyes in the sunset.
She remembered that mother hasn’t bought new clothes for years.
Outside the door, mother was like puppet without her strings, standing motionlessly in the dark.
Gone were all movements and sounds. Only the burning tears could not stop rolling on her face.

4 thoughts on “Cry me a sad river by Guo Jingming, translated selected sections

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