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MAXINE HONG KINGSTON
On The Way

Once I was on an airplane beside
a village girl in the window seat. At takeoff
I asked her, “Where are you going?”
“Waw!” She shouted in surprise, and grabbed
ahold of my hand, “You speak like me!”
“Yes, I speak Say Yup language.”
“Are you from the village?” “No, my MaMa
and BaBa came from Say Yup villages.
They left for New York. They lived in New York,
then California. I was born in California.”
I feel like a child, younger than this girl; I’m
telling about parents as if I still had them;
I’m talking in my baby language. “Waw!”
she exclaimed, loud as though yelling across fields.
“I am going to New York! I
am meeting my husband in New York. He’s
waiting for me in New York. He works
in a restaurant. He’s rented a home. He sent
for me, and waits for me.” She did not
let go of my hand; I held hers tightly
as we flew the night sky. She looked
in wonder at webs of lights below.
“Red red green green,” she said.
“Red red green green,” my mother
used to say, meaning: Oh, how pretty!
The lights were white and yellow too, and gold,
blue, copper. And above, stars and stars.
Mother, MaMa, as you leave
the village family you’ll never see again—
Grandfather walked her as far as he
could walk, stood weeping in the road until
she could not see him anymore when
she turned around to look. She’s off to that lonely
country from where he returned broke. “I felt
that I was dying.”—MaMa, girl,
you are not traveling alone. I am
traveling with you, here, holding your hand.
I know that country you’re leaving for,
and shall guide you there. I know your future.
I’m your child from the future. Your husband
will certainly meet you. BaBa will
be at the East Broadway station.
You will recognize each other,
though he be dressed modern Western style.
You will have a good, good life.
You will have many children, and live a long,
long life. You will be lucky.
“You are lucky. Your husband has work.
He’s rented an apartment, and made you a home.
He saves money. He bought your plane ticket,
he will be waiting for you at the airport.”
She listened to the wise old woman teaching her.
But how to instruct anyone the way to make
an American life? How to have a happy
marriage? For a long time in the dark,
dozing, dreaming, thinking, we sat
without speaking, without letting go
of warm hands. The red red green
green appeared again. I told her,
“That’s Japan. We’re over Japan now.
We’ll be landing soon in Narita.”
“Waw! You speak Japanese too.”
She admires me too much. Inside
the horrible confusion of the international
airport, how can a mind from
the village not fall to crazy pieces?
I found a nice American couple making
the connecting flight to New York, and asked
them please to take this Chinese girl
to the right gate. She thanked me. She said
goodbye, see you again. “Joy kin.”
She did not look back. Good.
Gotta go, things to do, people
to meet, places to be.

This is an excerpt from I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

translation by Chun Yu ä¿žæ·³

在途中

我曾坐在飛機上靠窗座位的
一個鄉村女孩旁邊。起飛時
我問她:“你要去哪裡?”
“哇!”她驚訝地大喊,然後抓住
我的手,“你說話和我一樣!”
“是的,我說的是四邑鄉話。”
“你是從四邑鄉來的嗎?” “不是。
我的媽媽爸爸來自四邑的村莊。
他們去了紐約,住在紐約,
然後去了加州。我出生在加州。”

我覺得自己像個孩子,比這個女孩還年輕。
我和她講起我父母好像他們都還在;
我在用我的兒語說話。 “哇!”
她大聲喊道,好像在穿過田野大叫。
“我要去紐約!我要
在紐約會我的丈夫。他在
紐約等我。他在一家餐館
工作。他租了房子。他讓
我來,他在等我。”她沒有
放開我的手; 當我們飛上夜空時
我緊握着她的手。她驚奇地
看着下面的交織的燈網。
她說:“紅紅綠綠。”
“紅紅綠綠,”我媽媽以前
也會說,意思是,哦,多麼漂亮!
燈也都是白色和黃色的,還有金色,
藍色,銅色。上面是,星星和星星。
母親,媽媽,當你離開
你再也見不到的鄉村的家—
外祖父把她送到他再也走不動的
地方,站在路邊哭泣,直到
她回頭再也看不到他了。
她要去那他破產而歸的
寂寞的國家。“我覺得
我正在死去。” —媽媽,女孩,
你不是一個人旅行。我和你
一起在途中,在這兒,牽着你的手。
我知道你要去的那個國家
並會指引你到那裡。我知道你的未來。
我是你未來的孩子。你的丈夫
一定會和你相會。爸爸會
在百老匯東站等你。
雖然他穿着洋裝,
你們還是會認出對方。
你將擁有很好,很好的生活。
你將有很多孩子,並且活得很長,
很長。你會很幸運。
“你很幸運。你丈夫有工作。
他租了一套公寓,給你安了一個家。
他省下了錢。他給你買了機票,
他會在機場等你。”
她聽着這有智慧的老婦人教導她。
但是如何指導任何人去
過美國的生活?如何有個快樂的
婚姻?在黑暗中長長地
打瞌睡,做夢,思考,我們坐着
不說話,不放開
溫暖的手。紅紅綠綠
再次出現。我告訴她,
“那是日本。我們現在在日本。
我們即將在成田機場降落。”
“哇!你還會說日語。”
她太過崇拜我了。
在可怕混亂的國際機場,
一個來自村莊的頭腦不得瘋了嗎?
我發現一對轉機飛往紐約的
和善的美國夫婦,請他們
帶這個中國姑娘到正確的登機口。
她感謝我。她說
拜拜,下次再見。 “再見。”
她沒有回頭。好。
得走了,要做的事情,要見的
人,要去的地方。

Maxine Hong Kingston is Emerita Senior Lecturer for Creative Writing at the University of California, Berkeley. For her memoirs, fiction, and poetry—The Fifth Book of Peace, The Woman Warrior, China Men, Tripmaster Monkey, I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, and Hawai’i One Summer—she has earned numerous awards, among them the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the PEN West Award for Fiction, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Clinton, and the National Medal of Arts by President Obama. She is a â€œLiving Treasure of Hawai’i.”