Cries in the Drizzle

Cries in the Drizzle by Yu Hua, Allan H. Barr

Book: Cries in the Drizzle by Yu Hua, Allan H. Barr Read Free Book Online
Authors: Yu Hua, Allan H. Barr
rice. As they strolled under the trees, the topic at hand inflamed them more than the summer heat itself, and the sun-baked scene before them seemed reminiscent of a disaster zone, brought to ruin by desire run amok. When this restless pair saw smoke rising from the chimney of a cottage, Su Hang crept over and took a peep through its window, then signaled to Lin Wen to do the same. Lin Wen's pleasurable anticipation did not last long, because when he sidled up to the window the scene that met his gaze left him disappointed: all he saw was an old woman in her seventies, tending a fire beneath the stove. But he noticed that Su Hang's breath had become labored and heard Su Hang ask him tensely, “Do you want to see the real thing?”
    Lin Wen now understood what Su Hang had in mind. Pointing at the old woman, he asked in astonishment, “You want to see hers?”
    Su Hang smiled with some embarrassment. “Let's do it together,” he proposed eagerly.
    Despite the enterprise he had shown by testing the utility of mirrors in toilets, Lin Wen was not immediately persuaded. “Such an old woman?” he queried.
    Blushing, Su Hang quietly exclaimed, “I know, but it's the real thing!”
    Lin Wen could not bring himself to participate directly inthe proposed inspection, but Su Hang's excitement stirred a tremor within him, and he said, “You go ahead. FU keep watch for you.”
    When Su Hang looked back and shot him an awkward smile just before climbing inside, Lin Wen knew that his was the more interesting vantage point.
    Lin Wen did not stand right next to the window, for he was perfectly able to imagine how Su Hang would throw himself on the old woman. He concentrated instead on his mission as sentinel, taking a few steps back to assure a fuller view of any villager's approach.
    He heard the sound of a body hitting the ground, followed by some shocked groans. At first the old lady must not have known what was happening. Once she did realize, Lin Wen heard a hoarse voice saying heatedly, “You bastard, I am old enough to be your grannie!”
    This comment made Lin Wen chuckle. He knew that Su Hang was already halfway there. Then he heard her cry, almost penitently, “What a disgrace!”
    She was not strong enough to withstand Su Hang's assault, and in her frail condition righteous anger could give way only to self-pity. Just at this moment—too soon for Su Hang—Lin Wen saw a man heading in their direction. Naked to the waist, sickle in hand, this apparition scared the daylights out of Lin Wen, and he rushed to the window only to see Su Hang kneeling on the floor, desperately tugging at the old woman's trousers, while she rubbed her shoulder (sprained, perhaps) and muttered something incomprehensible. At Lin Wen's warning, Su Hang rushed over and dived out the window with the furious energy of a rabid dog. Then they both raced madly toward the river. Su Hang kept throwingglances behind him, each time seeing a man with a sickle bearing down upon him. As Lin Wen fled for his life, time and again he heard Su Hang's despairing cry, “Can't! Not going to make it!”
    As they dashed along the road toward town, through the midday heat, they threw up clouds of dust and their lungs protested furiously. Nauseated and caked in mud, they finally returned to safe territory.
    Of my high school teachers, the music instructor, with his cultivated manners, made the deepest impression on me. He was the only teacher who spoke to the class in standard Chinese, and when he sat down in front of the organ to teach us a song I was captivated by his voice and demeanor. For a long time I would gaze at him in delight, and he became my ideal adult. What is more, he was the least snobbish of teachers, favoring all his pupils with the same smile. I still remember the first time he taught us. A songbook under his arm, dressed in a white shirt and dark blue trousers, he came into the classroom and told us solemnly, in the precise tone of a radio announcer:

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