CHL Tales: 跑警报(节选)

 

In the second episode of CHL Tales — a storytelling series from the School of Culture, History and Language within the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific — PhD candidate and tutor in the Modern Chinese program, Kai Zhang reads an excerpt from Running Upon Alarms (跑警报) by Wang Cengqi (汪曾祺) in Mandarin.

The CHL Tales storytelling series allows people who work, research and study in the School to share and listen to in-language narratives

Watch other videos in this series:

CHL Tales: Korlomomo and Berrerdberrerd

 


 

Translation

跑警报(节选)

Mandarin

警报有三种。预行警报大概是表示日本飞机已经起飞。拉空袭警报大概是表示日本飞机进入云南省境了,但是进云南省不一定到昆明来。等到汽笛拉了紧急警报:连续短音,这才可以肯定是朝昆明来的。空袭警报到紧急警报之间,有时要间隔很长时间,所以到了这里的人都不忙下沟,——沟里没有太阳,而且过早地像云冈石佛似的坐在洞里也很无聊,大都先在沟上看书、闲聊、打桥牌。很多人听到紧急警报还不动,因为紧急警报后日本飞机也不定准来,常常是折飞到别处去了。要一直等到看见飞机的影子了,这才一骨碌站起来,下沟,进洞。联大的学生,以及住在昆明的人,对跑警报太有经验了,从来不仓皇失措。

上举的前一副对联或许是一种泛泛的感慨,但也是有现实意义的。跑警报是谈恋爱的机会。联大同学跑警报时,成双作对的很多。空袭警报一响,男的就在新校舍的路边等着,有时还提着一袋点心吃食,宝珠梨、花生米……他等的女同学来了,“嗨!”于是欣然并肩走出新校舍的后门。跑警报说不上是同生死,共患难,但隐隐约约有那么一点危险感,和看电影、遛翠湖时不同。这一点危险感使两方的关系更加亲近了。女同学乐于有人伺侯,男同学也正好殷勤照顾,表现一点骑士风度。正如孙悟空在高老庄所说:“一来医得眼好,二来又照顾了郎中,这是凑四合六的买卖”。从这点来说,跑警报是颇为罗曼蒂克的。有恋爱,就有三角,有失恋。跑警报的“对儿”并非总是固定的,有时一方被另一方“甩”了,两人“吹”了,“对儿”就要重新组合。写(姑且叫做“写”吧)那副对联的,大概就是一位被“甩”的男同学。不过,也不一定。

警报时间有时很长,长达两三个小时,也很“腻歪”。紧急警报后,日本飞机轰炸已毕,人们就轻松下来。不一会,“解除警报”响了:汽笛拉长音,大家就起身拍拍尘土,络绎不绝地返回市里。也有时不等解除警报,很多人就往回走:天上起了乌云,要下雨了。一下雨,日本飞机不会来。在野地里被雨淋湿,可不是事!一有雨,我们有一个同学一定是一马当先往回奔,就是前面所说那位报告预行警报的姓侯的。他奔回新校舍,到各个宿舍搜罗了很多雨伞,放在新校舍的后门外,见有女同学来,就递过一把。他怕这些女同学挨淋。这位侯同学长得五大三粗,却有一副贾宝玉的心肠。大概是上了吴雨僧先生的《红楼梦》的课,受了影响。侯兄送伞,已成定例。警报下雨,一次不落。名闻全校,贵在有恒。——这些伞,等雨住后他还会到南院女生宿舍去敛回来,再归还原主的。

 

Running Upon Alarms (excerpt)

English

There were three types of alarms. The Preliminary Alarm signified that the Japanese airplanes probably had set off. The Air Raid Alarm signified that the Japanese airplanes probably had entered Yunnan Province, which did not necessary mean that they were heading towards the city of Kunming. It is until the siren rang consecutive short sounds—the Emergency Alarm, that it could be confirmed that these airplanes were about to come to Kunming.

Sometimes, there could be a rather long gap between the Air Raid Alarm and the Emergency Alarm. Therefore, people did not rush down to the ditches after they had arrived. There was not any sunshine down there. And it could be very boring sitting in the dugout like a Yungang stone statue of Buddha. Mostly, people would read books, chat, or play bridge on top of the ditches. Many even held still after the Emergency Alarm rang. Even then, the Japanese airplanes might not ultimately make it to Kunming but more often than not divert to other places. People usually quickly stood up, ran down to the ditches and took shelter in the dugout only after they caught sight of the actual planes. The students of the Union University, as well as other people living in Kunming were too experienced about running upon alarms to get into a panic.

The above-mentioned couplet might seem like a general lament. It, however, was of real significance. Running upon alarms provided opportunities for people in love.

The students from the Union University often ran in pairs upon alarms. Once the Air Raid Alarm rang, male students would wait along the road by the new dormitory building, sometimes even with a bag of snacks such as pearl pears or peanuts... Once the female student that one was waiting for arrived, they said “Hi” to each other and then walked happily shoulder by shoulder out of the back gate of the new dormitory building. Running upon alarms was hardly a serious endeavour to go through the hardship or to die together.

It nevertheless bore a vague sense of danger, which was not the same as going to cinema or walking around the Cui Lake. It is exactly this sense of danger that brought the couple even closer to each other. The female student was happy to be attended to while the male student took the chance to be attentive and to show his knightly manner. Just as Sun Wukong [The Monkey King] said in Gao Lao Zhuang, “Firstly the patient’s eyes were cured; Secondly the doctor was paid. This was thus a business that added four and six.” From this perspective, running upon alarms was rather romantic.

As long as some fell in love, love triangles would occur, and so would break-ups. The pairs that ran together were not always fixed. Sometimes, one party was dumped by the other and the two broke up. In such a case, a new pair needed to be formed. The person who wrote — let’s call this action “to write” — that couplet was probably a male student who got “dumped”. Though, it was not necessary so.

The duration of the Emergency Alarm could be quite long, as long as two to three hours, which really “bored” people. Once the Emergency Alarm ended, which signified that the Japanese air raids had finished, people became relaxed. Soon afterwards, the siren rang long sounds, which meant that the alert was lifted. Everyone then stood up, patted the dust off their clothes, and returned to the downtown in an endless stream. Sometimes, people would start to go back even before the alert was lifted.

One of such circumstances would be when the dark clouds came and would bring rainfall for sure. The Japanese airplanes would not come once it started to rain. Getting drenched by the rain in the wild was too annoying to be tolerable!

Once it rained, one fellow student, the above-mentioned Hou-surnamed student who always attempted to forecast the arrival of the Preliminary Alarm, would definitely take the lead to go back. He collected umbrellas from each dormitory room, brought them right outside the back gate of the new dormitory building, and passed them to the female students that passed by. He was trying to keep these female students from the rain.

This Hou-surnamed student was burly but nevertheless sentimental as if he was Jia Baoyu. He had probably learnt about “The Dream of the Red Chamber” with Professor Wu Yuseng and come under its influence. It became a tradition for Brother Hou to send out umbrellas. He did not miss a single time when it rained during the alert. He became famous campus-wide because of his persistence. By the way, when the rain stopped, he would again collect these umbrellas from the female students’ dormitory in the South Yard and returned them to the owners.


 

Storytelling is just one way by which CHL connects with the cultures, histories and languages in the world around us. If you wish to support this research, you can now donate to the School of Culture, History & Language fund.

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Credits Music: "Absolution" by Scott Buckley

www.scottbuckley.com.au

CC BY 4.0

Music: "Absolution" by Scott Buckley www.scottbuckley.com.au CC BY 4.0

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team