BACK TOWARD THE SEA— an overnight stay at Henan Temple 背向大海——夜宿和南寺
   By Lo Fu 洛夫
   Translated by John J. S. BALCOM 陶忘機
   By Hsiung Hung 敻虹
   Translated by Lisa Lai-ming WONG 黃麗明
  ENEMY 仇家
   By Dominic Cheung 張錯
   Translated by John J. S. BALCOM 陶忘機
  FACES 面容
   By Shoo Tao秀陶
   Translated by Steve BRADBURY 柏艾格
  HOME 家
   By FONG Ming 方明
   Translated by John J. S. BALCOM 陶忘機
   By FONG Ming 方明
   Translated by John J. S. BALCOM 陶忘機
   By Hwa Yen 華嚴
   Translated by Faye PENG 彭斐
   By Chien Chen 簡媜
   Translated by Yingtsih HWANG 黃瑛姿
   By Chien Chen 簡媜
   Translated by Yingtsih HWANG 黃瑛姿
   By KAN Yao-ming 甘耀明
   Translated by Michelle M. WU 吳敏嘉

   By YANG Mei-hung 楊美紅
   Translated by Michelle M. WU 吳敏嘉

   By HSU Cheng-Ping 許正平
   Translated by Mark I. HAMMONS 何邁
   By Yuyu Yang Foundation 楊英風藝術教育基金會
   Translated by Carlos G. TEE 鄭永康
    By Yuyu YANG 楊英風
    Translated by Carlos G. TEE 鄭永康
  LOCAL PASSION, AVANT-GARDE HEART: a few words written on the eve of Yuyu Yang’s exhibition 本土的情 前衛的心──寫在楊英風畫展之前
   By HSIAH Lifa 謝里法
   Translated by Carlos G. TEE 鄭永康
  NEWS & EVENTS 文化活動
   Compiled by Sarah Jen-hui HSIANG 項人慧
stainless steel, 104 × 140 × 50 cm, 1970.....COVER

DRAGON SHRILL IN THE COSMIC VOID 龍嘯太虛(II)(A), stainless steel, 68 × 69 × 30 cm, 1991.........................................................BACK COVER
   By Yuyu YANG 楊英風


Chien Chen 簡媜


Translated by Yingtsih HWANG 黃瑛姿

    Her family pried open the drawer of her dressing table one gloomy afternoon. It was the end of summer when a weak typhoon or a few days of rain might be expected, but once autumn arrived in the sequence of time, it would be about time to lay the year to rest. They passed the days as usual, like a paralytic who, undergoing physical therapy on rehab equipment, repeated the same exercises over and over again, until, after some time, a skill burgeoned that enabled the patient to eliminate all memories of the accident on the rails. Life looked propitious because there was no cache of superfluous memories stored away.
    If no one mentioned her, she remained nearly forgotten by her family. There was nothing unusual about this: even though they lived on different floors of the same apartment building, they rarely ran into each other; if they needed to talk about something, they usually spoke by phone. Her two brothers occupied the right and left sides of the fifth floor, while she lived alone in the attic suite, which was a later addition. They all passed their days behind closed doors; the times they ran into each other on the stairs, they would greet each other politely like neighbors.
    The situation had not developed this way without reason; however, upon consideration, adapting to the present was more important than tracing the causes. The three of them, brothers and sister, were unanimous on this point. None of them could say when this modern apartment, which was created from their renovated ancient house, had become a public port, where each moored his own ship and where each took care of his own destination. She was the second of three children and the only daughter in the family; they weren’t really fond of talking to each other, and when they met they had nothing much to say, so they might as well not see one another. Their anemic relationship was more or less related to the distribution of profits after selling the property “reserved for the landowner.”
    For years, she lived alternately in her two brothers’ homes to take care of their aged mother who had suffered a stroke. Her brothers’ houses faced each other, but the bills were reckoned fairly and clearly even by the two blood brothers. Last year their old mother mustered her strength and persuaded her two sons and two daughters-in-law to allocate a small sum for her daughter, who was over forty and too old to marry and who had been taking care of her for many a year. This matter, of course, imposed difficulties on them, because when their father was still alive they had already received the family property, which, according to the usual practice, the daughter was not entitled to share, because, sooner or later, she would become an outsider. Their mother certainly understood this perfectly justified rationale, but age and illness had clouded her mind. At that time, the two brothers were particularly close and everything could be settled through discussion; they didn’t want to cough up any money, nor did they want to be considered unfilial by their relatives for defying their dying old mother. After weighing the situation, they finally decided to add a suite on the top floor for her to live in for as long as she pleased. That very day, the two brothers specially dressed up and reported to their mother regarding their openhanded decision with honeyed words that could make the earth tremble and mountains sway.
    Sitting on the edge of the bed, she massaged her mother’s back with an air of indifference; later she simply nestled in her own bed where she read a magazine. The bell at the head of her bed rang chaotically. A line ran from the bell to her mother’s room—so that her mother could call her if she had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night—had accidentally been touched by her brother. She reached out to muffle the ringing bell. The room regained its peace and quiet. The two brothers continued to discuss in detail the issue of the building materials for adding the suite. She stopped reading and took a small mirror from under her pillow and a lipstick from her pocket, which she slowly turned with heart and soul, as if coaxing a butterfly out of a greenhouse. And holding the small mirror with an expression that could wake a cemetery, she applied the lipstick to her lips and then smoothed her lips lightly twice. After that, with the edge of the lipstick she traced the edges of her lips to give them dimension. Dissatisfied, she took another lipstick to intensify the color and luster of her lower lip, which looked like the play of light and shadow on a range of mountains. The pink lipstick, which set off her pale and haggard face with a spring charm, appeared as bright and beautiful as a wild peach blossom struggling out of the ruins enveloped in dense fog and, oblivious to the complexity of things, noisily recounted its desire.
    The two brothers were stupefied. Regardless of how they looked at the old-looking woman in pajamas, her hair tied up high with a rubber band, she appeared an ugly outsider to their eyes. Her red lips made them nervous. The older brother was able to keep calm, and cautiously expressed the fulfillment of their moral obligation in a heroic and stirring speech, while deep in the bottom of his heart he was calculating to add the attic room as soon as possible, so that once their mother passed away, their sister could move to there, to the relief of them all.
    Their mother, finally able to pluck a tiny fish from the fish pond for her daughter, so to speak, now feeling comfortable and at ease, saw that there was nothing to postpone her departure and soon thereafter died from another stroke. The timing was perfect: the attic suite was nearly finished, awaiting only the installation of the electric lights.
    As her two brothers and their families wept heart-broken before their mother’s remains, she still wore the look of an outsider, staring at the floorboard, as if to see into the depths of a vast sea. The funeral ceremony was glorious and more lively than a public market. Only after the funeral when they watched the video did they discover that she held the bell from the head of the bed, and that her lips were as bloody red as Siren’s.
    After the funeral, she moved to the small attic suite.
    People experienced in such matters remarked that it was her fate and the purpose of her life was to repay her debt until the death of her mother. As soon as the debt was repaid, she had no reason to remain in the world. The two brothers considered this a wise remark that removed the awkwardness between the living and the dead. They invited a high monk and Daoist priests to the suite to chant scriptures to appease her soul, and at the same time to drive out the evil and pray for the peace of the two families. Although the sweltering heat made them uncomfortable, they agreed in their hearts that her suicide indicated she had done what was best for everyone.
    If nobody mentioned her, she was nearly forgotten by her family.
    The suite could not just be left empty, so they tried to rent it out to at least have some income; besides, whoever rented it might be able to rid the place of the evil shadow. They decided to arrange things a little bit and clean out anything that didn’t belong there.
    The dressing table was really ominous—it had belonged to their mother first, then she took it. Now that the two women were gone, they were afraid it would become a nest for the wild ghosts. As they tried to move it away they found that one of the drawers was locked.
    The older brother, sweating profusely, tried to pry the drawer open, but was unable to do so. Then in a fury he hit it with a hammer, knocking off the face of the drawer, out of which noisily spilled a whole bunch of things.
    They were all lipsticks. He was frightened and felt weak as if he were holding a drawer full of cockroaches that scuttled all over. His turned pale
    There were more than two hundred lipsticks in different colors and different brands. It takes a woman, after all, to better understand the seductive appeal of lipstick; his wife, like a child, suddenly squatted on the floor and checked the life experience of each lipstick. Some had been used, some used only once. She couldn’t help being obsessed with each one of them, turning the lipstick up, trying the color on her back hand—they are powdery orange, honey plum, wine red . . . each of the colors seemed to speak a language of passion like charming lilies dancing in the rainy outdoors, or chaste and gentle like the owner of a boat sleeping under the moonlight. An expression wild with joy appeared on her face; she took a peach red lipstick and facing the mirror carefully applied it to her lips.
    She turned around and, quite lovely, looked at her husband
with an ambiguous smile playing at the corners of her mouth.
Her two trembling white arms were painted with more than two
hundred colored stripes which, like countless soft and wet
tongues, recited their mockery for the world, without the least

From Chien Chen’s 簡媜 collection of short stories Nu-erh hung 《女兒紅》
[The female red], Taipei: Hungfan Bookstore, 1996, 218-222.

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