THE FALL OF A GREY WHALE— In Memory of the 20th Century 灰鯨落海──悼二十世紀
   By Hsia Ching 夏菁
   Translated by C. W. WANG 王季文
   By Duo Sui 朵思
   Translated by John J. S. BALCOM 陶忘機

   By Bai Ling 白靈
   Translated by John J. S. BALCOM 陶忘機
   By Jiao Tong 焦桐
   Translated by David van der Peet 范德培
   By SUN Wei-min 孫維民
   Translated by the poet
   By Ko-Hua CHEN 陳克華
   Translated by Patrick CARR 柯英華
  A TREE’S NAME 一棵樹的名字
   By Ko-Hua CHEN 陳克華
   Translated by Patrick CARR 柯英華
   By Lu Pin 鹿苹
   Translated by Zona Yi-ping TSOU 鄒怡平
   By Lu Pin 鹿苹
   Translated by Zona Yi-ping TSOU 鄒怡平
   By CHEN Wan-Chien 陳宛茜
   Translated by John J. S. BALCOM 陶忘機

   By Ah Sheng 阿盛
   Translated by Darryl STERK 石岱崙

   By Yi-Ting LEE 李儀婷
   Translated by Patty Pei-Jung LEE 李佩蓉
   By LIN Tai Man 林黛嫚
   Translated by Danny Hsin-yueh LIN 林心嶽
  NANA 娜娜
   By YUAN Chiung-chiung 袁瓊瓊
   Translated by Michelle M. WU 吳敏嘉
   By Kun-liang CHIU 邱坤良
   Translated by Chris Wen-Chao LI 李文肇
  TEMPER AND METAMORPHOSIS— A Painter’s True Colors 淬鍊與蛻變──畫者的真容
   By TU Chung-Kao 杜忠誥
   Translated by Gen-sheng DONG 董更生
  STANDSTILL AND OBSERVE THE UNIVERSE— On Mei-Yu’s Bamboo and Sparrows and The Lotus
靜觀萬物─ 談簡美育的《竹雀圖》與《芙蕖圖》

   By Shou-chien SHIH 石守謙
   Translated by Gen-sheng DONG 董更生
  NEWS & EVENTS 文化活動
   Compiled by Sarah Jen-hui HSIANG 項人慧
color on silk, 38 × 40 cm, 1999 .........................Cover

BELL FLOWER 鐘花, color on silk, 40 × 38 cm, 1999 .............................................................Back Cover
   By CHIEN Mei-Yu 簡美育


Kun-liang CHIU 邱坤良


Translated by Chris Wen-Chao LI 李文肇


  Several years ago when my Aunt passed in Taoyuan, I rushed back from abroad to pay my final respects. During the service, I caught sight of a familiar figure—a woman in shabby attire, her long hair covering a good half of her face. Oblivious to her surroundings, she was in a world of her own, squatting on the floor fiddling with her toes. Now she was a regular at weddings and funerals, showing up no doubt to solicit from family and friends. She was ignored by all, and no one bothered to speak to her. But for me, her presence was a blast from the past, bringing back memories of a character known to me as Tasselgrass. After the ceremony, I turned to look for my homeless friend, but she had already left.
  My aunt was my father’s only elder sister—separated by three years, the two were close. When my father died of illness some forty years ago, it was as if my aunt had no one left in this world, and felt ever the more isolated. She spent the greater part of her life in the village of Tsu-keng, near Baishishan Quarry in the outskirts of Su-ao. Tasselgrass was her “neighbor,” so to speak.
  Since I was little, I have always been close to my aunt, as she had always doted on me. My childhood memories were of her looking very, very old—come to think of it, she was only in her fifties, which is roughly how old I am now. But she wore her hair split down the middle, typical of little old ladies at the time. She reminded me of my grandmother—every time I looked at a photo of my deceased granny, I would be struck by the uncanny resemblance to my aunt. Like mother, like daughter, perhaps? Or perhaps all relatives look alike once they reach old age.
  My memories of my grandmother are hazy, as she died before I was old enough to enter kindergarten. What are left are vague images that flash through my mind every now and then— in these flashbacks, Granny, with her silvery hair, would be sitting alone on an island lush with tasselgrass, each bud giving off a mystic halo in the glint of the sun. The sea breeze stirs up a storm of spikelets as the island appears to float in mid-air. Then the wind subsides, and gently, the snowflakesque particles fall silently on my beloved grandmother.
  In retrospect, these hallucinations were most likely cobbled together from stories of the afterlife told to me by adults—how I imagined a fancy new abode for my grandmother!
  Tasselgrass, femininity, solitude, lunacy, and mortality—for some reason, these seemingly unrelated notions have been linked in my child’s mind since early on, evolving into a patchwork of unforgettable memories that I return to every now and then. When I need an escape from the daily grind, I retreat to these tasselgrass trails lost in time.
  I know little of my aunt’s past, only that for as long as I had known her, she lived alone in the remote village of Tsu-keng— the poverty and hardships of which are betrayed by the cacophony of its name. In those days, to get to Tsu-keng from Nanfangao, one had to enter Su-ao City, head in the direction of Baimiweng, travel along Yungchun Road all the way to the “tramcar terminal” of the local stone quarry, then turn onto Yungle Road, which leads through the “home base” of Tasselgrass before reaching Tsu-keng.
  There are no buses along this route, only heavy haul trucks whisking by. Those with personal business travel to Tsu-keng on foot—automobiles are a rare sight in these parts, as are motorcycles, or even bicycles. Even if one were to get hold of a five-speed, the ride would be rough, as constant trampling by industrial vehicles have left the pothole-ridden country road in a perpetual state of disrepair. I would walk to Tsu-keng as a kid— the trip from Nanfang-ao through Su-ao to Tsu-keng and back would take me a good four hours.
  What year it was when I first visited my aunt in Tsu-keng I cannot recall. My earliest memories date back to when I was a fourth grader in elementary school. It was the day after Chinese New Year, and my father had brought me along to pick up my aunt for New Year celebrations at home. I went along reluctantly, as I was having the time of my life with my playmates— every minute of the Chinese New Year holidays was precious as gold, too precious to spend on a trip to some distant boondocks, not to mention the treacherous hike through the country to get there. The journey did not pique my interest. But some good came out of this unappealing mission, as I discovered that my aunt owned a grocery store stocked full of toys, candies and sodas. In the store, she allowed me to eat and drink whatever I liked. Not only that, she gave me ten dollars’ worth of pocket money for Chinese New Year, which was a large amount back in those days, more than a month’s allowance from my parents, enough to buy three issues of Manga Weekly.
  After this initial experience, I was hooked, and made the trip to my aunt’s house one of my main priorities of the year. Come Chinese New Year, and I would volunteer to travel to the boondocks to pick up my aunt. Like a monk on a pilgrimage, I would brave the great distance to Tsu-keng for the mere sake of receiving my “alms.” Right after New Year, just before school started, I would make my “spring pilgrimage” to collect my spending money. This would be followed by a “summer pilgrimage,” an “autumn pilgrimage,” and a “winter pilgrimage”— the trips to Tsu-keng were becoming regular, and I was very much the sweet nephew. This was especially so during long vacations, when I would offer to look after my aunt’s shop— “learning the tools of the trade” was my excuse. My life’s ambition at the time was to become a shopkeeper, to have my own grocery store, so that I would be free to take whatever I wanted. In the name of “shopkeeping,” however, I was fully aware that I was most likely eating up more merchandise than I was selling.
  In times of shortage, my aunt was my great “benefactor,” an extraordinary act of faith considering that I was a loafer, and was spending more money than I could ever make. But even then, making the trip to Tsu-keng wasn’t always a pleasant prospect. I would spend long hours deliberating whether or not to go—not because I suddenly developed a conscience and felt bad about sponging off my penniless aunt, nor because the journey was strenuous and time-consuming, but because getting there required traveling through the domain of Tasselgrass.
  Back then, the stretch of Su-ao Township from Baimiweng to Tsu-keng was one big industrial area: Taiwan Cement Corporation owned huge swatches of land, on which it built quarries and factories. From a distance, one could see the gigantic factory chimneys spurting black smoke, structures which have since become county landmarks,. . .

From Lien-ho wen-hsueh 《聯合文學》(UNITAS—A Literary Monthly), No. 272, June 2007: 126-133.

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