Saturday, March 7, 2009

朱自清 《背影》 英语翻译



The View of my Father’s Back

Zhu Ziqing

It has been over two years since I last saw my father. It is the view of
his back that is most unforgettable to me.

That winter was a double tragedy for us as grandmother passed away and father was dismissed from his position. I left Beijing for Xuzhou to meet up with
father to go back home for the funeral. In Xuzhou, when I saw father, and total mess of disorderly placed items in his yard, memories of grandma came flooding back, and my tears poured down out of control.

Father said, “ Things which happen cannot be changed. Don’t be so sad. There is always a way out.”

Back home, by pawning and selling possessions, father paid off the debts and borrowed more money for the funeral. Those were gloomy days for the family, partly because of the funeral, and partly because father was now unemployed.

After the funeral, father headed for Nanjing to seek work and I for Beijing to finish school. Therefore, we traveled together for a while.

In Nanjing, a friend showed me around for a day; and the next morning, I
was supposed to ferry to Pukou and take the train north that afternoon to Beijing. Father was busy and had decided not to see me off. Instead he asked a waiter who was an acquaintance, to accompany me. He repeatedly instructed the waiter on how to take care of me. Nevertheless, he still felt unsure, worrying that the waiter was not reliable, and reconsidered what to do for a while. Actually, I was already 20 years old then and had been traveling to and from Beijing several times on my own already. There was nothing really to worry about. He thought for a while, and finally decided to see me off himself. I tried several times to persuade him not to, but he only said: “It’s fine. I don’t trust him with you.”

We crossed the river and entered the station; where I bought the ticket while he took care of the baggage. As there were so many pieces of luggage, we had to give some tips to the porter in order to enter. Father busied himself bargaining with the porters. Back then, I was quite the smart aleck, thinking he wasn’t a good negotiater, and had to restrain myself from butting in. Eventually, he finished the bargaining and took me onto the train. He picked a seat by the door, and I spread on the seat the expensive fur lined coat that he had made especially for me. He urged me to take care of myself and not to get cold at night. Then he asked the attendants to take care of me. I laughed at his silliness in my heart because those people cared only for money; and it was useless to ask a favor from them. Besides am I not old enough to take care of myself? Ai, in retrospect, I was really a smart aleck back then!


I said: “Father, you can go.” He took a look out of the window, and said:
“Let me buy some tangerines for you. You stay here. Don’t move.” I saw that beyond the railings on the other side of the platform, there were a couple of vendors waiting for customers. To get to the other side, however, one must jump down and climb up to get to that side of the railway. Father was rather fat and it was no small feat for him to get there. I wanted to go, but he wouldn’t allow me. so I had no choice but to let him go. I saw him with a black cap on his head, in a black jacket and a dark blue turquoise cotton padded robe, stumble to the railway and slowly make his way down, which wasn’t too difficult. But after he crossed the railway and tried to climb up onto the platform on the other side, it was not easy. His hands clung to the top, legs contracted up, his overweight body tilted to the left, as he painstakingly pulled himself up. Looking at his back, my tears flowed. I rushed to wipe away the tears, afraid of being seen by him, or by any others.

When I looked out again, he was already on his way back, carrying the tangerines. At the railway, he placed the tangerines gently on the ground, slowly climbed down, then picked them up and moved on. When he got back, I rushed to help him. As he and I got back onto the train, he placed all the tangerines on my fur coat, patted the dirt off his jacket, and looked very satisfied. After a moment, he said to me: ”I am leaving now. Remember to write to me! ” I watched him get off the train. After a few steps, he turned back and saw me, saying “Go back. Your things are unattended..” I waited until he disappeared into the bustling crowd, and went back in and sat down.

My tears came again.

In recent years, father and I led separate lives due to our need to travel separate ways to make a living. The family financial situation deteriorated day by day. When father was young, he left his home to make his living. He had many admirable accomplishments by his own efforts. Who would have guessed that he would turn out a failure in his old age. It is no surprise that as he looks back on his life, he feels sad and disappointed that life has not been kind to him. Due to these circumstances, his feeling made him very temperamental and he vented his anger over even trivialities at home. He also treated me differently. But after 2 years of separation, he forgot all my failings that angered him and showed more interest in me and my son. After I settled in the north, he wrote a letter to me stating that: “I am okay but my shoulder hurts very badly; the pain causes me difficulties in using chopsticks or even lifting my writing brush. I think the end of my life is not too distant.”

As I read this, thru my glistening eyes, I again see my father’s heavy back in that dark blue turquoise robe. Ai, I wonder when I shall see him again.


背影

作者: 朱自清
 
  我与父亲不相见已二年余了,我最不能忘记的是他的背影。那年冬天,祖母死了,父亲的差使也交卸了,正是祸不单行的日子,我从北京到徐州,打算跟着父亲奔丧回家。到徐州见着父亲,看见满院狼藉的东西,又想起祖母,不禁簌簌地流下眼泪。父亲说,“事已如此,不必难过,好在天无绝人之路!”
  回家变卖典质,父亲还了亏空;又借钱办了丧事。这些日子,家中光景很是惨淡,一半为了丧事,一半为了父亲赋闲。丧事完毕,父亲要到南京谋事,我也要回北京念书,我们便同行。
  到南京时,有朋友约去游逛,勾留了一日;第二日上午便须渡江到浦口,下午上车北去。父亲因为事忙,本已说定不送我,叫旅馆里一个熟识的茶房陪我同去。他再三嘱咐茶房,甚是仔细。但他终于不放心,怕茶房不妥帖;颇踌躇了一会。其实我那年已二十岁,北京已来往过两三次,是没有甚么要紧的了。他踌躇了一会,终于决定还是自己送我去。我两三回劝他不必去;他只说,“不要紧,他们去不好!”
  我们过了江,进了车站。我买票,他忙着照看行李。行李太多了,得向脚夫行些小费,才可过去。他便又忙着和他们讲价钱。我那时真是聪明过分,总觉他说话不大漂亮,非自己插嘴不可。但他终于讲定了价钱;就送我上车。他给我拣定了靠车门的一张椅子;我将他给我做的紫毛大衣铺好坐位。他嘱我路上小心,夜里警醒些,不要受凉。又嘱托茶房好好照应我。我心里暗笑他的迂;他们只认得钱,托他们直是白托!而且我这样大年纪的人,难道还不能料理自己么?唉,我现在想想,那时真是太聪明了!
  我说道,“爸爸,你走吧。”他望车外看了看,说,“我买几个橘子去。你就在此地,不要走动。”我看那边月台的栅栏外有几个卖东西的等着顾客。走到那边月台,须穿过铁道,须跳下去又爬上去。父亲是一个胖子,走过去自然要费事些。我本来要去的,他不肯,只好让他去。我看见他戴着黑布小帽,穿着黑布大马褂,深青布棉袍,蹒跚地走到铁道边,慢慢探身下去,尚不大难。可是他穿过铁道,要爬上那边月台,就不容易了。他用两手攀着上面,两脚再向上缩;他肥胖的身子向左微倾,显出努力的样子。这时我看见他的背影,我的泪很快地流下来了。我赶紧拭干了泪,怕他看见,也怕别人看见。我再向外看时,他已抱了朱红的橘子望回走了。过铁道时,他先将橘子散放在地上,自己慢慢爬下,再抱起橘子走。到这边时,我赶紧去搀他。他和我走到车上,将橘子一股脑儿放在我的皮大衣上。于是扑扑衣上的泥土,心里很轻松似的,过一会说,“我走了;到那边来信!”我望着他走出去。他走了几步,回过头看见我,说,“进去吧,里边没人。”等他的背影混入来来往往的人里,再找不着了,我便进来坐下,我的眼泪又来了。
  近几年来,父亲和我都是东奔西走,家中光景是一日不如一日。他少年出外谋生,独力支持,做了许多大事。那知老境却如此颓唐!他触目伤怀,自然情不能自已。情郁于中,自然要发之于外;家庭琐屑便往往触他之怒。他待我渐渐不同往日。但最近两年的不见,他终于忘却我的不好,只是惦记着我,惦记着我的儿子。我北来后,他写了一信给我,信中说道,“我身体平安,惟膀子疼痛利害,举箸提笔,诸多不便,大约大去之期不远矣。”我读到此处,在晶莹的泪光中,又看见那肥胖的,青布棉袍,黑布马褂的背影。唉!我不知何时再能与他相见!
 

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