Uit: Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather (The Temple, Vertaald door Mabel Lee)
“We were deliriously happy: delirious with the hope, infatuation, tenderness, and warmth that go with a honeymoon. Fangfang and I had planned the trip over and over, even though we had only half a month off: ten days of wedding leave, plus one week of additional work leave. Getting married is a major event in life, and for us nothing was more important, so why not ask for some extra time? That director of mine was so miserly: anyone who went to him requesting leave had to haggle; there were never instant approvals. The two weeks I had written in my application he changed to one week, including a Sunday, and it was with reluctance that he said, “I’ll expect you to be back at work by the due date.”
“Of course, of course,” I said. “We wouldn’t be able to afford the salary deduction if we stayed any longer.” It was only then that he signed his name, thereby granting us permission to go on leave.
I wasn’t a bachelor anymore. I had a family. I would no longer be able to go off to restaurants with friends as soon as I got paid at the beginning of the month. I wouldn’t be able to spend so recklessly that by the end of the month I wouldn’t have the money to buy a pack of cigarettes and would have to go through my pockets and search the drawers for coins. But I won’t go into all that. I’m saying that I – we – were very happy. In our short lives, there hadn’t been much happiness. Both Fangfang and I had experienced years of hardship, and we had learned what life was all about. During those catastrophic years in this country, our families suffered through many misfortunes, and to some extent we still resented our generation’s fate. But I won’t go into that, either. What was important was that we could now count ourselves happy.
We had half a month’s leave, and although it was only half a honeymoon, for us it couldn’t have been sweeter. I am not going to go into how sweet it was. You all know about that and have experienced it yourselves, but this particular sweetness was ours alone. What I want to tell you about is the Temple of Perfect Benevolence: “perfect” as in “perfect union,” and “benevolence” as in “benevolent love.” But the name of the temple is not really of great importance.”
Gao Xingjian (Ganzhou, 4 januari 1940)