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阿城 棋王 一四 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 1 pt 4

This is the fourth part of a translation of the first chapter of the 1984 novel 棋王 (‘Chess King’) by the Chinese author 阿城 (Ah Cheng).

If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.

[← Part 3](/china/baihua/a-cheng-qi-wang-1-3/” rel="prev “阿城 棋王 一三 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 1 pt 3”) · Part 4 · [Part 5 →](/china/baihua/a-cheng-qi-wang-1-5/” rel="next “阿城 棋王 一五 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 1 pt 5”)



这时我旁边的人也明白对手是王一生,连说不下了。 At that moment the person next to me realised that his opponent was Wang Yisheng, and stopped speaking.

王一生便很沮丧。 Then Wang Yisheng was crestfallen.

我说: “你妹妹来送你,你也不知道和家里人说说话儿,倒拉着我下棋!” I said: "Your little sister came to see you off, but you don't even know how to interact with your family - instead you dragged me off to play chess!"

王一生看着我说:“你哪儿知道我们这些人是怎么回事儿? Wang Yisheng looked at me and said: "How would you know anything about people like us?

你们这些人好日子过惯了,世上不明白的事儿多着呢! You people have got used to the good life, and there's so much about the world you don't understand!

你家父母大约是舍不得你走了?” How could your parents bear to part with you?"

我怔了怔,看着手说:“哪儿来父母,都死球了。” I was stunned, and, staring at my hands, I said: "What parents? They've had it."

我的同学就添油加醋地叙了我一番,我有些不耐烦,说:“我家死人,你倒有了故事了。” My classmates filled in the details and explained about me; I got a little impatient and said: "My family dying has really given you a story."

王一生想了想,对我说:“那你这两年靠什么活着?” Wang Yisheng thought for a bit, and then said to me: "Then what did you live on for these last two years?"

我说:“混一天算一天。” I said: "I get by from day to day."

王一生就看定了我问:“怎么混?” Wang Yisheng fixed me with a stare and asked: "How do you get by?"

我不答。 I didn't reply.

呆了一会儿,王一生叹一声,说:“混可不易。 We were silent for a while, then Wang Yisheng sighed, and said: "Getting by isn't easy.

一天不吃饭,棋路都乱。 If I don't eat for a day, my chess is all over the place.

不管怎么说, 你父母在时,你家日子还好过。” No matter what you say, when your parents were around, your family had a good life."

我不服气,说:“你父母在,当然要说风凉话。 ” I wasn't convinced, and said: "Your parents are still around, so of course you're going to be sarcastic about ."

我的同学见话不投机,就岔开说:“呆子,这里没有你的对手,走,和我们打牌去吧。” My classmates saw that the conversation wasn't going anywhere, and changed the subject saying: "Geek, no-one here is a match for you; come on, play cards with us."

呆子笑一笑,说:“牌算什么,瞌睡着也能赢你们。” The geek laughed and said: "What is there to cards? I could beat you in my sleep."

我旁边儿的人说: “据说你下棋可以不吃饭?” The person next to me said: "I heard that when you play chess you don't have to eat?"

我说:“人一迷上什么,吃饭倒是不重要的事。 I said: "When someone is obsessed with something, food isn't important.

大约能干出什么事儿的人,总免不了有这种傻事。” Anyone who can pretty much do something is unable to avoid this kind of stupid thing."

王一生想一想,又摇摇头,说:“我可不是这样。” Wang Yisheng thought for a moment, then shook his head and said: "But I'm not like that."

说完就去看窗外。 Once he'd finished speaking he looked out of the window.

一路下去,慢慢我发觉我和王一生之间,既开始有互相的信任和基于经验的同情,又有各自的疑问。 During the journey, I slowly realised that between Wang Yisheng and me, we were starting to develop mutual trust and a sympathy based on experience, but we each had our own wariness.


我大略地告诉他,可他又特别在一些细节上详细地打听,主要是关于吃。 I told him the basics of it, but he would still ask in great detail about certain aspects, mostly to do with food.

例如讲到有一次我一天没有吃到东西,他就问:“一点儿都没吃到吗?” For example, when I mentioned that once I didn't eat for a whole day, he immediately asked: "You didn't eat anything at all?"

我说:“一点儿也没有。” I said: "Nothing at all."

他又问:“那你后来吃到东西是在什么时候?” Then he asked: "So when did you next get something to eat?"

我说: “后来碰到一个同学,他要用书包装很多东西,就把书包翻倒过来腾干净,里面有一个干馒头,掉在地上就碎了。 I said: "Afterwards I bumped into a classmate; he was using a schoolbag to carry a lot of things; he turned the bag over to empty and clean it, and there was a dried mantou inside which fell on to the table and broke up.

我一边儿和他说话,一边儿就把这些碎馒头吃下去 。 Whilst I spoke to him, I ate the pieces of broken mantou.

不过,说老实话,干烧饼比干馒头解饱得多,而且顶时候儿。” But to be honest, dried oil cakes are more filling than dried mantou, and it lasts longer.

他同意我关于干烧饼的见解,可马上又问:“我是说,你吃到这个干馒头的时候是几点? He agreed with my take on dried oil cakes, but immediately asked: "I mean, what time was it when you ate the dried mantou?"

过了当天夜里十二点吗?” Was it past midnight that day?

我说:“噢,不。是晚上十点吧。” I said: "Oh, no. It was about ten o'clock."

他又问:“那第二天你吃了什么?” Then he asked: "Then what did you eat the next day?"

我有点儿不耐烦。 I was getting annoyed.

讲老实话,我不太愿意复述这些事情,尤其是细节。 To be honest, I didn't really want to talk about these things, particularly the details.

我觉得这些事情总在腐蚀我,它们与我以前对生活的认识太不合辙,总好像是在嘲笑我的理想。 I think those events were always corroding me me; they were too different to my previous life, and it always seemed like they were mocking my ideals.

我说:“当天晚上我睡在那个同学家。 I said: "That night I slept at that classmate's house.

第二天早上,同学买了两个油饼 ,我吃了一个。 The next morning, the classmate bought two oil cakes, and I ate one.

上午我随他去跑一些事,中午他请我在街上吃。 That morning I went with him to do some stuff, and in the afternoon he bought food for me on the street.

晚上嘛,我不好意思再在他那儿吃,可另一个同学来了,知道我没什么着落,硬拉了我去他家,当然吃得还可以。 That evening, I felt embarrassed to eat at his again, but another classmate came, and knew that I had nowhere to go, so hauled me over to his house, and of course I ate pretty well.

怎么样?还有什么不清楚?” Alright? Still unclear on anything?

他笑了,说:“你才不是你刚才说的什么‘一天没吃东西’。 He laughed and said: "You just ate that you 'didn't eat for a whole day.'

你十二点以前吃了一个馒头,没有超过二十四小时。 You ate a mantou before midnight, so it didn't go over twenty-four hours.

更何况第二天你的伙食水平不低,平均下来,你两天的热量还是可以的。” Besides, your meals the next day were pretty high-standard, so on average over the two days your amount of calories was alright."

我说:“你恐怕还是有些呆!要知道,人吃饭,不但是肚子的需要,而且是一种精神需要。 I said: "I'm afraid you're a bit thick! You should know that people eating isn't just for the need in their bellies - it's also a mental requirement.

不知道下一顿在什么地方,人就特别想到吃,而且,饿得快。” When you don't know where your next meal is coming from, you really focus on food and get hungry very fast."

他说:“你家道尚好的时候,有这种精神压力吗? He said: "When your family circumstances were good, did you have that kind of mental pressure?

恐怕没有什么精神需求吧? I'm afraid you didn't really have any mental requirements, did you?

有,也只不过是想好上再好,那是馋。 If you did, it's just that you wanted to make things even better, which is greed.

馋是你们这些人的特点。” Greed is a characteristic of people like you."

我承认他说得有些道理,禁不住问他:“你总在说你们、你们,可你是什么人?” I'll admit that what he said had some truth in it, but couldn't help saying: "You keep saying 'you', 'you', but who are you yourself?"

他迅速看着其他地方,只是不看我,说:“我当然不同了。 He looked away very quickly , and without looking at me said: "Of course I'm different.

我主要是对吃要求得比较实在。 On the whole I'm pretty realistic about the need for food.

唉,不说这些了,你真的不喜欢下棋? Ah, let's not talk about it... Do you really not like playing chess?

何以解忧?唯有象棋。” How do you dispel your worries? There's only chess."

我瞧着他说:“你有什么忧?” I looked at him and said: "What worries do you have?"

他仍然不看我,“没有什么忧,没有。 He still didn't look at me, and said: "I have no worries, I don't.

‘忧’这玩意儿,是他妈文人的佐料儿。 "Worry", that joke, that's just a seasoning used by fucking scholars.

我们这种人,没有什么忧,顶多有些不痛快。 People like us, we don't have worries, at worst we've just got stuff that isn't joy.

何以解不痛快?唯有象棋。” How do you deal with stuff that isn't joy? There's only chess."

我看他对吃很感兴趣,就注意他吃的时候。 He was obviously very interested in food, and focused on when he could eat.

列车上给我们这几节知青车厢送饭时,他若心思不在下棋上,就稍稍有些不安。 When food was provided on the train for the carriages of educated youth, he seemed as if his mind wasn't on chess, and was slightly restless.

听见前面大家拿吃时铝盒的碰撞声,他常常闭上眼,嘴巴紧紧收着,倒好像有些恶心。 Once he heard the banging of aluminium boxes from everyone up ahead getting their food, he kept closing his eyes, and closed his mouth tightly; he seemed slightly nauseous.

[← Part 3](/china/baihua/a-cheng-qi-wang-1-3/” rel="prev “阿城 棋王 一三 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 1 pt 3”) · Part 4 · [Part 5 →](/china/baihua/a-cheng-qi-wang-1-5/” rel="next “阿城 棋王 一五 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 1 pt 5”)

If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.

Further reading

  • [Three Kings - A Cheng](http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0002710331/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=0002710331&linkCode=as2&tag=easasistu-21" rel="external nofollow)
  • - [Full text of 棋王](http://www.tianyabook.com/xiandai/qiwang.htm "棋王 ·阿城·")

    Contact me: mhg@eastasiastudent.net