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阿城 棋王 一五 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 1 pt 5

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

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棋王

一五

拿到饭后,马上就开始吃,吃得很快,喉节一缩一缩的,脸上绷满了筋。 once he'd got the food, he started eating immediately; he ate very fast, and his Adam's apple moved up and down, and the muscles in his face were taught.

常常突然停下来,很小心地将嘴边或下巴上的饭粒儿和汤水油花儿用整个儿食指抹进嘴里。 He would often stop suddenly, and very carefully use his finger to push the drops of soup that were around his mouth or on his chin into his mouth.

若饭粒儿落在衣服上,就马上一 按,拈进嘴里。 If a grain of rice fell onto his clothes, he would immediately press onto it then put it in his mouth.

若一个没按住,饭粒儿由衣服上掉下地,他也立刻双脚不再移动, 转了上身找。 If there was one that he couldn't press on, and the grain fell off his clothes and on to the floor, he would immediately stop moving his feet and twist to find it there.

这时候他若碰上我的目光,就放慢速度。 At that moment he seemed as if he noticed my gaze, and slowed down.

吃完以后,他把两只筷子吮净,拿水把饭盒冲满,先将上面一层油花吸净,然后就带着安全到达彼岸的神色小口小口的呷。 Once he'd finished eating, he sucked his chopsticks, and used water to rinse out the rice box, first drinking in the layer of oil on top, and then safely made his way across to the other side in small sips.

有一次,他在下棋,左手轻轻地叩茶几。 One time, he was playing chess, and his left hand was tapping lightly on the tea table.

一粒干缩了的饭粒儿也轻轻地小声跳着。 A shrivelled up grain of rice bounced lightly and quietly.

他一下注意到了,就迅速将那个饭粒儿放进嘴里,腮上立刻显出筋络 。 He noticed it straight away, and quickly put that grain in his mouth; the muscles in his cheeks were visible straight away.

我知道这种干饭粒儿很容易嵌到槽牙里,巴在那儿,舌头是赶它不出的。 I knew that kind of rice would easily lodge itself in one's teeth; it would stick there and be difficult to dislodge with one's tongue.

果然, 呆了一会儿,他就伸手到嘴里去抠。 Sure enough, after a while, he lifted his hand to his mouth to pick around inside.

终于嚼完,和着一大股口水,“咕”地一声儿咽下去,喉节慢慢地移下来,眼睛里有了泪花。 Finally he finished chewing, and with a large drink of water he swallowed it down with a gulp, and his Adam's apple slowly moved down; his eyes watered.

他对吃是虔诚的,而且很精细。 He was very reverent of food, and very meticulous.

有时你会可怜那些饭被他吃得一个渣儿都不剩,真有点儿惨无人道。 Sometimes you even felt pity for the food that he'd eaten till not a scrap remained; it was really quite brutal.

我在火车上一直看他下棋,发现他同样是精细的,但就有气度得多。 On the train I watched him play chess the whole time, and found that he was similarly meticulous about that, but had a lot of presence.

他常常在我们还根本看不出已是败局时就开始重码棋子,说: Often, when we could bare see that someone was going to lose game of chess, he would start to set up the board again, saying:

“再来一盘吧。” "Let's have another game."

有的人不服输,非要下完,总觉得被他那样暗示死刑存些侥幸。 Some people couldn't accept defeat and insisted on continuing, and they would feel that even though he had already quietly written them off they still might have some luck.

他也奉陪,用四五步棋逼死对方,略带嘲讽地说: He would go along with it, but within four or five moves he would force his opponent into defeat and say sarcastically:

“非要听 ‘将’,有瘾?” "You insisted on hearing the word 'checkmate' - are you addicted to it?"

我每看到他吃饭,就回想起杰克·伦敦的《热爱生命》,终于在一次饭后他小口呷汤时讲了这个故事。 Each time I saw him eat, I would think back to Jack London's "Passion for Life"; finally one time after eating when he was sipping his soup I told him this story.

我因为有过饥饿的经验,所以特别渲染了故事中的饥饿感觉。 Because I'd had experience of hunger, I particularly embellished the sentiments of hunger in the story.

他不再喝汤,只是把饭盒端在嘴边儿,一动不动地听我讲。 He stopped drinking his soup, and just held the lid by his mouth, listening motionlessly to me talk.

我讲完了,他呆了许久,凝视着饭盒里的水,轻轻吸了一口,才很严肃地看着我说: Once I'd told the story, he was silent for a while, gazing at the water in his rice box; he lightly drank a mouthful, looked at me very seriously and said:

“这个人是对的 。 "This person is right.

他当然要把饼干藏在褥子底下。 Of course he should have hidden the biscuits under his mattress.

照你讲,他是对失去食物发生精神上的恐惧,是精神病? According to what you said, he had a kind of terror of losing food - was it mental illness?

不,他有道理,太有道理了。 No - he was right, he was so right.

写书的人怎么可以这么理解这个人呢? How could the person who wrote the book understand this person?

杰… …杰什么?嗯,杰克·伦敦,这个小子他妈真是饱汉子不知饿汉饥。” Jack... Jack what? Yeah, Jack London - the schmuck was a fucking fat-arse who didn't know hunger."

我马上指出杰克·伦敦是一个如何如何的人。 I immediately pointed out what kind of a person Jack London was.

他说:“是呀,不管怎么样,像你说的,杰克·伦敦后来出了名,肯定不愁吃的,他当然会叼着根烟,写些嘲笑饥饿的故事。” He said: "Yeah, but in any case, as you said, afterwards Jack London became famous, and definitely never had any worries about food; of course he'd just hold a cigarette in his mouth and write stories mocking hunger."

我说:“杰克·伦敦丝毫也没有嘲笑饥饿,他是……” I said: "I said Jack London wasn't mocking hunger at all, he was..."

他不耐烦地打断我说:“怎么不是嘲笑? He impatiently cut me off saying: "How could he not be mocking it?

把一个特别清楚饥饿是怎么回事儿的人写成发了神经,我不喜欢。” Writing about this person who had a particularly clear idea about what hunger was and describing his as mad - I don't like it."

我只好苦笑,不再说什么。 I just smiled wryly, and didn't say anything else.

可是一没人和他下棋了,他就又问我: But as soon as nobody would play chess with him, so he asked me again:

“嗯?再讲个吃的故事?其实杰克·伦敦那个故事挺好。” "Eh? Tell another story about food? Actually that Jack London story was very good."

我有些不高兴地说: I said with a little displeasure:

“那根本不是个吃的故事,那是一个讲生命的故事。 "That isn't a story about eating at all - that's a story about life.

你不愧为棋呆子。” You've really earned the name chess geek."

大约是我脸上有种表情,他于是不知怎么办才好。 Probably because of the expression on my face, he didn't know what to do.

我心里有一种东西升上来,我还是喜欢他的,就说: Something rose in my heart, and I still liked him; I said:

“好吧, 巴尔扎克的《邦斯舅舅》听过吗?” "Alright, have you heard Balzac's 'Cousin Pons'?"

他摇摇头。 He shook his head.

我就又好好儿描述一下邦斯舅舅这个老饕。 So I thoroughly described the glutton Cousin Pons .

不料他听完,马上就说: To my surprise, after he'd listened to it, he immediately said:

“这个故事不好,这是一个馋的故事,不是吃的故事。 "This story isn't good; it's a story about greed, not food.

邦斯这个老头儿若只是吃而不馋,不会死。 The old man Pons, if he'd just not been greedy, he wouldn't have died.

我不喜欢这个故事。” I don't like this story."

他马上意识到这最后一句话,就急忙说: He immediately realised what he'd just said, and hurriedly added:

“倒也不是不喜欢。 "Actually I don't dislike it.

不过洋人总和咱们不一样,隔着一层。 But foreigners are always very different to us - there's a layer of separation.

我给你讲个故事吧。” I'll tell you a story."

我马上感了兴趣:棋呆子居然也有故事! I was immediately interested: to my surprise the chess geek had stories too!

他把身体靠得舒服一些,说: He got comfortable and said:

“从前哪,”笑了笑,又说: "Once upon a time," then he laughed and said:

“老是他妈从前,可这个故事是我们院儿的五奶奶讲的。 "It's always fucking once upon a time, but this story was told by our family's granny. [?]

嗯——老辈子的时候,有这么一家子,吃喝不愁。 In olden times there was a family who didn't have to worry about food and drink.

粮食一囤一囤的,顿顿想吃多少吃多少,嘿,可美气了。 They had bins and bins of grain, and at every meal they ate however much they wanted; heh, how great.

后来呢,娶了个儿媳妇。 Afterwards, they took in a bride.

那真能干,就没说把饭做糊过,不干不稀,特解饱。 She was very capable, and it was never said of her that she had spoilt the rice - it was never too dry, never too thin, and always particularly filling.

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