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阿城 棋王 二三 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 2 pt 3

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

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Original image by Flickr user witness 1

棋王

二三

他不说了,看着自己的脚趾动来动去,又用后脚跟去擦另一只脚的背,吐出一口烟,用手在腿上掸了掸。 He stopped speaking, and looked at his toes moving, and then used one heel to wipe his other foot; he exhaled some smoke, and used his hand to brush his leg.

我很后悔用油来表示我对生活的不满意,还用书和电影儿这种可有可无的东西表示我对生活的不满足,因为这些在他看来,实在是超出基准线上的东西,他不会为这些烦闷。 I regretted using oil to show my dissatisfaction with life, and using books and films - things you could do without - to express my dissatisfaction with life, because in his view, these things were above baseline requirements; he wouldn't be bothered about those things.

我突然觉得很泄气,有些同意他的说法。 I suddenly felt very deflated, and kind of agreed with what he said.

是呀,还要什么呢? Yeah - what else could I want.

我不是也感到挺好了吗? Didn't I think everything was OK?

不用吃了上顿惦记着下顿,床不管怎么烂,也还是自己的,不用窜来窜去找刷夜的地方。 There's no need to worry about the next meal when you're eating this one; no matter how bad the bed is, at least it's yours, and you don't need to search all over for somewhere to spend the night.

可是我常常烦闷的是什么呢? But what was it that always bothered me?

为什么就那么想看看随便什么一本书呢? What did I want to look so badly to just read a book?

电影儿这种东西,灯一亮就全醒过来了,图个什么呢? Films - when the lights come on and you wake up, what's the point?

可我隐隐有一种欲望在心里,说不清楚,但我大致觉出是关于活着的什么东西。 But I secretly had a desire in my heart - I couldn't say clearly what it was, but I felt that it was something to do with life.

我问他:“你还下棋吗?” I asked him: "Are you still playing chess?"

他就像走棋那么快地说:“当然,还用说?” As quickly as if he were playing chess, he replied: "Of course, do you even need to ask?"

我说 :“是呀,你觉得一切都好,干吗还要下棋呢? I said: "Yeah - you think everything's fine, so why are you still playing chess?

下棋不多馀吗?” Isn't play chess an excess?

他把烟卷儿停在半空,摸了一下脸说: He held his cigarette in mid-air, rubbed his face, and said:

“我迷象棋,一下棋,就什么都忘了。呆在棋里舒服。 "I'm obsessed with chess, as soon as I start play I forget everything else. Being absorbed in chess is comfortable.

就是没有棋盘,棋子儿,我在心里就能下,碍谁的事儿啦?” But I don't have a chessboard or pieces; I can play it in my mind, so who's bothered?"

我说:“假如有一天不让你下棋,也不许你想走棋的事儿,你觉得怎么样?” I said: "Supposing one day we weren't allowed to play chess, and you weren't allowed to think about chess moves, how would you feel?"

他挺奇怪地看着我说:“不可能,那怎么可能? He looked at me strangely and said: "No way - how could that happen?

我能在心里下呀! I can play it in my head!

还能把我脑子挖了? Can they dig my brain out as well?

你净说些不可能的事儿。” You've just said a load of impossible things.

我叹了一口气,说:“下棋这事儿看来是不错。 I sighed and said: "Seems like playing chess is quite a good thing.

看了一本儿书,你不能老在脑子里过篇儿,老想看看新的。 Once you've read a book, you can't always keep the pages in your mind, and always want to read a new one.

下棋可不一样了,自己能变着花样儿玩。” But playing chess is different - you can play it in all sorts of different ways on your own.

他笑着对我说:“怎么样,学棋吧? He smiled at me and said: "How about it - want to learn chess?"

咱们现在吃喝不愁了,顶多是照你说的,不够好,又活不出个大意思来。 Now we don't need to worry about food and drink, but at least according to what you said, it's not good enough - you can't get any great meaning out of life.

书你哪儿找去? Where do you go to find books?

下棋吧,有忧下棋解。” Let's play chess - if you have worries, dispel them with chess."

我想了想,说:“我实在对棋不感兴趣。 I thought about it and said: "To be honest I'm not interested in chess.

我们队倒有个人,据说下得不错。” There's someone in our team, though - apparently he plays pretty well."

他把烟屁股使劲儿扔出门外, 眼睛又放出光来: He flicked the cigarette butt out of the door as hard as he could, and his eyes lit up again:

“真的?有下棋的? Really? He plays chess?

嘿,我真还来对了。 Heh, looks like I came to the right place.

他在哪儿?” Where is he?

我说:“还没下班呢。 I said: "You haven't finished work yet."

看你急的,你不是来看我的吗?” I've seen you in such a rush - didn't you come to see me?"

他双手抱着脖子仰在我的被子上, 看着自己松松的肚皮,说: He put both his hands on his neck and pressed himself onto my quilt; looking at his relaxed belly, he said:

“我这半年,就找不到下棋的。 "I've been here half a month, and haven't been able to play chess.

后来想,天下异人多得很,这野林子里我就不信找不到个下棋下得好的。 Later I thought, there are many unusual people in the world, and in this wild forest, I don't believe I can't find anyone who plays chess well.

现在我请了事假,一路找人下棋 ,就找到你这儿来了。” Now I've taken leave, and the whole way I've been looking for people to play chess with, and ended up here with you."

我说:“你不挣钱了? I said: "You're not earning any money?

怎么活着呢?” How do you live?

他说:“你不知道,我妹妹在城里分了工矿,挣钱了,我也就不用给家寄那么多钱了。 He said: "You don't know, my little sister has been assigned to a mine in the city; she's making money; there's no need for me to send any money home.

我就想,趁这功夫儿,会会棋手。 I thought, I'll use this time to meet some chess players.

怎么样? How about it?

你一会儿把你说的那人找来下一盘?” In a bit can you go and get that person you mentioned to come and play a game?

我说当然,心里一动,就又问他:“你家里到底是怎么个情况呢?” I said of course, then had a feeling and asked him: "What kind of situation is your family in?"

他叹了一口气,望着屋顶, 很久才说: He gave a sigh, looked up at the roof, and finally said:

“穷。困难啊!我们家三口儿人,母亲死了,只有父亲、妹妹和我。 "Poor. Really hard up! There's three of us in the family - my mother's dead, so there's only my father, my little sister and me.

我父亲嘛,挣得少,按平均生活费的说法儿,我们一人才不到十块。 My dad, he doesn't make much, if we average out the living expenses, each person doesn't get 10 kuai.

我母亲死后,父亲就喝酒,而且越喝越多,手里有俩钱儿就喝,就骂人。 After my mother died, my dad started drinking, and he drank more and more; if he had two kuai in his hand he'd drink, and insult people.

邻居劝,他不是不听,就是一把鼻涕一把泪,弄得人家也挺难过。 The neighbours tried to persuade him, but he'd either not listen, or would be all tears and snivels, making everyone upset.

我有一回跟我父亲说:‘你不喝就不行? Once I said to my father: "If you don't drink would it be so bad?

有什么好处呢?’ What are the benefits?

他说:‘你不知道酒是什么玩意儿,它是老爷们儿的觉啊! He said: "You don't anything about drinking - it's a buzz for old men!"

咱们这日子挺不易,你妈去了,你们又小。 Our life isn't easy, your mum is gone, and you're still young.

我烦哪,我没文化,这把年纪,一辈子这点子钱算是到头儿了。 I'm fed up, I'm uneducated; at this age, I've had the tiny bit of money I'm going to get in my life.

你妈死的时候,嘱咐了,怎么着也要供你念完初中再挣钱。 When your mum died, she urged me, however you look at it, you had to finish studying before you could make money.

你们让我喝口酒,啊? Let me have a drink, ok?

对老人有什么过不去的,下辈子算吧。’” If there's something an old person can't get over, deal with it in the next life.'"

他看了看我,又说 :“不瞒你说,我母亲解放前是窑子里的。 He looked at me, and then said: "Whatever you say, before the liberation, my mother worked in a brothel."

后来大概是有人看上了,做了人家的小 ,也算从良。 Afterwards probably someone took a liking to her, and she became that person's concubine, and it was alright.

有烟吗?” Do you have another cigarette?

我扔过一支烟给他,他点上了,把烟头儿吹得红红的,两眼不错眼珠儿地盯着,许久才说: I threw a cigarette to him; he lit it, and blew on the end till it was glowing red, and started at it without unblinking, and after a long time said:

“后来,我妈又跟人跑了,据说买她的那家欺负她,当老妈子不说,还打。 "Afterwards, my mum ran away again - apparently the family who bought her bullied her - she was made a servant, and they even hit her.

后来跟的这个是什么人,我不知道,我只知道我是我妈 跟这个人生的。 The person that was with her afterwards, I don't know what kind of person he was; I only know that I was born from him and my mother; after liberation, my mother never saw the man again.

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