老牛 – The cow – English

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11 paragraph translated (28 in total)
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——欲知世上刀兵劫,但听屠门夜半声

As I was having breakfast, I started thinking about the cow again, because I suddenly remembered a dream about the cow I had a few months ago, and at that moment, I couldn’t help crying out.

It has already been nearly two months since the cow left us; when I learnt the news, I was on the way to lunch with a few colleagues.

When I got a phone call from mother, I was a bit surprised, and so I thought I would call her back around midday, but there were many people around then, and so I forgot. The reason I suddenly decided to call her is because the night before, I had a dream which now will be hard to forget, and in short, I wasn’t feeling very well. Grand-mother’s health was not very good, and so every time I had a bad dream, I worried that something had happened to her. But when my mother called me, she just told me, we sold the cow. I froze for a second, and finally broke down in tears, asking in among my sobs who she sold it to. I had known for a long time that the day would come, when my elder brother would not cease urging them to go to Suzhou and see their grandson. But when I heard the news, it was still hard to control my sorrow. I could only pray that it would be sold to good-hearted people, who would have feelings for it, and treat it as a living creature of flesh and blood. But I didn’t think the day would come so fast. When my mother heard me like that, she also started to cry, and said with remorse that she didn’t want to sell it either, but that they could no longer keep it, that she was always running around with things, that my father’s health was not good, and that they were unable to keep it any longer. She also said: a cow is gone, and look how sad it’s making you, when it’s our turn to go, I don’t know… and I heard more grieving after that.

In the busy restaurant, my colleagues were on one side, telling jokes, and when I went back to my seat, they saw that my face was flowing with tears, they knew I’d just been on the phone, they assumed something happened in my family, and asked if I wanted to take the afternoon off and leave, saying that I could always do that. I said I didn’t need to, nobody died, and they were a bit surprised. I said “it was an animal, you may not understand.” I didn’t want to talk about it, but they insisted, so I said it was the ox at home, and I said, this ox has been with our family for many years, in my eyes, it’s become part of our family, it’s like one of my siblings. They started saying they could understand, that when their dogs died, they were also very affected, but when I saw their expression, I started regretting talking about that with them.

For so many days, I hadn’t set myself to writing a piece about the cow, because everytime I opened the file titled “the cow”, I didn’t know how to go about it, words were floating around, but I didn’t know where to start. Perhaps I didn’t want it enough, in the end, the cow didn’t escape its fate: after it left our home, I learnt from my mother’s phone call that the people who bought the cow had lied to us, that it had not been sold to people in the village, but went to the slaughterhouse, and its little calf, only a few month old, was sold to people we didn’t know.

The reason I can finally write these words is the dream about the cow that I mentioned before. In the dream the old cow was desperately cen(which is dialectical, I don’t know which character)开-ing the rope in the man’s hand,wanting to protect its child, but in the dream the baby cow still gambolled away. But because it had run too far, it was too far for its mother to protect it, and so the cow was very anxious, but unable to do anything. When I had this dream, the cow hadn’t been sold yet, and at the time, I suspected it was before I had eaten some beef tripe the day before, the same meat as her, and so I felt guilty, and had this dream as a punishment, I even suspected that the cow came into my dream to warn me that I shouldn’t eat beef anymore. After that, I hadn’t thought the dream would so quickly become a reality. I can now imagine the scene of the cow’s farewell to her calf as she’s about to be taken to the slaughterhouse, and when I think about this scene, it’s really hard to not feel a deep pain. 屈原说:乐莫乐兮新相知,悲莫悲兮生别离。还有比这样生离死别更让人伤情的事吗?As human beings, in order to satisfy our appetite, interests and desires, we force other animals to exeperience not only the pain of eternal parting, but even a living hell. Everyone says that mankind is at the top of the food chain, and if humans don’t kill animals, this will result in ecological imbalance, but I think this is dubious rhetoric. Actually, I want to say that, even so, humans just slaughtering animals is bad enough, but if before killing them, we use very cruel ways with them, abuse them, torture them, this is too inhumane. Long ago, I heard my father say that some dishonest slaughterhouses, to inject water in the cattle, but fearing that people would discover it, while the cattle were still alive they would pour water forcefully through their nose. The very cruel ways they use to kill the cattle, I don’t know how I could put it in words, but after hearing the description from my father of the way they kill cattle (and, because cows are fairly large creatures, it often takes more than just an instant to kill them),it worried me that one day our old cow would also suffer the same torment. However, if I cannot control even my own destiny, how can I affect that of the cattle?

I know that all I can do now is from now on to no longer eat beef, and no longer eat any meat. Although I’ve thought of becoming vegetarian for a while, 但是很多时候,没有对味的蔬菜的时候,我还是会吃肉,but today, when I think about this dream again, 体会老牛那种生离死别以及被屠杀时的痛苦,I feel that I need to wake up.至少,我应该为过去的助纣为虐赎罪。Once again, I want to tell people around me that, if you really must eat meat, if you really must kill animals, then you should limit their pain before dying as much as you can. When I talked about this with my mother, she said the cost of an anaesthetic is too high, and most people don’t even think about this. She said, if you put some alcohool in the pig’s food, the pig gets drunk very easily. And so when they’re taken away and killed, they don’t feel as much fear and pain. I told my mother that if she wanted to kill a pig in the future, before she killed it, she should give it alcool to drink, and she agreed to it.

I remember a time when I was young and on my way to school, I saw some pig farmers using and iron hook to hook 钩着活生生的猪的下额往车上装,and not using a rope to lead them,the pigs screaming in pain, with blood dripping on the road,I thought this spectacle was really far too cruel and I wasn’t clear in my mind why they would torment the pigs so。However, my same feelings towards small animals were not at all inherent. In my youthful ignorance, I had not realised that in the destruction of life were other types of animals’ cruelty. When I was six or seven years old, in summer I would often go with my elder brother and other adults to the local pond and watch them catch frogs, and after they had caught them, use lotus leaves to wrap them up and take them back home to cook over the fire and feed to the cat. When I remember it now, it was really too too cruel. But at that time, I had completely no idea。 I also don’t remember when I acquired this fearful compassion, but later when I again saw my neighbour’s younger brothers catching and playing with frogs I felt very sorry for the frogs and asked them to set the frogs free. They laughingly said they were only playing, but they used a very fine ppiece of thread他们拴在青蛙细嫩的的腿上,and I knew that before long those little frogs would surely be played to death。高中的时候写过一篇关于青蛙的周记,因为那时父亲在犁地的时候发现一只冬眠的青蛙 ,竟然用刀伤了它的眼睛,而后捉回来给我看。我那时觉得非常残忍,给它的眼睛涂了些药。我现在已经不记得那只青蛙后来怎么样了,只记得把它放到了桔林里。但每次想起来,总要在心里责怪父亲当时的残忍。

在我所接触到的动物当中,最为通人性的,要属狗和牛了,当然还有猫。但较之于狗和牛,猫总是幸运的,甚至有时候比很多人要幸福。一方面大多数猫总是受宠的,而且也没有人要吃猫的肉(除了一些心理变态的人之外)。然而,我最为同情的是牛,虽然觉得狗也很可怜。但是牛的命运总是生前卖命的帮主人干活,而最后却还是逃不过被杀食的命运。

在我的记忆当中,我们家一共就养过两个大牛。在我眼中,就像是两个人,虽然它们不会说话。第一个,我在很多年前也写过,但是没有写完,因为我知道一提到它,就会有很多很多的情节涌现,以至于我不知道该说哪一个。简单地说,就是她是一个极为聪明的牛。我时常怀疑她的智商是不是已经超过一些人了。很多次她被借去帮别人家耕田,送回来的时候,别人都要说说她异于常牛的地方,总之他们没有想到她会那么聪明或者说他们认为的狡猾。

她生的极为高大(这一方面是她的基因好,或者父亲说的苗子好,另一方面,是我们家人照料得好,在她小的时候,他们总是给她找最好的草吃,长大之后,因为食量大,不那么容易吃饱,他们干完农活,有时候自己饿着,也要多花点时间放它,让她吃饱),远远超过了一般的母牛,就是很多公牛见到她也要退避三舍。在一群牛之间,她总是作为首领走在前面。而且她总是能找到好草吃。但是最为让母亲忌讳的是,她总在你一不留神的时候,跑得无影踪了——去寻好草吃去了,因为她小时候吃惯了好草。她生的孩子总是个个漂亮,很多时候出生没多久,就有人来预定,千叮咛,万嘱咐,一定要留给自己。这一点,跟家里后来的那个老牛完全一样。她们不同的地方是,后来的老牛,虽然也非常健壮,但却完全不爱争强好胜,即使见到比自己弱小很多倍的,也都要躲开。而且很少挑食,不管什么草,她总是安安静静慢慢地啃。如果草好,就吃饱。如果草实在不好,就吃个半饱,到了快中午的时候,就自己卧下来休息。晚上如果吃饱了,就自己往回家的路上走,如果没吃饱,就会在你赶她回家的时候,磨蹭一会,想要再多啃几口。她在生前,已经被人们垂涎过无数次,因为长得肥壮的原因。她的力气也是同前面那位一样,完全跟一些公牛一样,甚至更甚于那些公牛。因为很多公牛干活的时候还要有个帮手一起,但她总是一个人圆满完成任务。去年在家的时候,她一个人拉着满满一车沉重的草料,走在坡度极为陡峭的路上,有时候实在抗不住,她就跪下来用力,以防车子倒退下去。就这一点,母亲也多次夸赞,说她实在不同于一般的牛。不仅是力气还是智力上。以前的那个装货的车在父亲病了之后,就卖掉了,因为母亲也不敢开车。于是家里所有的大的力气活就都是老牛的工作了。

有次我听母亲说,老牛因为不小心吃了打有农药的草,病得很严重。当时医生来给她打针的时候,她不像一般的牛那样对医生拼死抵触,也没有像以前那样见到陌生人就发出想要攻击别人的姿势,而是乖乖地让医生给她打针。母亲为此也觉得她比一般的牛都更通人性。去年冬天在家的时候,她又一次生了病,看她鼻子都冒了冷汗,感觉她呼吸出了严重的问题。父亲说是因为我给她吃了太多桔子的缘故。因为老牛很爱吃桔子,而家里有很多桔子没有卖,放在家里我们也吃不完,所以我就索性给她弄了些吃。但是我觉得可能是牛圈太湿了,所以她才会生病,我一再要清理牛圈,他们百搬阻挠,说我弄不了,过两天母亲有空了再弄。但最终还是我胜利了,后面再说。老牛那时正怀着小牛,看着老牛那样,我就催促父亲请医生来。后来医生说可能是消化不良,就给她打了一针。这一次,她还是像母亲说的那样,打针的时候像人一样通情理,没有一丝畏惧或抵触的意思,仿佛完全知道是在给她看病,对她是完全没有恶意的。医生说如果第二天还没有好,再给他打电话。所幸的是,打了一针之后,老牛终于好起来,又肯吃东西了。

她与以前那位老牛不同的是,每次她的孩子被卖的时候,她虽然也非常非常难过,但是她总是只在白天才呼唤,大概知道晚上会吵着人们睡觉。以前那个老牛却是白天夜里都要拼命呼唤的,在寂静的乡村里,这声音足以惊醒那些正在熟睡的邻居们。

然而这两个老牛有个共同点,就是,时常会听人讲话。以前那个老牛,母亲说,每次她跟人一起放牛的人讲话的时候,如果老牛在旁边,就总是要叫几声,仿佛也要参与讨论,母亲为此很恼火,觉得老牛打扰了她们的谈话。但无论她怎么叫,人们始终是听不懂的。而后面那个老牛,有时候也会停下口中的草,听身边的声音。印象中最后一次看她专注聆听的表情,是去年腊月的时候,当那个被邻居们拉到杀猪台的猪在惨叫的时候,她停下了口中正在啃的草,怔怔地听着,直到悲号声完全消失,才慢慢回过神来。他们说,只有人类才知道生命注定会死亡,我不能确信,只是在那些时候,我有些怀疑,我家的老牛也是知道的。

日子已经过去了这么久,所有的苦痛,无论多么惨烈,我想老牛总是已经经历过了吧,那么现在,她的魂灵,是不是应该已经到了一个无痛无苦的地方?又或者,抛开肉体,魂灵是不会再疼痛的?

我想起她前腿上的病伤,已经有很多年了,每到夏天,就总有蚊子来侵吸她的血,我便随手拿一枝带着比较柔软的叶子的树条,替她驱蚊赶蝇。每次用树棍或石块帮她挠痒的时候,她总是很乖,停下正在吃的草,一动也不动,每次当我停下来的,她还是不愿意去吃草,想要我继续帮她挠痒,有时候也不忍拒绝她的小小贪心。

但她总有被人误解的时候。她每次见到陌生人,总是做出一副要攻击别人的样,致使不认识的人以为她很好斗,很不友好。实际上,她是害怕别人会攻击她,所以故意做出这样敌意的样子来,实际上,她从来没有伤害过任何一个人,只是偶尔不小心会踩到我的脚。我在极度疼痛的时候,也会责骂她两句。但是我很少打她。一起放牛的堂弟说,姐姐家的牛一点都不怕她,我听了有些不好意思。其实,我也知道她不怕我,只是我觉得为什么一定要让她怕我呢。我手里也一直拿着棍子的,只是很少落到她的身上,每次扬起来,除了有时候吓唬她不要做错事,就是给她指路。毕竟她不是人,不能完全明了我心中的想法,完全听懂我说的话。但我用棍子比划下,她总是能明白的。我所想到的是,动物都是有血有肉的,打到它们身上,它们也会痛。而且,它们犯的错,挨的打,实际上通常都是主人自己的错误,却最后却把自己造成的错误归到它们身上,使它们接受惩罚,这真是太不公平了。这一点,我小时候是没有意识到的,所以在生气的时候,也狠狠地打过她们。对此,我一直心怀欠疚。

还有那些小牛,它们总是如小孩子一般贪玩,迟迟不肯跟它的母亲回家。有一次追它追了很久,终于最后追上的时候,狠狠地抽了它几棍子,现在想起来,我真的是非常残忍而且不通人情的,毕竟它们那么小,爱玩是它们的天性。还有些时候,它们因为懵懂,随意地跑进人家的田地里,我心里也是十分的生气,即使田地的主人不在。而最让我生气的是,有时候正当我想尽办法要把小牛赶出来的时候,主人在一边看到,那种不悦的眼神,更令我心里烦躁,于是会把所有的愤怒都加到小牛身上。最后总会教训它们一顿。不过所幸的事,这样的事情发生过一次之后,小牛们总是会接受教训,不再那么随意地跑进人家的庄稼地。母亲说,小牛也是教育出来的。说来是如此,只是我想到,它们也是多么无辜的孩子。只有小时候不被人牵着鼻子,但却也是有那么多的禁忌的。一不小心犯了禁忌,就有可能被教训了。

There are moment when I was really convinced that cows are more intelligent than many people, 这从我家的小牛身上就可以看出来。很多人,总是想着一味的索取,从来不愿意自己去付出点什么。中国有句老话叫作:将欲取之,必先予之。小牛虽然不懂人类文字,也没有人教它这些内容,但却比人类更明白这个道理。人类表达自己对别人的善意和友好有很多种方式,但牛类的却很少。和小狗一样,它们会觉得帮别人咬虱子或者挠痒痒就是最善意的方式,就是给人家最好的礼物,它们也最希望别人能够这样对自己。但是,它们明白,要想别人这样对自己,那就先对别人这样。所以当老牛在安稳地啃着草,而我安静地坐在那里看书的时候,小牛总会走到我跟前,讨好似地舔着我的衣角。我当然明白它的意思,等我拿起木棍开始帮它挠痒痒,它就停下来,静静地享受着这样的幸福。但是它们调皮的时候,也会把我吓一跳,它们有时候像小孩子撒娇一样猛地从你身边蹭过,有时候差点把我撞个趔趄,这时候,我就会训它们一顿,告戒它们得小点心。

在我在家的日子里,陪伴我度过我最多时间的,大概就是这两个老牛和那些可爱的小牛们了。然而每次它们半岁或者快半岁的时候,它们就不得不被主人卖掉,离开它们的母亲了。这是非常残忍的一刻。老牛总是要为此难过很多天,只是它们把喉咙叫哑了,也依然唤不回自己的孩子。而那边的小牛,更不知道在一个陌生的地方,在无边的黑夜里是怎样呼喊着自己的母亲。

只是,在我的理解里,它们的离开更是像女儿总要出嫁的道理,虽然是要和母亲分离,但是只是到另外一个家,如果运气和它们母亲一样好,主人也许会善待它们,甚至它们母子也还会有见面的机会,虽然,也许到那时,它们彼此已经不太认识了(我时常想知道,它们见面的时候,母子是否都还能彼此相认)。有一次,在我上学的路上,又看到那个已卖给别人家的小牛,它被主人拴在山顶上的一片草地上。我走到它跟前,它没有表现出通常对陌生人的防范姿态,只是静静地看着我,我再次帮它挠了下痒痒,然后依依不舍地继续去上学了。只是在我后来听到的零星的关于它的消息里,竟是它摔折了腿,后来被卖了。还有其它的一些卖得远一点的小牛,我便一点是音讯都没有了。至于它们的命运,终究是我未能知的,就像我自己的命运。

当老牛被卖之后,我所有关于它们记忆,就只能在脑海和照片里寻找了。The last time I saw the cow was this year in May. When I went back home in May, 我见到牛栏里很湿,就去拿了粪叉去打算把那些东西挖起来,换些干些的草。母亲觉得这些不是我能干的活,一来是又脏又臭,二来是要很花力气,那些粪草因为长期被老牛踩在脚下,已经很坚实,很难挖起来,而我手无缚鸡之力。然而,事实证明,我是可以干的,而且是可以干好的。因为去年年冬在家的时候就做过,前面提到过。这样的事,换作以前,不要说我,就是母亲都不会做的,但是自从父亲病了之后,很多事情是不得不做的了。但是现在母亲一个人忙里忙外,对这些已不能顾不得那么勤了。所以那时当我把牛圈弄干净的时候,母亲关实惊讶了一回。只是那时确实流了很多汗,大冬天,最后热得我只穿一件秋衣。遗憾的是,五月那次在清理牛栏的时候,清到半道上,母亲要我去接奶奶来我家,虽然早说过了,但是我想的是把牛栏清完再去,但是母亲一再催促,说再去晚了,奶奶可能都吃过午饭了,她的吃饭规律和我们不一样。我只好放下手中的粪叉,拿了件外套,去接奶奶了。 关于这些,我在前面的《老屋》http://my1510.cn/article.php?id=77127里提到过一些了。接奶奶的半路上,就已经开始下雨了。奶奶接来之后,因为陪她,所以也没有时间再去清理牛圈了。所以有些遗憾,虽然等到天晴,母亲也是会把那些处理完的。好在下雨天,老牛有另一间干燥的房子住。

本来,那时,我是不必要回家的,因为来回转车很多次,在路上就要花很多时间,回家也没有特别的事要办。但是想到很多,想到体弱多病的奶奶,想到已经年迈而又积劳成病的父母,还有,我以前从来没有同人讲过的:那不知道什么时候就有可能被卖的老牛。我想去趁还有机会的时候多陪陪他们。看亲人是大家容易理解的,但是如果我说,除了亲人,我有时候甚至更牵挂着老牛,我想一定会被人笑话。是的,也许,这是没有人能理解的。可是,为什么会如此呢,怎么会对牛的关注更甚于自己的亲人呢?曾经一度陷于父母不要再种地和父母不再种地之后老牛如何处置的矛盾与纠结之中,但始终都没有一个肯定的答案。难道是我关心牛比自己的亲人还甚吗?当然不是如此,而是我一直觉得,亲人和牛比起来,他们更有能力主宰自己的命运,而老牛,没有任何一丝丝的可以主宰自己命运的机会和能力。与其说是更关心老牛,不如说是更同情老牛。在家接下来的两天,也是下着雨的,母亲说她要去放牛,但是我坚持要去,一是母亲的风湿病见不得雨水(我虽然只是在家几天,但是能帮 她分担一点是一点),二则是,我担心以后能够看到老牛,去放老牛的机会不多了。不知道什么时候就有可能被卖了。但我的担心后来竟成了现实,那确实我最后一次放老牛了。

只是,no matter how,老牛已经走完了它的宿命,无论其间经历了多少苦痛挣扎。祝愿她下次投胎的时候,千万不要再投胎成为牛,或者最好不要是动物,因为只要是动物,总归就有各式的烦恼与苦痛。然而这只是祝愿罢了。据说,凡物投胎都是由它的业力牵引而来的,并不是完全由着自己来的。那么也许这一世,她生而为牛,也是为了却她前世所造的业缘吧。

And finally I would like to recommend a very moving film: ‘Charlotte’s Web’.

秋风无迹 2012.07.22

Source: 1510, July 23 2012 – http://my1510.cn/article.php?id=81513

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About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact [email protected]