Tag Archives: literature

《聪明人和傻子和奴才》(The Wise Man, The Fool And The Slave)

9 Nov

“The Wise Man, The Fool And The Slave” by Lu Xun. Translation is my own.

“Sir!” He lamented, tears streaming from the corners of his eyes. “You know – people don’t have to experience all I’ve gone through. Every day, I don’t know where my next meal is coming from, and the meal I do get is just sorghum. Pigs and dogs don’t want to eat this, not even a small bowl’s worth …”

“That is really moving,” said the wise man, also sadly.

“Of course!” The slave was happy. “But doing work tires me out: early in the morning, I carry water; late at night, I cook food. In the morning, I’m running around; at night, I mill flour. I wash clothes in the morning, hold the umbrella when it’s raining; heat the stove in the winter, and fan [my master] in the summer. I have to prepare white-ear soup all day, and I wait for the master to come back from gambling and the money never comes. Sometimes he even flogs me.”

“Aye, aye…” sighed the smart man, whose eyes were red around the rims, as if he were about to tear up.

“Sir! I can’t go through the motions anymore. I want to find another way. But what other way is there?”

“I … I think your lot will improve.”

“Really? I hope so. I’ve already complained so much to you, and have received your sympathy and comforting words. I feel so much better already. Apparently, reason hasn’t crumbled to pieces just yet.”

However, not long after, he felt ill at ease again and looked for someone else to vent to.

“Sir!” He sobbed as he spoke. “You know – my home is worse than a pig sty. The master doesn’t take me as a human; he treats his dog better than me.”

“Son of a … !” The man began to shout, which surprised the slave. This man was a fool.

“Sir, I live in a rundown little room that’s dank and dark. Plus, there are bed bugs that bite like mad when I sleep. It smells awful, and there isn’t a single window.”

“You can’t ask your master to open a window for you?”

“How could I?”

“Well, then … you just take me there!”

The fool followed the slave just outside his home, and then hit and destroyed part of the mud wall.

“Sir! What are you doing?!” He was shocked.

“I’m giving you a window.”

“That’s unacceptable! My master is going to scold me!”

“Who gives?” And he continued to break apart the wall.

“Somebody! Come! A bandit is tearing down our house! Come quick! Hurry up, or there’ll be a hole soon enough!” He wept, rolling on the ground.

A crowd of slaves gathered around, and sent the fool out of town.

After hearing the yelps, the master slowly came out at last.

“There was a bandit who wanted to tear down our house, but I loudly protested, and together, we all threw him out,” he proudly said.

“Not bad.” The master thus praised him.

That day, a lot of visitors came to express their regards. The wise man was among them.

“Sir. The master praised me, for I was meritorious. Before, you said I’d be on the up and up, and I think you had foresight.” He said this, imbued with hope.

“But of course,” the wise man joyfully replied.

Continue reading