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Zhe Zhong’s Essay: Crossing the Gobi Desert– modern chinese literature 哲中《过戈壁》

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过戈壁

◎ 哲中

茫茫的戈壁望不到边,黄羊不落脚,马儿不敢走[1]。遍地铺着尖利的石头,步行更是困难[2]。

我呆呆地望着前方。

傍晚时分,戈壁上传来悠扬的驼铃。一峰骆驼(身后还有一峰小骆驼),兴冲冲地向我走来。

驼背上没有骑手,旁边也不见人影。骆驼主人呢?难道它是野骆驼吗?

它走向前来,拿粉红色的舌头舔我手背,用鼻头拱我口袋。我拿出干粮招待它。它吃完干粮,转身卧到地上,示意请我骑到背上。我犹豫了一下,终于骑上去。此时夕阳西去,夜幕缓缓升起。我忐忑不安,不知是悲是喜?

戈壁之夜,繁星在头上闪烁,月华如银,我仿佛走进梦中。在驼背上,我甚至产生怀疑,怕它对我怀着歹意。

一夜就这么提心吊胆地过去了。

第二天,太阳从东方升起,我的神经才稍稍松弛了一些。骆驼仍然驮着我缓缓地由东向西行进。过了戈壁,就是我此行的目的地了,但我仍然揣摩不透它的心意。

戈壁上突然刮起龙卷风,我们置身风暴当中[3]。天昏地暗,飞沙走石[4]。骆驼站立着,稳如泰山,让我藏到它身子下面,我才免遭风沙伤害。风沙过去了,它又驮着我继续前行。我的心便从怀疑而至感激了。

走了一天一夜,已经很疲乏了,骆驼也得休息一下。我找到了一块洼地住下,让骆驼到戈壁滩上去吃草。

是夜云头很低,睡梦中觉得谁在拽我裤腿。才翻身,眼前闪动着一双双绿幽幽的眼睛[5]。我一骨碌从地上坐起,狼知道我没有死,一起向我裂开大嘴[6]。这时远处一声怒吼,在那边吃草的骆驼冲过来,和狼厮打到一块。三头狼,一头被咬死,一头受伤,一头吓跑了。骆驼将我揽到身边,像是怕狼再来吃我。我扑到它身上,一个劲地亲。

经过五天五夜,我们走出了戈壁。和骆驼分别时,我有许多话要说,但它不懂,只好摆摆手走了。我走了很远,它还站在原地向我凝望。

到了目的地,友人说,驮我过戈壁的骆驼的主人,是塔吉克的牧驼人。

“牧驼人呢?我没有见到他呀!”我很诧异。

“老牧驼人要是活着,也该有几百上千岁了。”

“他有后代吗?”

“他有儿子、孙子、重孙,子子孙孙,都在戈壁上牧驼。”

“老人家怎么把骆驼驯养得这么听话?”

“这话奇怪。老人家没有驯养出来这样的骆驼,你能走过戈壁吗?”

回来的路上,我又骑上那峰骆驼。

到了戈壁才发现,随身带的水壶忘了装水。没有饮水,这长长的戈壁怎么过去?这里的太阳火炉一样,烤得我浑身冒汗,口干得张不开。头一天熬过去了,第二天处于半昏迷状态,第三天一头栽倒在戈壁上。

昏睡中我感到嘴唇湿润湿润的,有一股泉水往嘴里流。我贪婪地喝着,体内的血液迅速奔涌起来。好容易,我半睁开眼睛,看到跟前坐着一个汉子。看出那是年轻的牧驼人。他身后卧着一片黑压压的骆驼。我想站起来,腿不听使唤[7],激动之后,我又昏迷了过去。

第二天,牧驼人和骆驼不见了,唯有驮我的骆驼仍站在身旁守候。由于饮了水,体力恢复了许多,水壶里也灌满了水,我又能骑着骆驼上路了。

驼铃声声,在广袤的戈壁上空回荡。

那是经人饲驯的专门载着旅客走戈壁的“沙漠之舟”呀,可不是野骆驼。

哲中(1933— ),安徽省肥东县人,当代作家,1959年于中国人民大学法律系毕业后,志愿赴新疆工作。著有小说散文集《天山的阳光》、长篇游记《一个神秘世界的见闻》、散文集《大漠的歌》等。所著《过戈壁》一文选自1986年10月14日《人民日报》。

[1]“黄羊不落脚,马儿不敢走”可按“黄羊和马儿都不敢冒险进入”之意译为even Mongolian gazelles and horses dared not venture into it,其中venture into作“冒险涉足”解。

[2]“步行更是困难”译为was even more difficult for foot travelers to negotiate,其中foot travelers作“徒步旅行者”解,to negotiate的意思是“胜利通过”、“越过”等。

[3]“我们置身风暴当中”中的“置身”有“陷入困境”(to get trapped)的含义,全句可译为We were caught in a violent storm。

[4]“飞沙走石”译为the fierce wind sent sands flying about and pebbles hurtling through the air,其中sand本是不可数的物质名词,用复数形式,是为了加强语气。

[5]“眼前闪动着一双双绿幽幽的眼睛”译为I … saw pairs of eerie green eyes glistening,其中eerie的意思是“令人害怕的”、“怪异的”,是译文中的增添词,原文虽无其词而有其意。

[6]“一起向我裂开大嘴”如按字面直译为the wolves opened their mouths wide(或opened their big mouths),未能充分传神达意,现译为the wolves bared their fangs ferociously(露出一付利牙尖齿的凶相),似较可取。

[7]“我想站起来,腿不听使唤”不宜直译为I wanted to get up, but my legs would not obey me,现译为I wanted to rise to my feet, but my legs gave way,其中gave way作“(腿)发软”解。此句也可译为I felt like getting up, but my legs would not hold me up。

Crossing the Gobi Desert

◎ Zhe Zhong

The Gobi Desert was boundless, so even Mongolian gazelles and horses dared not venture into it. The desert plain, covered with sharp-edged rock fragments, was even more difficult for foot travelers to negotiate.

I stood gazing blankly into the distance.

Towards evening, the sweet jingling of camel bells was heard from across the desert. A camel, followed by a baby camel, came towards me sprightly.

No one was sitting astride the animal, nor any one standing beside it. Who was its master? Was it a wild camel?

As it moved closer to me, it stuck out its pink tongue to lick the back of my hand and dug its snout into my pocket. I gave it a feed of the food I had brought with me for the journey. After eating, it turned to lie on the ground, motioning me to ride on it. I did accordingly after some hesitation. The sun was setting in the west and night was falling. I felt uneasy, not knowing if I was sad or happy.

It was a starry moonlit night on the Gobi. I felt like in a dream. Sitting astride on the camel’s back, I even became suspicious, fearing that the camel might have malicious intent against me.

I was nervous the whole night.

It was not until the next dawn that I became somewhat relaxed. The camel, carrying me on its back, continued to move slowly from east to west. I was to reach my destination after getting out of the Gobi, but I still couldn’t figure out the camel’s intention.

A tornado suddenly whirled over the Gobi and we were caught in a violent storm. It turned dark all round and the fierce wind sent sands flying about and pebbles hurtling through the air. The camel, however, stood rock-firm. I hid myself under its belly so as to protect myself from the sand storm. After the sand storm passed off, the camel, with me on its back, started to move forward again. A sense of gratitude had then replaced suspicion in my heart.

A day and night passed and I felt tired out. And the camel was in need of a rest too. I found a low-lying place for a stopover. Then the camel went grazing at a sandy beach.

It was a night with clouds hanging low. I was roused from sleep by somebody pulling me by the trouser legs. I turned over in bed and saw pairs of eerie green eyes glistening. So I sat up from the ground abruptly. Seeing that I was alive, the wolves bared their fangs ferociously. At this very moment, the camel rushed with an angry roar from its grazing land to fight the wolves. Consequently, one of the three wolves was bitten to death, another was injured and still another fled through fear. The camel then took care to keep me close to itself for fear that the wolves might come again to attack me. I threw myself on it and kissed it vigorously.

We were out of the Gobi five days and nights later. At parting, there were many things I could have said to the camel, but I refrained because it could never understand human speech. All I did was walk away waving my hand. After walking a long way off, I still saw it stand fixing its eyes on me.

On reaching my destination, a friend of mine there told me the camel that had carried me across the Gobi belonged to a Tajik trainer of camels.

“Where is he? I haven’t seen him yet,”I asked in astonishment.

“If the old herdsman were still alive, he should be several hundred or even more than a thousand years old.”

“How about his descendants?”

“He had sons, grandsons and grand grandsons — all of them looking after camels on the Gobi.”

“How did the old man manage to raise and train the camels until they were so tame and gentle?”

“Well, had it not been for the old herdsman, you wouldn’t be able to cross the Gobi, would you?”

On my return trip over the Gobi, I rode on the same camel.

I realized on my arrival at the Gobi that I had forgotten to replenish my canteen with water, which was indispensable for travelers on the Gobi. Under the scorching sun, I was sweating all over and my mouth was parched. I managed to pull through on the first day, I had fainting fits on the second day, and I fell onto the ground on the third day.

I fell into a lethargic state. My lips became moistened through water being poured into my mouth. As I was gulping it down greedily, blood flowed rapidly through my body. It was with difficulty that I managed to have my eyes half opened. Then I saw a man sitting in front of me. I could tell that he was a herdsman. Behind him was a dark mass of camels lying on the ground. I wanted to rise to my feet, but my legs gave way. At the end of my excitement, I turned lethargic again.

The next day, the herdsman and his camels were nowhere to be found. Only the camel that had carried me across the Gobi was standing beside me, keeping watch. After drinking the water, I felt very much recovered physically. And the canteen had also been filled with water. So I resumed my journey astride the camel.

The jingling bells of my camel echoed through the boundless Gobi.

It was not a wild camel, but a camel known as the“ship of the desert”that had been raised and trained specifically to carry travelers across the Gobi.

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