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Under Oil Paper Umbrellas (2)

(2010-01-07 13:14:37)
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Under <wbr>Oil <wbr>Paper <wbr>Umbrellas <wbr>(2)

秀嫂和邱哥
Xiu and Qiu
    住在尧坝的秀嫂和邱哥是两口子,生下女儿不到三个月去了广东,辗转珠海、东莞打工,没赚到钱,后来回尧坝做油纸伞,邱哥打杂做些下手活。古镇管委见两口子 见过些世面,又会说两句普通话,就把尧坝古城米铺边的房子承包给他们,一边做油纸伞,一边展示文化遗产,成了游客必去的一个景点。
    Xiu and Qiu are a couple living in Yaoba. Less than three months after the birth of their daughter, they went to Guangdong, and later to Zhuhai and Dongguan, as migrant workers, but did not make much money. So they returned to Yaoba to make oil paper umbrellas, with Qiu serving as a handy man for Xiu. Seeing that they had seen the world and could speak some Mandarin, the managing committee of the ancient town contracted to them the house by the rice shop in Yaoba, which serves as their workshop and a place for displaying the town's cultural heritage. It has become a must-go tourist attraction.

    25岁那年秀嫂生了个女儿。那会儿是开放初期,镇里的人吵吵嚷嚷要去广东找钱。尧坝的人穷啊,听说广东钱好找,两口子便丢下不满三个月的娃儿,爬上了南下 的火车。哪晓得到了广东才发现,广东的钱也不是那么好赚的。秀嫂好歹算找了个工作,拼死拼活弄点吊命的钱,她男人邱哥身体不太好,人家不要,一直在家里耍 起,偶尔打点临工,一熬就是十年。按农村的规矩,结婚娶婆娘要生个男丁才算正果,邱家想要个儿子。35岁那年,秀嫂怀上了老二。临盆的时候,怕计划的人找 麻烦,赶紧跑回了尧坝。“超生了,要罚款的”,秀嫂有些不好意思。从生老二那天起,两口子的打工生活就结束了。
    At the age of 25, Xiu gave birth to a daughter. The reform and opening had just begun, and the poor townspeople were eager to go to Guangdong, where they believed they could make money easily. Leaving behind their baby, who was barely three months old, the couple boarded a train to the south. To their disappointment, when they arrived there, they found that making money was not easy at all in Guangdong. Xiu managed to find a job and worked her fingers to the bone to make ends meet. Qiu, being in poor health, was rejected by all employers. He had to stay at home, doing odd jobs from time to time. They lived like that for a decade. It was a rule in the countryside that a man must have a son, and the Qiu family was no exception. At 35, Xiu was pregnant again. When the day for childbirth was near, they hastened back to Yaoba for fear of trouble from birth control officials. "Otherwise we'd be fined for violation of birth control rules," she said with some embarrassment. The day the second child was born, their migrant-worker days were over.
    回是回来了,眼见着一家老小张着口要东西吃,愁坏了秀嫂。尧坝不好找工作,秀嫂想起了会做伞的老汉儿。
    她老汉儿几岁大小就做油纸伞,解放后在合作社做事,关公家的钱。开放后自立门户,做油纸伞的手艺远近闻名。“有了这门手艺,吃饭就莫得问题”,秀嫂半路出家跟她老汉儿学做伞的手艺。秀嫂手巧,学得快,又有老汉儿亲传,做出来的伞绝对不比分水厂的伞差。
    Now that they were back home, Xiu was seriously worried about the family's livelihood. Jobs were hard to find in Yaoba, and she thought of her father, who know how to make umbrellas.
    Her father had started to make oil paper umbrellas since childhood. After 1949 he worked in a cooperative and was paid by the government. Since the reform and opening began, he has been self-employed, thanks to his well-known skills. As he puts it, "The craft ensures my livelihood." Xiu asked him to teach her how to make umbrellas. Because she is dexterous and tutored by her own father, her umbrellas are by no means inferior to those made by Fenshui Umbrella Factory.
    也不晓得是秀嫂的老汉儿不传外人还是因为邱哥懒,反正邱哥不会做伞,做些进材料晾伞送货的下手活。每过一段时间邱哥就跑一趟分水,把石印好的伞纸和做好的 伞骨拿些回来。秀嫂在堂屋头敷伞上桐油穿线,一来二去就上了手,“地方不大做不了几把伞”。做好的伞大部分送到分水厂,留下几把把堂屋装饰得漂漂亮亮的, 这是古镇管委的要求,好歹算是个景点。剩几把自己卖,“赚点稀饭钱嘛”,邱哥笑嘻嘻的说。虽然不富裕,日子还算过得清静。
    Qiu cannot make umbrellas. The reason may be that Xiu's father won't teach the craft to someone from outside his family or that Qiu is simply too lazy. He does such odd jobs as buying raw materials, drying umbrellas and delivering goods. Once in a while he goes to Fenshui to fetch lithographed umbrella paper and finished ribs. In the main room, Xiu assembles the umbrellas, coat them with tung woil, and sew them with threads. Practice has made her skillful. "The room is too small to make many umbrellas," she said. Most of the finished products are sent to the factory in Fenshui, and a few are left behind for decoration, making the house look like a tourist attraction, as required by the town's managing committee. They set aside a few to be sold by themselves. "To pay for our rice porridge," said Qiu with a smile. They are not rich, but they lead a peaceful life.
    秋天来了,雨水多,古镇好多天都没见过太阳了。早上起来天还在下着阴雨,秀嫂晓得,敷了伞也很难晾干,会生霉的,干脆把儿子喂饱了,收拾归一,赶出门让他 自己耍,好落得个清闲。邱哥丢下碗筷也不晓得跑哪混去了。秀嫂一个人在家,收拾了碗筷,把堂屋打扫得干干净净,站在天井里头搓起一家人一大堆脏衣服来。
    It rains a lot in autumn here, and the ancient town hadn't seen the sun in days. It was still raining when Xiu got up in the morning. She decided not to assemble any umbrellas, because she knew they would stay damp and mold. She had better feed her son up, clean up the house, and send him outdoors to play by himself, so that she could enjoy the peace. Qiu had left after breakfast, and there's no knowing his whereabouts. Alone at home, Xiu cleared the table and cleaned the main room till it was spick and span. After that, standing in the courtyard, she began to do the family's big heap of laundry.
    快到吃晌午的时候,来尧坝耍的客人上来了,到了秀嫂家,又是拍照又是问这问那。秀嫂赶忙用围裙擦了擦手上的肥皂泡,把散落在额头上的碎发弄巴实,满面笑容上前迎客。
Near lunch time, the visitor to Yaoba arrived. He came to Xiu's house, took photos and asked all kinds of questions. She hastened to wipe the soap bubbles off her hands with her apron, tidied up her hair, and greeted him with a beaming smile.
    “哎呀,好好看哦”,客人赞不绝口,就是没有买的意思。
   Wow, how beautiful they are!" The visitor was profuse in praise, but showed no intention to buy one.
    秀嫂连忙告诉客人,自己做的伞是名师亲传,每把都是亲手做出来的,不像厂里的伞,要经过流水线好多人的手才整得出来一把。秀嫂的活路做得精细,满穿的油纸伞花样也多,那些挂在堂屋上红红绿绿的伞,透过天井洒下来的光线,好斑斓,非常好看。
    She hastened to tell him that she had been taught by a master and had made all the umbrellas by herself, and that they were unlike those produced by a number of workers on an assembly line. Her umbrellas are marked by diversity and great workmanship. The colorful umbrellas hung in the main room made a gorgeous sight in the light from the courtyard.
    秀嫂跟客人说:“国庆节来了好多客人,把我的伞都买完了,这些全是新做的”。放在长条椅上的油纸伞还散着新鲜桐油的香气。撑开一把又一把伞,客人看得很喜 欢,却犹豫着买还是不买。其实伞不贵,没穿线的二三十块钱,半穿的五十八块,满穿的贵些,要一两百。客人犹豫,恐怕是嫌不好带走,拿回家也没个实际用场。 如今的油纸伞,观赏性远远超过了实用价值,要有几份雅兴的人才会收藏几把,拍电影的可以拿去做道具,庆典上也需要一些。
    "A lot of visitors came during the National Day holiday and bought all my umbrellas. All these were newly made," said Xiu to her visitor. The umbrellas on the long chair still smelt of fresh tung oil. The visitor opened one umbrella after another, but still hesitated. In fact they were not expensive: an unsewn one sold for 20 to 30 yuan, a half sewn one for 58, and a fully sewn one for 100 to 200. The reason why he was hesitant may be that he was afraid that the umbrellas would be difficult to carry and prove useless back home. Today, the use of oil paper umbrellas is far more aesthetic than practical. Only those with refined taste may collect a few. Besides, they can be used in movies and at ceremonies.
    “拿一把嘛,撑在屋里头多好看。下雨打出去也很特别的。”客人拗不过,拿了把50多块钱的,看起来也还欢喜,毕竟这油纸伞好看嘛。
    "Take one. It'll look beautiful in your house, and it'll be special if you take it out on a rainy day." Yielding to her insistence, the visitor took one worth over 50 yuan. He liked it, for it was pleasant-looking after all.
秀嫂5岁大的儿子和邱哥不晓得啥时候回来了,坐在门槛上眼巴巴瞅着堂屋里头的秀嫂。街对过饭铺正煮着豆花饭,香气一阵阵飘进门来,油锅里煎的东西滋拉滋拉的响,搞得人肚子咕咕的叫。
  Her husband and her five-year-old son had returned. They were sitting on the threshold and looking eagerly at her. From the restaurant across the street came wafts of the smell of bean curd jelly and the sizzle of something being deep-fried, making their stomachs rumble.
    秀嫂该去整晌午饭吃了。
  It was time for Xiu to make lunch.

Under <wbr>Oil <wbr>Paper <wbr>Umbrellas <wbr>(2)

下期摘要:
    分水街上陈大妹的茶铺有位常客,今年84岁高龄,只要他在茶桌边坐下来泡上一杯盖碗茶,茶客们不分男女老少,就会围在他身边,他就是唐大爷。唐大爷解放前 做中共的地下党,解放后任弥陀第一任区长,是个人称有“宰宰权”的大人物。唐大爷常来的这个茶铺的老板娘陈大妹为人热情厚道,在广东打工十几载,去年回乡 盘下茶铺,最近动了心思,要南下广东与男人和女儿团聚。
他们都是生活在油纸伞下的人。
In the next issue:
    There is an 84-year-old habitué of Chen Damei's teahouse on Fenshui Street. As soon as he sits down by a table and has a cup of tea brewed, patrons of all ages gather around him. He is Mr. Tang. Before 1949 he was an underground agent for the communist party, and after 1949 he was appointed the first district chief of Mituo. He is considered a big shot. Chen Damei, the proprietress of the teahouse that he frequents, is a cordial and honest woman. She had been in Guangdong as a migrant worker for over a decade until last year, when she returned to Fenshui and took over the teahouse. These days, she's thinking about going south to Guangdong to reunite with her husband and daughter.
    They all live under oil paper umbrellas.

Under <wbr>Oil <wbr>Paper <wbr>Umbrellas <wbr>(2)

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