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《没有“中国制造”的一年》第六章:发明之母 (三)

(2011-06-07 10:40:49)









分类: 胡译赏析

《没有“中国制造”的一年》第六章:发明之母 <wbr>(三)

                                              A Year without Made in China

Sara Bongiorni



                                      胡宗锋  苦丁  (译)

                                                   Chapter Six       Mothers of Invention

                                                        第六章             发明之母(三)

     In any case, these are not problems without solutions, even with the limits imposed by the boycott. I can read books instead of watching mind-rotting television, for instance.The children are almost assured of becoming brilliant if I deprive them of the tube and read to them instead.The lack of a working stereo is equally unproblematic.We can listen to music while we are in the car. At home, the children can continue to destroy the springs of the sofa with silent bouncing.They may not be having as much fun as they did when “Jingle Bell Rock” rattled the walls, but technically they are not being harmed, either.The broken vacuum is the least of my worries. I can sweep the floors, a time-saver, really, since I’d be getting a workout in the process of cleaning the house.And margaritas can be made on the rocks.


      The year is nearly half over. I can survive without all these things. Most of the world survives without them every day. It’s only in my spoiled American reality that life without these things becomes in any way problematic. Honestly, how hard could it be to live without a television, a stereo, a vacuum cleaner, or a blender? Not too hard, I conclude. Then I think that maybe that’s not the right question. A better question might be: How hard would it be to live with Kevin without these things?


Like his father,Wes sees little virtue in a China boycott. “Do we not like China?” he asks me one day.

I am alarmed by the question.

“Yes, we like China,” I tell him.

He presses on.

“Are they not nice to people?”

“They are perfectly good people in China,” I assure him.“No different than people anywhere else.”

“Then how come we don’t buy China things?” he asks.








       We’ve been over this territory before but I stumble every time. Many days I can’t quite remember myself why we are doing this, so to explain it in a way that makes sense to a four-year-old is beyond my abilities. Still, I suppose it’s my duty to try.

     “We like China, but it’s a very big place, with lots of factories, and we want to give other countries a chance to sell us things,” I say.

       我们以前也谈到过这样的话题,每次我都是结巴着敷衍。很多时候,我总是想不起来我们为什么要这么做,所以要让一个4岁的小孩理解我的解释更加困难 。但我觉得我有责任一试。


       He looks at me in silence, nose scrunched up and eyes squinty, fingers squeezed hard around his peanut butter sandwich. For a moment I imagine that I have pushed aside the haze of his tender understanding of the world. I picture a thought bubble above his little head. “Oh, I see,” it says inside the bubble,“a fairer world, where everybody gets to do a little business, and oversized steamrollers, like China and America, don’t smash everybody up.”

       他看着我不做声,皱着鼻子,眼睛斜视,拿着花生酱三明治的双手使劲绞在一起。有那么一刻,我幻想自己已经把他对世界脆弱认知的迷雾拨开了,想象着他的小脑袋有点开窍了。 “哦,明白了。”他的小脑袋里会想,“世界要公平,每个人都有生意,像美国和中国那样的超大压路机,就不会压别人了。”

Wes brings me back to earth.

“Do light swords come from China?” he asks. “Tyler has a light sword. I want one for Christmas. I know Santa is going to bring me one.”



       I look at him in silence. I don’t have the heart to tell him that light swords come from China. I haven’t checked for sure, but by this point I don’t have to. And who knows? The Christmas shopping season is months away. Maybe by then a factory in Vietnam or Cambodia will start turning out light swords and shipping them to wholesale toy distributors in places like Texas and California and they will eventually end up on store shelves in our neighborhood. I realize the odds are long, but it could happen. Stranger things have.


       “Put it on your list for Santa,”I tell Wes.“We’ll see what he thinks. But keep in mind that the list to Santa is only a suggestion list.There’s no such thing as a sure bet at Christmas.”

 Wes pauses over his sandwich. His eyes reproach me for my scant faith in the magic of Christmas.

“But Mama,”he says,“I know Santa is going to get me one.”




       A mouse has moved in under the kitchen sink, a development that at first seems unconnected to the China boycott. My mother, who is visiting from California, is the first to spot it. The mouse leaps out of the trash can and skitters into the darkness after she opens the cupboard to throw something away. She slams the door shut and spends the afternoon with a nervous eye in that direction.

“I got a good look,” she tells me. “There was no mistaking it for something else.”



       It could be worse—it could be a rat—but the news isn’t good. Kevin isn’t due back from France for two weeks. I will have to deal with the mouse myself. I am filled with dread at the thought of what lies ahead.There is even a slight feeling of betrayal. Ours is in many ways a traditional marriage. I send the Christmas cards, remember birthdays, and choose the paint colors. Kevin works the barbeque, sweats over blocked pipes, and deals with vermin and anything dead lodged under the house.This division of matrimonial duties is instinctive and unspoken. Pest control falls clearly within the bounds of Kevin’s obligations, yet he is thousands of miles and two weeks away from the kitchen cupboard and the mouse within. I have no choice. I will tackle Kevin’s job and deal with the intruder.


        Or will I? I am gripped by a sense of urgency when my mother first tells me about the mouse, but then it occurs to me that maybe it was a one-time occurrence, never to be repeated. Maybe my mother gave that mouse such a fright when she slammed the cupboard door that it fled the premises for good in search of safer terrain. Or maybe I can keep the house so clean that there’s nothing to keep it hanging around here. If I put every speck of food in the refrigerator and tackle the floors with broom and mop like my life depended on it, maybe I can deprive the mouse of so much as a stale, forgotten Cheerio to sustain it. I haven’t heard of these methods working for others, but you never know.And maybe the situation isn’t as urgent as it seems. If I put my mind to it, perhaps I could live with a mouse in the house for two weeks, if the mouse is reasonable and stays out of my way. We could each pretend we didn’t know about the other and carry on until Kevin gets back and takes charge of the situation.




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