Zhang Ailing
translated by Qiaomei Tang

It is true.

There was a village. There was a girl from a well-to-do family. She was a beauty. Matchmakers came, but none succeeded. She was no more than fifteen or sixteen, when on a spring evening she stood at the back door, resting her arm on a peach tree. She remembers the moon-white dress she wore. The young man living opposite her house had seen her before, but had never greeted her. He approached, stood still before her, and said softly: “Oh, you are here, also?” She said nothing, and he said nothing more. They stood for a while, then each walked away.

Like that, it was over.

Time passed. The girl was abducted by a relative, and would be a concubine in a strange land. Again and again, she was resold. Having endured life’s winds and waves, in her old age she still remembers the scene from long ago. She speaks often of that young man, under that peach tree, at that back door, on that spring evening.

You meet the one you meet amongst thousands and tens of thousands of people, amidst thousands and tens of thousands of years, in the boundless wilderness of time, not a step sooner, not a step later. You chance upon each other, not saying much, only asking softly, “Oh, you are here, also?”

 * *


zhang ailing photoZhang Ailing A novelist, essayist, and screenwriter, Zhang Ailing, also known as Eileen Chang (1920 –1995), one of the most influential modern Chinese writers. Some of her works include the collection Love in a Fallen City; Lust, Caution; The rice-sprout song and The Rouge of the North.
qiaomei.tangQiaomei Tang Qiaomei Tang, a native of Zhejiang, China, is a Ph.D. student at Harvard University where she studies early medieval Chinese poetry and literature, and teaches Chinese language courses. Her dissertation examines the representation of divorced women in early medieval Chinese writings. She most recently translated Chapter 3 of Cambridge History of Chinese Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Published on September 3rd of 2014 in BAR(2), Fiction, Guest Languages.

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