Tragic Life

(This is my translation of the Chinese piece, 悲剧人生)

Strolling in the late night, on the boulevard, except for a touch of cars occasionally flying past, it is difficult to spot anything else. My heart beats in such tranquility, as if I were destined to walk alone upon this endless road.

All the wandering is tiring me out. Sitting beneath a faint street light, in a trance I feel as if I have returned to the past, under the same street lamp. Absentmindedly I stood, not knowing the path that lied before me after leaving home; not knowing, without my parents’ love and support, if I could still stand up; not knowing, if it was all worth it -- for him. But, there was no regret, because, it was all for him -- a man who made me promises that he did not keep.

My thoughts continue to drift, taking me back to our good times. Under the dim lights in the pub, I quietly gazed at the performing pianist. His voice was light and clear, There was happiness within, and seemingly a touch of sorrow. Here, there were people of all walks of life. They were all tending to their affairs. It seemed that no one was really listening to his singing, which to most was perhaps no more than a certain ambience, a series of sounds to occupy the ears. He did not seem bothered by such an audience. Occasionally, he'd look up and smile at me, ever so lightly, sending a message that only I could understand. That fading smile was my only support, because I had lost everything -- for him. I left my parents, left school, left everyone around me. Except him, I had nothing. But I never held any regret.

Powerless, I sit beneath the street lamp. The road before my eyes seems to have unwound to its end. By my ears his voice rings: “Someone will like my songs. I will not make you regret!” I smiled weakly, and firmly held his hand, resting my head on his shoulder. He understood the whispers of my heart. I would never look back. Since he took my hand, and brought me away from underneath this street lamp, I had decided to remove regret from my list of words. From that moment on, I knew, I would always hold on to that hand, forever and wherever, till the four corners of the earth.

This night, it is really turning very cold. The wind blows; it blows onto my body which has lost all its senses. I smile candidly, as if mocking the ignorance of this wind that continues to blow upon this senseless body without spirit. I don’t know where I should go. I dare not go back to that empty room. I fear remembering, fear thinking of him. There, our fragrant liveliness remains. There, memories of our sweetness still hold. On the balcony, I cuddled up in his arms to watch the sun set. Quietly I curled in his embrace to hide from the landlord who pressed for overdue rental. And, we wiped the furniture hand in hand...

Finally, he met someone who understood his music. I had never seen him so excited. Like a child, he gave me a big
silly smile. He held onto my hand: “I almost could not go on. I told you that I would not make you regret. But day in and day out, looking at you rushing through life in such hardship, I really thought I could not go on. Now, I want to make my promise come true.” I smiled. I saw such a bright future that awaited us. We gave all our savings to the person who understood his music. Then and there, we really saw a future. We saw that we would never again have to endure hunger, never again be expelled. It was then that we realized, that our wish had been so simple, but which brought us so much happiness that it was beyond expression.

My heart is so cold. On the boulevard, even the touch of cars seemed to have gone home. I smile, and continue to smile, smiling with tears trickling down, smiling until I become weak, until I fall down alongside the lamp post. I don't want to get up. I just want to lie like this, and never get up again. My eyes look into the sky. The sky above the city is so turbid that I cannot see a single star. Even the moonlight comes and goes. Absently I close my eyes, and I see him again. That day, the man who had never given me a flower came home with a bundle of lilies in his hands, all smiles. I smiled too, not knowing the reason behind the gift. But I vaguely felt that his smile was making me uneasy.

"Since the day I saw you, I had always felt that you were like lilies, lilies of the night, pure and full of vitality. I admire your persistence and strong will. That’s something I don't have. If not for you, I could not have lasted!” I smiled gently, embracing him. When I was placing the flowers into the vase, he went away. I ran after him to ask where he was headed, but he was no where to be found. Suddenly, Suddenly, fear came upon my heart like never before. I froze before the door, waiting for him to return.

A thud surged through air. Before I could understood what was happening, he had already drifted down from the top of the building, ending his life.

He only left me this letter:

"I've never told you that I love you. I’m sorry. It was because I wanted to wait until I had what it takes, before I could speak those words to you. I thought that moment was finally about to arrive. But, I was wrong. He deceived us of all our money. Everything is gone, my dream, our dream, my future, and ours. I’m really not as strong as you. Before you came along, I had wanted to end my life countless times. But when I saw you giving up everything for me, and facing everything with me, with such optimism, such determination, I firmly believed that I was going to give you a future, a bright future, and I was not going to allow anything to take away your smiles.

"But now, everything is gone. I’m a coward! Why did you choose me? Why did you? You are like a lily of the night, gentle and persistent. But me, I’m like a dandelion, not belonging to this world, always hoping to fly away, and in the end falling to the earth. Do you know? Every time you listened to my songs at the bar, such a thrill would come over me. I know that you understand my songs. Every time I spoke, you’d smile calmly at me. That’s my favorite smile. In this world, I only have you. You came by the side of an orphan, to protect the soul of one who was weak. You know, I really have so much to tell you, but I just don't know how to express myself.

"How I wanted to give you a bright future. How I wanted to give you everything that draws everyone's envy. How I wanted, wanted... too must, just too much. Now, I can no longer achieve anything.  I no longer want to see you endure hunger. I no longer want to see you rush about life in distress. I no longer want to see your thinning figure. I can no longer take it. The man who
claimed to understand my music, has completely defeated me. He took my all, including my life.

"I really wanted my promise to come true for you. I was going to give you so much...

"Forgive me! I love you!!!!!!"

Thus selfishly, he abandoned me, leaving me alone in this boundless world, leaving behind a shell without a spirit. I lie in the dim light beneath the street lamp, while taking that letter out of my pocket. Slowly I am tearing it apart, piece by piece, and watch as they drift away in the wind. I admire these slivers. They look so serene and pretty as they slowly drift away with the wind.

The night is so quiet. I don't want it to be that quiet. I start to hum: “I will bring myself under control. I don’t want to let anyone see my tears. My heart aches so much I can no longer go on. How can I find a reason to be strong, when I can no longer feel your warmth and gentleness?"

I gather all my strength, and shout into the sky: “I love you! I love you!! I... love... you!!!” Finally I am done, having lost all my strength. The sky begins to clear up, and a star finally comes out. My body seems to drift up, as if I'm about to catch that star. I smile calmly -- that, is his favorite smile.

Hazily I seem to meet an angel. I take my smile and follow his steps. “Wait for me!... Here I come... !!!”



Tai Meng | 孟泰 | Last Updated: May 12, 2019