Translation Tuesday: Cry Me A Sad River Pt. 2


In just a hour, her father told her, “don’t come to look for me again.”
Her mother told her, ” After you die, don’t come looking for me.”
Yi Yao patted her stomach and asked, “are you stupid? why did you come looking for me?”

Part 2 of translations of selected parts of Cry Me a Sad River 悲伤逆流成河 by Guo Jingming. Part 1 here.  Both translations were done like five years ago, so don’t judge, but feel free to comment on errors.


Qi Ming stood in front of her. The streetlight in front shined perfectly on his face. He rubbed the already red eyes. He said, “Yi Yao, I don’t believe what they said. I don’t believe it.”
As if someone turned the switch in the darkness, the tears rolled out without obstruction.
“You clearly believed it!” She dragged out her backpack from the bicycle basket and threw it toward Qi Ming.
Pencil case, textbook, notebook, cellphone, they all came out from the bag and fell on Qi Ming’s body. A pen slashed across his face, immediately leaving a line of blood.
Qi Ming didn’t move.
“You did believe it!”  Another item was thrown.
“You believed it…” Another and another, until there was only an empty backpack. The texture of the cotton softly hit his body. Qi Ming stood without moving, but felt like it was even more painful than before.
Again and again, the backpack hits his body.
It was as if something poked a hole in his body, and all his energy was slowly leaking through.
Yi Yao fell on the ground. Even her cries are stifled, leaving only her shoulders shaking up and down.
Qi Ming kneeled and held her, pulling her into his embrace.
Like hugging an deflated doll.
“Why don’t you buy me, give me money … I’ll sleep with you.”
“I’ll go to bed with you, as long as you give me money.”
Every tear-ridden sentence was like a sharp dagger thrusting straight into Qi Ming’s chest.
She said, “I’m not the same as my mom! Don’t think I’m mom!”
“I’m not the same as my mom!”
Qi Ming nodded hard.
The street lamps opened. The black shadows of the youth was like the spread of the dark night. On the handsome face, the blood has already hardened.
Lying on the ground all over the place, the pencil case, pens, textbooks were like separated pieces.
Did someone break a doll?
Inside the Nongtang, Lin Fenghua stood motionlessly in the darkness.
Every sentence of “I’m not the same as my mom!” sucked away the oxygen around her.
She put her hands to her chest. Her heart felt as if it were being thrusted with a handful of ice, freezing in pain.
Like when she suddenly bites a mouthful of ice cream in the summer, and then has to spit it out because it was freezing.
But how can you spit out the ice in the heart?

When Yi Yao was small, once, the teacher gave them a very difficult math problem. Yi Yao was the only one in the entire class to get it. Yi Yao happily went home. Although she was going to gloat to her father, out of the childish prank wish, Yi Yao made up a lie. She took that problem, and told her father, “dad, I don’t know how to do this problem. Will you teach me?”
As if to prove she’s smarter than her father, or only to show her father how smart she is.
That night, her father worked on that problem. Even when Yi Yao woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, her father was still sitting next to the desk, working in his reading glasses. That was the first time Yi Yao saw him in his reading glasses. Yi Yao suddenly cried. She thought she saw her father growing old. She’s afraid her father would one day be old. He can’t be old, he’s her hero.
Yi Yao stood at the door crying. Her father came over, took off his glasses, and hugged her. His arms were still strong. Her father said, “Yaoyao, dad solved that problem, I’ll explain it to you tomorrow. Be a good girl and go to sleep.”
Still with tears in her eyes, Yi Yao thought her father would always be a hero.

Standing in the dark, Yi Yao squeezed the 400 yuan in her hands.
The lights on th path shined the shadow on the ground.
Yi Yao pushed her hair back behind her ears and rose her head. She said, “Dad, I’m leaving. I’ll pay you back as soon as possible.”
She turned around and pushed her bike. The tears fell on the first step.
“Yi Yao,” Behind her, her father stopped her.
Yi Yao turned around, looking at her father, standing facing the light. “Dad?”
“If you don’t have anything else, don’t come for me again. Your Auntie Liu won’t be happy… after all, I have my own family now. If you need to find me, call me.”
Silence wrapped around her.
A few snowflakes fell on her head.
Could anything worse happen? Why don’t all the bad luck just all come at once.
This time, even the tears won’t come out. The eyes were like an empty well. She almost want to push in a ball of snow so that it’ll melt and wash out  the sorrow.

In 6th grade, there was a yangrouchuan’r stand outside of school. A man wearing an Uyghur hat was there everyday.
At that time, everyone in the school went to eat there, but Yi Yao didn’t.
Yi Yao had no allowance.
But she wouldn’t ask mother for any, neither.
Later one day, she found five yuan on the ground, waited until everyone in the school left, and then secretly went to buy five yangrouchuan’r.
After taking the first bite, she covered her mouth and cried.
This event had originally been lost in her memories for a long time. But on the road home, she remembered it again. The feeling she felt that day came at her like a tsunami.
The snowflakes in the sky became larger and larger, and soon the world was white.
Yi Yao couldn’t help but increasing her speed; the bike sled in the snow, going crookedly in the direction of home.
On her face was either snow or tears, but either way, it was dirty. Yi Yao reached up to wipe it off, and felt it sticky and slimy.
She dropped her bike at the door of the courtyard, and ran toward home.
The freezing hands found the keys, put it in the whole and opened the door. The room was pitch black.
Yi Yao let out a sigh of relief, turned around and closed the door, turned back around. In the darkness, a sudden slap loudly hit her face.
“You still know to come back? Why don’t you die outside?”

In the dark, Yi Yao didn’t move and made no sound.
Lin Huafeng turned on the lights. In the light, the red fingerprints on Yi Yao’s face wavered in the iris.
“Are you mute? Speak!” Another slap.
Yi Yao lost her balance, and fell toward the other side of the door.
After a few moments, Yi Yao’s shoulders moved. She said, “Mom, if I’m ever missing, will you go to look for me?”
She still didn’t move.
“Look for you?” Lin Huafeng’s voice raised an octave, ” You might as well as die outside, and I won’t care at all. After you die, don’t come looking for me.”
A heart shattered.
In just a hour, her father told her, “don’t come to look for me again.”
Mother told her, ” After you die, don’t come looking for me.”
Yi Yao patted her stomach and asked, “are you stupid? why did you come looking for me?”

“Hey, for you.”
Under the light, the boy’s face was one of a complete stranger.
Yi Yao tightly grasped her broomstick, faced him and was silent.
The sunset shone through the windows in the hallway. After a few reflections in the stairways, the light slowly turned into soft liquids, collecting in Yi Yao’s gradually reddening eyes.
Yi Yao held on tighter.
“What do you mean? Yi Yao grabbed the groomstick and stood in front of him.”
“Nothing … they said I could give you money…” the boy lowered his eyes, his hands frozen in the air. His white shirt showed through his school uniform. It was extra clean, with not a bit of dirtiness.
“What do you mean?,” Yi Yao opened her eyes as large as possible. She didn’t want to break, she didn’t want to blink and let out the stinging tears.
“They said if I gave you money, you would …” the boy lowered his head, and said nothing more.
“sleep?” Yi Yao raised her head and asked.
The boy didn’t say anything, and neither shook nor nodded his head.

“Who told you?” Yi Yao breathed in, speaking in a more relaxed manner.
The boy slightly raised his head. The light showed half of his face. He bit his lips, and shook his head.
“It’s okay, tell me,” Yi Yao took the a hundred yuan from his hands, “I made an agreement with them. If they introduce clients to me, I’ll give them a share of the profits.”
The boy raised his head, a shocked face entered Yi Yao’s eyesight.
Some flowers become shriveled powders in the blight of the winter.
People will watch this seemingly slow but infinitely fast approaching process. From the original fragrance and bloom, to the fallen petals, to dust that others step on.
People will forget the once beautiful, and then without any concerns, step on the once beauty that blossomed up in the wind.

“…it’s your good friend Tang Xiaomi. She said you’re actually very pitiful. I didn’t believe her at first …”
“…and now, do you believe it?”

“Yi Yao looked down, and slowly gave back the crumpled pink bill back to the boy.
She picked up the broomstick, and walked to the classrooms upstairs.
She turned around and looked at the stranger’s face in the sunset. She said, “Whether you believe it or not, I really didn’t.”
Yi Yao turned again and hurried her steps upstairs. Behind came the boy’s low voice, “Hey, my name is Gu Senxin. I really didn’t give you money because …”
Yi Yao didn’t wait for him to finish. She turned, and kicked the trashcan in his direction.
The plastic trash can rolled down the stairs. Countless pieces of papers and plastic bags flew out, covering the entire stairwell. The boy moved to the side and avoided the trash can that was aimed at him.
When he looked back, there was no one left in the stairwell.
The light flooded in from the windows on top of the stairwell.
He stood a bit, then bent over, picked up the waste papers one by one, put back the trash can, and then put the waste back in the can.


With her eyes closed, Yi Yao can still see Tang Xiaomi’s concerned  face in the eyes of her classmates as she smudged Yi Yao’s name as a “friend”.
“We should feel sorry for her…” “She probably does it for a good reason, maybe it’s her family…”
“She definitely doesn’t want to do this, neither …”
Among a crowd of boys smirking for all types of reasons, Tang Xiaomi sketched out her tragic story.
The classroom was empty. Everyone had gone home.
Yi Yao walked to her seat, and realized that her backpack was missing.
The empty drawer was wide open, like a mocking smile.
Yi Yao dropped her head and silently cried. She used her sleeves to wipe off the tears, and found her sleeves full of dust.

The area behind the school is rarely visited.
Wild weeds grew everywhere Even in the winter, they have no sign of dying. Soft, hard, with spikes, with flowers, all types of weeds filled the area outside.
Yi Yao looked everywhere – the track field, the gym, the basketball field, the cafeteria – but she couldn’t find anything.
The backpack had nothing of value. It wouldn’t just disappear.
When she heard sounds of footsteps in the weeds behind her, Yi Yao turned around to see Gu Senxi.
Yi Yao clapped her hands to get rid of the dirt, and asked, “Why are you following me?”
Gu Senxi blushed. With a hand on the backpack strap on his shoulder, he looked at Yi Yao and said, ” I wanted to tell you, that’s not what I meant.”
Yi Yao squinted her eyes, and said, “Mean what?”
Gu Senxi’s face blushed even harder. “For you to …”
“Sleep with you?” Yi Yao brushed off  the topic,” It’s okay. I don’t care. I don’t have time to know what you mean.”
Yi Yao turned to get back to school. When she turned around the corner, she saw that in the abandoned fountain behind the school floated her textbooks. Her backpacks hung on top of the statue, and its contents fell in the water.
The sunshine wavered back and force on the water surface.
The water in the fountain haven’t been cleaned in a long time. Green algae and white plastic lunchboxes filled the pool. Stench floated on the surface.
Yi Yao stood a while, then took off her shoes and socks, rolled her pants up, and walked into the fountain.
The water was deeper than she thought. She had thought it would only reach her above her feet, but the moment the water went  to her thighs, it was too late for Yi Yao to go back. Following the slimy algae below her feet, her whole body turned backwards as she slipped.

At that time, I only felt the water going into my ears and noses, and the putrid stink that was swallowing me. I couldn’t even feel the freezing cold.
At that time, I heard Gu Senxi’s call, and thought it was yours.
At that time, I thought for a second, if I died like this, it’ll be okay.

A long time ago, in Yi Yao’s memories, the fountain was still very pretty. At that time, she had just entered school. The school’s front doors were still being fixed, so all the students entered from this back door.
During that time, the fountain would have pretty displays everyday. Girls and boys sat around the fountain to lunch. From the plant in the middle of the fountain would fall pastel green and pink flower buds, floating on the water surface and being eaten by the red fishes in the water.
Later, the front door finished construction, and all the students entered that way. Slowly, no one ever came to this former door anymore.
That winter, when the last student stopped  throwing bread crumbs into the pool,  the last fish in the pool slowly floated onto the surface, its white stomach shining a shade of green under the sunlight.
Yi Yao took off her jacket and squeezed the water out of it. Her clothes are almost all soaked.
Two puddles immediately formed under her feet, and Yi Yao raised her hand to wipe off the water on her face.
She turned around, and saw Gu Senxi, his pants rolled up, his firm thighs soaked in the black pool water.
He picked up the last book, shook it, opened it, and then put it at the edge of the pool to dry. Then he came out of the pool.
Yi Yao didn’t care about Gu Senxi standing behind her. She grabbed the pile of wet books, and started to leave the school. As she was about to exit the school door, Yi Yao raised her head and saw Qi Ming.
In her mind flashed back that text in her cellphone like captions
–“The teacher asked me to stay after school. I can’t wait for you today. You go home first.”
In the background was the silhouette  of Qi Ming and a girl walking together. The two pushed their bikes very, very slowly, Qi Ming’s face was facing the girl, her hair blown apart by the wind. In Qi Ming’s back seat was a very intricately wrapped gift box. It’s hard to guess whether it’s ready to be given, or just received.
But perhaps that’s no longer important.
Yi Yao walked behind them at the same slow speed.
The wind blew on her. The clothes touching the skin spread a wet freeze around her, but she seems to have already lost the feeling of coldness.
She could only feel that the hands hugging the books are too tight, giving her a stream of sore pain.

2 thoughts on “Translation Tuesday: Cry Me A Sad River Pt. 2

Leave a Reply