Miscellaneous notes on Rwanda

Hyacinth beans are ripe
But no-one is there to pick them.
The breeze is drunk
But who is there to lean against?
Things in nature
Come and go naturally

No need
For a rose
To thank
Or rain

Miscellaneous notes on Ruanda (1)
1. Armadu
Armadu he's so fat
He's got the beer belly
But I'm sure not from drinking beer

Armadu he's so poor
That he can't afford the beer
He straddles his taxi on a ride

Armadu he's so black
I'm only saying that he's naturally black
Strongly black, good-heartedly black

Armadu he's so white
His teeth shining white
Like a row of fluorescent lamps by broad daylight

Fatty Armadu
His belly like
A huge sack his body can't support

Poor Armadu
His sixth son is crying, 'Daddy'
As his wife is pregnant with his seventh

Blackman Armadu
He drove for the construction company
He spoke Mandarin with a north-eastern accent

Armadu, ah, Armadu
He 'ha-ha's as soon as he starts talking
He laughs: ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ...

Armadu, ah, Armadu
He rides his bike like a taxi
He's leaning against the wall, having nothing to do

As soon as he sees me, he strides up
Towards me. We raise our right hands
As they hit in the air with a 'flap'!

Then he laughs out loud
Who knows what he is laughing about?
Shaking the tiny supermarket next door this way and that

Every time, looking at him laughing loudly
I thought to myself:
Armadu's belly must be full of a poor man's joy.

What kind of future
What kind of insomnia is it
That steeled your heart to a union with me?
What kind of disease is it that physically
Destroyed me and helped me see the future through?

'We have been in love for so many years ...'
You said, sounding like a bud just pinched

Days like ellipsis dots. Pleasure
In pain. Two raw eggs for a roll
Of jianbing guozi*. Running up to the 14th floor at one go ...
A burning heart keeping the northwesterly outside the body.

'You'll see what I mean in the future ...'
I said, foreshadowing our lives.

Days patching days up. Bickering
And brabbling, nothing really matters. In the scabbed
Hearts blood running as joyfully ...
Two leaves fallen to the ground finding it hard to take root.

'Future after future…'
And you, are working out how to meet it

But what kind of future is that, if it makes me
Jumpy, and sleepless?
And what kind of future is that, if it makes you
Sun yourself on one side as the other side goes paralytic?

'I now see what you meant then ...'
The tree's hair, close to turning grey.

*A breakfast item consisting of thin pancake rolls with fried dough sticks and eggs in them, popular in Beijing, originally introduced from Tianjin in the 1980s.

Shu Cai graduated with a BA in the French Department, Beijing Foreign Languages University, worked as a diplomat in Africa, and is now working at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. His work has been collected in scores of Chinese poetry collections and has been translated into French. He is also an editor and translator.

Translated into English from Chinese by Ouyang Yu. 

Topic tags: Ouyang Yu, Shu Cai, nature, rwanda, ruanda, Armadu



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