“今年的暮春和初夏，我是在北京度过的”可译为This year I was in Beijing from late spring to early summer，或This year I spent late spring and early summer in Beijing，或I was in Beijing during the late spring and early summer of this year。
“四十多年来像云烟一般的前尘往事”意即“四十多年来如过眼云烟的往事”或“四十多年来转瞬即逝的往事”，故译为transient （fleeting） events of the past 40 years or so。
“又是在这儿碰到你”意即“真想不到又在这儿碰到你”，故译为Fancy meeting you here again!，其中Fancy作“想不到”解。
“像我这么一大把年纪，距离‘灰飞烟灭’的日子已经不很远”不宜逐字直译，可按“我年老，行将就木”之意译为Being an old man already with one foot in the grave，其中with one foot in the grave或to have one foot in the grave是习语，作“离死不远”解。
“似乎再也没有什么事情需要‘保密’了”译为I felt I no longer had anything to hold back at all，其中to hold back是习语，作“隐瞒”解。此句也可译为I felt I no longer had anything to keep secret at all。
“而且，像这样美好而纯洁的回忆，多让一个朋友知道也未尝不是好事”译为Besides, it might be a good idea to let in one more friend on my sweet and pure memories，其中短语动词to let in … on …作“让某人成为某事的知情人”解。
“我推开门一闪身躲了进去，反手就关上了门”译为so, pushing it open, I slipped in sideways and pulled it to behind me，其中slipped in sideways作“侧身溜进”解，又，pulled it to中的to是副词，作“关上”解。
“我一再推辞，她有点生气了”译为As I declined the offer repeatedly, she became a little put out，其中to be put out是习语，作“生气”解。
“这些都是我应该做的”译为I’ve only done my bit，其中to do one’s bit是习语，作“尽本分”或“做自己应当做的一份工作”解。此句也可译为I’ve only done what I can to help。
Under a Lilac Bush
◎ Huang Qiuyun
This year I was in Beijing from late spring to early summer. Except on windy or rainy days, I would daily walk to Zhongshan Park after supper to idle away the evening hours amidst the purple lilacs. Sitting quietly by myself on a park bench, with the sweet fragrance of lilacs permeating the air around me, I was absorbed in reviewing the transient events of the past 40 years or so. To a lonely and introvert old man like me, the moment of contemplation seemed a rare treat indeed.
Suddenly, a familiar and amiable face appeared before me. He was about my age, and a senior editor with a well-known publishing house.“Hey, Lao Wang,”he addressed me.“Fancy meeting you here again! You seem to have a special liking for purple lilacs.”
“Well, maybe. Their quiet elegance plus a slight touch of melancholy suits my disposition.”
“That perhaps isn’t the only reason!”he added, giving a sly wink.“Something unusual in your past life may have to do with lilacs. For example, when you were young, didn’t you meet a girl as melancholy as a purple lilac?”
Being an old man already with one foot in the grave, I felt I no longer had anything to hold back at all. Besides, it might be a good idea to let in one more friend on my sweet and pure memories. So, as we sat side by side on the park bench, I started talking after a moment of silence. The old man listened attentively.
“It was 44 years ago. As people of about my age may still remember, on March 31, 1936, university and high school students in Peiping held a memorial meeting to mourn their comrade-in-arms Guo Qing, who had died of torture in prison. They then staged a protest march holding aloft the coffined martyr. I too joined about 700 fellow students in the march. On our way from Bei-chi-zi to Nan-chi-zi, we ran into thousands of reactionary soldiers and cops. They fell on us brandishing truncheons, leather-thonged whips and swords. We fought barehanded, trying to ward off attacks with only a few bamboo poles. We were scattered after a violent struggle and more than 50 students were arrested on the spot. In the hot chase that followed, there were two or three cops for each fleeing student. As I ran like crazy with two cops chasing after me, my head was hit by a cop’s baton in the back, causing blood to ooze from my cap and drip all over my sky-blue gown. Fortunately, as a university athlete, I was able to outrun the pursuers and leave them behind in a twinkling by more than 100 meters. After passing through a number of zigzagging lanes, I came to the southern end of Bei-chi-zi where I found a house with its gate left ajar, so, pushing it open, I slipped in sideways and pulled it to behind me. I was then smeared all over with dirt and bloodstains and my face looked ghastly with lots of smudges. The courtyard was clean and quiet without a single soul. It was quite a while before the door curtain was lifted and a gentle girl came out. She was of small stature and had big eyes. She looked my junior by one or two years and was most probably a senior middle school student. She was taken aback by my wretched condition and asked me calmly, ‘What’s the matter? Why, is there anything wrong?’
“‘I’m a student. I was with a student demonstration just now, and got beaten up by cops. They’re hunting about for me. May I hide myself here? If you don’t agree, I go out right away.’
“‘No, you can’t. That would mean throwing yourself into a trap. Now, let me dress your wound first.’ Then she led me into the room. She took out sterilized cotton and ointment, and quickly bandaged my wound with her nimble fingers. Then she cleaned my face with alcohol and said with concern, ‘Does it hurt? Are you all right?’
“I rose and tidied up my clothes, and said, ‘It doesn’t hurt any more. I should be going now.’
“She stopped me, saying, ‘No, you can’t. The police will recognize you. You have to change clothes and put on a felt hat’! She then took out from the wardrobe a blue long gown and an old felt hat and said, ‘They belong to my eldest brother and will fit you nicely because he’s about the same height as you.’
“As I declined the offer repeatedly, she became a little put out and said, ‘Oh, what a bookworm you are! The important thing at this critical moment is to flee for your life, not to stand on ceremony like that.’
“On stepping out of the house, I turned my head to take a look at the house number. Now, under cover of the blue long gown and the felt hat, nobody could recognize me as the injured ‘criminal’ at large. After turning a corner, I arrived at Tsinghua University Alumni Association on Qihelou Street where a school bus took me straight back to the University campus. So I was at last safe and sound.
“Then, after I recovered from my wound, I pondered over returning the blue long gown and the felt hat to the young girl. Should I call on her again? What if it was somebody else than herself that answered the door? So I decided to write her a letter telling her to meet me next Saturday evening under a lilac bush next to Jin-yu-zhai Teahouse in Zhongshan Park so that she could take back the things that I had borrowed from her. I addressed her as ‘Dear Lady’ in the letter without adding my signature because we had failed to ask each other’s name on the previous day owing to the hurry of the moment.
“We at last met under the lilac bush. She came up to me with ease and greeted me with a slight nod.
“I was then a very bashful young chap. I thought it improper to conduct self-introduction between myself and a young girl that was a stranger to me. I said in an agitated tone, ‘Thank you very much for your help. I would have been arrested right outside your gate had it not been for the long gown and hat. I discovered two dark-uniformed bastards keeping watch at your gate.’
“‘Don’t mention it! I’ve only done my bit. You really need not return the junk to me.’
“‘But they belong to your eldest brother.’
“‘Never mind. He seldom wears them. Besides, he, like you, is a patriot, but not as courageous as you.’
“She then handed me a paper-wrapped parcel and said half jokingly,‘Take this — your cotton gown and cap. I’ve washed off all the bloodstains. What a pity I’ve destroyed the evidence of a hero’s blood’!
“‘In fact you don’t have to return them to me. Isn’t it a good idea for you to have my bloodstained garment as a keepsake?’
“She went on with a naïve smile, ‘Where could I keep them? What could I say in case my folks should ask? Now, this is something between you and me! My dad is an honest guy. He teaches at a middle school. He’s timid and overcautious. Suppose he should know of it …’
“She gave me a silent stare like she wanted to bear in mind my facial features. Then she said, ‘If that’s all, I must say goodbye now.’ We parted by touching each other’s fingertips casually instead of with a handshake. When she was a few steps away, she abruptly turned round to give me a look like she was reluctant to leave me. Soon her slender and graceful figure was lost in the deepening dusk and among the flourishing lilacs. I suddenly felt like rushing ahead to have a few more words with her, at least to find out her name. But I restrained myself painfully because I didn’t want to get her involved. I was still in danger of being arrested at any moment.
“That’s all there’s to it. Strictly, it wasn’t love, nor was it ordinary friendship. There was a bit more to it. It was revolutionary friendship, or a bond of comradeship forged by common suffering and unswerving faith. In short, it was something of the greatest value in the world. Now, after more than 40 years, the sight of sweet-smelling lilacs still always reminds me of the said event and person. And I will feel as if I saw her figure disappearing among the lilac bushes and hear the light footsteps she made at the moment when she was leaving me.”
After hearing out my story, the old gentleman said with strong feeling,“Our life, like a river, sometimes joins another river only to separate again, thus leaving certain emotional ripples lingering in our mind … faint and unforgettable! Oh, no wonder you’ve a special liking for purplish lilacs. But you’re really an eccentric old man. You still keep under your graying hair an emotion as intense as that of a 20-year-old young chap. Such a man as you can never be happy.”