Wang Xiaobo's Golden Age: First Chapter (blurb), Cindy

By Cindy M. Carter, published August 9, 2007, 10:05a.m.

I'm blowing off deadlines left and right, so don't have time to do a full translation of this chapter. Even though I'm not really in the game, just wanted to toss in a few low-denomination chips and support the translation of this tremendously influential and unfairly neglected Chinese author....long live Wang Xiaobo! And wansui to Brendan, Eric and Feng37 for bringing his words to life.

Her reasoning went like this: although everyone said that she was a slut, Chen Qingyang felt that she was not, because to be a slut you had to sleep around, and she had never slept around. Although her husband had been in jail for over a year, she had never slept around in his absence, nor had she slept around prior to his imprisonment. For this reason, Chen Qingyang simply couldn't understand why people insisted on calling her a slut.

I was twenty-one at the time, stationed with a production brigade down in Yunnan Province. Chen Qingyang was a twenty-six-year-old female doctor working nearby. She was up the mountain with the No. 15 brigade; I was down the mountain with the No. 14. One day she came down the mountain to discuss with me the reasons she was not a "sloppy slipper" (i.e., a slut). At the time, I hardly knew her. You could say we were barely acquainted, except by reputation. Her reasoning went like this: although everyone said that she was a slut, Chen Qingyang felt that she was not, because to be a slut you had to sleep around, and she had never slept around. Although her husband had been in jail for over a year, she had never slept around in his absence, nor had she slept around prior to his imprisonment. For this reason, Chen Qingyang simply couldn't understand why people insisted on calling her a slut. Now, had I wanted to comfort her, it wouldn't have been at all difficult. Had I wanted to make her feel better, I could have provided simple logical proof that she was not a slut. If Chen Qingyang were indeed a slut - that is, if she had slept around - then it stood to reason that there was at least one other person involved. And since that person had not yet come forward or been identified, all allegations of sluttiness were baseless. But instead, I said the exact opposite. I told Chen Qingyang that she was, beyond all shadow of a doubt, a horrible slut.

Chen Qingyang sought me out as witness to her chastity because I had once come to her for an injection. The events transpired as follows: during a recent planting season, our brigade leader had assigned me to transplant seedlings rather than plow the fields, and so I was forced to spend most of my time bending from the waist. Now, as most anyone who knows me can attest, I stand six foot two inches tall and then some. As if that weren't enough, I suffer from an old back injury. After about a month of work transplanting seedlings, my lower back was in agony and I could hardly sleep without an injection of some sort. But the only needle still in service at our brigade clinic had begun to corrode and peel, its metal plating so curled back upon itself that it snagged my skin like a clawed fishing hook. After a few injections at the No. 14 clinic, my lower back looked like it had been hit by shrapnel, or buckshot, and the wounds refused to heal. In the midst of this dilemma, I remembered that Doctor Chen Qingyang of the No. 15 Brigade had graduated from Beijing Medical College. Surely, I thought, she must have the training to distinguish between a syringe needle and a crocheting hook. So it was that I sought her medical advice, and so it was that - not half an hour later - she showed up in my quarters seeking testimony in the matter of whether she was or was not a slut...

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