In a continuation of the column 2010 Cinema, this is the third in a series of fictional portraits by Hu Fang, each taking the form of loose screen plays.
As gusts of wind tore at the car’s black waterproofing, evoking a circus tent fluttering above its supports, he felt like an acrobat who spends the whole day walking the tight rope.
The sky abruptly darkened, and his headlights suddenly illuminated the silver sedan ahead, its body flecked with fine beads of water – a girl who has suffered some indignity and just stepped out of the hotel bath.
His destination was the Qili (1) sauna. He needed to sweat out all his poisons in that desolate mist.
At noon the office buildings here abruptly burst with excitement, the young white-collar workers who have been sitting at their desks all morning rising into small groups and heading each to their customary lunch spots. In winter, when there’s also a team for badminton, the atmosphere is just like a university campus. Perhaps, for these young adults, there is little difference between the pressures of the classroom and of the cubicle.
Looking from his window, the activity of the square below appeared in stark contrast to the silent pallor of the office. Starting from early morning, every last item was awaiting his attention, and as fatigue set in, he became less and less certain about the clarity of his decisions.
He decided to go down for lunch; as always the elevator was jammed full with passengers. Thinking, “Nobody realizes how hard I work,” he suddenly developed an intense loathing for the excited and bubbly young people around him.
Exiting with the others into the lobby, he squinted in response to the sunlight and noticed passing before him three girls brimming with social confidence. Among them was one who was not attractive at all; lightly spilling from her mouth came the words, “When ‘ta’ left ‘ta’…” (2) Not knowing why, he felt that “ta” (she) must have left “ta” (him), and that moreover “ta” (she) must be the protagonist of some hit TV drama, otherwise the girls’ expressions would not have been so carefree.
He could not help turning his head and somewhat foolishly gazing after the three as they receded, holding hands, into the backdrop of the building.
He could not tell what had moved him: was it the expression the girl had as she spoke? Or was it when he heard her say that word, “left,” that he suddenly felt so relieved?
“When she left him.” In the sunlight, he found himself silently repeating this stowaway epigram.
A man loses his woman
A mother loses her child
A child loses his/her dog
A cadre loses his/her position
A person loses a limb
“Class struggle is no longer so evident
Life around me is covered in fog”
THE IMAGIST’S MANIFESTO
The coming epoch will allow only one kind of person: the Imagist.
Only through images will there be reality.
The people of the future will replace text with images, thought with images; they will achieve ecstasy through images.
Not having a camera is like breaking my left arm, like cutting out my right eye.
Translated from the Chinese by Andrew Maerkle.
Hu Fang is a fiction writer and co-founder of Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou, as well as The Pavilion/the shop, Beijing. His latest book is the novel Garden of Mirrored Flowers (co-published by Sternberg Press and Vitamin Creative Space).