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英语美文欣赏:国境以南,太阳以西

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  摘要:我很快习惯了同她单独在一起。那是全新的体验。同她在一起,我没有同别的女孩子在一起时那种心神不定的感觉。我喜欢同她搭伴走路回家。岛本轻轻拖着左腿行走,途中有时在公园长椅上休息一会儿,但我从未觉得这有什么妨碍,反倒为多花时间感到快乐。

  In the six years I went to elementary school, I met just one other only child. So I rememberher (yes, it was a girl) very well. I got to know her well, and we talked about all sorts of things.We understood each other. You could even say I loved her.

  Her last name was Shimamoto. Soon after she was born, she came down with polio, whichmade her drag her left leg. On top of that, she’d transferred to our school at the end of fifthgrade. Compared to me, then, she had a terrible load of psychological baggage to strugglewith. This baggage, though, only made her a tougher, more self-possessed only child than Icould ever have been. She never whined or complained, never gave any indication of theannoyance she must have felt at times. No matter what happened, she’d manage a smile. Theworse things got, in fact, the broader her smile became. I loved her smile. It soothed me,encouraged me. It’ll be all right her smile told me. Just hang in there, and everything will turnout okay. Years later, whenever I thought of her, it was her smile that came to mind first.

  小学六年时间我只遇上一个独生子,所以对她(是的,是女孩儿)记得十分真切。我和她成了好朋友,两人无话不谈,说是息息相通也未尝不可。我甚至对她怀有了爱情。

  她姓岛本,同是独生子。由于出生不久便得了小儿麻痹,左腿有一点点跛,并且是转校生(岛本来我们班是五年级快结束的时候)。这样,可以说她背负着很大的——大得与我无法相比的——精神压力。但是,也正因为背负着格外大的压力,她要比我坚强得多,自律得多,在任何人面前都不叫苦示弱。不仅口头上,脸上也是如此。即使事情令人不快,脸上也总是带着微笑。甚至可以说越是事情令人不快,她越是面带微笑。那微笑实在妙不可言,我从中得到了不少安慰和鼓励。“没关系的,”那微笑像是在说,“不怕的,忍一忍就过去了。”由于这个缘故,以后每想起岛本的面容,便想起那微笑。

  Shimamoto always got good grades and was kind to everyone. People respected her. We wereboth only children, but in this sense she and I were different. This doesn’t mean, though, thatall our classmates liked her. No one teased her or made fun of her, but except for me, she hadno real friends.

  岛本学习成绩好,对别人大体公平而亲切,所以在班上她常被人高看一眼。在这个意义上,虽说她也是独生子,却跟我大不一样。不过若说她无条件地得到所有同学喜欢,那也未必。大家固然不欺负她不取笑她,但除了我,能称为朋友的人在她是一个也没有。

  She was probably too cool, too self-possessed. Some of our classmates must have thought hercold and haughty. But I detected something else- something warm and fragile just below thesurface. Something very much like a child playing hide-and-seek, hidden deep within her, yethoping to be found.

  想必对他们来说,她是过于冷静而又自律了,可能有人还视之为冷淡和傲慢。但是我可以感觉出岛本在外表下潜伏的某种温情和脆弱——如同藏猫猫的小孩子,尽管躲在深处,却又希求迟早给人瞧见。有时我可以从她的话语和表情中一晃儿认出这样的影子。

  Because her father was transferred a lot, Shimamoto had attended quite a few schools. I can’trecall what her father did. Once, she explained to me in detail what he did, but as with mostkids, it went in one ear and out the other. I seem to recall some professional job connectedwith a bank or tax office or something. She lived in company housing, but the house was largerthan normal, a Western-style house with a low solid stone wall surrounding it. Above the wallwas an evergreen hedge, and through gaps in the hedge you could catch a glimpse of agarden with a lawn.

  由于父亲工作的关系,岛本不知转了多少次校。她父亲做什么工作,我记不准确了。她倒是向我详细说过一回,但正如对身边大多数小孩一样,我也对别人父亲的职业没什么兴趣。记得大约是银行、税务或公司破产法方面专业性质的工作。这次搬来住的房子虽说也是公司住宅,却是座蛮大的洋房,四周围着相当气派的齐腰高的石墙,石墙上连着常绿树篱,透过点点处处的间隙可以窥见院里的草坪。

  Shimamoto was a large girl, about as tall as I was, with striking features. I was certain that ina few years she would be gorgeous. But when I first met her, she hadn’t developed an outerlook to match her inner qualities. Something about her was unbalanced, and not many peoplefelt she was much to look at. There was an adult part of her and a part that was still a child-andthey were out of sync. And this out-of-sync quality made people uneasy.

  岛本是个眉目清秀的高个子女孩,个头同我不相上下,几年后必定出落成十分引人注目的绝对漂亮的姑娘。但我遇见她的当时,她还没获得同其自身资质相称的外观。当时的她总好像有些地方还不够谐调,因此多数人并不认为她的容貌有多大魅力。我猜想大概是因为在她身上大人应有的部分同仍然是孩子的部分未能协调发展的缘故,这种不均衡有时会使人陷入不安。

  Probably because our houses were so close, literally a stone’s throw from each other, the firstmonth after she came to our school she was assigned to the seat next to mine. I brought herup to speed on what texts she’d need, what the weekly tests were like, how much we’d coveredin each book, how the cleaning and the dishing-out-lunch assignments were handled. Ourschool’s policy was for the child who lived nearest any transfer student to help him or her out;my teacher took me aside to let me know that he expected me to take special care ofShimamoto, with her lame leg.

  由于两家离得近(她家距我家的的确确近在咫尺),最初一个月在教室里,她被安排坐在我旁边。我将学校生活所必需知道的细则一一讲给她听——教材、每星期的测验、各门课用的文具、课程进度、扫除和午间供饭值班等等。一来由住处最近的学生给转校生以最初的帮助是学校的基本方针,二来是因为她腿不好,老师从私人角度把我找去,叫我在一开始这段时间照顾一下岛本。

  As with all kids of eleven or twelve talking with a member of the opposite sex for the first time,for a couple of days our conversations were strained. When we found out we were both onlychildren, though, we relaxed. It was the first time either of us had met a fellow only child. Wehad so much we’d held inside about being only children. Often we’d walk home together. Slowly,because of her leg, we’d walk the three quarters of a mile home, talking about all kinds ofthings. The more we talked, the more we realized we had in common: our love of books andmusic; not to mention cats. We both had a hard time explaining our feelings to others. Weboth had a long list of foods we didn’t want to eat. When it came to subjects at school, theones we liked we had no trouble concentrating on; the ones we disliked we hated to death. Butthere was one major difference between us – more than I did, Shimamoto consciouslywrapped herself inside a protective shell. Unlike me, she made an effort to study the subjectsshe hated, and she got good grades. When the school lunch contained food she hated, shestill ate it. In other words, she constructed a much taller defensive wall around herself than Iever built. What remained behind that wall, though, was pretty much what lay behind mine.

  就像一般初次见面的十一二岁异性孩子表现出的那样,最初几天我们的交谈总有些别扭发涩,但在得知对方也是独生子之后,两人的交谈迅速变得生动融洽起来。无论对她还是对我,遇到自己以外的独生子都是头一遭。这样,我们就独生子是怎么回事谈得相当投入,想说的话足有几大堆。一见面——虽然算不上每天—— 两人就一起从学校走路回家,而且这一公里路走得很慢(她腿不好只能慢走),边走边说这说那。说话之间,我们发现两人的共同点相当不少。我们都喜欢看书,喜欢听音乐,都最喜欢猫,都不擅长向别人表达自己的感受。不能吃的食物都能列出长长一串,中意的科目都全然不觉得难受,讨厌的科目学起来都深恶痛绝。如果说我和她之间有不同之处,那就是她远比我有意识地努力保护自己。讨厌的科目她也能用心学且取得很不错的成绩,而我则不是那样。不喜欢的食物端上来她也能忍着全部吃下,而我则做不到。换个说法,她在自己周围修筑的防体比我的高得多牢固得多,可是要保护的东西都惊人地相似。

  Unlike times when I was with other girls, I could relax with Shimamoto. I loved walking homewith her. Her left leg limped slightly as she walked. We sometimes took a breather on a parkbench halfway home, but I didn’t mind. Rather the opposite-I was glad to have the extra time.

  我很快习惯了同她单独在一起。那是全新的体验。同她在一起,我没有同别的女孩子在一起时那种心神不定的感觉。我喜欢同她搭伴走路回家。岛本轻轻拖着左腿行走,途中有时在公园长椅上休息一会儿,但我从未觉得这有什么妨碍,反倒为多花时间感到快乐。

  Soon we began to spend a lot of time together, but I don’t recall anyone kidding us about itThis didn’t strike me at the time, though now it seems strange. After all, kids that age naturallytease and make fun of any couple who seem close. It might have been because of the kind ofperson Shimamoto was. Something about her made other people a bit tense. She had an airabout her that made people think: Whoa-better not say anything too stupid in front of this girl.Even our teachers were somewhat on edge when dealing with her. Her lameness might havehad something to do with it. At any rate, most people thought Shimamoto was not the kind ofperson you teased, which was just fine by me.

  我们就这样单独在一起打发时间。记忆中周围不曾有人为此奚落我们。当时倒没怎么放在心上,但如今想来,觉得颇有点不可思议。因为那个年龄的孩子很喜欢拿要好的男女开心起哄。大概是岛本的为人所使然吧,我想。她身上有一种能引起别人轻度紧张的什么,总之就是说她带有一种“不能对此人开无聊玩笑”的气氛。就连老师看上去有时都对她感到紧张。也可能同她腿有毛病不无关系。不管怎样,大家都好像认为拿岛本开玩笑是不太合适的,而这在结果上对我可谓求之不得。

  During phys. ed. she sat on the sidelines, and when our class went hiking or mountain climbing,she stayed home. Same with summer swim camp. On our annual sports day, she did seem alittle out of sorts. But other than this, her school life was typical. Hardly ever did she mentionher leg. If memory serves, not even once. Whenever we walked home from school together, shenever once apologized for holding me back or let this thought graze her expression. I knew,though, that it was precisely because her leg bothered her that she refrained from mentioningit. She didn’t like to go to other kids’ homes much, since she’d have to remove her shoes,Japanese style, at the entrance. The heels of her shoes were different heights, and the shoesthemselves were shaped differently – something she wanted at all costs to conceal. Must havebeen custom-made shoes. When she arrived at her own home, the first thing she did was tossher shoes in the closet as fast as she could.

  岛本由于腿不灵便,几乎不参加体操课,郊游或登山时也不来校,类似游泳那样的集体在外留宿的夏令营活动也不露面。开运动会的时候,她总显出几分局促不安。但除了这些场合,她过的是极为普通的小学生活。她几乎不提自己的腿疾,在我记忆范围内一次也不曾有过。即使在和她放学回家时,她也绝对没说过例如“走得慢对不起”的话,脸上也无此表现。但我十分清楚,晓得她是介意自己的腿的,惟其介意才避免提及。她不大喜欢去别人家玩,因为必须在门口脱鞋。左右两只鞋的形状和鞋底厚度多少有些不同——她不愿意让别人看到。大约是特殊定做的那种。我所以察觉,是因为发现她一到自己家第一件事就是把鞋放进鞋箱。

  Shimamoto’s house had a brand-new stereo in the living room, and I used to go over to herplace to listen to music. It was a pretty nice stereo. Her father’s LP collection, though, didn’tdo it justice. At most he had fifteen records, chiefly collections of light classics. We listened tothose fifteen records a thousand times, and even today I can recall the music-every single note.

  岛本家客厅里有个新型音响装置,我为听这个常去她家玩。音响装置相当堂而皇之。不过她父亲的唱片收藏却不及音响的气派,LP唱片顶多也就十五六张吧,而且多半是以初级听众为对象的轻古典音乐,但我还是左一遍右一退反反复复听这十五张唱片,至今都能真可谓真真切切巨细无遗地一一记起。

  Shimamoto was in charge of the records. She’d take one from its jacket place it carefully on theturntable without touching the grooves with her fingers, and, after making sure to brush thecartridge free of any dust with a tiny brush, lower the needle ever so gently onto the record.When the record was finished, she’d spray it and wipe it with a felt cloth. Finally she’d returnthe record to its jacket and its proper place on the shelf. Her father had taught her thisprocedure, and she followed his instructions with a terribly serious look on her face, her eyesnarrowed, her breath held in check. Meanwhile, I was on the sofa, watching her every move.Only when the record was safely back on the shelf did she turn to me and give a little smile.And every time, this thought hit me: It wasn’t a record she was handling. It was a fragile soulinside a glass bottle.

  照料唱片是岛本的任务。她从护套里取出唱片,在不让手指触及细纹的情况下双手将其放在唱片盘上,用小毛刷拂去唱针的灰尘,慢慢置于唱片之上。唱片转罢,用微型吸尘器吸一遍,拿毛布擦好,收进护套,放回架上原来的位置。她以极其专注的神情一丝不苟地进行父亲教给她的这一系列作业,眯起眼睛,屏息敛气。我总是坐在沙发上目不转睛地注视她这一举一动。唱片放回架上,岛本这才冲我露出一如往常的微笑,而那时我每每这样想:她照料的并非唱片,而大约是某个装在玻璃瓶里的人的孱弱魂灵。

  In my house we didn’t have records or a record player. My parents didn’t care much for music.So I was always listening to music on a small plastic AM radio. Rock and roll was my favorite,but before long I grew to enjoy Shimamoto’s brand of classical music. This was music fromanother world, which had its appeal, but more than that I loved it because she was a part ofthat world. Once or twice a week, she and I would sit on the sofa, drinking the tea her mothermade for us, and spend the afternoon listening to Rossini overtures, Beethoven’s Pastorale,and the Peer Gynt Suite. Her mother was happy to have me over. She was pleased herdaughter had a friend so soon after transferring to a new school, and I guess it helped that Iwas a neat dresser. Honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to like her mother very much. Noparticular reason. I felt that way. She was always nice to me. But I could detect a hint ofirritation in her voice, and it put me on edge.

  我家没唱机也没唱片,父母不是对音乐特别热心的那一类型,所以我总是在自己房间里,扑在塑料壳AM收音机上听音乐。从收音机里听到的大多是摇滚一类。但岛本家的轻古典音乐我也很快喜欢上了。那是“另一世界”的音乐。我为其吸引大概是因为岛本属于那“另一世界”。每星期有一两次我和她坐在沙发上,一边喝着她母亲端来的红茶,一边听罗西尼的序曲集、贝多芬的田园交响曲和《培尔·金特》送走一个下午。她母亲很欢迎我来玩,一来为刚刚转校的女儿交上朋友感到欣喜,二来想必也是因为我规规矩矩而且总是衣着整洁这点合了她的心意。不过坦率地说,我对她母亲却总好像喜欢不来。倒不是说有什么具体讨厌的地方,虽然她待我一直很亲切,但我总觉得其说话方式里多少有一种类似焦躁的东西,使得我心神不定。

  Of all her father’s records, the one I liked best was a recording of the Liszt piano concertos:one concerto on each side. There were two reasons I liked this record. First of all, the recordjacket was beautiful. Second, no one around me – with the exception of Shimamoto, ofcourse-ever listened to Liszt’s piano concertos. The very idea excited me. I’d found a world thatno one around me knew – a secret garden only I was allowed to enter. I felt elevated, lifted toanother plane of existence.

  她父亲收集的唱片中我最爱听的是李斯特钢琴协奏曲。正面为1号,反面为2号。爱听的理由有两点:一是唱片护套格外漂亮,二是我周围的人里边听过李斯特钢琴协奏曲的一个也没有,当然岛本除外。这委实令我激动不已。我知晓了周围任何人都不知晓的世界!这就好比惟独我一个人被允许进入秘密的花园一样。对我来说,听李斯特的钢琴协奏曲无疑是把自己推上了更高的人生阶梯。

  And the music itself was wonderful. At first it struck me as exaggerated, artificial, evenincomprehensible. Little by little, though, with repeated listenings, a vague image formed in mymind – an image that had meaning. When I closed my eyes and concentrated, the music cameto me as a series of whirlpools. One whirlpool would form, and out of it another would takeshape. And the second whirlpool would connect up with a third. Those whirlpools, I realizenow, had a conceptual, abstract quality to them. More than anything, I wanted to tellShimamoto about them. But they were beyond ordinary language. An entirely different set ofwords was needed, but I had no idea what these were. What’s more, I didn’t know if what I wasfeeling was worth putting into words. Unfortunately, I no longer remember the name of thepianist. All I recall are the colorful, vivid record jacket and the weight of the record itself. Therecord was hefty and thick in a mysterious way.

  况且又是优美的音乐。起初听起来似乎故弄玄虚、卖弄技巧,总体上有些杂乱无章,但听过几遍之后,那音乐开始在我的意识中一点点聚拢起来,恰如原本模糊的图像逐渐成形。每当我闭目凝神之时,便可以看见其旋律卷起若干漩涡。一个漩涡生成后,又派生出另一个漩涡,另一漩涡又同别的漩涡合在一起。那些漩涡——当然是现在才这样想的——具有观念的、抽象的性质。我很想把如此漩涡的存在设法讲给岛本听,但那并非可以用日常语言向别人阐述的东西,要想准确表达必须使用别的不同的语言,而自己尚不知晓那种语言。并且,我也不清楚自己所如此感觉到的是否具有说出口传达给别人的价值。遗憾的是,演奏李斯特协奏曲的钢琴手的名字已经忘了,我记得的只是色彩绚丽的护套和那唱片的重量。唱片沉甸甸的重得出奇,且厚敦敦的。

  The collection in her house included one record each by Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby. Welistened to those two a lot. The Crosby disc featured Christmas songs, which we enjoyedregardless of the season. It’s funny how we could enjoy something like that over and over.

  西方古典音乐以外,岛本家的唱片架上还夹杂纳特·“金”·科尔(译者注:科尔:美国黑人歌手(1917-1965)。)和平·克劳斯比的唱片。这两张我也着实听个没完。克劳斯比那张是圣诞音乐唱片,我们听起来却不管圣诞不圣诞。至今都觉得不可思议:居然那么百听不厌!

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