< Its A Matter It Doesnt Matter​太陽那麼的藍>


FOREWORD 前言

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太陽那麼的藍

 

那天不知道為何特別的累,累得天還沒入黑已經倒頭大睡。電話在房裡的一角閃爍,我聽見微弱震動的頻率,掙扎著起床。媽媽還沒來得及問好,「妳在哪裡?」,還沒等我接上話,已經補上了焦急的「爺爺可能不行了。」

我靜默不語,匆匆收拾,即使計程車在奔馳,也不能追趕生死的命數。

 

擾擾攘攘,好壞消息的替換,沙塵滾滾地與哥哥帶著妹妹趕路往故鄉去。

 

那是一個不怎麼地的鄉下,村裡的人都已經到城市去了,有時候我在想,大家守護著家鄉的,是感情還是責任。在有點模糊的高速公路上,憶起孩童時的日子,那時候妹妹還沒來。駕駛的爸爸,因為會暈車而必須得在副駕駛座的哥哥,在後面靠著媽媽睡覺的我。我已經不記得那時候的心情,即便記得,也可能是錯誤的,是這一刻的我製造出來的情感。穿過熱鬧的小村莊,風景換上了綠油油的山路,妳不知道自己有多高,妳只知道眼裡盡收的美景很安靜,很安靜。到了。站在祖屋前,有很多陌生的面孔,還是很安靜,很安靜。他們都知道我是誰,但我只想找到媽媽。

 

媽媽讓我們往房裡去,我牽著妹妹,看著眼前的人只剩下艱難的呼吸,就這樣癱軟在他暫別多時的家,原本的家。我輕輕地坐在旁邊,生怕一舉一動會打擾他的休息,他愛錢、愛黃金、愛手錶,愛得只有在過年的時候炫耀,現在全戴好戴滿,我握著那隻有點重的手,在寒冬天暖暖的手。我讓有點不知所措的妹妹坐在我旁邊,也是,她和他之間的情感較為疏落,但其實我也在不知不覺的走遠,眼前的人在努力聽我說話,而我只講得出那句「我回來了,辛苦你了。」屋子裡還是很安靜。

 

他在流淚,那是知道的意思,淚水還在淌,我們的。

 

坐到一旁的小木椅,椅子吱吱地讓人知道它在這裡已經許多年,和旁邊殘破的板凳相依為命,還有那張佈滿藥品的小木桌、斑駁的牆、頭頂上那些已經白化的木橫梁,都在描述著這裡的歲月,和床上的他一樣。

 

他在看我,他睜眼看我。

 

拉著妹妹蹲在他眼前,喊著哥哥和媽媽。

 

「我在這,看得見嗎?」

 

那是我們最後一次眼對著眼地說話。我覺得,他使盡了所有的力氣瞧瞧從遠方趕來的我們,你看見我了嗎?他在流淚,那是看得見的意思。就這樣,我成為了他最後看見的人。

 

我們偶爾坐到他身旁說說話,那時候終於明白,待聽覺走了,人也去了。

 

在這陌生的祖屋閒逛,是有天井的老房子,許多年前,我在這撿走了一部老收音機。過了天井,上面有一張奶奶的照片,我沒見過她,她就去了,有一年中秋節之前來她安息的地方看望,那天的天氣異常的熱,各種儀式,從沒歇息地燒著溪錢和鞭炮不免有點難受,走到她附近的時候,天就陰了。媽媽說,那是奶奶的照顧。其他的,都是聽著爸爸媽媽講的故事,我覺得她是溫柔的人。天井另外一邊的小房間記憶最深,它的牆上有一框褪色的照片,都是大家年輕的時候,快樂的模樣,我記得那裡並沒有我,但他城市家裡的飯廳,毛主席像下面貼著的,是我家三兄妹和他的合照。天色漸黑,他還是在艱難的喘氣,我們生怕離開房子就會錯過了什麼,但媽媽老了許多,未曾休息的她臉上多了些皺紋,愛美的她也顧不上自己的儀容。舅舅把我們載到溫泉旅館,和媽媽還有妹妹泡在硫黃水裡,聽著水流的聲音,由得霧水往臉上撲。我忘了我們聊了些什麼,也許什麼話都沒有講。在我身旁睡著的媽媽呼吸的聲音很深,而我只有儘量維持著一個姿勢,因為我知道自己很容易被嘈醒/心慌的體質是遺傳媽媽的。

 

天剛亮,我們又回去了,媽媽說她要和姑姑們去找觀音「還」,那是一些傳統的禮節,說是替爺爺完成的事情。我依舊帶著妹妹來到祖屋,這裏的空氣很好,山很綠,我忘了那天早上發生了什麼,我忘了很多事情,我只記得,午飯過後,看見牆上有一隻飛蛾,然後爺爺就仙遊了。

 

我們都陪在他身旁,只有一個人不在。

 

之後就是繁複的客家式喪禮,大家都在忙,還有哭。

 

鄉下的白天是夏天,晚上是零下的溫度,他躺在自己早早選好的棺木,上面還有竹子架上一層紗,眼淚不能沾到棺木是規矩,我們把張羅而來的床褥和棉被舖在旁邊守夜,那個晚上很冷很冷,冷得難以入眠,我記得大家說著以前的事,守著家門的人替換著不能熄滅的香枝,這些人和我都應該要很親,但我們並沒有,血緣讓我們走在一起,我也樂意當他們的小妹妹,因為我真的很累了。

 

人們匆匆地帶著早飯來,之後的兩天很吵很吵,我帶著沒有休息過的身體,到新建成的祠堂洗澡,這裏是要燒一桶桶水洗的,還得省著點用。換上麻衣之後,人們陸續地來,他們都知道我是誰,但我只能以點頭和流淚回應,看著棺木,繼續摺金元寶,看顧身邊的小孩。娘家的人來了,是奶奶那邊的親戚,扛著一頭豬,長輩讓我們出門接,長兄為父,領著我們跪拜,叩頭、叩頭、再叩頭,跪在砂石之上,舅舅們不知從何拿來一些紙皮墊在我們膝蓋之下,我示意妹妹忍著點,而她其實很懂事,沒有吭聲。人們還是繼續的來,親屬的位置越來越擁擠,那是我們有過最親密的時間。舅舅、伯伯和伯娘來的時候我哭得最深,那些是我熟悉的面孔,他們都抱著我。

 

暮色蒼茫,好冷好冷。大家都沒有離開,也沒有休息。那隻飛蛾還在。

 

每小時一次的儀式,都必須要做。哥哥還在撐著,而我只有軟弱地在頭痛。每小時一次的儀式,叩頭、叩頭、再叩頭,我聽說屋子外的人在生火取暖,但我們不能隨意往屋外走。是時候要上山了,我卻被叮囑著要走到屋外去迴避,只有我不能跟上。屋子外的伯娘緊緊的牽著我,舅舅們讓我往火堆取暖,都沒有和我說什麼話,都不需要說些什麼話,屋子裡很多聲音,但我不能看。

叩頭、叩頭、再叩頭,那是我最後的禮,跪在斜坡的砂石上。

 

最後那一程山路,還是被攔了下來,往回走的時候儀仗隊在我兩旁經過,很吵很吵,我看見不遠處的兩位舅舅,抱著他們,那是我第一次放聲大哭,原來哭出聲音的時候,心是很難受的。

 

我們各自都還在找紓解的方法,可能並沒有這個方法,時間不會沖淡傷痛,只能讓人習慣傷痛會一直來一直來,像潮汐的海浪一樣。

 

看著他安葬的那個山頭,霧茫茫一片的樹林,很美麗。

I’m not sure why I was so tired that day, so tired that I slept before dark. The phone blinked in a corner of the room. I heard weak vibrations and struggled to rouse myself. My mom didn’t even wait to ask how I was, “Where are you?” Before I could answer, she added anxiously, “Grandpa won’t be holding on for too long.”
I packed without a word. No taxis running on full speed could chase the numbers that codified one’s life or death.


I


Through the hustle and bustle, the interchange of good news and bad news, my brother and I took my sister to my hometown through clouds of sand and dust.
My hometown was nondescript. Everyone had left for the city. Sometimes I thought, was it attachment or responsibility that drove our impulse to protect our homes? On the slightly blurred highway, I remembered my childhood. My sister had not yet arrived. My father who was driving, and my brother who had to ride shotgun because he got carsick, and myself who leant against my mother sleeping. I couldn’t remember how I felt. Even if I did, it was probably false. It was what I produced as feelings in the moment.
Through the hustle and bustle of the little towns, the scenery changed and became slick green mountain roads. You had no idea how tall you are. You just knew that the beautiful scenery under your eyelids was very, very still. You had arrived. Standing in front of the ancestor’s house. There were many stranger’s faces. It was still very quiet. They all knew who I was, but I just wanted to find mama.


Mom wanted to let us into the rooms. I held onto sister, seeing that gasping was all that was left. To be softly paralyzed in the home to which he had long said a temporary goodbye, the earliest home. I sat softly on one side, fearing that each movement would disturb his rest. He loved money, gold, watches. Loved them so much that he would only flaunt them during the new year. His hands were now full of them. I held the hand that weighed slightly, a hand full of warmth in deep winter.


My sister fidgeted beside me. That’s right. They were distanced from each other, but so was I – I unknowingly grew further and further away from him. People were struggling to listen to me, and yet all I could utter was, “I am back, thank you for your effort.” The house remained still.


He was weeping. That meant that he knew. The tears are pouring. Our tears.


I sat on a wooden chair on the side. The chair creaked to announce its seniority, that it depended on the tattered and broken stool beside it – and too the small wooden table laden with medicine, the walls full of marks, the whitened wood beams above our heads – they were all describing the time spent here, just as him on the bed.


He was looking at me, staring at me with open eyes.


I dragged my sister and knelt before him, crying on behalf of my brother and mother.


“I am here. Could you see me?”


That’s the last time that we looked into his eyes as we spoke. I felt that he used all his power to take a glimpse of those of us who have come from far away. Did you see me? He was weeping. And just like that, I became the last person that he saw.


Occasionally, we sat beside him to speak. Then, we finally understood that when hearing went, so did the person.


I wandered inside the unfamiliar ancestral home. It was an old house with a lightwell. Many years ago, I picked up an old radio from this house. Past the lightwell, there was a picture of my grandmother. I never saw her before she left. One year, I came to see her resting place right before Mid-autumn’s Festival. That day was unusually hot. Various ceremonies, the unceasing note offerings and firecrackers made me uncomfortable. As I approached her, the sky became overcast. My mother said that it was grandmother’s care. I felt that she was a gentle person from my parents’ stories. The small room on the other side of the lightwell had its deepest impression on me. There was a framed picture that was losing color. That was an image of youth and happiness. I remembered that I wasn’t in it, and yet the photograph under the portrait of Mao in his city living room contained me, him and my siblings. The sky was getting dark, and he was still gasping for breath. We were worried that we would miss something if we left the room. Mom had aged a lot. More wrinkles appeared on her face as she ceased to rest. Her vanity didn’t even prompt her to gather her unkempt demeanor. Uncle took us to the spa hotel, and mother and sister and I soaked ourselves in the sulphureous waters. We listened to the sound of the water and let the mist gather around our faces. I forgot what we were talking about. Perhaps we didn’t. My mother breathed deeply as she slept beside me, and so I could only maintain my position, because I knew that I inherited the tendency from my mother to be easily roused or flustered.


The sky lit up, and we went back. My mother said that she and the aunts needed to seek Guanyin for the “return.” Those were traditional rituals, that is to help grandpa finish certain things. I followed my sister to the ancestral home as usual. The air is very fresh here, the hills green, the birdsong crisp. Perhaps there were echoes. I forgot what happened that morning. I forgot a lot of things. I just knew, after lunch, grandpa wandered away with the gods right after I saw a moth on the wall.


We were beside him. There was only one person that wasn’t there.


And then there was the complicated Hakka funeral. Everyone was busy and crying.


Days in the home country were summer, and nights sank under subzero temperatures. He laid in a coffin that he picked for himself, the bamboo rack covered with a sheen of protective satin. It was etiquette that the tears did not touch the coffin. We laid the mattresses and quilts that we prepared beside the coffin for the vigil. He laid by my feet. It was very, very cold, so cold that it was difficult to sleep. Everyone was talking about the past. Those who kept watch at the door changed the incense that were not to be extinguished. We were supposed to be close, but we weren’t. Blood brought us together, and I was happy to be their little girl, because I was very tired.


People rushed to bring breakfast. The following two days were raucous. I dragged my sleep deprived body to bathe in the newly built ancestral shrine. Water was boiled with burnt wood, and so we had to use it sparingly. After we changed into linen clothes, people kept coming. They all knew who I was, but I could only respond with tears. I looked at the coffin and continued to fold gold ingots and took care of the children around me. Those from the maiden family came. That are relatives of grandma's family. They carried a pig on their backs and the elders had us take it at the door. The eldest brother must take on the responsibility of a father, and so he led us to kneel, kowtow, kowtow and more kowtow, kneeling against the coarse gravel. Uncle conjured some cardboard out of nowhere and slipped them under our knees. I gestured to my sister to put up for a little longer, but she knew what was going on and didn’t make a sound. People kept coming. The relatives crowded closer and closer to each other – that was the time that we grew most intimate. I was crying the deepest when uncle, my paternal uncle and aunt came. Those were faces that I was familiar with. They all took me into their arms.


The dawn was pale. It was very cold. No one left nor rested. The moth was still there.


The hourly ceremony was necessary. My brother was still holding on. I twinged weakly, gazing at the stars that filtered that through the lightwell and the white mist that I exhaled. Kowtow, kowtowing and kowtowing each hour. I heard people outside the house starting a fire to keep warm, but we couldn’t willfully walk outside. The morning light was coming through the lightwell, and it was time to hike up the hill. I was told to leave the house to avoid them, just that I couldn’t keep up. Outside, my paternal aunt fastened her hands around mine tightly, as uncle led me to bask by the fireside. They didn’t say much to me, there was no need to. There were a lot of sounds inside the house, but I wasn’t allowed to see.
Kowtow, kowtow, kowtow again. That was my last rite, kneeling on the slope’s gravel.


Almost everyone was prepared to climb up the hill that he picked himself. The last stretch, I was stopped when I finally caught up. As I walked back, they and the guards of honor passed by me. It was cacophonous. I saw my uncles far away, held them, and that was the first time that I ever howled as I cried – it was then I knew how hard your heart could ache when you cried out loud.


We were all finding means to relieve each of our own pains, but there was no way. Time could not dilute pain. It only prepared us for its repeated arrival, as if it were ocean tides.
The hill in which he was buried in, a patch of foggy forest –I thought it was beautiful.

(English Interpretation by Joy Zhu)