White Pigeon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
My father has a deep hatred for the Japanese for their genocide at Nanjing and their of occupation Taiwan in World War II. My father’s father’s father, a mainland Chinese, he died from blows of a Japanese’s boots to his head. Kicked to death. His greater hatred comes from the authorities’ denial of the genocide but that does not speak for all Japanese. A Japanese friend of mine knows about the massacre, and she admits to the cruelty. This is why I wrote this story.

A note about the letter exchange section: the translation is what the opposite reader can discern from the foreign text. I am sorry if it is unpleasant to read, but that is how it will appear to read based only on Kanji that is mutual in Chinese and Japanese. If you wonder why there is no hiragana in the Japanese, I must say that I only learned two years of Japanese. Just assume that since the other reader cannot read Japanese, the hiragana is deliberately left out.

About “Ah-Rock”: he is half Han Chinese and half Taiwanese. The main reason behind this is that.. I don’t know Taiwanese. What, how does a Taiwanese not know Taiwanese? And isn’t it just a dialect? While the same character system is used, the common wording is not the same. By giving him Han ancestry, I have an excuse to use Mandarin instead :P

Submitted: May 16, 2014

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Submitted: May 16, 2014

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A A A


The boy is lucky, for the night is pretty deserted by now. What a night for a hunt.

Recently, a house is being rebuilt. Not the shabby little shacks such as his own, but one on the outskirts of the taboo area. A taboo might as well be a magnet to a curious boy. He adapts the slope of the hill as a ramp to help him accelerate.

What a bore, he thinks of his younger brother with the rest of his sisters. When did we ever have real fun together. After all, the smaller boy at home is only five years old. All right, I’ll cut the little baby some slack.

He rides the bridge over the sound of trickling waters. The damp air hugs his tanned skin hugging his knobbly legs. Over the layer of moisture, he imagines to stick on a film of darkness. Something like a camouflage. Blending with the night. The boy slips through narrow cracks easily as a rodent. His bare feet patters lightly on the sandy path, the sluggish wind in his grimy hair.

So far no one got to stop me.

With one swift motion, the dusty runner dives into a bush of long grass. Swish. Droplets of dew fall into his eyes, which he brushes off with the back of his hand. Up ahead are some dimly lit houses. Mmm, actual houses. A fencing is crooked where pieces of the deconstruction has  fallen on, and he seizes the opportunity to crawl into his gold mine.

The very instant he squeezes through to the other side, he starts groping the earth and sifting through the wreckage. His eyes glimmer at the sight of a rusty nail embedded in some wood. Malt sugar. One stick for each can of nails. It is a double win, for the wood can be burned for fire and the nails can be collected from the ashes. He strains his eyes to find pieces of wood with the most nails in them. To carry the whole house away is ideal, but not possible.

Just when the boy is enjoying the treasure hunt, a plank stirs behind him. Thunk.

Busted.

Good thing it is just another boy, not an adult. He looks about the same age but well groomed. The boy on the floor is safe for now until he is reported. Even if he chooses to handle me, I can easily win him in a fight. He clutches his findings with a tighter grip, ready to thwack a head if need be.

Soft words are delivered to the culprit. “Dare desuka?”

A Japanese devil. Ruh-bun guay-zuh. Many times their kind have taken from his home: some fruit from their trees, a couple eggs from the coop, and once even a whole cow. Don’t worry about him. He continues searching without a reply.

The Japanese boy comes over and crouches down to observe the scruffy boy’s work. No sign of resentment radiates from him.

If he has to be here, he might as well be useful. The boy with the armload shows him a plank and points to the nails on it, then taps the nail heads them for emphasis. The Japanese boy nods and sets off to tugging at some broken beams.

Smart boy.

Barely five minutes have gone past when he realizes that he is alone. That bastard has gone to tell on me! But the moment he thought that, the Japanese boy returns with a large bucket and a white bird on his shoulder. He moves some debris onto a clearing and strikes a match. The wood catches and flames reach upwards in the still wind. He spears two sweet potatoes and holds them over the fire.

The smell makes the hungry boy’s mouth water. Sweet mother of Buddha and Christ. He skitters over to sit next to his new friend. Anyone who has food is a friend.

By the firelight they got to see each other clearly for the first time. The tanned lips-licking boy watches with large, round eyes as the sweet potatoes give off wafts of steam. His bedraggled clothes hang on to his thin frame, a couple twigs that prop up his broad but bony face. He studies the other boy with amusement. The paler cooking boy monitors the food with elegantly dark-lashed eyes, carefully set in to his smooth, longer face. He has clothes of the right size that are not stitched and patched, and fitting sandals even.

They exchange food and smiles by the cackling fire. No one in the neighbourhood got distracted by the smoke of their little bonfire. Miraculously, no one came to interfere that night, as if God has given them a special allowance. Gradually, the pile of wood has diminished, the snacks have gone, the bird has ceased amusing, their eyes get weary, so the two supper attendees scoop up the hot nails from the glowing ashes and dump them all in to the bucket.

That’s a lot of candy. Mmm..

Sayounara.” The boy with the bird hands the heavy bucketload to the other.

Beh-bai oh!” The ever-famished boy receives eagerly. Not bad!

They part ways, but the bubble of innocence follows them home.

This is the memory they live on when faith in humanity is lost.

***

???????
?????????????????????????????????????
???????????????????????????????????????????????????

??????????????????

???

You good, Japan friend.
Remember me? Before one week you see me, night help me roast fire. Yesterday you(r) white bird my house I convenient say:
Thank you help, I metal nails buy lots sweets. I hungry good many days, have sweets also (very) good. Not know sweets especially sweet.

My father say Japan have kanji, you know kanji?

Yellow Ah-Rock

***

?????
???????????
????????????????????
????????????????????????????????

????????

????????

Taiwan friend good?
I little kanji know. (Letter) sufficient. 
Metal nails give little matter. (Candy) beautiful taste? (Family) satisfied?
Every night I same place wait, Taiwan (brother) (together) metal nails get? White bird Taiwan friend house return, Taiwan friend answer.

Japan friend : Village-Top Big-Tree

***

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?????????

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Again good, Village-Top Big-Tree!
(Candy) (very) (delicious), especially hungry (when). I want me again metal nails. No my (family) know.
My father says district not good. I once say you live district father hit me. Father say Japan people not good. I say I know good Japan people father also hit me. Strange, (mood) not good? I say metal nails? I wait tomorrow again ask once.

I believe father say okay.

Taiwan friend

***

??????????
????????????????
??????????????
?????????

?????????

???

Taiwan (brother) truly good? Serious injury?
Ah-Rock where live? I Ah-Rock house meet?
I more metal nails got. (Together) (more) fun.
I Ah-Rock return matter wait.

(Safety) (attention)

Japan (elder) brother

***

??????????????
?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
????????
?????????

???

Really no matter, Japan (older) brother. I very good!
I live no have name little village. I meet place (start), go out, walk bridge, up little hill, enter little village left, I home chicken egg flower tree little pond (between).
Good (look forward to) again see!
(Also (look forward to) you(r) metal nails)

Taiwan (younger) brother

***

?????????..???????
?????

????

Taiwan (younger) brother.. School do matters busy.
Next (weekend) meet?

(Metal) nails (older) brother

***

????????????????
????????????????????“????”?????????????????????????

?????????????????????????

???

No good, metal nails (older) brother. My father no happy you.
I say you good friend my dad say Japanese people kill people. Say you “Japanese devil”. I originally believed, I now know, I know you very good.

My father no need know I you matter. I (river) bridge top wait you.

Metal nails (younger) brother

***

??????..

???????????
?????????????????.. ?????????
?????????????
???????????????

?????????????

?????
?????

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????

Dear Ah-Rock..

Father (letter) (discover), I Japan return.
I know Japanese many people kill, (countries) take, Taiwan use.. Scary. Forgive.
Bridge (metal) nails placed, Ah-Rock go get.
My white pigeon name Peaceful. Ah-Rock present.

Ah-Rock good friend. I (forever) remember.

(Sincerely)
Village-Top Big-Tree


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