A Pickle Pot by Li Hanrong ~ 李汉荣 《泡菜坛子》 with English Translations


李汉荣 《泡菜坛子》







A Pickle Pot
Li Hanrong

Mother came from our home village. She stayed with us for ten days. When she was about to leave, she wanted to buy us something as a present.

“You’ve got everything,” she said, “but you seem to have got nothing. The TV set is yours, but the people who walk back and forth in it are all strangers, even murderers, corrupt officials and thieves come in and out of it from time to time. The radio cassette player is yours, but it’s all others who sing in it. The books on the shelf are yours, but they are all written by others. The fridge is yours, but all the year round it’s filled with frost that comes from God knows where. Though they make your life easy and comfortable, none of them BELONGS to you in the rest sense of the word. ”

On the day she was to leave for home, she got up early in the morning and brought back a pickle pot from the market.

“Make some pickles in it,” she said, “and have something that suits your own palate.”

Since then pickles of our own taste had been added to our diet. When we had guests, we often had pickles to go with me. Slightly intoxicated, everyone would comment, “A country flavor, not bad. Not bad, a country flavor.”

So we had something to our own taste. When we looked at the pot, it was standing quietly at the corner. Amid the hustle and bustle of our everyday life and in the apartment of reinforced concrete, the pot stood there by itself, brewing an old and simple flavor.

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