The Wealthy Quarter by Feng Jicai ~ 冯骥才 《富人区》 with English Translations


冯骥才 《富人区》







The Wealthy Quarter

In Los Angeles, an American friend of mine drove me to an affluent quarter for a visit. It was a place inhabited by the rich. Americans like to take their guests to see it as if on a sightseeing tour. Standing before me were houses and courtyards of a great variety of shapes, looking elegant, quiet and comfortable like in an earthly paradise. I suddenly put this question to him, “Don’t you feel jealous of guys living in beautiful houses like these?”
He looked at me in astonishment and said,
“Jealous? Why? They live here because they’ve met with a good opportunity. If I should also find a opportunity in the future, I can do even better.”
The answer he gave was typical of Americans. Americans set great store by an opportunity.
Later, when I was in Japan, a Japanese friend of mine said he would take me to a nearby wealthy quarter and show me around. So, Japanese and Americans shared the same inclination to visit a wealthy quarter. Japanese houses were small, quiet and exquisite, and each was like a beautiful jewelry box. I put to him the same question as I had asked the American,
“Are you jealous of the rich people living in these beautiful houses?”
After pondering for a moment, he shook his head and said, “No, never.” Then he explained, “When a Japanese finds somebody superior to himself, he’ll contact him on his own initiative, make friends somebody superior to himself, he’ll contact him on his own initiative, make friends with him, learn from him, and try to excel him after learning all the strong points from him.”
Ah, the Japanese were a real aggressive sort! I was absorbed in thought.
Not long ago, a friend of mine called on me on his arrival from southern China. While chatting together, he told me how, like in foreign countries, wealthy quarters had appeared in his own city in the wake of its fast development. When, I, out of curiosity, demanded to hear more details of them, he mentioned their fountains, garages, security personnel guarding the gates, wolfhounds, etc. Then I asked him the same question as I had asked my American and Japanese friends,
“Do people visit the wealthy quarter?”
“Yes, they often do,” said my friend. “But they can’t get into it. They can only watch it from outside the gate.”
“How do you feel? Aren’t you jealous?”
“Jealous?” he brightened up and said with a smile. “Not only jealous. We’re dying to finish off these rich guys.”
I was stunned to hear it.

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