He's caught a rare disease. The disease comes once several months into the year. Regardless of weather. Regardless of earth and aquatic nature. It usually comes around dusk, he starts to feel a slight fever, blurred vision, aching head, four sluggish limbs. At midnight the whole body transforms from hot to cold. He puts on gloves, puts on socks, puts on three or four layers of clothing and climbs up into bed and swaddles himself in blankets. The cold spreads from his bones, brain marrow, like the body is emitting its perpetual inner cold. The feet freeze. The teeth of two jaws clatter against each other. He trembles tre- mendously. Even his blood feels cold. The cold flows upstream and downstream, from foot up to head, from head down to foot, like it’s looking for a way out. He bends down, mouth foaming, tears streaming... He finds himself facing himself. He is the cold – struggling, his foot violently writhing. In the blink of an eye, the image of death scampers across his mind, as if it were the strange cold spurting out, he will not exist as he did before. At any cost, in any way, he has to break it. He resists, wants to bite his tongue to keep the cold forever inside, lying silently within him. He remembers Mother. For him she was the most giving woman in the world. The one who loved him the most, more than the N’s, more than the O’s, more than the P’s, etc. His consciousness slips out. Let it run its course. In the coma he feels the cold spreading, to the ends of his fingers, to the ends of his toes, his body is only a hollow, naked corpse, the corpse of a silkworm. He suddenly feels his two hands as two soft fragile wings, sees the seven colors of them... He flies, flies a little higher, looks back and sees the earth as the toy marble that it is. Around him is darkness like a river at night, already he is a little smaller, a little smaller, smaller until there is nothing else to compare him to – a butterfly. Why does he dream again of becoming a butterfly? Has Zhuang Zhou poisoned his head? Must he eat the shit of Zhuang Zhou? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe someone lies down to dream of becoming a butterfly. In the end, it is man’s greatest dream to embody something beautiful.
Nov. 26, 2003
- translated by Kaitlin Rees