Shanghai Stories

Xiao Shui

Cultural Garden

The Turkish sunset is probably not like this.  He swayed, lying on the loose armrest of the ambulance stretcher,

looking at everything, all dissolving into a milky-white sour round. The one who loves him decided back in Sichuan

that he would come to Shanghai to work. Slowly, when he’d finished high school, he left Istanbul, met him in person, rented a place, went to university,

met his widowed mother, bought ingredients to cook. But he never thought only old-fashioned people like him tend to witness time shuttling past, or see all things new.

Sadhu life

Making love is such a simple matter. Although I’d chatted meticulously for a week, he always set up meetings in

slightly improbable places. Finally, from afar he saw that reflection of his profile, still in the taxi, flash in the mirror

the colour of the sky outside the rain, adds drumbeats to the chest in an instant. Actually, what has that got to do with making love? You still have no way to understand,

I can do it with anyone, but I like him, so I want to show my truest self to him. Can you?

Iron Village

In the deep of night, she suddenly returned, rushed to the closet upon opening the door, furiously stuffing all sorts of clothes into her backpack.

He woke with a start, got out of bed barefoot, asked what was the matter. She rushed into his arms, grabbed his hand and said, touch me

here, my heart, it’s jumping so fast. The raised hand was still hanging by his side, and he already felt a slap dispersing all the gods

in his brain. Everyone is the outer suburbs, it’s not so easy to come and go, and not so easy to leave a lasting imprint.

Oblique Pool

He writes scripts, the light rail tracks passing the bridge, her fingernail seeming to flick the gravel protruding from the cement pillar.

The midday sky is shaken by unceasing traffic. She pressed herself against the mirror in the lift, letting him remove from her body

any horizontal lines he liked. She heard the sunset is like a chestnut, cracking open the barbed shell, the glossy lustre gently incited by the head of

the night heron. The wind in the body, like the displaced air in a subway car when it opens, the cool air shifting out hitting you by chance like a person.

Revival Island

Only after their son graduated from university did they divorce. He chose a few winter clothes, then gently locked the door.

He felt like the wind was very dark, and while crossing the iron bridge, the distant outline of the wheel pushing itself against the waves

onto the bank. Two months later, his son decided to go to Japan to continue his studies. He helped him on his visa run, sold the house

his father left, and stayed for a few days by the by. Just so in the emptiness of waiting did Spring slowly arrive.


At that time, his father hadn’t passed away yet, but he knew he would never be able to return to Shanghai.

Accompanying his non-Shanghai friends on the Bund, he gazed at the rarely visited seagulls, exulting. They spread their wide

wings, in flickering sweeps across the water. He caught their yellow shackles in an instant, like crescents,

gently scraping the sky: under the light green backdrop, appear countless meandering, wasted sentences.

Bridge of Release

When the good weather finally returned, they went to see a friend’s new house together. It is a villa along the river with a private garden,

the sunroom full of callas, and in the corner opposite the stairs hung oil paintings. The friend’s mixed son, not yet a year old,

already knew how to press his palms together before the Buddha statue. The friend’s parents bought groceries home, and he found even they, too, were already

white and grizzled. The sugar-soaked walnuts were delicious, in the mushroom bun there was some unknown fuzz, finely chopped together.

translated from the Chinese by Judith Huang