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我到无锡十五年

与学习日语的无锡青年合影,前排左四为冈正典

  我在公交车上摇摇晃晃,寻找着我的目的地。这是我在无锡去过无数次的地方,但已经十来年没去了,几年前还在那里见过招牌,最近几乎不往那个方向去,不知现在变成什么样了。这么想着,我对无锡15年的记忆一下子苏醒了过来。

  2003年,我作为日语教师到无锡工作,那年我53岁。我是学古代文学的,在日本的工作是语文老师,因而我对中国非常感兴趣。大家都知道日语使用汉字,而平假名、片假名这些表音文字都源于汉字,前者源自汉语的草书,后者源自汉字的偏旁部首。因此,无论如何,中国是日本的老师,我的理想是报答中国,60岁退休以后到中国当日语老师。我从40岁开始,每年都到中国旅游一次,悠悠时光、自行车大军、人们的笑脸,每每都让我非常愉悦,只是其中有一个倾向让我感到焦虑:中国正在飞速发展,到我60岁的时候,人们的生活习惯将发生变化,恐怕连思想都会发生很大变化,那么到时我的教学方法就落后于时代了。想到这里,我真希望能早点到中国工作。正好那个时候,有朋友找我介绍能够到中国教日语的年轻老师。我虽不年轻,但也勉强符合条件,于是就这么决定到无锡来了。

  有人曾告诉我,有个词叫“无锡人情”,这词的意思不是说对谁都很亲切,而是说对朋友不遗余力地关照。我在无锡就感受到了全校老师的“无锡人情”,这其中,校长给了我数不尽的帮助,让我了解了无锡的方方面面。我刚到无锡就遇上了非典(SARS),那段时期学校停课,我也挺担心,不过反而因此有时间与校长在一起。每周他都带我去参观无锡的景点,不光走遍了市里的公园,连郊区的泰伯庙、宜兴的陶瓷博物馆、善卷洞等地都去了,甚至每个景点的对联,包括含义和书法家的名字都一一向我介绍,令人感动。他还开玩笑说,你不用担心非典,因为你叫“正典”嘛。他也非常详尽地向我描述了儿时有所耳闻的二胡天才阿炳的故事,甚是令人感动。我与校长07年底还一同参加了去日本的观光旅游团。

  中国整体发展都很快,无锡更是发展迅速。2003年从无锡站到新区,一路上只有两个信号灯,现在已经有超过10个了。自行车道并入了人行道,人行道上还规划了停车位,现在已经不能悠闲地在人行道上散步了,只能小心翼翼地走在人行道边上,一边还要提防着擦身而过的自行车和电动车。另一方面,崭新的道路、大楼、新的街区不断建造出来。

  除了城市的基础设施,其他方面也有显著变化。我妻子每隔几年会到无锡来一次,每次她都感叹城市明亮起来了,店铺敞亮起来了,女士们打扮得也越来越漂亮了。的确如此,以前的店面可能为了节约用电,白天也昏昏暗暗的,让人误以为关门歇业了,女士们穿衣打扮以前也只注重实用性。我妻子也正因为如此,觉得我能在这里一心一意工作吧。听起来像在开玩笑,但的确如此。我妻子2017年来的时候说,无锡又变新了,发展得真快,她看了无锡大剧院附近的商业设施,觉得和东京差不多,甚至比东京还时髦,非常感叹。男人看发展只会看楼房和道路,女性视角果然不一样啊,我也赞同她的观点。

  2007年,我跟团去日本旅游时,还遇到了另外一个恩人。他是无锡的一位年轻企业家,和日本公司有生意往来,问我能否帮助他,于是我从他那里接受了与日语老师的工作完全不同的另一份差事——联络员兼翻译。他将“无锡人情”发挥到了极致,对我照顾无微不至。他十分喜欢旅行,到日本出差便会顺便观光,那时候我才有机会来报答他。记得有次和他一起出差到北京,我们在出租车上用日语聊着,驾驶员便问我们是从哪里来的,我们说是无锡来的,于是驾驶员说,南方话我们听不懂。看来他把我们说的日语当成无锡话了,我们相视而笑。这么说来,我记得当时手机还没那么普及的时候,每每路过公用电话亭会听到日语,仔细一听才知道是无锡话。发音方面无锡人学日语非常有优势。电子机械领域的变化比无锡城市变化还要快,这个企业家的公司与日本的业务往来少了很多,但他还是每个月照常给我发感谢金,我每每想辞去这份工作,又不忍心提出来。他跟校长一样,对我有写不完的恩情。

  巴士渐渐接近目的地。这里是一个流淌着悠闲的幸福时光的地方。有韵律的语句、有张力的琵琶声,我虽听不懂,但闭上眼睛感受到的全是音乐,睁开眼睛穿着古装的演员把我带到未知的中国世界,尽管不知这个世界是否存在……听说我在无锡,我研究生时代的3个同学也曾来旅游,他们都是在大学教日本文学的教授,其中有人是专门研究故事的。我于是把他们带到了这里。上台表演的是从苏州艺术学院刚毕业的年轻演员,我看了非常感动,我同学看了以后也说非常棒,很精彩,比什么都好,他的那种幸福的表情让我印象深刻。我也一样,我看到他们的表情,觉得无锡真好,希望自己永远留在无锡。

  下车后我在附近找了找,没看到熟悉的书场,我不敢问,又找了一遍,还是没有。于是终于鼓足勇气向路人打听:“这附近有个书场的吧?”“已经没有啦”“以前在那边的”“三四年前拆掉了”“现在没有啦”果然是个令人失望的结果。令人欣慰的是周围的四个人都回答了我,仿佛是传承了书场老人们的热情。我想我也要用新的心态,明天继续在无锡奋斗。

  作者:冈正典(日本)

  译文

My Fifteen Years in Wuxi

Oka Masanori (Japan)

Waggling on the bus, I am looking for my yearningdestination. I have been there dozens of times when I was in Wuxi, but it was more than a decade ago. I still saw the signboard a few years ago, but I rarely go that way lately. I am not sure if anything has happened there. Thinking of this, all my memories of 15 years about Wuxi are coming flooding back.

I came to teach Japanese in Wuxi in 2003 when I was 53. Back in Japan, I majored in ancient literature and worked as a language teacher, so I was fascinated with China. We all know that Japanese makes extensive use of Chinese characters. Hiragana and katakana, the two syllabic scripts primarily used in the Japanese writing system, were developed based on Chinese characters. The forms of hiragana originated from the cursive script style of Chinese calligraphy, and the katakana characters were derived from components of Chinese characters.Therefore, in every respect, I have seen China as the teacher of Japan. I wanted to do something for China in return and teach Japanese in China after retirement at 60. I started traveling to China once every year from the age of 40. Spending time here, wandering along with people riding bicycles and looking at so many smiling faces, always made me enjoyable. Meanwhile, I was worried that I might not be qualified to teach here when I got to 60. My worry makes sense because China has been developing very fast, and so has the way the people here live and think. There would be so many big changes that my teaching methods would not be able to fit. At the time, how I wished I could come to China as early as possible! Luckily, a friend of mine asked me to introduce a young teacher who could teach Japanese in China. Though not young as wanted, I could barely meet the requirement, so I decided to come to Wuxi.

I was told a saying called "Wuxi’s code of conduct," which does not mean to be nice to whoever he is but means to try one’s best to help and care about friends. During my stay, I was deeply impressed by the friendship and care from faculty of the university. The president helped me a lot in getting to know the city. Not long after I got here, the SARS epidemic hit China and all classes were canceled, which gave me more chances to stay with the president. When he found that I was worried about the situation, he tried to comfort me by telling jokes. He took me to tourist spots in Wuxi every week. We went to all parks in the city, the Taibo Temple outside the city, and even the Yixing Ceramics Museum and Shanjuan Cave in Yixing not far from Wuxi. He introduced the meaning and calligrapher of every couplet we saw. More impressively, he told me all he knew about Abing, the blind Chinese musician talented in the erhu whose story I had heard about in my childhood. Besides, the president and I joined a tour to Japan at the end of 2007.

Over the past decades, the world has witnessed a rapid rise throughout China. Wuxi is developing even faster. Back in 2003, only two intersections along the way from Wuxi Railway Station to Wuxi New District had traffic lights. Now there are more than ten. The infrastructure in Wuxi is changing. On the one hand, bike paths and sidewalks become shared use paths, where there is even space for parking. It is no longer possible to take aleisurely walk on the sidewalk. You have to be careful about the bicycles and scooters passing by. On the other hand, new roads, buildings, and neighborhoods are emerging from time to time.

Not only the infrastructure, you can see big changes in many other aspects as well. My wife comes to Wuxi once every few years. She is amazed to find that the city is getting brighter, shops are getting bigger, and women are getting more fashionable. It is the case. In the past, shops did not turn all the lights on to save power. The dimly lit inside made them look like they were closed even in the daytime. Women at that time did not care too much for style when they dressed up, which made my wife believe I would never be distracted from work. It sounds like a joke, but it is true. When my wife came again in 2017, she said that Wuxi is changing again, greater and faster. She was surprised that the commercial facilities around the Wuxi Grand Theatre are even more advanced and modern than in Tokyo. Though from different perspectives, we both see the improvements to the city, either the infrastructure or the supporting facilities.

In 2007 when I traveled with a tour to Japan, I met a person who also meant a lot to me. He was a young entrepreneur in Wuxi who had business dealings with companies in Japan. He asked if I could help him with this, and offered me another job totally different from working as a teacher. I became his liaison and interpreter. As a native of Wuxi, he took care of me in every possible way. He likes traveling. Every time he went to Japan on business, he would also go for sightseeing. I then took every of these opportunity to be his guide and show him around, in return for his kindness. Once I went on a business trip with him to Beijing, we were talking in Japanese on a taxi. The driver asked us where we came from. After learning that we were from Wuxi, he said he did not understand Wuxi dialect. He seemed to think we were talking in Wuxi dialect rather than a foreign language. We laughed. This did happen at times. Back then, mobile phones were not widely used. Sometimes when I walked by a telephone booth where someone was on the phone using Wuxi dialect, I always thought he was talking in Japanese. It is good that similar pronunciation makes it easier for Wuxi people to learn Japanese. Electromechanics changes even faster than Wuxi. Now this company does not have as much business to do in Japan as before. Even so, he pays me every month as usual in the name of gratitude, which I feel is more than I am entitled to. I wanted to quit this job more than once, but gave up every time at the last minute. I hate to tell him about this. There is a lot more to say about what he and the president of the university have done for me.

The bus is approaching my destination. It is a storytelling playhouse, a place for relaxation and happiness. Sitting in there with my eyes closed, even though I do not understand Chinese, I were impressed by the rhythmic lyricsand dramatic sound of the pipa. When I opened my eyes and saw actors in ancient costumes on the stage, I felt like I was taken to an unknown world of China, which I was not sure if it exists. I took three of my classmates back in graduate school to the playhouse when they came to visit me. They were professors teaching Japanese literature at university. One of them specialized in storytelling. We all were deeply touched by the show made by a group of young actors who had just graduated from School of Art of Soochow University. My classmate spoke highly of the show. He said it was awesome and was the best one he had ever seen. I could tell from the expression on his face how satisfying he was. I felt the same way. What a good place Wuxi is! How much I hope I will stay here forever.

After getting off the bus, I looked around for the playhouse, but found no sign of it. I tried again before I got courage to ask someone, but still in vain. "Is there a storytelling playhouse around here?" I asked. "It is long gone." "It was over there a long time ago." "It was tore down a couple of years ago." Disappointedly, it is no longer there, sure enough. Gratifyingly, all the four people around answered me kindly and passionately, just like those people I met in the playhouse. I think it is time to start over and work even harder in Wuxi.