Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Brother - ch19

Translator: ayszhang
Proofreaders: Kai, Lee, m@o, Marcia
Chapter 19 of Brother!


The two friends sat for a while in silence.
Recalling the leaflet from earlier, Xu Ping fished it out from his pocket and began reading it.
“The country belongs to the people, and we are the people. Who will call out if not us? Who will act if not us?
“Democracy is the highest form of existence, and freedom is a right we humans hold from birth, but must we exchange our youthful lives in return for them? Is this what we, the Chinese people, hold as pride?
“Mother China, take a look at your sons and daughters! Hunger is ravaging their youth, and death is pushing towards them. Are you going to stand by and watch?”
“What’s this?” He Zhi asked.
Xu Ping passed the leaflet over.
“Somebody gave it to me when I passed by the square.”
“Are you participating?”
Xu Ping shook his head.
“When I passed by, I saw a guy standing on the steps of the memorial plaque leading thousands of people below in a chant. You’re not going to believe it, but I knew him. He graduated from my school.”
“Really? Who?”
“Huang. Huang Fan. A year above me. I was a member of the student council in the first year. He was head of communications and later became president. Whenever the student council organized things like speech contests or singing competitions, he’d lead us during the process. When I heard his voice today, I recognized it straight away. He got into the University of X last year, and I even asked him for study materials. That was a couple months ago. I didn’t think I’d see him in the middle of it all.”
“You didn’t go say hi?”
“I had Xu Zheng with me. What if I had lost him? Plus, there were so many people the entire square was packed.”
“That many?”
“Yeah, and more were trying to join. I’d say there were over ten thousand.”
He Zhi nodded. “For the past few nights, I’ve seen university students going on protests with torches in hand when I get up for a piss. Not only students. A lot of workers from the factory where my sister works are joining to protest the corrupt bureaucracy and crazy inflation or whatever. My brother-in-law’s been so busy he hasn’t come home. With so many people protesting, the police force has been stretched thin. They’ve even stopped all criminal investigations. Every officer has to follow the same orders.”
He looked down at the leaflet.
“Strikers’ demands: 1) a sincere, concrete, and equal conversation between the university student representatives and the government as soon as possible, 2) a new, unbiased name for the student movement and confirmation that it is a patriotic and democratic student movement.”
“They’ve been on hunger strike for almost a week, right?”
Xu Ping hummed in affirmation. “A lot of universities have stopped lessons. The News Simulcast has been reporting nothing but this.”
“I wonder how this will end. I actually wanted to go, but my dad and brother-in-law wouldn’t let me no matter what. My sister even beat me up when she found out, said I’m an unappreciative little shit who’s going to get my brother-in-law in trouble. So I gave up that idea.”
“Your brother-in-law is really good to you, finding connections for you and all. You really shouldn’t make any trouble for him.”
“And what ‘bout you? You even know the leader of the students!”
“Yes, I’ll go and just leave Xu Zheng at home?!” Xu Ping retorted sarcastically.
“I’ve wanted to say this for a long time, Ping-zi. You put your brother too high up on your priorities. What about your life? You ever thought ‘bout that? Your brother’s almost sixteen, and he’s taller than you. Strangers would think he’s the older of the two! Sure, he has some problems with his head, but you’ve done enough. You can’t waste your whole life for him, can you?”
Xu Ping did not respond. He picked up the basketball from the ground and beckoned to his brother.
Xiao-Zheng, come here. I’ll teach you how to play.”

“Spread your fingers, but don’t strain them. Very naturally, form a net. Good, like this.
“Now hold the ball with the thumb, index and middle fingers. Don’t let your palm touch the ball. Rather than holding the ball, it’s like the ball is being suction-cupped by your fingers.
“Now lift the ball with your right arm until your arm forms a right angle, like this.
“Very good. Now you can shoot. Use the wrist of your right hand for power and the index and middle fingers for aim. Your left hand just has to steady the ball and not interfere with the right hand….”
Slouching on the bench, He Zhi watched as his friend patiently taught his brother how to shoot a basketball.
Xu Zheng was very tall and handsome. When he had his eyes cast downwards, he looked completely normal, but from his slow reaction time, one could easily tell this boy was far from normal.
Bang! The basketball bounced off of the backboard straight down to the ground.
“Great stance, but too much force. Remember to use your wrist, not your arm, like this.” Xu Ping held his brother’s right hand and slowly went through the motions. “Feel that? Use your wrist to push the ball out.”
Xu Zheng nodded.
Xu Ping smiled and then fetched the ball back, placing it back into his brother’s hands.
“Try again?”
Time and time again, the ball hit the backboard and fell to the ground. He Zhi watched as Xu Ping fetched the ball again and again and averted his gaze.
He didn’t know how Xu Ping persevered all these years – taking care of the retard brother every day, teaching him to eat, to dress, taking him to school, playing with him. Just seeing his friend shoulder these burdens made He Zhi feel exhausted.
Clank! The ball rolled along the rim and for the first time, fell through the hoop.
Xu Ping began clapping and cheering for his brother.
As he patted his brother’s back encouragingly, he turned to He Zhi with a proud smile. “Hey, look, isn’t he clever?”
He Zhi quickly nodded in agreement.
Xu Zheng wasn’t looking in his direction at all. Head slightly tilted, he was watching his older brother with all the attention he could give, his gaze focused and affectionate. The afternoon sun rained down making his body glow. Xu Ping swung an arm around the boy and said something to him. The two brothers appeared to be surrounded by an invisible bubble separating them from the rest of the world.
The sweet atmosphere felt oddly harmonious to He Zhi as though something crucial were happening right before his eyes, and he could not see it. He then studied the two for a long time but found nothing.
He had always respected this friend of his. He thought that although Xu Ping had a smaller body, he was brave and responsible like a real man. His mother died, and his brother was a retard. If it were any other kid, they would have given up long ago, but He Zhi had never heard a complaint from Xu Ping. If he were honest with himself, He Zhi knew he did not have it in him to commit even one-tenth of the love and patience that Xu Ping had given to Xu Zheng.
He Zhi shook his head and pushed the peculiar feeling away.
Xu Ping picked up the ball, lifted himself up onto his toes and shot the ball through the hoop beautifully. He did not have the stamina, but he had the intuition and skill.
He Zhi recalled the first time the two of them played basketball in junior high and the older kids passing by laughing at them.
It went by so fast. They were all grown up now and soon would go their separate ways without knowing when they would meet again.
He Zhi felt a sudden pang of sorrow. He crumpled the leaflet into a ball and left the bench dusting his butt.
“Hey, Ping-zi, let’s play another round. One against two, you and your brother on one team. How ‘bout it?”
“We’re not scared of you! Give us your best shot!”

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ayszhang: When you read this, I will be back in Tokyo ^^


Creative Commons Licence
Brother - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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