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Two Diggers of Graves

♦ Chuyển ngữ: 0 bình luận ♦ 14.10.2008

Nhã Thuyên

A translation by Nguyễn Đức Nguyên from the original
Vietnamese flash story ‘Hai kẻ đào huyệt

From a distance, I watched a bunch of kids frolicking on an expansive ground covered with sloppy mud; the mud itself seemed to stay at the same level, not subsiding. The kids romped around, cried out excitedly, and formed a large circle, their faces lit up with wild delight.

In the middle of the circle, one couple, a husband and his wife, was furiously digging two big holes, rectangular in shape, wide and deep – undoubtedly they were digging two graves. Paying no attention to streams of water seeping out between lumps of earth, they were completely absorbed in the digging; their feet firmly straddled the mud.

I observed their work; the two large graves gradually took shape. Suddenly, they called out to two girls:

– Can you clean out the water down there for mum and dad.

I cried out:

– NO! DON’T LET THEM! Once they come down they will stay there!

I was really frightened, because if it were me, I would have stayed down there indefinitely. It looked cool and peaceful down there, I thought, just like those specially prepared for dead Christians. I was terrified that the couple would refill the graves with earth and bury the two girls, not unlike a father tricked and abandoned his children in a deep jungle in an old fairy tale I once read. I was scared that people would find different ways to deceive children still.

It looked cool and peaceful down there, I would not climb up for sure. Possibly it was quite ok for me to be buried, but to the children it must not. I rooted to the spot, struggled to find my own heartbeats.

But the two girls, after drying out the water, simply climbed up, ran away and resumed their dancing.

The couple stared at me, as if to say: You see, don’t be scared, they would not stay there long.

Then, they looked and cracked smiles at each other: Now, we surely can feel safe!

In unison, they jumped into the graves and I could see nothing more.

I stood there with my own thoughts: adults and children, two completely distinct and different worlds. I was always an accidental witness, I was worried in vain and would never understand what actually happened.

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