Reading Time: 6 minutes
The eighth part of the autobiographical novel of Dr. Tzemin tells us how a street seller-cum-performer played every trick in his bag to make a little boy speak. Did he succeed? An exclusive for Different Truths.
“I have heard it, but I don’t know the details. Tell me the story.” Uncle Ciou looked at me slyly. He couldn’t see any nuance. I wore an air of innocence. Suddenly he felt the chill.
“Don’t be all mouth and trousers. Wanna bet?” My godmother seemed to be prepared for it – like a fox waiting for the other to fall into the trap.
“Oh! Jincai, bet it. It’s just a bet.”
“Think you scare me?” He mustered courage and asked boldly, “What’s the rule?”
“You don’t have to be so scared. It’s very simple. If you can let the little boy say a word in an hour, then I will lose it. I will buy that piece of cloth that is enough for five cheongsams in your hand, unconditionally. We will use your cheongsam material for the entire family, old and young.” My godmother, after a little break and continued to say, “But if you can’t make this little boy say a word in an hour, you have to give me a fabric that is enough to complete a cheongsam.”
Well, my godmother’s aggressive attitude made him feel hesitant. He secretly swept his eyes across the crowd around him. This group of people also looked at him like a tiger eyeing its prey. However, at least in his heart, he believed that he was an indomitable man. How could he admit defeat in front of everyone, especially when a little boy was concerned?
Yeah, maybe it was the time to roll the dice. I heard him shout, “Bet it!”
The people around us cheered. Everyone applauded. Only one person kept shaking her head and shouted, “No, no, it’s should not be like this.” Trying to stop everyone, but it didn’t work. That poor person was my mother. Holding the cards in his hand, Uncle Ciou said to my godmother, confidently, “My esteemed and beloved Ms. Zeng, you sure that you’re not teasing me, and you won’t back out of this.”
“You damned guy, so many people here. I am not afraid that you will go back on your word and instead you doubt me,” my godmother retorted angrily, “Tell you what, why don’t we go by that clock on the wall. One hour is limited. That’s a deal. Neither side can draw back.”
So, the big battle of the century began, and the first idea that flashed into Uncle Ciou’s head was to find a way to let me speak out my name. But he did not know that up till then, I spoke just three words. The first word was “Mom,” the second word was “Mom,” and the third word was also “Mom”.
His first method was to grimace at me and then he asked, “Little kiddo, what is your name?” This really made me excited, since Uncle Fatty closed his store’s doors. I had lost all the pleasure of observing people’s heads. When I got into a real flap, I really didn’t expect that someone would grimace at me. This awakened my memory of the pursuit of “head art”. He made me grin like an idiot, “huh, huh…” After witnessing what happened Uncle Ciou hurriedly kept control and added quickly, “Don’t just huh, huh…, my real beauty. Come on, Little brother, tell your uncle what you are called. You have a name, don’t you? My young master, Uncle Ciou has a candy…”
But I was occupied with myself in laughing and enjoyed the fun of the fantasy in his mind. He was helplessly looking around, and the result was a burst of laughter, “huh, huh…”
At that point, Uncle Ciou finally felt that things were more difficult than expected. Although he continued to play with cross-eyes, pig face, fan ears and even upside-down to tease me, the result was completely futile. The time was ticking away. Nearly fifteen minutes had passed.
Realising his first failure, he seemed to be a little confused and turned back to pull out two lollipops from his bamboo “treasure box” and got it in front of me, “Little brother, do you want to eat a lollipop?”
I straightened two small hands. I wanted lollipops. That time, he had learned his lesson. So took a half step back and kept a proper distance from me, and asked, “Now, tell Uncle Ciou what is your name? You see this, a lollipop.” My pair of wide-open black eyes were staring at the lollipop. I did not know the darkness in his soul, he ignited a glimmer of hope, and the lollipops were swayed in front of me more vigorously. But he kept a distance so that I could not get it.
There was an aunt next to him. She held a paper tube and was suddenly hitting on Uncle Ciou’s head with it and started abusing him, “You damned ugly rat! What an object you have made yourself! Playing with a child like this, you had better hang yourself.”
With an innocent face, he gave me the lollipops with tears in his eyes. I was very pleased about licking my spoils. The winner was obvious. Ten more minutes had passed.
In Uncle Ciou’s imagination, he was a man of the world. He told himself, “I have seen it all and have travelled around the country as an itinerant entertainer for decades. What kind of a fine spectacle I haven’t seen before? Being wise throughout my life, how could I be grounded by a little kid? No, no, so how can I keep up appearances?”
Finally, he decided to pull out the big gun and poured out all the department stores in the bamboo basket. Where to find a stack of masks. One was Zhuge Shiro; the
other was Zhenping; the other three are yellow, pink and green devil party masks coupled with one treasured sword. From the beginning, he had a smug expression, “I would like to see you, little devil, how to resist the charm of Zhuge Shiro and Zhenping.”
He separated these masks one by one and spread them into front of me, “Little Master, they are Zhuge Shiro and Zhenping. Would you repeat it with me? Zhuge Shiro, Zhenping.”
I looked straight at the masks. I didn’t utter a word. When Uncle Ciou saw that things still didn’t change, he then inserted the sword obliquely on the belt, and put Zhuge Shiro on his face, holding Zhenping in his left hand.
The right hand supported the three-devil party’s masks and played the drama of “the major war between Zhuge Shiro and the devil party.”
Both sides fought each other in order to seize the treasured sword. Just saw him stand upright, his waist with the sword. He acted powerfully, all of a sudden, chasing robbers on that galloping horse, riding on horseback to cut off the arrows flying towards him, or attacking each other on sturdy steed gallop on the grasslands. When he entered the play too deep, he simply gave no thought to himself. But the targets were not the obvious ones, after all; and the hidden motives were now plain to the eyes. His ultimate goal was to lure me to say a word, so he would ask me once in a while, “What do you say? My dear little master.” I kept nodding, but still didn’t speak.
At that time, there were more and more onlookers, and he was put his heart and soul into the play, more and more. He was no longer just performing “Zhuge Shiro”, even both of the “the hard fighting between Sun Wukong and Big Bull Demon King”, “Wu Song inspires awe throughout the Anping Village, Schein regaining Joyful forest with loyalty” had also been added.
The sounds of applause were endless, “Ay, Jincai, come on, come on.”
They waved, they shouted, they even raised a formidable hurrah.
His footsteps moved faster and faster. He shouted, “We became true confederates and blood brothers in Taoyuan, Zhuge marvelous prediction bluff Sima off.”
All this has caused the surrounding people to become more and more excited. The crowd swelled. He even sang and danced, and suddenly jumped and jumped, but his body shape was so good that he could play it again and again. Now, we knew he was a man not only with superior skills but also skillful in using each and every one of the 18 weapons. How proud he was.
However, maybe he was too invested. When he came again to himself and recalled teasing me to speak, I was lying in my mother’s arms. I snored loudly in my sleep, with a lollipop in my mouth. The time just passed. One whole hour.
He admitted his failure, he gave me all the props, left in frustration, his head hung low enough that couldn’t be further lowered, just like a defeated rooster in a cock fight. Finally, the total loss of Uncle Ciou was calculated. These were, one piece of high-grade cheongsam cloth, two lollipops, one Zhuge Shiro mask, one Zhenping mask, three kind of different colour devil party’s masks, one treasured sword, and a lot of pieces of injured self-esteem.
If he was an open-minded and optimistic person, his bright and clear street selling voice should be heard in the village in a few months.
Photo from the Internet