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Frogs by Mo Yan

Frogs by Mo Yan

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Published by: Jean_Jacques_Vandale on Dec 27, 2012
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04/13/2014

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Frogs
by Mo Yan.Translated by Howard Goldblatt.
 
I have to admit that, though I did not make it public, I was personally opposed to my 
 Aunty‟s
marriage plans. My father, my brothers and their wives shared my feelings. It
simply wasn‟t a good match in our view. Ever since we were small we‟d looked
forward to seeing Aunty find a husband. Her relationship with Wang Xiaoti had brought immense glory to the family, only to end ingloriously. Yang Lin was next,and while not nearly the ideal match that Wang would have provided, he was, afterall, an official, which made him a passable candidate for marriage. Hell, she couldhave married Qin He, who was obsessed with her, and be better off than with Hao
Dashou . . . we were by then assuming she‟d wind up an old maid, and had madeappropriate plans. We‟d even discussed who would be her caregiver when she
reached old age. But then, with no prior indication,
she‟d married Hao Dashou. Little
Lion and I were living in Beijing then, and when we heard the news, we could hardly  believe our ears. Once the preposterous reality set in, we were overcome by sadness.
 Years later, Aunty starred in a TV program titled „Moon Child,‟ which was supposed
to be about the sculptor Hao Dashou, though the camera was always on her, talking
and gesturing as she welcomed journalists into Hao‟s yard and gave them a guided
tour of his workshop and the storeroom where he kept all his clay figurines, while hesat quietly at his workbench, eyes glazed over and a blank look on his face, like adreamy old horse. Did all master artists turn into dreamy old horses once they  became famous? I wondered. The name Hao Dashou resounded in my ears, though
I‟d only met him a few times. After seeing him late on the night my nephew Xianquan
hosted a dinner to celebrate his acceptance as a pilot, years passed before I saw himagain, and this time it was on TV. His hair and beard had turned white, but hiscomplexion was ruddy as ever; composed and serene, he was a nearly transcendentfigure. It was during that program that we learned why Aunty had married HaoDashou. Aunty lit a cigarette, took a deep drag, and began to speak, sadness creeping into her voi
ce. „Marriages,‟ she said, „are made in Heaven. By this, I‟m not promoting the
cause of idealism for you youngsters, for there was a time when I was an ardent
materialist, but where marriage is concerned, you must trust in fate. Just ask him,‟
she said, po
inting to Hao Dashou. „Do you think he ever dreamed of one day gettingme as his wife?‟
 
„In 1997, when I was sixty,‟ she said, „my superiors told me to retire, whether I
 wanted to or not. I was already five years past the retirement age, and nothing I said would have made any difference. You know the hospital director, that ungrateful bastard Huang Jun, the son of Huang Pi from Hexi Village. Just who do you think 
 
dragged that little shit
they called him Melon Huang
 
out of his mother‟s belly?
 Well, he spent a couple of days in a medical school, and when he came out, almost asstupid as the
day he went in, he couldn‟t find a vein with a syringe, couldn‟t locate aheart with a stethoscope, and had never heard the terms „inch, bar, and cubit‟ whenchecking a patient‟s pulse. So who better to appoint as hospital director! He was
admitted into the school thanks to my personal recommendation to Director Shen of the Bureau of Health. Only to be ignored by him when he was the man in charge. The wretched creature has limited talents: playing the host, giving gifts, kissing ass and
seducing women.‟
  At
this point, Aunty thumped her breast and stomped her foot. „What a fool I was,‟she said angrily, „letting the wolf in my door. I made it easy for him to have his way 
 with all the girls in the hospital. Wang Xiaomei, a seventeen-year-old girl from Wang Village, had nice, thick braids, a pretty oval face, and skin like ivory. Her lashesdanced like butterfly wings, her eyes could talk, and anyone who saw her would
 believe that if film director Zhang Yimou discovered her, she‟d be a hotter
commodity than Gong Li or Zhang Ziyi ever were. Sadly, Melon Huang, the sex fiend,discovered her first. He rushed off to Wang Village, where, with a glib tongue that
could bring back the dead, he talked Xiaomei‟s parents into sending her to his
hospital to learn from me how 
to treat women‟s problems. He said she‟d be my 
student, but she never spent a single day with me. Instead, the lecher kept her to
himself, his daily companion and nightly lover. If that weren‟t bad enough, he even
took her during the daytime; people had s
een them. Then once he‟d had enough fun
 with her, he was off to the county seat, where he hosted banquets for high officials
 with public funds, in hopes of being transferred to the big city. Maybe you haven‟t
seen what he looks like: a long, donkey face with dark lips, bloody gums, and toxic breath. Even with a face like that, he figured he had a chance of becoming assistantdirector at the Bureau of Health! Each time he dragged Wang Xiaomei along to drink and eat and entertain the officials, probably even offering her up as a gift for their
pleasure. Evil! That‟s what he was, pure evil!
 
„One day the little wretch called me to his office. Other women who worked in the
hospital were afraid to be in his office. But not me. I kept a little dagger handy, and wo
uldn‟t have hesitated to use it on the bastard. Well, he poured tea, smiled, and laidit on thick. “What did you want to see me about, Director Huang? Let‟s get to thepoint.” “Heh
-
heh.” He grinned. “Great Aunt” –
 
damned if he didn‟t call me “Great Aunt” –
 
“you delivered me the day I was born, and you‟ve watched me grow into
adulthood. Why, I could be your own son. Heh-
heh”
.
“I don‟t deserve such anhonour,” I said. “You‟re the director of a big hospital, while I‟m just an ordinary  woman‟s doctor. If you were my son I‟d die from the honour. So, please, tell me what you have in mind.” More heh
-heh-heh, before he got around to revealing the
shameless reason he‟d summoned me. “I‟ve made the mistake all leading cadres
make sooner or later
through my own carele
ssness Wang Xiaomei got pregnant.”“Congratulations!” I said. “Now that Xiaomei is carrying your dragon seed, the
 
hospital is guaranteed leadership continuity.” “Don‟t mock me, Great Aunt, I‟ve beenso upset the past few days I can‟t eat or sleep.” Can you
believe the bastard actually 
said he had trouble eating and sleeping? “She‟s demanding that I divorce my wife,and if I won‟t she‟s threatened to report me to the County Discipline Commission.”“Really?” I said. “I thought having „second wives‟ was popula
r among you officials
these days. Buy a villa, install her in it, and you‟ve got it made.” “I asked you not tomake fun of me, Great Aunt,” he said. “I couldn‟t go public with a „second‟ or a „third‟ wife, even if I had the money to buy a villa.” “Then go ahead and get a divorce,” Isaid. He pulled that donkey face longer than ever and said, “Great Aunt, you know 
full well that my father-in-law and those pig-butcher brothers-in-law of mine are
 violent thugs. My life wouldn‟t be worth a thing if they found out about this.” “But you‟re the Director, an official!” “All right, that‟s enough, Great Aunt. In your old eyes
the director of a hospital in a piddling, out-of-the-way town is about as important as
a loud fart, so instead of mocking me, why don‟t you help
me come up with
something!” “What in the world could I come up with?” “Wang Xiaomei admires you,” he said. “She‟s told me that many, many times. You‟re the only person she‟lllisten to.” “What do you want me to do?” “Talk her into having an abortion.” “Me
lon
Huang,” I complained through clenched teeth, “I will never again soil my hands withthat atrocious act! Over the course of my life I‟ve already been responsible for morethan two thousand aborted births, and I‟ll never do it again. Just wait her out un
til
 you‟re a father. Xiaomei is such a pretty girl, she‟s bound to present you with a lovely 
 boy or girl, and that should make you happy. You go tell her that when the time
comes, I‟ll be there to deliver the child.”‟
 
„With that, I turned on my heel and w 
alked out of the office pleased with myself. Butthat feeling lasted only till I was back in my own office and had drunk a glass of  water. My mood turned dark. No one as bad as Melon Huang deserved to have anheir, and what a shame that Wang Xiaomei was ca
rrying his child. I‟d learned enoughdelivering all those children to know that a person‟s core
good or bad
isdetermined more by nature than nurture. You can criticize hereditary laws all you want, but this is knowledge based on experience. You could place a son of that evil
Melon Huang in a Buddhist temple, and he‟d grow up to be a lascivious monk. No
matter how sorry I felt for Wang Xiaomei or how unwilling I was to put ideas in her
head, I simply couldn‟t let that fiend find an easy way out of his p
redicament. If the world had another lascivious monk, so be it.
„But Xiaomei herself came to me, wrapped her arms around my legs, and dirtied my trousers with her tears and snivel. “Aunty,” she sobbed, “dear Aunty, he tricked me,he lied to me. I wouldn‟t
marry that bastard if he sent an eight-man sedan chair for
me. Help me do it, Aunty, I don‟t want that evil seed in me.”‟
 
„So that‟s how it was.‟ Aunty lit another cigarette and puffed away savagely, until Icouldn‟t see her face for all the smoke. „I help
ed rid her of the fetus. Once a rose
about to bloom, Wang Xiaomei was now a ruined, fallen woman.‟ Aunty reached up

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