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“你有一顆流浪者的靈魂, 師傅無法解讀它, 因為在生命中漂流的人沒有一條常道或者說所有道路都有可能會符合.” 她語氣沉重有如在下詛咒.

“You have a soul of a wanderer, the Sifu says it cannot be read, because to the ones that wander through life no path will fit and all of them will suit.” She said with a grave voice as if she was laying down a curse.

 

澳門情書

譯者: Keiko Wong

    周遊列國的大多數人是為了尋找自我. 我是為了失去自我.

    我儘所能從生命交集的無名陌生面孔中消失, 或流浪過的陌生地方和文化中.

    我是一名旅行記者,如此長時間地失去自我開始讓我恐懼,我擔心有一天回首時找不到屬於自己的任何痕跡, 因為我知道那將是我對生活妥協的一天. 不意味著死去, 不過也沒太大區別, 因為那時我的生命已經沒有剩餘絲毫可以給予的. 我僅會是一具影子, 一個活幽靈. 那就是我的恐懼, 卻也是我的目標.

    有趣的是大多損失都是我自願的. 有一些我甚至沒有注意到. 極少是被偷走的. 那些是最难接受的, 不是因为拥有的东西被别人占用了, 而是我还没有心理准备. 就那么简单.

    当下, 如果说实话, 我並不擁有任何值得被人剝奪的. 但我記得擁有的日子. 事實上, 記憶似乎是我極少數難以遺失的物品之一.

    記得是在非洲我失去了所有物質的擁有; 現在我擁有一台相機和半打正好能裝進背包的衣服. 在印度我失去了名字; 然後我的名字成了文珠, 在孟加拉語是甜美和愉快的意思, 在泰爾米語是雲彩, 坎納達語是霧, 靄, 和雪. 在腦海裡我融合了所有意思作為我獨有的. 我願意把自己想像成神秘,夢幻,善良的外來者. 雖然, 這三者都不是我. 我只是個內向的人,不知道要說什麼時便微笑. 後來我發現, 周圍的人似乎喜歡我這樣. 我還是個外來人. 不管到什麼地方我通常都是那裡的外國人, 我也喜歡這個事實. 我意識到這是個我尚未願意放棄的現狀, 也似乎沒有人想要把它奪走.

    然而在我的旅途中我失去的遠遠不止這些. 我失去了時間感, 空間感, 甚至於, 有時候, 自我感. 但是, 我永遠沒有失去我的希望和信念. 那也是一些我不輕易放棄的. 你跟這個世界需要有個連結的方式. 這個連結和澳門就是我所擁有的, 澳門是我遺失情感的地方, 遠在我遺失自我以前, 或時間觀念, 或所有塑造了今朝的我的種種以前.

    我到澳門那天是個星期一. 記得這地方給我的第一印象是奇景般. 這個位於東南亞處於中國大陸和南海之間的小地方, 它的奇特, 深深地打動了我. 就如讓星星和海洋交合然後期望它們不會互相湮沒. 然而就如願發生了. 中葡文化融合交集互相共存誰也沒有湮沒誰. 有人說大自然有自我復原功能, 我會說人類通常也有.

    在中葡雙名的街道上流連, 用相機捕捉路人空白的表情捕捉這個小島獨特的建築. 小街小巷充滿層疊交替的叫嚷聲, 直攻鼻孔的陌生氣息. 開始是色彩, 然後漸漸消褪, 如此豐富的畫面開始在我的腦海變得模糊. 我埋怨這不適合拍照的光線以及灰沈的上空, 因為即使是夏日當頭雨會突然嘩嘩地下.

    熱帶風暴將至, 熱與潮難以忍受. 我站在天篷下避雨, 手裡依然握著相機希望至少可以拍些閃電的圖. 就在那一刻我透過取景器發現了她. 她正穿過議事亭前地廣場, 全身溼透, 唇上帶著微笑雙眼合閉. 她在盡情感受雨滴似乎對周圍全然不在乎. 這種自由是罕見的, 我無意識地放低相機視線從取景器往上挪更清楚地關注她. 就在那一刻雷聲的轟鳴撕破了天空, 震驚了她, 她忽然睜開了眼. 視線落在我身上然後她突然停住了腳步, 有如被剛才的雷電擊中 … 如果那雙命运多舛的雙眼沒有睜開, 雖然只是為了迎合我的眼神, 那我就慘了, 因為我立刻知道那是我生命難逃的一劫.  

    她站在雨中與我相隔不足五米, 縷縷長髮貼在她圓圓的臉上, 嘴微微張開眼睛注視著我. 那是一場幻影.

    她羞怯地微笑, 我也投以微笑回報. 那就足以讓她走向我. 她站在天篷下就在我身旁, 牙齒咬著下唇急促地喘氣, 雙手交叉胸前. 我對她突來的害羞投以微笑並自我介紹.

    “我叫文珠.” 我邊說邊伸出手.

    “我已訂婚.” 她脫口而出, 疑心地看著我的手不確定該不該握.

    “很高興認識你, 已訂婚小姐!” 我開玩笑地說, 用我最迷人的笑電她同時掩蓋湧至而來的失望和刺痛. 我的手尷尬地懸在半空中.

    “文珠是什麼國度的名字?” 她問, 依然沒有接受我的握手.

    “是個印度名…” 我開始解釋, 收起我的手接受她不會跟我握手的現實.

    “你看起來不像印度人.” 她沒等我說完, 直接打斷.

    “我不是. 我是澳大利亞人.” 我聳聳肩.

    “噢! 那為什麼你會有個印度名字?”

    “因為在印度旅行的時候那裡的人開始稱我為文珠, 這個名字一直縈繞著我.” 我告訴她.

    “有什麼意思嗎?”

    “有好幾個意思, 總而言之就是善良, 神秘, 和夢想者.” 我解釋, 盡量不當一回事地.

    “你是嗎?”

    “你覺得呢?” 我反問, 嘗試轉移她問題的方向.

    “你真名是什麼?” 她問道, 直視我雙眼, 那種方式讓我擔心它會扒開我的靈魂.

    “羅伯特普裡徹.” 我含糊地說, 為她的睿智而驚訝.

    “我叫綾.” 她說, 向我步進握住我的手. “很高興認識你, 羅伯特普裡徹.” 她說, 她張嘴的微笑觸動了她的眼睛也觸動了我的心靈. 我被征服了.


    ...

        ...


 
    “算命?” 我抽了一口氣, 半信半疑地揚起眉頭嘗試掩蓋她的出現給我帶來的情緒波動.

    “是的, 你可以找風水師傅給你算命.” 她解釋道, 抓住我的手拉著我穿過廟宇.

    “我以為他們只看安宅風水. 他們也能預算未來?” 我問道, 對她的決定感到好笑.

    “當然不能, 傻瓜! 沒有人能預算你的未來!” 她戲謔地輕責. “他能解讀你的靈魂!” 

 

    我沒有問她是否在跟我開玩笑. 雖然這話讓我有點驚慌, 我以為遇見一個能解讀你靈魂的人這種可能性是件很詩意的事情, 而非來自算命先生.

    這位風水先生跟我想像中完全不一樣. 他就是一個全然普通的中年男人, 穿著T恤和牛仔褲, 和善的笑容.  我不禁地感到一直以來幻想的留著長辮優雅地抽著煙斗的智慧中國老人的形象被粉碎了.

    這位師傅把我上下打量了一番然後用中文跟綾說了什麼, 她沒有翻譯給我聽. 他問了幾個問題這些綾都翻譯了. 我有點不自在地回答了同時對這一切好有疑心. 過了一會兒, 師傅停止了提問而遞給我一個裝滿木簽的竹筒, 讓我抽籤. 他撿起落在地上的木簽然後開始發話, 他並沒有看我, 只是看著綾.

    “師傅說你有一顆傲慢的裝滿了女人的心, 羅伯特普裡徹, 可是沒有人擁有它.” 綾嘗試帶著好笑的語氣, 雖然我知道她不覺得好笑.

    “我有一顆水手的心! 無盡的要給予的愛!” 我試著開玩笑. “我不需要他來告訴我! 他還說了什麼?” 我催她.

    “他不是在告訴你. 而是在告訴我.” 她說, 迎接我的目光. “他告訴你的是由於你捨不得把心托付出去, 終有一天它會被偷走 …”

    “是這樣子嗎?” 我問, 假裝驚訝. “我的靈魂呢? 我以為要解讀的是我的靈魂!” 我一臉嚴肅地說.

    “你有一顆流浪者的靈魂, 羅伯特普裡徹. 師傅說無法解讀它, 因為在生命中漂流的人沒有一條常道或者說所有道路都有可能會符合.” 她語氣沉重有如在下詛咒.

    那些話語至今還縈繞著我. 一直無法捨去.

    “現在我們去哪, 綾?” 走出媽祖廟時我問她, 試著打破此刻介於我倆之間難堪的沈默.

    接下來她帶我去吃午飯, 帶我參觀澳門的小街道和鳥籠般的陽台. 她帶我參觀澳門隱蔽的廟宇和市集. 帶我去亞婆井前地.

    “你知道這個亞婆泉的傳說麼, 羅伯特普裡徹?” 她指著亞婆井前地廣場的噴泉問我. “相傳說, 喝了亞婆泉水的人永遠都忘不了澳門.”

    “那我還是不要試了, 因為, 就現在的情況, 我已經知道我短期內不會忘記澳門.” 我迎接她的目光對自己的言外之意毫不隱蔽.

    她深吸一口氣害羞地轉移視線. 她一句話都沒說, 我也不需要她說什麼. 我認識這名女子僅有一天, 然而感覺已經結識了一輩子甚至上幾輩子. 她說話的方式, 她的舉止, 她的笑容, 她疑惑時皺眉的樣子, 一切對我來說都如此熟悉, 即使我們剛相遇.

    那天分開前她答應第二天再見. 這次我讓她選個準確的我能明白的時間.

    我們第二天上午十點左右在路環村相見. 看見她的時候我的心忘記了原有的跳動節奏. 我試著說服自己我只是被她的美貌打動, 不過我知道遠不止這些.

    我們先在村子裡轉轉, 然後只是漫無目的地閒逛, 她向我講述她的生活和夢想. 綾是一個中國女子和葡萄牙士兵的私生女, 聽到她母親懷孕的消息以後這位葡萄牙士兵毅然拋棄了她們. 她從未見過她的父親, 雖然這個男人毀了她母親的一生給她帶來那麼多的苦頭, 她還是喜歡抱著浪漫地想像有一天他會來尋找她. 當我問起她的夢想時, 我們已經走到了黑沙海灘, 綾把她赤裸的雙腳埋在濕濕的沙子裡. “我的夢想, 羅伯特普裡徹, 是做到終生無憾!” 她邊說邊把裙子撩起到膝蓋上跑向海邊, 那種純粹的快樂僅會在孩童身上看得到. 就在那一刻我知道她已經無情地俘虜了我的心.

    那天, 在黑沙海灘上, 我告訴了她關於我的所有故事. 我們在沙灘上來回走了無數次.

    “你的未婚夫呢, 綾?” 我出其不意地問道.

    “他怎麼了?” 她反問, 有點心神不安.

    “你們倆之間的故事呢?”

    “沒有故事. 我們是青梅竹馬. 長大以後開始談戀愛, 理所當然地. 如今我們準備結婚, 理所當然地.” 她淡寫輕描, 仿佛說的是明天的安排而不是這輩子的安排.

    “你說的終生無憾呢?” 我邊問邊坐在沙子上, 示意她坐在我身旁.

    “你問的是我的夢想, 羅伯特普裡徹, 所以那是我的答案: 我的夢想, 不是我的現實.”

    “所以, 你會嫁給一個你不愛的人只是因為這是所有他人的期望?”

    “我是個沒有父親的澳門女人. 如果生活教會了我任何事情, 那就是你生命中的所愛不一定是陪伴你生命的人.” 她的語氣充滿了如此的無奈, 我無能為力.

    我們安靜地在沙子上坐了很長時間然後決定該離開了. 我可以永遠待在那裡, 可是她要走了. 告別的時候我們都默認第二天還會見. 她直接告訴我去盧廉若公園, 早上九點.

    接下來那天, 當我在這秀丽的花園裡找到她的時候已經九點半了. 

    “羅伯特普裡徹你遲到了!” 她譴責我, 假裝生氣.

    “終有一天我的名字會被你用盡, 美女!” 我嘲弄她. “為什麼你不能跟其他人一樣叫我文珠?” 我笑著說.

    “因為, 羅伯特普裡徹, 兩天前我在議事亭前地愛上的不是文珠.”

    我無以應答因為那一刻所有都顯得不重要了, 我邁向她, 縮短我們間的距離, 雙手捧著她的臉吻盡她的一生.

    那是我們諸多親吻的開端. 接下來的日子我們接吻, 相愛, 漫步穿越澳門, 我們盡可能忽視即將而來的告別. 可是我們不可能忽視它一輩子. 當那可怕的時刻越來越近時, 我開始失眠. 我情不自禁地在旅館床上翻來覆去想念著她. 那些無眠夜的某一刻, 我開始想我們之間也許有未來.

    “我明天要離開了.” 我說, 那時我們正牽著手漫步於白鴿巢公園. 一星期眨眼間就過去了, 雖然感覺我們在那幾天已經共度了一生. 她什麼都沒說, 光點頭. “跟我走, 綾!” 我心血來潮地說.

    她深吸一口氣, 什麼都沒說. 她放開我的手開始加速走到我跟前, 把我留在後面.

    “綾!”  我喊道, 追著她.

    “不行! 不行, 羅伯特普裡徹! 你不可以叫我跟你走!” 她說, 終於轉向我, 眼裡充滿了淚水和一股我永遠都無法忘記的痛. “我已訂婚將要嫁給一個好男人! 一個永遠會在我身邊跟我分享生活的男人!”

    “一個你不愛會讓你悔恨終身的男人!” 我咆哮著, 雙手抓著頭. “選擇我, 綾!” 我懇求.

    “我不可以選擇你, 事情根本就沒有選擇的餘地. 我們現在, 在澳門可以在一起, 可是如果換成另一個地方另一個空間我們根本不可能在一起. 你是個流浪者. 我就跟這個生我養我的地方一樣. 我改變, 賭博, 調整我自己, 可是我永遠不會遺棄我的根源地. 我會堅守.” 她說著, 終於讓淚水流滿她的臉.

    “那你叫我留下吧 …” 我請求.

    “我不能! 你會活不下去的 … 那樣我就會永遠地失去你.”

    “你已經失去了我!” 我嘆氣.

    “羅伯特普裡徹!” 她哭喊著, 我沒有任何要說的, 於是我從她身邊走過再也沒回頭.

    那是我最後一次見到她. 同一天我離開了澳門, 沒有告別沒有情感.

    離開澳門七個月以後我收到她的第一封信. 此後更多的接踵而來. 她每年給我寄兩三封信, 每當颱風襲擊的時候. 它們是情書. 她寄到我工作的雜誌社, 雜誌社再轉寄到我在的地方, 就跟我其它的信件一樣. 我從沒給她回信, 卻如一個臨終者保留最後一口氣那樣保留著它們. 裡面的字句我都記在心頭. 每一封. 在第一封信裡她告訴我每當聽到雷聲的時候要想起她, 我至今都有做到; 我走遍世界就是為了尋找各地的雷聲.


Love Letters from Macau

    Most people travel the world to find themselves. I do it to lose myself.

    I do my best to vanish in the nameless faces of the strangers that cross my paths, or in the unfamiliar places and cultures where I end up wandering in.

    I am a travel reporter and I’ve been losing myself for so long now that I fear the day I’ll look back and I’ll not be able to find anything left of me, because I know that that will be the day I’ll come to terms with my existence. I won’t be dead, but I might as well be, because I know I won’t have a shred of life left in me to spare then. I’ll be just a shadow of a man, a live ghost. That’s my fear, yet that’s also my goal.

    The funny thing about it is that most of my losses were of my own accord. Others I didn’t even notice. And very few were stolen from me. Those were the hard ones, and not due to any partaken sense of proprietorship, but because I was not ready. That simply.

    Nowadays, if I’m being honest, I don’t think I have anything left that can be ripped off from me. But I remember when I did. In fact, memories seem to be one of the few things I have trouble losing.

    I remember that it was in Africa that I lost what remained from my sense of ownership; I now own a camera and the half a dozen of clothes that fit in my backpack. In India I lost my name; I became Manju, which in Bengali means sweet and pleasant, in Tamil means clouds, and in Kannada means fog, mist, and snow. In my head I sort of fused the meanings together and created my own. I like to think of myself as the mysterious, dreamy, and kind foreigner. I’m none of it, though. I’m just introvert and I smile a lot when I don’t know what to say. People tend to like that, I came to realize. And I’m a foreigner. I’m always a foreigner wherever I go and I try to keep it that way. That’s something I realized I’m not willing to part with and that no one seems inclined to take away from me either.

    But I’ve lost a lot more during my travels. I’ve lost my sense of time, space, and, sometimes, my sense of self. I’ve never lost my hope or my faith, though. That’s also something I don’t want to give up that easily. You have to have something to connect you to this world. So I have that and I have Macau, the place where I lost my heart long before I lost myself, or the track of time, or anything else  that made me who I was.

    I arrived in Macau on a Monday. I recall that my first reaction to the place was one of marvel. The oddity of this little place in the southeast of Asia, wedged between Mainland China and the South China Sea, struck me hard. It was like mixing the stars and the ocean and hoping that none of them annihilated the other. Yet it worked. Chinese and Portuguese cultures merged in a strange symbiosis without seeming to lose their identities. They say Nature always finds a way, I’ll say Men also always do.

    I found myself roaming the streets with Chinese and Portuguese names, capturing the anonymous expressions of the passersby and the unique architecture of the place with my camera. There were alleys and side streets crowded with the yells of people trying to speak over each other, and unfamiliar smells that flooded my nostrils. There was color, but it faded away, so much that it started to blur in my mind. I blamed the bad light and the grey and heavy skies above, because though it was the middle of a summer day it started to rain copiously.

    There was a tropical storm nearby, so the heat and the moisture were almost unbearable. I stood under a canopy, sheltered from the rain, and holding my camera in hopes of at least catching the lightning bolts. That’s when I saw her through the viewfinder of my camera. She was walking across Leal Senado Square, completely soaking wet, with a smile on her lips and her eyes closed. She was feeling the rain and she didn’t seem to have a care in this world. You don't see that kind of freedom often, so I lifted my eyes from the viewfinder and unconsciously lowered my camera to get a better view. At that precise moment the peal of a thunder ripped the skies, startling her, and making her open her eyes suddenly. They fell on mine and she stopped her march abruptly, as if the lightning bolt that followed the thunder had struck her… and I’ll be damned if those ill-fated almond eyes didn’t open with the single purpose of meeting mine, because I knew right away that I was doomed.  

    We were not more than fifteen feet apart as she stood there under the rain, her long hair plastered in strands over her round face, her mouth slightly ajar and her gaze holding mine. She was a vision.

    She smiled coyly and I smiled back. That was all she needed to come to me. She stood by my side under the canopy, worrying her lower lip with her teeth and breathing hastily while she crossed her arms over her chest. I smiled at her sudden abashment and introduced myself.

    “I’m Manju.” I said, stretching my hand.

    “I’m engaged to be married.” She blurted, eying my hand with suspicion and unsure if she should take it or not.

    “Nice to meet you, Engaged-To-Be-Married!” I joked, flashing her with my most charming smirk and masking the sting of disappointment that flooded me. My hand floated awkwardly between us.

    “What kind of name is Manju?” She asked, still not taking my hand.

    “It’s an Indian name…” I started to explain, putting my hand away and resigning to the fact that she wasn’t going to take it.

    “You don’t look Indian.” She stated, cutting me off.

    “I’m not. I’m Australian.” I shrugged.

    “Oh! Why do you have an Indian name then?”

    “Because when I was travelling through India people there started to call me Manju and it kind of stuck.” I offered.

    “What does it mean?”

    “It has several meanings, but it sort of sums up to kind, mysterious, and dreamer.” I said, trying to sound nonchalant about it.

    “Are you?”

    “What do you think?” I asked back, attempting to divert her question.

    “What is your real name?” She asked, looking me straight in the eyes in a way that I feared it would bare my soul.

    “Robert Preacher.” I mumbled, taken aback by her sagacity.

    “I’m Ling.” She said, stepping closer and grabbing my hand. “Nice to meet you, Robert Preacher.” She said, opening her mouth in a smile that reached her eyes and my heart. I was doomed.

    
 ...
 ...


    “My fortune?” I gasped, raising a skeptical brow at her in an attempt to mask the turmoil of feelings that her presence had caused in me.

    “Yes, you can ask the Feng Shui Sifu to read your fortune.” She explained, grabbing me by the hand and dragging me through the temple.

    “I thought that was for house furniture arrangement. They can also tell your future?” I asked, amused by her resolve.

    “Of course not, you silly! No one can read you your future!” She scolded playfully. “He will read your soul!”

    I never asked her if she was teasing me or not. Though it scared me a bit, I thought that there was something far more poetic in the possibility of someone being able to read your soul, rather than reading your future.

    The Feng Shui Sifu was not what I was expecting. He was a perfectly normal middle age guy, dressed in jeans and t-shirt, and with a friendly smile.  I couldn’t help but feeling that my fantasy of a wise and old Chinese man with a long braid and smoking an elegant pipe had been crushed.

    The Sifu eyed me up and down and said something to Ling in Chinese that she didn’t translate. He made some questions and those Ling translated. I answered them a bit uneasy and suspicious of the all process. After a bit, the Sifu stopped with the questions and handed me a tube full of wood sticks and motioned for me to shake it until one of the sticks drop to the floor. He picked it up and started to speak, but he didn’t look at me, only at Ling.

    “The Sifu says you have a proud heart that is full of women, Robert Preacher, but none of them owns it.” Ling said trying to sound amused, though she wasn’t.

    “I have a heart of a sailor! I have lots of love to give away!” I attempted to joke. “I didn’t need him to tell me that! What else is he saying?” I urged her.

    “He was not telling you that. He was telling me.” She said, holding my gaze. “To you he is saying that your proud heart is going to be robbed because you are not willing to give it away…”

    “Is that so?” I asked, feigning surprise. “And what about my soul? I thought this was about my soul!” I deadpanned.

    “You have a soul of a wanderer, Robert Preacher. The Sifu says it cannot be read, because to the ones that wander through life no path will fit and all of them will suit.” She said with a grave voice as if she was laying down a curse.

    Those words stuck with me ever since. I was never able to lose them.

    “Where to now, Ling?” I asked, trying to break the uncomfortable silence that stood between us as we exited the temple.

    She took me to lunch after that and she showed me Macau of the narrow streets and bird caged balconies. She showed me Macau of the hidden temples and street markets. And she showed me Lilau.

    “You know what they say about this fountain, Robert Preacher?” She asked me, pointing to Lilau Square fountain. “They say, one who drinks from Lilau never forgets Macau.”

    “I’m not taking any chances then, because, as it is, I already know I won’t be forgetting Macau any time soon.” I said, holding her gaze and leaving no doubts as to what I was referring.

    She gasped and averted her eyes coyly. She didn’t say a word, but I didn’t need her to. I had met this woman for only a day and I felt like I’d known her all my life and in the lives I had lived before this one. The way she talked, the way she moved, her laughter, the way she frown when she was uncertain of something, all that felt familiar to me, yet I had just met her.

    We parted that day with her promise of meeting me again the next day. This time I managed to get her to set a time that I would understand.

    The next day we met at Coloane village around ten in the morning. My heart skipped a beat when I saw her. I tried to convince myself that I was just startled by her beauty, but I knew that it was more than that.

    We walked around the village at first, and then we just kept walking without apparent destination while she told me about her life and her dreams. Ling was the remains of a love affair between her Chinese mother and a Portuguese soldier that had abandoned them when he learned about Ling’s mother pregnancy. She never met her father, but she liked to entertain the romantic fantasy that he would look for her one day, and despite her mother’s bitter tales about the soldier who had ruined her life. When I asked her about her dreams, we had reached Hac Sa beach and Ling was already burying her bare feet in the wet sand. “My dream, Robert Preacher, is to live my life without regrets!” She said, raising her long skirt above her knees and running towards the water with the kind of happy resolve that you only see in small children. That was the moment I knew she had mercilessly robbed me of my heart.

    That day, in Hac Sa beach, I told her everything there was to know about me. We walked that beach back and forth so many times that we lost count.

    “What about your fiancée, Ling?” I asked, out of the blue.

    “What about him?” She asked back, fidgety.

    “What is your story?”

    “There’s no story. We know each other since we were children. We started dating when we were teenagers, as expected. And now we are going to get married, as expected.” She said dismissively, as if she had just shared her plans for the next day and not her whole life.

    “What about living without regrets?” I asked, sitting down on the sand and motioning for her to sit by my side.

    “You asked me about my dreams, Robert Preacher, and that is what I told you about: my dreams, not my reality.”

    “So, you’re going to marry a guy you don’t love just because everyone expects you to?”

    “I am a Macanese woman without a father. If there is one thing life taught me is that the love of your life is not necessarily the man of your life.” She said with such a resigned passion in her voice that I had nothing to give her.

    We sat silently on the sand for a long time before we decided it was time to leave. I felt I could stay there forever, but she had to go. When we said goodbye there was no question to if we were going to meet again the next day. She just told me Lou Lim Iok, nine in the morning.

    The following day, when I managed to find her in the lovely garden, it was already half past nine.

    “Robert Preacher you are late!” She accused, feigning annoyance.

    “You are going to wear out my name, woman!” I mocked. “Why don’t you just call me Manju like everyone else?” I laughed.

    “Because, Robert Preacher, it was not with Manju I fell in love with two days ago in Leal Senado.”

    I had no words for her because all reason abandoned me in that moment, so I just closed the gap between us with wide strides, grabbed her face between my hands and kissed the life out of her.

    That was the first of the many kisses that followed. For the next days we kissed, we loved, we sauntered through Macau, and we did our best to ignore my imminent departure. But we couldn’t ignore it forever. As the dreaded day approached, I could barely sleep at night. I kept twisting and turning in my hotel bed thinking of her. At some point during those sleepless nights, I found myself thinking if there could be an us.

    “I’m leaving tomorrow.” I said, as we strolled through Camões Garden holding hands. One week had passed at a glance, yet it seemed that we had lived a lifetime in those few days. She said nothing, but nodded her head. “Come with me, Ling!” I said on an impulse.

    She gasped, but said nothing. She let go of my hand and started to walk faster in front of me, leaving me behind.

    “Ling!”  I shouted, running after her.

    “No! No, Robert Preacher! You cannot ask me that!” She said, turning towards me, her eyes filled with unshed tears and a pain I will never forget. “I am engaged to be married to a good man! A man that will stay by my side and share a life with me!”

    “A man you don’t love and that you will regret your whole life!” I snarled, running my hands through my hair. “Choose me, Ling!” I pleaded.

    “I cannot choose you, because there is no choice to be made here. We make sense now, in Macau, but we wouldn’t make sense anywhere or anytime else. You are a wanderer. I’m like this land that gave birth to me. I change, I gamble, and I adapt, but I never abandon my roots. I remain.” She said, letting the tears finally shed over her face.

    “Then ask me to stay…” I begged.

    “I can’t! You wouldn’t survive… and I’d lose you forever.”

    “You just did!” I sighed.

    “Robert Preacher!” She cried, but there was nothing left for me to say, so I just walked past her and never looked back.

    That was the last time I saw her. I left Macau that same day without a goodbye or a heart.

    Her first letter reached me seven months after I left Macau. The others kept coming after that. She sends me two or three every year, whenever there’s a big storm. They’re love letters. She sends them to the magazine I work for and they forward them to where they know I’ll be, as they do with all my mail. I never replied to her letters, but I hold on to them as a dying man holds to his last breath. I know them by heart. Every single one of them. On her first letter she told me to remember her whenever I heard a thunder, so that‘s what I do now; I travel the world in search of thunders.

 

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© 2010-2018 Keiko Wong - journey of life, travel photography, portraits, literature 中英文现代文学译者,摄影师