The Enamel Mug by Wan Quan ~ 万全 《搪瓷茶缸》 with English Translations

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作品原文

万全 《搪瓷茶缸》

每走进百货公司,看到那些洁白的、柔和的、米黄色的和彩色诱人的搪瓷茶缸,总感到一种愉快。
上中学的时候,由于少女的洁癖,喜欢使用白色的搪瓷器皿。记得那时候要买一只瑞典货的纯白大茶缸,要花五块多银元,得进“惠罗公司”之类外国铺子。一九三九年在重庆,某商店从滇缅路运进来一批搪瓷茶缸,价钱当然比战前更贵。我凑足了钱,托朋友进城捎了一只;我的朋友也许过于紧张,一出商店门就将茶缸掉在地上,摔脱了一块瓷。
以后,我带着这只有疤痕的茶缸进了抗日根据地。它的用途倒意外地多起来了——喝水、盛饭、热菜,给生病的同志煮粥,必要时还可以代行“面盆”、“浴缸”的职能。从此,茶缸和我有了进一步的“战斗友情”。
一九四六年来到北平。很想买一只新的茶缸,代替那只为我鞠躬尽瘁的旧茶缸。可是当时的北平还不易买到这玩意。有一次,在东单小市上(亲爱的读者,现在的东单街心花园和王府井大街路旁,当年曾满布卖旧货的小摊,那是为衣食所迫的人们替那些购买力低微的人们所准备的市场),在一个只有几件售品的地摊上,我发现了一只纯白的瑞典茶缸。这正是我所需要的。可是地摊女主人的索价超过我的购买力。我希望她降低售价,她竟眼泪盈眶;这时我才发现她是一个知识分子模样的青年妇女。她解释说家人等钱吃药,所卖的是自己家用的东西。我马上尽我所有付了价款。她劝说我再买一件什么,我虽然心情沉重,很想帮她的忙,但也实在没有钱了。以后,离开了北平,这只茶缸又陪伴我经历了解放战争中的几年,而且,它常常使我清晰地回忆起那位青年妇女的含泪的眼神——在穷困与内战中经历着痛苦的北平人民的眼神。
一九四九又进入城市。我的丈夫以他的全部零用钱买了一只米黄色茶缸赠我,作为胜利的纪念品。这一只是美国货,当时百货店的人说:“这种米色搪瓷只有美国货。”可惜,它对于我并不重要了。一来因为年岁增加,已经失去对于某些生活小节的执着;二来和平的城市生活中,茶缸的用途已经回复正常。可是,至今我碰到各种搪瓷茶缸,仍不免要看它们一眼。因为象瑞典货一样纯白的也好,“只有美国货”的米黄色的也好,都已经是我们中国的出品了;而且品种花色常在增加,价钱也便宜得多了。
当年东单地摊上那位出卖了自用茶缸的主妇,想必早已添置了我国自制的新的茶缸吧。

 

 

作品译文

 

 

The Enamel Mug

Whenever I visit a department store, I always take delight in seeing the enamel mugs which, pure white or creamy, are graceful in pattern and color.
In my middle school days, I preferred to use white enamelware because, like most young girls, I was very particular about cleanliness. In those days, I remember, a Swede-made pure white mug would cost five silver dollars, and it was obtainable only at a foreign firm. In 1939, a certain store in Chongqing offered for sale, at a price of course higher than in prewar days, a stock of enamel mugs they had laid in through the Yunnan-Burma highway. With the money I had raised. I asked a friend leaving for town to buy an enamel mug for me. Unfortunately, probably due to nervousness, he dropped it onto the ground the moment he stepped out of the store and had it chipped.
Afterwards I went to the anti-Japanese base area carrying with me the enamel mug with a chip in it. Unexpectedly, over there it turned out to be a multipurpose utensil. It was used for carrying water or cooked rice, for heating up food, cooking congee for sick comrade, and when necessary, as a substitute for a basin or bathtub. Thenceforth, the militant friendship between it and me became even more profound.
In 1946, when I came to Peiping, I was eager to buy a new enamel mug to replace the old one which had given me years of devoted service. But a new one was hard to come by in the then Peiping. Once, while roaming about a small market in Dongdan, I came across a pure white Swedish enamel mug at a roadside stall displaying only a handful of articles for sale. That was just what I needed. But the price asked by the woman owner of the stall was too high for me. When I bargained, I noticed tears brimming in her eyes. And then I also realized that she was sort of an educated young woman. She said what she had for sale was her personal belongings because she was badly in need of money to pay for the medical care of someone at home. Thereupon, I gave her all the money I had with me for the mug. She hoped that I would buy one more article from her. But, sympathetic as I was with her, I couldn’t buy anything else because I really had no money left in my pocket. Later, after leaving Peiping, I went through several years of the War of Liberation in company with the mug which often reminded me vividly of the tearful eyes of the young woman – tearful eyes typical of the common people of Peiping in the throes of hunger and civil war.
In 1949, I again came to live in Peiping. My husband used all his pocket money to buy me a creamy mug in commemoration of the victory of the War of Liberation. It was of US make. “All creamy ones are US products,” declared the salesman. But the mug isn’t so important to me now because firstly, at my age, I’m no longer so particular about trivial matters in my personal life, and secondly it has resumed its normal uses in peaceful urban life. Nevertheless, up to now, whenever I come across enamel mugs of any kind, I still cannot help taking a look at them. It’s because both pure white Swede-made and creamy US-made mugs have now given way in the market to Chinese products of ever increasing variety of colors and designs and much lower prices.
The woman owner of the roadside stall at Dongdan who sold me her personal mug must have long ago bought a new one of Chinese make for her own use.

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