◎ Jin Shenghua
Translation is like a bridge with a very different climate and landscape at either end of it. Under the bridge, there lies a valley between steep mountains with a rapid stream flowing through it. Before the bridge is built, people on either side of the valley have for generations made no contact with those on the other. Hence, there have developed two different customs and habits, and two different languages and cultures.
One day, people of the two sides, each with a different culture and custom, suddenly desire to communicate with each other. What can they do?A bridge of course has to be built in order to cross the valley. But who is to build it?
At last, a group of people naively offer themselves for the job.
Someone asks them, “Don’t you know you’ll have to go about this job earnestly and fear no hardship?”
They nod their heads and answer with confidence, “We’re full of drive and not afraid of hardship.”
The questioner says again, “The profession you’re joining pays badly. And often you even have to work round the clock. Frankly, you won’t be fairly rewarded according to your labour.”
They answer, “We don’t want to get rich.”
The questioner says again, “Don’t you know that none in this profession have ever become prosperous. You have to toil away in obscurity. If you want to go after fame and compliments, you had better not choose this profession. When people walk on the bridge after it is built, none will ever think of putting up a monument to you.”
They answer again, “We don’t care for fame.”
The questioner concludes with a sigh, “OK, so you seek neither fame nor wealth. But mind you, you have to be very careful in doing this job. A solid foundation must be laid at each end of the bridge. A stone bridge is built with block after block of stone. A wooden bridge is built with piece after piece of wood. Even the building of a rope bridge requires great care. Each rope has to be tied tightly lest the foot passengers should fall into the ravine, to say nothing of reaching the opposite side.”
Bridges are being built one after another. Knowledge spreads and cultures interflow. But who thinks of the bridge builders?