◎ Ba Jin
It is said that “a virtuous man seldom dreams”. Fortunately, I am but an ordinary man.
I dream my own dreams, in which I often meet you.
Last night I again saw your kindly smiling face.
It was the same old home of ours. You talked to me cordially now in your room, now in my room. You smiled and I also smiled.
It was the same old streets of Chengdu. I followed you step by step on the smooth flagstones. Looking at you from behind, I inwardly consoled myself with the thought that father was still hale and hearty. A sensation of blissfulness warmed me up all over.
I was unaware that I was in a dream. I also forgot the hardships I had gone through during the past 25 years.
While I sat beside you inside a theater watching the fighting scenes of a Peking opera, you explained its story to me in great detail.
I was again the small kid of 25 years before. I was joyful, I smiled naive smiles, I chattered away freely. I did not have the slightest inkling that you together with everything else would in a moment vanish out of sight.
When I opened my eyes, I found that I was all by myself and nothing was heard except the pit-a-pat of rain drops.
No more smile, no more chitchat. Only the drip drip drip of rain.
Forcing my eyes to open wider and drawing aside the mosquito net, I began to search for you in the pitch darkness.
A greyish light, nevertheless, edged in through two small windows to enable me to see the spacious room.
You and your smile were no more. Only loneliness and monotony remained. The rain kept pitter-pattering.
I called to you, but no response. I listened attentively, but heard no footsteps. I quieted down, my heart beating hard. I could hear its thumping.
My heart had been tramping along all the time. Up to now, it had been on its slow journey for 25 years.
Thereupon I kept my mouth shut. I knew you would never appear standing before me. I had lost you 25 years before. Since then, I had grown from a fatherless child into a middle-aged man.
The rain continued to fall. The long night wore on amidst its dripping sound. I was seized with acute loneliness. Well, was the roof leaking? Or was it my tears that had wetted my cheeks?
When I was young, I wished I could remain a kid forever under your wing. Now I can fulfil this wish only in my dreams.
There in a dream, I can at least come face to face with you. I can be happy, I can smile naive smiles, I can chatter away freely.
For all this, I should be thankful to my dreams.