I read and listened to MO Yan’s speech via Zhaihua’s blog today and Mo Yan’s recall of his childhood totally melts my heart.
The 2012 Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mo Yan of China gave this key speech during the traditional Nobel lecture at the Royal Swedish Academy on December 7, 2012.
This is one of the most moving speeches I’ve ever heard in my life. The speech is a tribute to his mother. Please spare a few minutes to read this. It’s worth your 10 minutes.
【English text was translated by Howard Goldblatt】
Distinguished members of the Swedish Academy, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Through the mediums of television and the Internet, I imagine that everyone here has at least a nodding acquaintance with far-off Northeast Gaomi Township. You may have seen my ninety-year-old father, as well as my brothers, my sister, my wife and my daughter, even my granddaughter, now a year and four months old. But the person who is most on my mind at this moment, my mother, is someone you will never see. Many people have shared in the honor of winning this prize, everyone but her.
My mother was born in 1922 and died in 1994. We buried her in a peach orchard east of the village. Last year we were forced to move her grave farther away from the village in order to make room for a proposed rail line. When we dug up the grave, we saw that the coffin had rotted away and that her body had merged with the damp earth around it. So we dug up some of that soil, a symbolic act, and took it to the new gravesite. That was when I grasped the knowledge that my mother had become part of the earth, and that when I spoke to mother earth, I was really speaking to my mother.
我母亲生于1922 年，卒于1994 年。她的骨灰，埋葬在村庄东边的桃园里。去年，一条铁路要从那儿穿过，我们不得不将她的坟墓迁移到距离村子更远的地方。掘开坟墓后，我们看到，棺木已经腐朽，母亲的骨殖，已经与泥土混为一体。我们只好象征性地挖起一些泥土，移到新的墓穴里。也就是从那一时刻起，我感到，我的母亲是大地的一部分，我站在大地上的诉说，就是对母亲的诉说。
I was my mother’s youngest child.
My earliest memory was of taking our only vacuum bottle to the public canteen for drinking water. Weakened by hunger, I dropped the bottle and broke it. Scared witless, I hid all that day in a haystack. Toward evening, I heard my mother calling my childhood name, so I crawled out of my hiding place, prepared to receive a beating or a scolding. But Mother didn’t hit me, didn’t even scold me. She just rubbed my head and heaved a sigh. Continue reading