New reportage by Ma Jinyu, translated by Kate Costello
This is a translation of an article from One-Way Street magazine, with their support, translated by and published in collaboration with Paper Republic; it was made possible by Sinocism and individual supporters of China Channel on Patreon.
On October 11th, the village hosted a big show. This was always the most lively time of year in the village. Stalls selling mutton soup, beef meatballs, oil-cakes and hand-shaved noodles crowded around the stage. The steam swirled and the oil-cakes bubbled in their pot, the mutton soup at a rolling boil. The drums of the opening scene pulled at the villagers’ heartstrings, as the soulful arias of ‘Orphan Zhao’ resounded in the heavens. But Old Man Liang shut himself indoors.
For many years Old Man Liang had held back from the village festivities, even though he lived only a dozen meters from the stage. Occasionally, if he walked past the road in front of the stage, the villagers would turn to look back at him, shouting their hellos. He said that he wasn’t willing to participate, but judging by his expression I guessed that it was more likely that he thought that a man of his profession might dampen the mood.