We stand with Ukraine 🇺🇦 STOP WAR
Short stories

Mayuhe Revisited

On the morning of October 28th, my brother drove us to Mayuhe, the forest farm on the southern bank of the Yangtze River where Hua and I worked as zhiqing (educated youths) towards the end of the “Cultural Revolution.” Our purpose was to pay our tribute to the locality as I’d described in my novel Paradise Regained several years earlier, and to find a goodt spot where we could have part of our ashes blended and buried together after our deaths. In other words, we made this secret trip both as a reenactment of an imagery experience and as a preparation for a posthumous marriage. For the two of us, Mt. Mayuhe had a special significance because, as the tallest hill on the farm, it was not only the starting point of our career paths, but the mecca of our lifelong romance.

However, hardly had my brother dropped us at the foothill when we found ourselves standing in a virtually strange place. While all the houses looked like new relocated tile-and-brick structures instead of old spotty straw-thatched cottages, every hill seemed to have become much lower than before. There were still trees everywhere, but not a single pine could be seen within sight; even Mt. Mayuhe itself had somehow grown undistinguishable.

“Some major change must have taken place here!” I thought aloud.
“Sure thing! Did you notice it’s now called Mayuhe Village rather than Mayuhe Forest Farm?” Hua asked.
“Good observation! That’s probably why the hills seem to have been deserted, all covered with wild trees and bushes now,” I replied. “No matter what, let’s cross the bridge since we’ve come to it.”

Without further ado, we chose a rarely travelled trail leading towards Mt. Mayuehe. Wearing the brand new huili shoes I’d bought for her across the Songzi Hotel on the previous evening, Hua walked behind me like a curious and playful young girl, gathering a few wild flowers here or taking a close look at a big mushroom there. As we began to enter into the wood, I picked up two broken branches and made them into walking sticks, which we could also use as weapons should we run into wild animals like snakes or coyotes; then we sprayed plenty of mosquito repellent to each other, hoping to reach the peak safely by noon time, a distance we could cover within twenty minutes when we were zhiqings here about half a century ago.

However, panting along amidst bushes and grasses, we soon realized that no path actually led to anywhere. After trying every visible trail, we finally had to give up in profound disappointment and stopped at a small glade, where we decided to take a good rest and eat some snacks.
“Tell me,” Hua said, “what you wrote about this episode in your novel?”
“First, I articulated how I felt when I reached the highest point and looked down towards the Yangtze. Then I imagined myself practicing meditation under the tallest pine tree, while you did a landscape sketch. The climax came when I raped you right on the spot before composing my first and only poem on your chest.”

“Whoa, watch your mouth!” Hua said. “But it’s a great shame anyway. You cannot do any meditation, nor am I prepared to draw a picture here among mosquitos.”
“But we could still make love in the wildness.”

Before Hua was able to make a response, I dragged her down and reached my hand into her private garden. As always, it didn’t take long before she became wet and started to breathe heavily. But alas, partly because the mosquitos were too distractive, and partly because I had really bitten off more than I could chew this time, my lower selfhood refused to grow strong enough for a solid invasion. So, in a desperate symbolic gesture, I peeled off her pants and let her sit bare-bottomed on me for a while, like a big white bird settling on a small dark roost.

“What are you hatching here, Huahua?” I asked jokingly under her.
“Maybe a poem,” she replied, chuckling as she looked around carefully.
Hearing her reply, I sat up, took out my ball pen and scribbled one quickly between her dangly and smallish breasts.
“I cannot see it though. What were you writing there?”
“An erotic piece.”
“In Chinese or English?”
“In English, like before.”
“Don’t even think of submitting it to any magazine!”
“But it’s already published.”
“How and where?”
Then, I told Hua I’d rehearsed this act in my imagination during the COVID pandemic, long before our physical reunion. The title was “My wonder woman.”
“So, today is just a reenactment.”

In a sense, Hua was certainly right, but it was also a re-creation, for the sensory experience and the circumstance were not only different but real, except that the whole episode, especially the wording and the natural environment, was a somewhat deflated version of the story.
When we finally arrived at the village center, we were happy to learn that there was, after all, an easier way for us to “return to our roots after the leaves fall.”

Taken in Songzi in Ocotober 2023

Support PRIVATE Photo Review Support us today →

Changming Yuan

Yuan Changming grew up in an isolated village, started to learn the English alphabet in Shanghai at age 19, and published monographs on translation… More »

Leave your opinion:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button

Adblock Detected

We use advertisements to keep our website online.

Please whitelist our website
in your adblocking plugin