Fiction

Little works of fiction from the mind of a melodramatic teenager.

This week, we continue the story of ‘A Horse’s Legs’, picking up where we left off last week. Henry chose to translate a fun short story from Japanese to English. The story can be found here, but for those who need a translation…

A Horse’s Legs

Ryunosuke Akutagawa

 

Light shone gently through the office curtains, which fluttered slightly in the breeze, though nothing could be seen through the window. Behind a large desk in the centre of the room, there sat two Chinese men wearing traditional robes of a brilliant white, with a pair of ledgers set in front of them. One of the men looked to be twenty or so; the other yellowing slightly with age, and with a long white moustache. The younger of the two, who was writing at speed in the ledger, spoke without looking up.

“Nǐ shì Henry Barrett xiānshēng ba?” Hanzaburo was caught off guard. However, he replied as calmly as he could, and in his best Mandarin: “I am Mr. Hanzaburo Oshino of the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan.”

“What? You’re Japanese?” the young Chinese man cried in surprise, finally looking up. His older colleague also stopped writing in his ledger and stared dumbfounded at Hanzaburo. “What ought we to do? We got the wrong person.”

“This is bad. This is very bad. This has not happened since the first Revolution.” The older man said, a furious look upon his face, his trembling hand making his pen shake viciously. “We must rectify this as soon as is possible.”

“You were, erm… Mr. Oshino, wasn’t it? Please wait one moment.” The twenty-something opened another thick ledger, and began to read at great speed. However, he soon closed the ledger as his older colleague, looking even more surprised than before, began to speak. “It’s no use, I’m afraid. Mr. Hanzaburo Oshino died three days ago.”

“Three days ago?” “And moreover, his legs have rotted. Both legs completely decomposed from the thighs down.” Again, Hanzaburo was caught off guard. From what these two men were saying: first, he was dead; second, three days had passed since he died; third, his legs had rotted. Surely, such absurd things were not happening. Really, his legs were just… He quickly tried to take a step, and gave an involuntary yell. This was to be expected, as the legs of his white trousers were fluttering in the breeze from the window! When he saw this spectacle, he could hardly believe his eyes. But when he tried to grab his legs, it was as though everything from the thighs down were thin air.

Hanzaburo collapsed backwards onto his rear. His legs – or, more accurately, his trousers – fluttered helplessly to the floor like a pair of deflated balloons. “It’s fine, it’s fine,” said the older of the two Chinese men, “We’ll sort this out somehow.” He turned to his young subordinate, his anger apparently not yet abated: “This is your responsibility, wouldn’t you agree? Yours! I want a written incident report as soon as possible. Now then, where do you suppose Mr. Henry Barrett is at present?”

“I’ve just looked it up, and it seems he seems to have left for Hankou in a hurry.” “Then send a telegram to Hankou asking for Barrett’s legs!”

“Sorry, Sir, we can’t do that. By the time the legs arrive from Hankou, Mr. Oshino will be rotten up to the torso.”

“This is bad. This is very bad,” the older man sighed. Somehow, even his moustache seemed to be drooping languidly. “This is your responsibility. I want a written incident report as soon as possible. Is there no other possibility?”

“I’m afraid so, what with the delay. Although, we do have a horse.” “From where?” “A horse market just outside the Desheng gate – It’s only just died.”

“Well then, those legs will do. Horse legs are better than nothing. Bring them here!”
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This week, something totally different! Henry chose to translate a fun short story from Japanese to English. The story can be found here, but for those who need a translation…

A Horse’s Legs

Ryunosuke Akutagawa

 

The main character of this story is a man by the name of Hanzaburo Oshino. I am sorry to say that he was not a man who really amounted to much. He was a man of about thirty, working in the Beijing office of the Mitsubishi Corporation. Hanzaburo came to Beijing in the second month after he had graduated from university with honours in Commerce. He did not have a fantastic reputation amongst his co-workers or his superiors, but neither did he have a bad reputation. Hanzaburo was first and foremost a wholly unremarkable man for his appearance, just as for his home life.

Hanzaburo married a young woman by the name of Tsuneko two years ago. I am also sorry to say that they did not marry out of love. An elderly relative of one of them had arranged their marriage for them. Tsuneko was not a beauty, but neither was she hideous. There was always a sweet smile across her plump cheeks, barring the point on the journey to Beijing from Liaoning where she was bitten by bedbugs in a sleeper car. Even so, she now no longer worries about being bitten again, for she keeps the living room of their company-owned house on XX Street well decorated with two vases of chrysanthemums.

I said earlier that Hanzaburo’s home life was wholly unremarkable. In truth, this is not quite correct. He would eat meals together with Tsuneko, listen to the gramophone with her, take her to see the moving pictures – his life was not unlike that of any other salaried minion in Beijing. However, their lives could not escape the control that fate has. And as fate would have it, one early afternoon, the monotony of that wholly unremarkable family life was shattered in a single stroke. That day, Hanzaburo Oshino of the Mitsubishi Corporation died suddenly of cerebral apoplexy.

Even that afternoon, Hanzaburo had been diligently checking documents at his desk at the office on Dongdan Avenue. His colleague, who had been sitting across from him, hadn’t even noticed anything especially wrong with him. As calmly as ever, Hanzaburo had, with cigarette in mouth, struck a match and in that moment keeled over and died. Indeed, one might say he died too quickly, but the world does not criticise those who die happily. No, we only criticise the manner of their lives, and Hanzaburo got by without inviting such criticism. Indeed, there wasn’t much to criticise. His colleagues and superiors all expressed their deepest sympathies to his widow, Tsuneko.

Dr. Yamai, the kindly head of the local hospital, made his diagnosis and concluded that the cause of death was cerebral apoplexy. Sadly, Hanzaburo himself did not realise he was cerebrally apoplectic. He did not even realise that he was dead. He was simply surprised to find himself standing in an office he had never seen before.

 

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This discourse comes from a text message conversation between my friend Adam and me. It follows a discussion about the plot for a piece of theatre for our A-Level Theatre Mock exam but it soon got a bit weird… Please comment if you can decipher what the @&$% we were talking about… Also, anyone who can photoshop a poster for this ‘movie’ using the references bellow, will have it displayed on the left and shall win my eternal gratitude…

Me: And then Rocky Balboa has to beat Darth Vader in a Demolition Derby to win the heart of Maid Marion for the finale! It’s fool proof!

Adam: I think we should write this as a script and sell it to Hollywood instead! We’re gonna be rich!

Me: We can sell it for at least a gazzilion rupees. With that much, you could afford a house on the moon.

Adam: A Moon Mansion…

[Adam begins to dribble with delight]

Me: Oh! You should totally hire the Soup Dragon from the Clangers as your butler.

Adam: That would be so cool. And then find the machine from the first Wallace and Gromit.

Me: Yeah, totally. And Klipspringer – your lodger – can play the piano for the visitors.

Adam: And I can try to impress the Moon Princess with my mansion and riches, but when riding in the Moon Mobile, I hit a lady and proceed to be shot while swimming in the pool made of cheese.

Me: WHAT?!? But if you get blood in the cheese pool, what do we have on crackers to celebrate the Second Coming of 2Pac?

Adam: Oh God; you’re right! I’ll have to find lots of Pineapples to make cocktail stick Hedgehogs. 2Pac loves ’em.

Me: I also hear he’s a fan of Ice Tea. But you’ve got to put sugar and lemon in it or he’ll spit it in your face, take another sip, spit again and continue until you rectify your mistake.

Adam: He’s one picky “mutha^&@#a”.

Me: It’s why Bugsy Malone shot him.

Adam: I heard it was because he gave his girlfriend a foot massage.

Me: Ooooh, that could be true. Heard it had something to do with Mr. Pac spray-painting “musikels suk” on the side of Mr. Malone’s car. It wasn’t the words that upset him, as much as the fact he used pink paint. Bugsy hates pink.

Adam: True dat. That’s why they cancelled the Tweenies, because he killed the pink one…

Me: The execution video online was a bit much. He drew the eye of the Illuminate and performed “Singin’ in the rain” while the blood rained down on him.

Adam: Although, I did find the part where the Tweenie Clock stopped on “death” to be an entertaining touch.

Me: Yeah. Did you see them read the novelization of the video on Story Makers? It was a Blue Cow story, if I remember correctly.

Adam: Yeah. What a brilliant elegy to one of our generations’ best young entertainers. It’s such a shame that the Story Makers’ sex tape got that cancelled as well…

Me: It was summed up well by that classic Jimmy Hendrix ballad: “Blue Udders make Roquefort”.

Adam: I still don’t think it lived up to the hype.

Me: Well when John Cleese and Batman are promoting you, nothing can live up to the hype…