The next day a yacht captain looking for crew phoned. Elle ran to the quay and found the boat. The man asked her on board, offered a cup of good coffee and said he was making for Australia soon. Sorry no, never mind, thank you. She chatted for a while and walked back to the hostel disappointed. Meanwhile Olympic was bored to death waiting on the car park at the supermarket. After three days it became obvious. The old car did not appeal to anyone. Elle drove her back to the hostel.
The day before departure the hostel's helper who was vacuum cleaning in the corridor said out of the blue:
- The French are bastards who blow bombs in our backyard!
Flabbergasted by this sudden spurt of hatred Elle reacted by answering louder:
- To start with, we don't blow bombs. No one died. We've been doing nuclear research for the last ten years. And second, the atoll where it is taking place is not in your backyard but three time zones further, the same distance as between Paris and Moscow, or Bangkok and Tokyo.
Then she walked past and the hostel assistant went on pulling his vacuum cleaner apart. Some time later in the common room, after this first volley, Elle had another try:
- But why on earth do you have so much hatred for the French in this country? What did we do to you?
- De Gaulle asked New Zealand to come to defend France and we sent our soldiers to die there!
- What!!! Elle uttered completely dumbfounded, what war are you talking about?
For the first wold war of the twentieth century Kiwi soldiers fought valiantly in the trenches and died on French soil. That was right. They had left en masse to Europe at the call of their home country, Britain, to defend the British empire. They fought in the Dardanelles too and paid a heavy tribute to their attachment and loyalty to the British crown. For the second world war of the twentieth century Kiwi men left en masse again to England calling. They fought in Africa and elsewhere under the British flag. Not in France where there hardly was a battle. Except at the landing, of course, of the Anglo-American armada. De Gaulle? After the invasion of France by the Germans he had the role of an outlaw decreeting on his own that the French government was exiled in London. He made a call for help, that's right, but to his own countrymen to make them fight on against the invader...
The Kiwi man didn't listen. Elle shrugged her shoulders, thought that New Zealand did not have updated history books and went on preparing for departure.
She was just having her periods.
- Ah shit! she said out loud as if to herself.
- What's up now? Liyan asked.
- Lucky you, you don't have 'periods', you can't even imagine the pain in the neck it is... a fountain of blood running between your legs for a whole week, every three weeks... count, Liyan, count the number of bloody days it makes in a year!
Liyan in the South Pacific, book 2 Polynesia is now available for purchase on the net at blurb.com
A novel featuring a Chinese doll, a French woman and a flute
This is not a novel really. It has no plot, no beginning and no end. It is a slice of life, the way it happened, portraying real people. A slice of life set with fantasy. This text is my own bad translation of what I wrote in French between 1996 and 1999.
Learn Chinese on Your Terms at ChinesePod.com