- We knew something was going to happen, but what?... everyone had enough... we were scared of the Russian tanks. If our government called for the Russian army, we would have had little chance. we were heading for a massacre... A lot of people had fled to Czechoslovakia... But then I thought: "to end up where? all my family is here"...
Slender and muscular, tatooed on one arm, a long beard, with sparce blond hair, he was talking of the fall of the soviet empire, as he was leaning on the kitchen sink at the hostel called The Lodge. Elle, while peeling vegetables, was listening to him with interest. In his cold blue eyes she could detect some powerful scary drama. She was irresistibly attracted.
Back in Kerikeri she tried to avoid starting life again where she had left it. As she preferred to begin someting new, she had settled at The Lodge outside town. Some thirty to forty people lived there working in nearby farms or orchards, in transit, like migrating birds. English young people from Manchester or Birmingham, Germans from East or West, people from Switzerland, Japan or Korea, all seeking some paid work to enable them to go on with their world travelling. The English folks called it a 'working holiday'.
- When the wall fell, what happened? Elle asked.
- We didn't hear about it straight away! One day on the radio in the middle of a trifle of other news they announced: "by the way the border with the west is open...", he said laughing.
She could hardly picture this political and economical earthquake that had happened over there in Europe some years before. They had talked about the 'iron curtain' for so long. How had it been for people on a daily basis when they raised the curtain?
- When you were able to travel to the west, what did you see first?
- The butcher shops! he replied without hesitating and laughing as if to apologize for such triviality, ...the quantities of meat and sausages... I bought meat... with the hundred marks the west German government had given us.
The he started describing the border. A bit like talking about a very painful operation he would have kept a sharp memory of.
To start with the border could not be seen even from a distance. There was a wide border zone of about twenty kilometers in width where people could only visit with a special pass. Only people who lived there could go across. He had a pass for it to go and visit his grand-mother. In any case you could not come closer than two kilometers from it. That border, you just could not see it. Never. The last few meters were mined and some mines triggered shooting from machine guns. Every two kilometers a mirador manned with soldiers round the clock . Several lines of electric wire and barbed wire. Between them, a space where killer dogs watched. Had people died on this thing? Yes, of course. He knew some, of course.
The boarders at the Lodge started arriving to get their dinners ready. Elle went back to her room she shared with Liyan only. She started plaiting cotton bracelets. For no one in particular. Just to build up her stock.
- You're not saying anything, Liyan complained.
- No, she replied.
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