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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第七章第一节

In America I had a number of Hindu friends, some good, some bad, some indifferent. Circumstances had placed me in a position where fortunately I could be of aid to them; I secured jobs for them, I harbored them, and I fed them when necessary. They were very grateful, I must say; so much so, in fact that they made my life miserable with their attentions. Two of them were saints, if I know what a saint is; particularly Gupte who was found one morning with his throat cut from ear to ear. In a little boarding house in Greenwich Village he was found one morning stretched out stark naked on the bed, his flute beside him, and his throat gashed, as I say, from ear to ear. It was never discovered whether he had been murdered or whether he had committed suicide. But that's neither here nor there…

我在美国时有几位印度朋友,有的好,有的坏,有的不好也不坏。环境常将我置于一个有幸能为他们效劳的位置上,我替他们找工作,给他们提供住宿,若有必要还给他们饭吃。我得承认,他们都非常感恩戴德,实际上他们这样总光顾我倒使我的日子很难过。他们中有两个是圣人—若是我知道圣人是怎样的。尤其是卡普特,人们有天早晨发现他的喉咙被人割了一个大口子。那是在格林威治村的一所小房子里,人们有一天早上发现他一丝不挂地瘫在床上,被人割开了一个大口子。时至今日还没有搞清楚他究竟是被人谋杀的还是自杀的,不过这也无关紧要……

I'm thinking back to the chain of circumstances which has brought me finally to Nanantatee's place. Thinking how strange it is that I should have forgotten all about Nanantatee until the other day when lying in a shabby hotel room on the Rue Cels. I'm lying there on the iron bed thinking what a zero I have become, what a cipher, what a nullity, when bango! out pops the word: NONENTITY! That's what we called him in New York – Nonentity. Mister Nonentity.

我回想起我在纳南塔蒂的住所的一连串往事,我在想这一切是多么奇怪—我竟把纳南塔蒂全忘了,直到那天我躺在塞尔街上一家寒伦的旅馆里才又重新记起他来。我睡在铁床上,想到自己成了一个毫无用处、毫无价值的人,一个无足轻重的人,这时暮地眼前闪现出这几个字:无足轻重的人。我们在纽约就是这样叫他的—无足轻重的人,”无足轻重先生”。

I'm lying on the floor now in that gorgeous suite of rooms he boasted of when he was in New York. Nanantatee is playing the good Samaritan; he has given me a pair of itchy blankets, horse blankets they are, in which I curl up on the dusty floor. There are little jobs to do every hour of the day – that is, if I am foolish enough to remain indoors. In the morning he wakes me rudely in order to have me prepare the vegetables for his lunch: onions, garlic, beans, etc. His friend, Kepi, warns me not to eat the food – he says it's bad. Bad or good what difference? Food! That's all that matters. For a little food I am quite willing to sweep his carpets with a broken broom, to wash his clothes and to scrape the crumbs off the floor as soon as he has finished eating. He's become absolutely immaculate since my arrival: everything has to be dusted now, the chairs must be arranged a certain way, the clock must ring, the toilet must flush properly… A crazy Hindu if ever there was one! And parsimonious as a string bean. I'll have a great laugh over it when I get out of his clutches, but just now I'm a prisoner, a man without caste, an untouchable…If I fail to come back at night and roll up in the horse blankets he says to me on arriving: "Oh, so you didn't die then? I thought you had died."

我睡在那套豪华房间的地板上,纳南塔蒂在纽约期间便住在这儿。他在扮演一个乐善好施者的角色,给了我两条盖上浑身发痒的毯子,原先是盖在马身上的。我就蜡缩在里面,躺在落满尘土的地板上。一天里的每一小时都有零活可干—假如我蠢到呆在屋里不出门的田地。早晨他粗暴地唤醒我,叫我替他预备午饭吃的蔬菜:葱头、大蒜、豆子等等。他的朋友凯皮告诫我不要吃这些东西,说它们不好。好坏又有什么关系?吃的!这才是最要紧的。为了一点点吃的我十分乐意用一把破扫帚清扫他的地毯,替他洗衣服,一俟他吃完饭就拣起掉在地上的残渣吃下去。自从我来了他已变得绝对讲究干净—现在一切都得掸灰,椅子一定得按规定的样子摆好,钟一定得按时敲响,卫生间也一定得好好冲洗……真没有见过比他更古怪的印度人,而且他还小气得要命!待摆脱他的控制以后我要好好嘲笑他一顿。可我现在是囚犯,是一个没有社会地位的贱民,一个不可接触的人……若是我到晚上还没有赶回来盖上马盖的毯子睡觉,我一回来他便会说,”嗬,原来你还没有死?我还以为你已经死掉了呢。”

And though he knows I'm absolutely penniless he tells me every day about some cheap room he has just discovered in the neighborhood. "But I can't take a room yet, you know that," I say.

他明知我一文不名,可还是每天都告诉我他刚刚在附近找到了廉价出租的房间。我说,”可你知道,我还租不起一个房间呢。”

And then, blinking his eyes like a Chink, he answers smoothly: "Oh, yes, I forgot that you had no money. I am always forgetting, Endree… But when the cable comes… when Miss Mona sends you the money, then you will come with me to look for a room, eh?" And in the next breath he urges me to stay as long as I wish – "six months … seven months, Endree … you are very good for me here."

这时他便像中国佬那样眨眨眼毫不在意他说,”哦,对了,我忘了你没有钱。我总是忘事儿,安德里……不过等电报来了……等莫娜小姐给你寄来钱,那时你就跟我去找个房间,好吗?”话音未落他便又力劝我愿住多久就住多久—“六个月……七个月……你在这儿对我帮助很大。”

Nanantatee is one of the Hindus I never did anything for in America. He represented himself to me as a wealthy merchant, a pearl merchant, with a luxurious suite of rooms on the Rue Lafayette, Paris, a villa in Bombay, a bungalow in Darjeeling. I could see from first glance that he was a half-wit, but then half wits sometimes have the genius to amass a fortune. I didn't know that he paid his hotel bill in New York by leaving a couple of fat pearls in the proprietor's hands. It seems amusing to me now that this little duck once swaggered about the lobby of that hotel in New York with an ebony cane, bossing the bellhops around, ordering luncheons for his guests, calling up the porter for theater tickets, renting a taxi by the day, etc., etc., all without a sou in his pocket. Just a string of fat pearls around his neck which he cashed one by one as time wore on. And the fatuous way he used to pat me on the back, thank me for being so good to the Hindu boys – "they are all very intelligent boys, Endree … very intelligent!" Telling me that the good lord so-and-so would repay me for my kindness. That explains now why they used to giggle so, these intelligent Hindu boys, when I suggested that they touch Nanantatee for a five spot.

纳南塔蒂是一个我在美国时从未为之效劳过的印度人,他自称是一个有钱的商人,一个珠宝商,在巴黎拉斐特大街有一套豪华房子,在孟买有一座别墅,在大吉岭又有一所带游廊的房子。我一眼便看出他是一个笨蛋,不过笨蛋有时却具有聚起一大笔财富的天赋。我当时不知道他曾在纽约给旅馆老板留下两只大珠子抵帐,我觉得好笑的是,这个小个儿一度曾在纽约那家旅馆大厅里摇来晃去,他拄着乌木手杖,将侍者挥来斥去、为客人订午饭、使唤茶房去买戏票,按天租用出租车……这时他衣袋里却一文钱都没有。他只有脖子上挂的那一串大珍珠,把这些珠子一个个卖了换钱用。我还觉得好笑的是他常傻气十足地拍拍我的背,感谢我对那伙印度人还不错—“他们都是很聪明的人,非常聪明!”他还告诉我某位好心的神会报答我的善举。现在回想起来,我才明白为什么这些聪明的印度人—有一回当我建议他们向纳南塔蒂借五美元时,他们都吃吃地笑。

Curious now how the good lord so and so is requiting me for my benevolence. I'm nothing but a slave to this fat little duck. I'm at his beck and call continually. He needs me here – he tells me so to my face. When he goes to the crap can he shouts: "Endree, bring me a pitcher of water, please. I must wipe myself." He wouldn't think of using toilet paper, Nanantatee. Must be against his religion. No, he calls for a pitcher of water and a rag. He's delicate, the fat little duck. Sometimes when I'm drinking a cup of pale tea in which he has dropped a rose leaf he comes alongside of me and lets a loud fart, right in my face. He never says "Excuse me!" The word must be missing from his Gujarati dictionary.

我现在纳闷的是,这位好心的某某神将如何报答我的善举。我不过只是这个又肥又矮的家伙的奴仆,得时刻听从他的吩咐,他这儿需要我—这是他当面告诉我的。一走到便盆旁他便嚷道,”安德里,请给我拿一壶水来,我要擦一把。”这位纳南塔蒂从不愿用手纸,想必这是同他的宗教信仰相抵触的吧。他不用手纸,却要一壶水和一块破布。他还挺娇嫩,这个又肥又矮的家伙。有时我正在喝一杯他扔进一片玫瑰花瓣的淡茶,他来了,冲着我的脸放一个响屁。他从来不会说”对不起”!他的古吉拉特语词典上想必没有这句话。

The day I arrived at Nanantatee's apartment he was in the act of performing his ablutions, that is to say, he was standing over a dirty bowl trying to work his crooked arm around toward the back of his neck. Beside the bowl was a brass goblet which he used to change the water. He requested me to be silent during the ceremony. I sat there silently, as I was bidden, and watched him as he sang and prayed and spat now and then into the wash bowl. So this is the wonderful suite of rooms he talked about in New York. The Rue Lafayette! It sounded like an important street to me back there in New York. I thought only millionaires and pearl merchants inhabited the street. It sounds wonderful, the Rue Lafayette, when you're on the other side of the water. So does Fifth Avenue, when you're over here. One can't imagine what dumps there are on these swell streets. Anyway, here I am at last, sitting in the gorgeous suite of rooms on the Rue Lafayette. And this crazy duck with his crooked arm is going through the ritual of washing himself. The chair on which I'm sitting is broken, the bedstead is falling apart, the wallpaper is in tatters, there is an open valise under the bed crammed with dirty wash. From where I sit I can glance at the miserable courtyard down below where the aristocracy of the Rue Lafayette sit and smoke their clay pipes. I wonder now, as he chants the doxology, what that bungalow in Darjeeling looks like. It's interminable, his chanting and praying.

我来到纳南塔蒂的公寓这天他正在作沐浴仪式,也就是说,他正站在一只脏水钵上努力把一只弯曲的胳膊伸到颈后,钵边摆着一只铜高脚杯,那是他用来换水的。他要我在沐浴仪式期间别出声,于是我便按他的吩咐一声不响地坐着,看他歌唱、祈祷,不时朝水钵吐水,这就是他在纽约时谈到的那套豪华房间了!拉斐特大街!我觉得这就是纽约的一条主要街道,我只想到住在这条街上的百万富翁和珠宝商人。当你在大洋另一边时,拉斐特大街听起来满不错。同样,当你在大洋这一边时纽约的第五大道也不赖。人们简直想象不出这些漂亮街道上的垃圾是多么吓人,可是不管怎么说我终于来到这儿,坐在拉斐特大街上的这套豪华公寓里了,而这个疯疯癫癫、胳膊弯曲的家伙正在举行清洗自己的仪式。我坐的那把椅子是破的,床也散了架,墙纸破烂不堪,床下一只打开的箱子里塞满了脏衣服。从我坐的地方一眼便可看到下面那个穷酸的院子,拉斐特大街的贵族就是坐在那儿抽陶土制的烟斗的。纳南塔蒂唱赞美诗时我不禁想象他在大吉岭的那所带游廊的房子是什么样子的,因为他一换衣服和祷告起来便没完没了。

He explains to me that he is obliged to wash in a certain prescribed way – his religion demands it. But on Sundays he takes a bath in the tin tub – the Great I AM will wink at that, he says. When he's dressed he goes to the cupboard, kneels before a little idol on the third shelf, and repeats the mumbo jumbo. If you pray like that every day, he says, nothing will happen to you.

纳南培蒂对我解释说,他必须按照这种规定的方式沐浴,这是他所信仰的宗教要求的。不过到星期日他便在一只锡澡盆里洗澡,他说神灵看到会眨眼睛的。穿好衣服后他便走到碗橱前,跪在摆在第三层上的一个小神像前,一遍遍背诵那些别人听不懂的祷告词。他说,如果你每天都这样祷告便什么事都不会出。

The good lord what's his name never forgets an obedient servant. And then he shows me the crooked arm which he got in a taxi accident on a day doubtless when he had neglected to rehearse the complete song and dance. His arm looks like a broken compass; it's not an arm any more, but a knucklebone with a shank attached. Since the arm has been repaired he has developed a pair of swollen glands in the armpit – fat little glands, exactly like a dog's testicles. While bemoaning his plight he remembers suddenly that the doctor had recommended a more liberal diet. He begs me at once to sit down and make up a menu with plenty of fish and meat. "And what about oysters, Endree – for le petit frère?" But all this is only to make an impression on me. He hasn't the slightest intention of buying himself oysters, or meat, or fish. Not as long as I am there, at least. For the time being we are going to nourish ourselves on lentils and rice and all the dry foods he has stored away in the attic. And the butter he bought last week, that won't go to waste either. When he commences to cure the butter the smell is unbearable. I used to run out at first, when he started frying the butter, but now I stick it out. He'd be only too delighted if he could make me vomit up my meal – that would be something else to put away in the cupboard along with the dry bread and the moldy cheese and the little grease cakes that he makes himself out of the stale milk and the rancid butter.

那位不知名的好心神灵绝不会忘记一个听话的仆人。接着他让我看那条扭曲的胳膊,是在一次出租车事故中撞的,那天他无疑忽略了这套完整的又唱又跳的仪式。他的胳膊活像一只破损的指南针,早已不再是一条胳膊,却成了加上一条胫骨的指关节了。自从这条胳膊修好后他的胳肢窝里就长出一对肿胀的腺体—又肥又小的腺体,同狗的睾丸一模一样。在为自己的痛苦而哀叹的同时他突然又想起医生曾推荐过一个较为宽松的食谱,于是马上恳求我坐下来拟一份有大量鱼肉的菜单。”还有,牡蛎怎么样,安德里?可以用它做小菜。”可是这一切不过只是叫我发馋而已,他根本就不打算替自己买牡蜗、肉、鱼,至少我在这儿期间他不会买。眼下我们得靠吃小扁豆和米饭摄取营养,还有存在顶楼上的各种于货,连上星期买的奶油他也不肯浪费。他炼奶油时散发出的气味叫人受不了,从前他一炼奶油我就得先逃出去,现在倒可以坚持下来了。若是我受不了,把吃到肚里的东西都吐出来,他才高兴哩,那样他可以把我吐出的东西和干面包、发霉的奶酪以及用不新鲜的牛奶加发臭的奶油做的小油饼干一起储存在碗柜里。

For the last five years, so it seems, he hasn't done a stroke of work, hasn't turned over a penny. Business has gone to smash. He talks to me about pearls in the Indian ocean – big fat ones on which you can live for a lifetime. The Arabs are ruining the business, he says. But meanwhile he prays to the lord so and so every day, and that sustains him. He's on a marvelous footing with the deity: knows just how to cajole him, how to wheedle a few sous out of him. It's a pure commercial relationship. In exchange for the flummery before the cabinet every day he gets his ration of beans and garlic, to say nothing of the swollen testicles under his arm. He is confident that everything will turn out well in the end. The pearls will sell again some day, maybe five years hence, maybe twenty – when the Lord Boomaroom wishes it.

看来过去五年来他屁事都没干过,一分钱的买卖也没做成,他的生意全完蛋了。他同我谈起印度洋里的珍珠—可以指望凭它过一辈子的大珍珠。他说阿拉伯人把这门生意给毁了,同时每天都向那个某某神祷告,这使他仍抱有一线希望。他跟这位神交情不错,明白如何哄骗他,如何从他那儿骗几个钱用。这全然是一种商业交往,作为每天橱柜前那番恭维话的交换,他得到一份豆子和大蒜,更不用说腋窝里那对肿胀的睾丸了。他坚信最终一切都会变得圆满,那些珠子有朝一日仍会卖出去,也许再过五年,也许再过二十年—等布玛鲁姆神乐意的时候。

"And when the business goes, Endree, you will get ten per cent – for writing the letters. But first Endree, you must write the letter to find out if we can get credit from India. It will take about six months for an answer, maybe seven months … the boats are not fast in India." He has no conception of time at all, the little duck. When I ask him if he has slept well he will say: "Ah, yes, Endree, I sleep very well … I sleep sometimes ninety two hours in three days."

“等买卖又兴隆了,你替我写信就会得到百分之十的利润。不过你先得写封信看看我们是不是能从印度赊帐,等答复得六个月,也许七个月……印度的船开得太慢。”这家伙一点儿时间概念都没有,有时我问他睡得好不好,他便说,”哦,好,安德里,睡得好极了……有时候我三天睡了九十二个钟头。”

Mornings he is usually too weak to do any work. His arm! That poor broken crutch of an arm! I wonder sometimes when I see him twisting it around the back of his neck how he will ever get it into place again. If it weren't for that little paunch he carries he'd remind me of one of those contortionists at the Cirque Medrano. All he needs is to break a leg. When he sees me sweeping the carpet, when he sees what a cloud of dust I raise, he begins to cluck like a pygmy. "Good! Very good, Endree. And now I will pick up the knots." That means that there are a few crumbs of dust which I have overlooked; it is a polite way he has of being sarcastic.

早上他通常很虚弱,什么事也于不了。他的胳膊!那可怜的、歪七扭八的、丁字形的胳膊!有时看到他把它扭着伸到颈后我便纳闷他怎样把它再放回原处。若不是他腆着一个大肚子,他便会令我忆起梅德尔多马戏团里的一个专作柔体表演的杂技演员,只需要再摔断一条腿就行。每当他见我扫地毯,见到我扬起一大团灰尘,他就像一个小矮人一样咯咯叫开了。”好!干得好极了。现在我要捡起那些难扫的东西了。”这话是说我漏掉了一点灰尘,这是他礼貌地挖苦人的方式。

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