You are a Bea­con for Oth­ers

你也是别人的灯火

Special Focus - - Contents - Han Songluo 韩松落

Ove’s wife So­nia died of ill­ness six months ago, and Ove wanted to fol­low her foot­steps by tak­ing his own life. How­ever, his at­tempts to com­mit sui­cide were al­ways in­ter­rupted by his neigh­bors.

Ove, at 59 years of age, has worked for the rail­ways for 43 years and lived in his com­mu­nity for 30 years. Years of ex­pe­ri­ence as a track­walker have made him in­tol­er­ant of any dis­or­derly con­duct. Car­ry­ing a grim face, he main­tains ev­ery­thing in his neigh­bor­hood, mak­ing sure that be­hav­iors like il­le­gal car park­ing, scat­ter­ing about things, dis­posal of waste without sort­ing, and driv­ing on the side­walk are min­i­mized.

Af­ter the death of his wife, he started spend­ing his life in­side an airtight pro­tec­tive co­coon, dis­play­ing no sign of emo­tion to oth­ers. Even when he looked af­ter his neigh­bor’s chil­dren, he would keep a straight face; and af­ter fix­ing a bi­cy­cle for a young fel­low, he would com­plain of his care­less­ness.

His neigh­bors had seen enough of it, and they un­der­stood him thor­oughly. The first time he put a rope around his neck, his neigh­bor backed a truck into his mail­box while mov­ing; the sec­ond time he tried to hang him­self, his neigh­bor’s kids passed his win­dow and peeped into his house with cu­rios­ity; and the third time, when he locked him­self in a car, at­tempt­ing to kill him­self by fill­ing the car with ex­haust fumes, his neigh­bor banged on the garage door, hop­ing that he could drive her to the hos­pi­tal. His sui­ci­dal at­tempts were held up over and over again. Though it may have seemed ac­ci­den­tal, those dis­rup­tions were ac­tu­ally in­ten­tional. In fact, he was wait­ing for them as well. When­ever he saw a sign that pre­vented him from tak­ing fur­ther ac­tions, he would take ad­van­tage of it and drop the idea of killing him­self.

Dur­ing his sui­ci­dal prepa­ra­tions, his rec­ol­lec­tions ex­plained why he was so re­luc­tant to part with life. His child­hood, the early death of his mother, the em­brace that his fa­ther— also a rail­way worker— gave him af­ter his mother’s death, his work ex­pe­ri­ence at the rail­ways, his first flat, So­nia—the woman he

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