THE FIGHT

爭執

SilkRoad - - CONTENTS 目錄 - A short story by MANU JOSEPH Manu Joseph的短篇小說

1

On the far end of the lane appears a lanky man who has a grey ponytail that he should have severed considering his situation. He is flanked by two frail cops who do not have any physical contact with him, which is unusual. Anywhere in the great republic, when cops take the accused to court they walk holding hands as though they are in a relationship.

On the other end of the street a swarm of young women in light summer dresses march down the pavement towards the man. They look grave, angry perhaps. They don’t speak to each other or check their phones. They are walking towards the man, who has been accused of molesting a colleague in an elevator.

The air smells of the sea. The ancient squat buildings that flank the lane glow in the morning light.

He has not noticed the mob of girls yet. He is probably distracted by hope. In the past months he has walked down the red pavement several times on his way to seek bail. Every time, the police van parks half a kilometre away because the street is too narrow. Every time, he returns defeated and walks with brisk strides towards the van that would take him back to a basement cell an hour’s drive away, a bare room with no fans or furniture or any object that can assist a man to kill himself well.

He stops outside the dark entrance of a building because he does not have the freedom to walk any farther down the pavement. There are no television crews today blocking his way or photographers jogging backwards, because the nation has exercised its right to be bored of a middle-aged celebrity accused.

His face fifinally finally breaks into a smile; he must have seen her. He does not alter his pace. When she reaches him he hugs her, holds her hand and kisses her wrist. ‘I miss you,’ he says.

‘Love you, Pa,’ she says.

He greets the others, who are clearly not as important as his daughter. They are probably her cousins and friends. He hugs some, taps a cheek, rufflffles ruffles the hair of a girl, who is surprised. They walk into the building, a regular office complex with the Fast Track Court on top. The two cops follow the crowd into the building, cordially smiling at the backs of the young, posh women.

2

Arya, in the little cafe on the lane, keeps an eye on the mouth of the building where the sudden crowd has vanished. Any time now they would emerge. He is throwing glances through the only window of the cafe. ‘Did you hear what I just said?’ Roops asks. This is trouble. He has to quickly manage the situation. ‘ Yes,’ he says. Bad move. Foolish, in fact.

‘ What did I say?’ she asks. ‘Actually, no. I was looking out. This guy is all over the news, you know. Did you see the girls who came to meet him?’

‘It has been ten minutes since they went in. Why are you still looking out?’ ‘I don’t know.’

‘I’ve been trying to telling you something for three days but you are always in the middle of something, always distracted, always somewhere else.’

He must keep calm and lurk in husband’s silence, which is a declaration of truce. Humour does not work any more. Is there a single wife in the world who finds her husband funny? No. Boyfriends are different. Husbands, they are not funny. He stares into her eyes and smiles in a self- deprecatory way. But she does not stop. ‘ Three days I have not been able to hold a conversation with you. Why is it so hard to talk to you? Every time we speak you get that glazed look in your eyes.Õ eyes.’

That wound in her tone, it is never a simple, new wound. It is a whole history, the history of all her wounds in her marriage.

All things considered, her assault on his peace is out of proportion. They are on a vacation. It is a beautiful December day in Goa, the air is warm and clear. They were about to head out to the countryside on a rented Harley Davidson, ride down the winding narrow roads towards the Ashwem Beach. They would eat in a French restaurant where actors and cricketers and billionaires come; then they would walk on the wide, hard beach, a stunning unbroken stretch of over eight kilometres that leads to a settlement of acrobats and dancers and yogis and other modern white gypsies. How can she be bitter, how does she have so much capacity to be bitter?

‘Stop whining,’ he says. The moment he says it he knows it’s a mistake. But he does not apologise. For several years both of them have stopped apologising – it’s another step they have taken in the gradual process of ceasing to be lovers. They have let the grouse grow and decay the spaces between them, waiting until the day that, they do not know how, they become a tight couple again.

‘ Whining?’ she says.

It is a mystery why people get so annoyed, especially the whiners.

She picks up her purse and leaves the cafe.

3

She has done this before, and only in beautiful places. In Barcelona. In Paris. In Tuscany. Somewhere on the Himalayas. She just walks away in a huff. What is he supposed to do? Walk behind her until her anger cools? How is he supposed to know where she is and whether she is all right? In Barcelona it was about how the waitress was a racist and he had disputed her analysis. In Paris he wanted a walk in the alleys but she wanted to go to Musée d’Orsay. In Tuscany and the Himalayas, it was, again, about his glazed looked when she was talking.

4

‘ You said the F word,’ says the little girl at his table. Tush is seven years old. She has thick, long, black hair that all the women in her life want to snip for apparent practical reasons that seem dubious to him. They are all jealous of his girl, all

1

小路的遠處冒出了一個高個子,觀乎他現在的處境,他老早就該心狠 剪掉頭上那把白髮蒼蒼的馬尾。兩名骨瘦柴如 的

警員正在他身旁左右護送,但彼之此 間卻沒有任何肢體接觸,顯得不太尋常。在這個泱泱大裡國 ,無論身在何方,警員押送被告堂上 時定必手執著手,若恍打算與子偕老的樣子。

在路的另一頭,一群年輕女生穿著清爽夏裙,大踏向步 這個男子走近她。們神色凝重,似乎還面有怒色;彼一此言不發,連手機也顧得不 看。她們步步

進逼,走近這個被控告在升降機內性騷擾事同的男。子

空氣裡瀰漫著一海股 洋的氣息。晨曦把道路兩旁低矮的老建築照得發光。

他仍未注意到那群女子,大概是因為他仍然存心 希望,令他分了心。過去數月,他了為 尋保求 釋已好幾次走過這條紅色行人路。每一次囚, 車都要停泊在半公里外因, 為這小條 路實在太窄了。每一次,他都失望而回,步快 走向囚車,返回一個小時車程以外的監房:一個徒具四壁的房間。那裡沒有風扇、家具,或任何一樣可以讓人痛快地自盡的西方 。

他在大樓暗黑的正門前止步,因為他沒有向前多走一步的自由。今天沒有電視台外勤隊攔路,沒也 有攝影師踏著碎來走步 回 ,因對為 於一個遭起訴的中年明星國,舉 上下決定行厭的使 棄權。利

他終於破顏微笑,敢情是看到了她。他的步伐絲毫未亂,當趨時她前 ,男子立即將她擁入中懷 ,然後握住她的手,輕輕親了一下手腕,:說道「我掛念你」。「爸,我愛你。」她答道。

他跟別人打招呼示意,顯然有沒 一個人及得上愛女重要。她們大概是女兒的表姊妹或朋友。他跟當中幾擁個 抱,碰一下臉龐,還伸手拂亂一個女孩的頭髮,令她嚇了一跳。大夥兒走進大樓,一棟平平無奇的綜合大樓,特法就快 庭設在頂層。兩名警員跟在群眾後面,在這班年輕名媛後面友善地微笑。

2

Arya坐在對面一家小咖啡店,目轉地不 睛盯著大樓的門口,突目睹 如其來的群眾一下子從那裡消失,也可能隨時再冒出他; 從店裡唯的一 玻璃窗不斷往外張望。

「你聽到我剛才說的話嗎?」Roops質問道。

麻煩來了,需他 要迅速穩住場面。「有啊。」他道,然而這句話可壞事了,因為這樣回答實在非常不智。

「那我說了什麼?」她追問。「實有其 沒聽,到 我一直在張望。他就是聞新 不斷報導的那個人,看你 到很多女生前來見他嗎?」

「她們走進去已經10分鐘了,你還在張望?什麼 」

「我也不知道。」

「三天以來我一直想跟你說一些事情,但你總是心不在焉、神不守舍,心思都不知道往哪裡跑了。」

他必保須 持冷 ,以身為丈夫的緘默掩做飾換, 言之宣停告 火。幽在默 這時已經不管用,試問世上有哪個妻子會

認為丈夫風趣?一個都沒有。男友是另一事回 ,至老於公,就是跟風趣絕緣。他定睛看著妻子的雙眼謙,抑地面帶笑意不, 過她沒有就此打住:「已經三天了,我都沒能跟你好好交談。為什麼跟你聊天這樣困難?每次我們談話時,你都總是這樣心神恍惚。」

她調語 委屈,反映所受的傷害絕非稀鬆平常或新近成而涉整造 , 是 及 段婚

姻,是婚姻裡一切新傷舊痕累積的總和。

但無論如何,對他來說,她這樣打擾他的平實在是小大題做。夫婦二人在印度西岸的果亞邦度假,12月這一天正好風和日麗空, 氣暖和清新。他們租了一台哈利電日車,打算自駕遊向近郊

進存沿羊, 著 腸小道駛往著名的Ashwem海灘。二人更會到大明星、木球健將和億萬富豪經常顧光 的法國餐廳用膳,然後踏上寬闊的硬地海灘,沿著這片八公里綿延不斷的絕景海岸漫步,最終走到雜技人、舞蹈家、伽行者和其他現代白種「吉卜賽」的聚落。她何以心能 懷憤懣?何以能蓄積這麼多的忿恨?

「別埋了怨 。」他衝口而出說。雖然話一出口便自知出事了,不過他並沒有道歉。夫婦倆已經好幾年沒有為自己道歉了,彷是情彿感 漸行漸遠後的必然結果。他們讓牢騷滋長,蠶食二人之間的地天 ,直至有一天,不知不覺間二人又再能廝守在起一 。

「埋怨?」她叫嚷道。 人們為什麼可以這樣大動肝火,特別是老愛抱怨的人,遠他永 不會明白。她起拿 手袋,轉離身 開咖啡店。

3

她已不是第一次這樣,而且每次只都 選漂亮的地方存作。塞巴 羅那巴、 黎托、斯卡納、喜拉山處馬 雅某 ,她總是怒氣沖沖地離開。他該怎樣反應?尾隨她背後直至她平息火天怒 ? 曉得她身在何方,是否平安?塞巴 羅那那次爭執是因

為女侍應有種族歧視之嫌,而他對她的分不苟析敢同。巴黎次那 他想逛橫街小巷,她則一心想看奧賽博物館。至在於托斯卡納和喜馬拉雅山的爭執,源於他犯下了同一個錯誤,就是在她說話時他顯心得 神恍惚。

4

跟同的他桌小女孩說:「哦,你說了髒話」。。Tush今年七歲,有一頭密濃的烏髮,但她生命中的有所女性都想把它剪掉。表面上是出於實考際慮不,過他對此深感懷疑。她肯們定是妒忌他女兒,無一例外,所以他不准任何人碰她一根頭髮。「你在心裡說了髒,話別以為我聽。不到」「我哪有」。

「為什麼你和媽媽總是在吵架?」Tush一一邊說邊用餐刀敲打班戟。「我們抱擁、接吻、聊天時妳不高興,我們吵架時妳又不高」興。

「你們不應該吵架。」「人人都會吵架。」

「我朋友的母父從來不吵架」。「人人都會吵架,他們只去漂亮的地方吵。」

她安下來。「Ananya的父母『分解了』」。

「是分居了。」

「Ananya的媽媽總是十分忙碌,每一刻都在作做做工,這那,更她 要Ananya的爸爸做很多只有女人才幹的事情。因

為男人想只讀報紙、看木球比賽、玩無人之機類的,所以他受夠了,決定離家出走。」

「誰跟妳說的?」「Ananya。」

of them. He has banned everyone from touching her hair. ‘ You said the F word in your mind but it came out and I heard it.’ ‘I didn’t.’

‘ Why do you and Mama keep fighting?’ Tush says while tapping the pancake with her knife.

‘ When we are hugging and kissing and chatting you don’t like it, and when we fight you don’t like it.’

‘ You should not fight.’ ‘Everybody fights.’

‘ The parents of my friends, they never fight.’

‘Everybody fights. They go to beautiful places to fight.’

She grows quiet. ‘Ananya’s parents evaporated.’

‘Separated.’

‘Ananya’s mother was very busy all the time, all the time at work, doing this and that, and she made Ananya’s father do a lot of things that only women do because men only want to read newspapers and watch cricket and fly drones and do stuff like that. So he got fed up and left.’

‘ Who told you all this?’ ‘Ananya.’

‘I am not going to leave you. Ever.’ ‘Actually I am more worried about Mama leaving me.’

You devious little imp, we never used to fight before you happened. But the fights were never over their girl.

Roops and he have fought over just four or five distinct things, but hundreds of times over those things. She wants him to put something in the attic, he forgets. She wants him to show more interest in furniture and lampshades and other things whose names he does not know – yes, consoles. And how once he had not taken her to the hospital when she had an ankle sprain. And, of course, that glazed look. It’s the same thing. Every time they fight, if she has not walked away in a huff, it would be about the same things.

He developed a trick to counter her. He started giving her tasks to do. That, he was certain, would give her the opportunity to fail, to be an incompetent spouse. He would ask her to buy a bandana from a shop close to her office, or change a T-shirt he had bought there, or withdraw cash from the ATM. It was a brilliant plan, but the problem was he did not have many credible tasks to give her. He could not think of a fraction of the number of things she could assign him. But the few things he asked her to do she failed spectacularly, yet he somehow could not make her suffer as much as she could make him.

5

What must he do now? He is with a sevenyear- old girl and his wife has walked away in a huff.

How did he get stuck here? Why doesn’t he quit? Are men who hold onto their women merely cowards? The most dangerous marriage is one that is not bad enough to end and not happy enough to be healthy. He is in such a marriage. If Roops was always insufferable, or he a terrible man, they could have separated. But they were OK, always OK; they were only moderately painful to each other. She was not insane. He was not disloyal. It appears that she does not wish to leave him citing glazed look, and he does not wish to cite her wifely self- righteousness. It is as though they are afraid the family court judge would start laughing at their reasons for separation or some newspaper feature writer would include them in a hilarious story about the frivolous reasons why marriages break up ‘ these days’.

People in disastrous, horrible relationships do not see how lucky they are – they are gifted clarity.

Most days Roops seems to be in love – with him probably. She says things, lovely things. She is a cunning woman. The fact is he was tame and meek in the beginning of their relationship, always the one to make peace, always the one to apologise first, and she has grown accustomed to having her way.

6

He is bored and dejected. Probably the only man at this very moment in Goa who is sad. All around him is paradise. In the narrow, winding country lanes of Goa, the old world still survives. The smell of the land heals even if you have no wounds. Tall palms arch. Builders try often to redefine those trees as grass so that they can raze them without permission, but the locals always fight back. The distant sound of the sea is another voice of silence. The lies of poetry become truths here. Time really does not pass. If you want to make a Goan walk fast, you have to burn his house. And the people here, except the alcoholics, are in excellent health. Women and children especially.

7

This will be their last vacation together. When they get back to Mumbai he will tell her he is done with the marriage.

He needs the happy company of women; without it he is lost. He was always this way. The guys were too competitive, too jealous of him, too wary of him. He had high standards for friendship and only lovers were good enough. But a life in which the only friend is the lover was always going to be a precarious life.

8

The flat above their home in Mumbai is vacant. This is his chance. He would see his daughter every day and he would be a free man once again. Maybe Roops and he can even go out to dinner some nights. Maybe they can even go on vacations staying in separate bedrooms. They might grow to like each other again.

But he cannot bear the thought of Roops with another man, those sick, unfit, hairy, balding, middle-aged management types who do not read novels and carry germs from escort girls. Any of those men grabbing her, and she

「我不會離開妳的永,遠不會。」「其實我比較擔心媽媽會離開我。」妳這個鬼靈精我, 們有妳之前從沒吵過過。不 女兒從來不是吵爭 的起因。

Roops跟他主要為四、五事件 鬧翻,不過為這幾件事已經吵了不下百次。她叫他把東西放到閣,樓 但他忘記了;她希望他放多一些心思在家具、燈罩和那些他喊不出名字的東西……啊對了,是落櫃還當地 ; 有 年她扭傷了腳踝做,丈夫的卻沒有送她到醫院;當然還少不了那令人心頭火起的心神恍惚模樣,總之都是為了樣事同的 。每一次他們吵起來,假如沒有把她氣得匆匆離開為, 的都是同的樣事情。

他想出了對策,並始開 安派一些明知她大概無法勝任的差事,好她讓 充當一下不稱職的配偶。他會叫太太在她公司附近的時裝店買一方大頭巾、替他到同一店裡換另外一件T恤,或去自動櫃員機提款。這不失為妙計,問題是他沒有太多合適的任務可以安排給她,就算他

掏空腦袋也想不出幾件她能指派他做的事情。雖他然 叫她做的寥寥幾件事往往都底徹失敗,可她是 承受的痛苦遠卻 比自己領教的低為 。

5

這一刻他應該做什麼?他帶著一個七歲的女兒,太太卻怒氣沖沖地走了。

他是怎樣落得如斯的田地?為什麼不抽身而去?對自己的女人不肯放手的

男人是否就是一介懦?夫 最危的姻險婚是還糟未糕得需要一刀兩斷,可也不是幸福得足以健地持去康維 下 。這就是他現在的處境:假如Roops總是令人忍無可忍,或者他是個糟透的男,人 他們大概早就分了開 ,只是二人的關係不不過失永,遠不不過失,僅僅讓對方感到隱隱作痛而已女。 的沒有失常,男的有沒不忠。看來她不想以心神恍惚為理由離開他,而他也不想拿妻子平日振振有辭為柄彷話 , 彿二人害怕他日上家事法庭時,這些分居理由會遭到法官訕笑,又或被某個記者當成笑話寫進專題報道,用證「來 明 世風日下」,今時今日離婚的理以由可 有多無聊。

身在孽緣的人恐怕不會看到自正己身在福中承; 蒙老天眷顧,他們這時候 最聰明耳目 ,對自己的困局明白得一清

二楚。

大部分日子中Roops似乎沐浴在愛河中,而愛人大概就是吧他 。她會說好

聽、動的人話,然而她也個猾女是狡 的人。實情是二人剛走在起一 時,他就一直演馴扮 溫 謙恭的色角 ,總是主動息事寧人總首, 是 先自說 己不是,久而久之她也慢慢習了所慣 為為欲。

6

他感到厭倦和心灰冷意 。看來時此此際的方亞只有他一個人獨自憔悴,放眼周遭盡是間人 樂土。在方亞郊區的羊腸小徑,舊社日 會依然存活得好好的,哪怕心靈沒有受創,土地的氣息也能治癒一切。棕櫚樹合抱蔭成 ,儘管建築商老想把它們重新界為定 荒草,好等他們未經准許也可連根拔起但地, 當 人一直力爭到底。遠方的海浪聲是另種一 寂之音詩。 歌的謊言在這裡變成真實,光陰至此也暫得 停流逝。如你方 想要一個方亞人快步,走 唯的法燒一方 是掉他房的子。這裡的人,除了酒鬼,身體都好得很,尤其是女人和兒童。

7

這將是二人最後一次度假。回到孟買後他將告訴她:這段婚姻應當到此為止。

他要需 能愉快相伴的女人,如方得不到便會茫然若,失 一直以來他都是這樣。對他來說男人太過爭強好勝,而他亦太招他們妒忌,他們對他太有戒心了。他將友升的標準定的很高,只有情人方配得上做的他 摯友。不過生當 命中唯的一 摯友就是情人這人, 種 生注定波

折。重重

8

他們在孟買的家,樓上的單位現在空置,正好給予他良機。他以天可 每 如常

看女兒,並再一次回復自由身。有些晚上, Roops和他或者可以一起外出共進晚餐。他們甚至可以一起去旅行,分房而睡。日子久了,他們也許能逐漸再喜歡上方對 。

不過他忍受不了Roops跟其他男人在 一起,那些噁心、孱弱、體毛濃密、光頭管階的 理 層中年漢,平日不看小說,偶然從女伴身上惹了風流病的傢伙。任何一個這樣的男抓人 住她不放,做無些法啟齒的事,還要她假裝享受,通通不能接受。不過他是坐時候 言起行了。

9

他關掉手機打整, 算 天都讓她絡聯 不到自己讓, 她知道他不好惹,身為妻子這樣過份地對待丈夫,至少對待自己小的缺失時反應過激,一定要承擔後方的。他拖著Tush的手橫過馬路,走進法院所在的大樓。「不如去看看法庭發生什麼事情我, 們有的是間時 。」

方亞的特快法庭說穿了只是間一陰暗的房間,身穿黑袍的女人坐在巨型的椅子上,對任何事都不為所動她。 說了一聲「被告」,稀鬆平常得很,彷彿這個字不帶半點意義。被告走到她的桌子前,背著手站立,被控告的名罪 是於升降機內性騷擾一名年輕同事被身; 告後是他的女兒,她坐在長木凳默默看著父親承受這一切,強忍著淚水,不想讓父親看到她流淚。控方指這個男人是色魔,他人本 則堅稱自己清是 白的,說對方允許他撫摸。

Arya心想這肯定是一個男人能夠遭遇可的最怕事了情 ,前提是只要他是無辜甚, 至只是某程度上的無辜。這可謂比死難更 受一, 股強烈的驚之懼情湧上心頭。如方他離開Roops便會墮進無邊慾海世, 間的狂野慾女比任何時候都來得多。若倘 她們其中一員把坑他 害到這種地步,要他這樣當眾站立,當著女兒面前起接訴受 ,那該怎麼辦?

保釋申請迅被即 駁。回 被告男子與一眾少女、好友、記者和兩名瘦弱警員一同離開法院。步進升降機時,他跟女兒說:「寶貝妳,跟我來,我們有10秒鐘間時 ,這升降機很慢。」許人多 擠進升降機電。梯裡悶聲不響,一般況情 下往往也是這樣,有些人選擇觀天,有些選擇地望。

10

他駕著哈利電單車,小女兒坐在身後摟抱著的他 腰,讓他感到喜悅。他們沿

pretending to enjoy those unspeakable things that they do, he cannot accept. But it is time he makes the move.

9

He switches his phone off. The whole day he plans to be unreachable to her. Let her learn that he is tough, that there are consequences to treating him poorly, or at least reacting to his mistake in an overblown way. He takes Tush by her hand across the road, into the building where the court is lodged. ‘Let’s see what goes on in a court. We have lots of time.’

In the Fast Track Court of Goa, which is just one gloomy room, a woman in black robes who cannot be surprised sits in a massive chair. ‘Accused,’ she says, as though it is a word that has no meaning. The accused walks to her desk and stands with his hands folded, accused of molesting a younger colleague inside an elevator, an accused in front of his daughter, who sits on the wooden bench and tries not to weep at the sight of her father this way. The prosecution says that the man is a molester; he says he is innocent, he says she had given consent to touch her.

Arya is sure this is the most terrifying thing that can happen to a man – that is, if he is innocent or even sort of innocent. This is worse than death. A deep terror fills him. If he leaves Roops he would be thrown into the world of decadence, which is now more than ever filled with wild, single women. What if one of them sends him to a place like this, to stand like this, a man accused in front of his daughter?

The bail is denied in a minute. The accused man leaves the courtroom with a swarm of girls, friends, reporters and two frail cops. As he enters the lift he tells his daughter, ‘ You come with me, sweetheart. We have ten seconds. It’s a slow lift.’ Many people squeeze into the lift. As it often happens even in unremarkable circumstances, there is a dismal silence inside, and there are people who choose to look up and those who look down.

10

He is on the Harley, his little girl behind him hugging his waist. This is joy. They ride down the country roads, past the large Portuguese homes that are hundreds of years old, with their sunlit porches and high doors that are shut but somehow without the heaviness of any mistrust. From their windows old men and women watch the world go by, their slight stoops making them look more interested than they probably are. They remind him of the Caribbean homes of Gabriel García Márquez’s imagination, with sombre ghosts, aroused men and their disenchanted beauties.

11

A young Indian woman overtakes him on a sea blue Kinetic Honda. She is riding fast but he manages to stay close and watch her. He feels odd looking at a young woman even as his little daughter is holding him, but he is unable to take his eyes off her long nape and strong back that show ripples of muscle, her slender waist and bare calves. They ride this way through the villages.

What are his chances with a girl like this? Is he too old? Would she have considered him if she knew he was thinking of leaving his wife? But then he has a child. How to hide a little girl with long, beautiful, flowing hair? But after all isn’t fatherhood a sign to her that he is durable, serious and susceptible to domestication?

12

The Kinetic Honda turns into a village lane and disappears forever. He continues down to the highway and heads south. A forest rises and becomes a country of squat green hills. The trees are rich and robust and there are so many shades of greens and yellows that he is sure some of them have no names at all. A beautiful road snakes through this archipelago of forest hillocks.

‘Faster, faster,’ Tush says. He wants to but does not have the courage to go faster than sixty kilometres an hour with his daughter on the motorcycle. ‘Faster. Just once you touch hundred. Just once.’

He yields because he wants to on a road like this. When the needle touches one hundred she yelps. He is certain the tube is going to explode and they would fall and die, and Roops would go through the day unaware of losing her family. Would she be secretly relieved?

He goes off the highway, down a dirt track and retraces his route to the secret resort that does not advertise. He parks the Harley and they walk down a red mud slope. Soon they enter an affluent colony of huts that stand on the hard mud banks of a narrow river. The guests of the resort are swimming in the moss green waters. Some are in canoes. Arya and Tush walk down a bank to the river’s end where it meets the short beach.

At a distance he sees a middle-aged white couple stop their walk. They are having a heated exchange. The man flings his wallet on the beach and walks away. The woman, surprisingly, picks it up. She is with a boy who is the same age as Tush. The woman and son walk towards them, looking embarrassed, the boy especially.

Arya has always kept a close watch on unhappy couples on vacation. Every day he notices at least one public fight. Most of them, he guesses, are married. Maybe married people should be banned from beautiful places. They destroy the air.

13

Tush is playing an incomprehensible game with the boy whose father had flung the wallet. They are dragging a canoe up and down the shallow end of the river.

Arya is sitting on the beach in the sun, staring at the sea. He can spot Roops half a mile away. Even from this distance she is striking. A man observing his wife from afar – why does literature have so little of this moment? A man observing his wife from

afar is pure love and rage and exploration and dark thoughts. She has seen him. She too can spot him from great distances. She approaches him with a smile on her face. She is in a blue wrap-around skirt, a sleeveless top and a hat. He does not turn away. They gape at each other but not like fools. She sits beside him and drops her head on his shoulder. A familiar joy fills him. How are they ever going to escape? 著鄉郊道路,經過有數百年歷史的古老葡牙大萄式宅門, 廊落灑 著陽光,高大的門戶雖然閉上,沒卻 有一絲因猜他忌人而成造 的壓迫感。透過窗戶,屋裡的老伯伯、老太太觀世態流轉,由於微彎著腰,讓他們看上去好像對世事興致盎然似的。這一切讓他聯想起馬奎斯筆下的加勒比海老屋,屋裡住著憂的怨 幽靈、慾火中燒的男人和他們那些夢想幻滅的佳人。

11

一名年輕印度女子坐在海藍色的本田電單車上從他身後越線過雖而 。 然對方風馳電掣,他仍然能緊隨其後,觀察著她的一舉一動。他自知一邊盯著年輕女子,一邊被小女兒抱住的感覺不太對勁,但實在無法將目光移開她修的長 後頸、充線滿 條美的結實背、肌 纖細的腰肢和外露的小腿肚。他們就這樣駛過一排排的落村 。

他有多少機會碰到這樣的女子?他太老了嗎?假如對方知道他正想離開妻子,會否考慮跟他在起一 ?不過他有個女兒,把擁有一頭飄逸秀髮的小女孩藏起來談何容易?但話說回來身人, 為父不就是好指最 的 標,證明他堅忍、可靠、易於就範?

12

本田電單車駛進村,路 一去無蹤。他繼續高沿 速公路往南走。森林拔地而起,四周迅即成為青翠山的巒 國度。樹木茂密茁,黃壯 青 翠綠,方色變化之多,他敢斷言有色些 調還沒有被人命名在。 這片星羅棋佈的茂林山丘之間,條美一 幽的公路蜿蜒而過。

「開快點,再快點。」Tush嚷著。他也這樣想,無奈跟女兒一同騎鐵馬,他拿不出勇氣突破時速60公里。「再快點,直到100公里就行,試一次好」就 。

他屈服了,在這樣壯麗的公路上他也想放手一幹。當指針碰上100時她禁不住尖叫。他心想油管必然要爆開,兩父女將起一 墮車喪命,而Roops在安度今天的時同 ,將懵然不知已失去至親。她會否地暗 裡感到解脫?

他離開公路,駛進泥路,然後沿途返回那個沒有任何廣告宣傳的隱世天堂。他泊好電單車,與女兒走下赤色泥坡,來到在窄河的硬土堤岸,進入海灘小的屋 聚集地。度假村的人客 在碧波中暢泳,有些在划獨木舟。Arya和Tush從 堤岸走下,來到河流的盡頭與淺灘交匯的方地 。

他到不處一看 在 遠, 對漫步中的中年白人夫婦突然停下來,鬧得不可開交。男的把錢猛地在扔 灘,上 揚長而去。女的出乎意料地把錢撿起來,她身旁的男孩跟Tush年齡相若。兩母子朝他們的方向走過來,神情尬尷,尤其是小男。孩

Arya在度假時一向別特 留意鬧不和的情侶,每天至少讓他發現一場公開的爭執。他料想這些人大都已婚。也許已婚人士應該一概不准進入人間景免勝 ,得把他們 氣氛搞砸。

13

Tush跟那個父親怒擲錢的男孩玩耍,玩一個莫明其妙的遊戲,一起在淺狹的河口把獨木舟拖上拖下。

Arya坐在艷陽下的海灘,凝望大海。他從半公里外注意到Roops,即使這樣的距她然離 仍 明艷照人,而名一 男子正從遠處觀察妻子。其實真不明白文學作品何以沒有對此情此景大肆渲染:男遠一個 子從處觀察妻子,內心糾結著真愛、、怒探火知慾和陰暗的心思。她也是從老遠就注意到他的存在。她帶著微走笑 近,她身穿一條 裹款式的裙子,一件無袖上衣,頭戴一頂大帽子。沒他 有移開視線。二人四目交投,但不是呆呆對視。她坐在他的身邊,擱把頭 在他的肩膀上。一股悉熟 的喜悅湧頭上心 。他們以後能還 脫身嗎?

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