High School in Suzhou
They play ping-pong. They are all boys. They play ping-pong ceaselessly in the vast gymnasium, will not stop to glance at us visitors from the West, will not untie their eyes from the tiny ball. The principal
of the school, salamandered-slick hair, is displeased the visiting professors are female, leads us out from the gymnasium with silent loathing to a mentholated room inside which a hazed Plexiglas cage contains
a stiff leopard, so frankly dead its fur looks as if it'll fall off from the stroke of our glance. I have to pee. In the girls' room, I squat where thousands of girls have squatted, the rich minerals wafting up from
the toilet's well, imagine how all of our urine moves through the mysterious pipes below, leaves the high school, depositing itself into the river that days later I'll move along with the throng of idiots I've joined
to crawl this country as fleas do a dog. We visit one scholar's garden after another: here's the Garden of the Master of Nets. The rocks are bones of the earth. The furniture is referred to as internal organs. Gardens
are traditionally entered through a narrow passage. Scholars were not girls. Girls are not scholars, though girls are gardens entered through a narrow passage. The girls at the textile factory we tour do not look up.
The guide snorts. We have no conception how lucky they are to have attained these jobs! It's only natural they wear masks to protect their lungs. In high school, I was the Master of Endless Failures, thrashed nightly
in bed, on the verge of coughing my lungs out, in that Garden of Spitting Up. And didn't every girl have her garden? The Garden of Jutting Neck-bones. Gardens Pocked with Black Eyes. The Garden of Letting Him
in Despite Many Protests. A dead leopard relentlessly sheds its fur above an auditorium of children hurtling toward adulthood. In that gymnasium, there were no girls playing ping-pong. They are all boys, ceaselessly.