Night in Xishuangbanna

  I managed to get out of the darkness and looked at my watch, it was half past four in the morning. In Xishuangbanna, the light doesn’t come until almost seven o’clock, and it is the deep darkness before dawn. But isn’t there a light? Lights cannot eliminate darkness. Someone was talking in my ear. “I kept trying to stay inside, even for five seconds. But I was thrown out. It didn’t belong to me.” The voice was from Iwanami, full of fascination and frustration. I smiled knowingly and replied, “Xishuangbanna?” Immediately, an unfamiliar bass replied, “This is the city that never sleeps.” The
  bass was sitting on a wooden chair under the street lamp, reading a book. The book was thick, but I found that there was not a single word on the page. I approached him, but he didn’t want to talk to me. He is waiting for me to leave. As soon as I moved, he spoke.
  ”There is a kind of night tour that doesn’t move, but doesn’t move. Yuanfeng, we don’t communicate with each other, but you and I meet every night at that casino by the mountain. My name is Yanmeng.”
  ”Yanmeng, hello . Is there anything in your book about what happened at the cliff tonight?”
  ”I just saw this part: all the people flew over. Listen, the girls sing under the cliff.”
  I sat down beside him. Yes, I heard faint singing too. I turned my eyes to the darkness I had just escaped from. There were countless tiny spots of light surging in the darkness. Is this the hidden light of the sun that the white-haired old man said? I didn’t see them when I was in the dark. Look, they are forming a pattern, and that giant pattern leads all the way to the heaven… A voice in my heart said, “Your eyes, my eyes.”
  Yanmeng turned the page, and three butterflies flew out of the book. He closed the book with a snap and closed his eyes.
  I should go. In front of the street is the intersection, and there are three young men standing there.
  ”Are you going to the casino?” one of them asked me.
  ”No, I want to go to the cliff.”
  ”Xishuangbanna is the cliff. Do you want to fly out?” He looked at me mockingly.
  The singing sounded on the other side of the marble wall, and I remembered what Yanmeng had just said to me. Alas, how poor my imagination is! This is the difference between aboriginals and foreigners.
  I walked away and heard the lads talking about me. “He doesn’t like it here.” “He’s watching from the sidelines.” “Look at the way he walks, how can he see the cliff?” The next three burst out laughing. The singing of the girls on the other side of the wall suddenly became agitated…
  I felt ashamed, and my eyes stinged like soapy water. I wiped my eyes repeatedly with my sleeve. Behind me, someone was calling my name one after another, but I couldn’t open my eyes. I squatted down and sat on the ground by the side of the road. I felt a few passers-by around me, and one of them asked his companion curiously,
  ”This stranger, he is probably afraid of the sun?”
  I suddenly realized something, so I opened my eyes with great pain . Ah, it turned out to be dawn! I rubbed my eyes a few more times with my sleeves and my eyes got used to it. I looked around and saw no one.
  By the gate of my apartment, the canna was red as flames. Miss Yuxiang was waiting for me among the canna.
  ”Yuanfeng, you’re back, I’ve been worrying about you, the night here is not peaceful.”
  ”Thank you, so you see it the same way. It’s really not peaceful, do you think it’s beautiful?”
  ”Of course, I’m born and raised here. My daughter.”
  She said goodbye to me cheerfully, and promised me to see you on the cliff at night.
  The hot day in Xishuangbanna is a torment for people. Even in my apartment room, with the curtains down, I can still feel the sun’s tingling on my nerves. The sun is in hot pursuit, and the dark thick curtains are hard to resist its power. Half asleep, I always saw the same scene: a huge whale skeleton lay on the sand of the endless sea, and a boy of five or six years old stood beside the skeleton and sang nursery rhymes. Could it be that I am the lost whale? Under the high sky, black juice still boils in the exposed bones. The boy must have heard strange noises in the dried bones. Downstairs outside the window, Miss Yuxiang said the same sentence aloud: “This time, don’t be left behind again.” I tossed and turned on the bed, I wanted to reach a compromise with the sun, which was almost impossible . For a moment, I wanted to enter my past history, and I had even set off, but it vanished in an instant, leaving only a dazzling light.
  I woke up in the afternoon, washed up, and went to the restaurant for dinner. I met Xiaoji in the corridor. He said he came here to find his father, who was on the fifth floor.
  ”I met him last night.” I said looking him in the eyes.
  ”He’s a weird guy, isn’t he?” Ji said, making a vague gesture.
  ”I think your dad has a lot of stand-ins. He doesn’t like to open up to people.”
  ”Yeah. The girls are crazy about him. The girls in Xishuangbanna…”
  I watched his back disappear into the elevator door , remembering that he forgot to ask him about the cliff. Regardless, he exuded the aura of a loser.
  I eat a lot, probably because I consume too much at night. It was just the owner and me in the restaurant and all the curtains were down, which was exactly what I wanted. This boss is new here.
  ”Boss He, where are you from?” I asked him.
  ”A cottage ninety miles away from here.”
  ”Can you adapt to life in the city?”
  ”It’s so adaptable! When I make enough money, I’ll rent an apartment just like you and go to the streets at night. . This is a city of ecstasy. If it weren’t for the force of life, I would have been reluctant to work.”
  Boss He approached me, leaned in front of my face, and said softly:
  ”Just now, before you came down, I saw the beautiful snake poking at the door of the restaurant. I closed the curtains to lure it. Come in. Then you come, and as soon as you come, it slips away. Life is too rich here. Life is short, I have to make money quickly. I came here to find my lover, she was seen in town, we I used to break up by the river… If I lived like you, I would find her. Ah.”
  In the dim light, I noticed that Boss He’s face was so handsome, like those warriors of ancient times.
  Xiaoji called me outside the door, and I walked out of the restaurant.
  I saw that he had become radiant, as if he had changed.
  ”Yuanfeng, I’m going to jump off a cliff, tonight! I’ve gained courage,” he said.
  ”Have you seen your dad?” I asked him.
  ”No. But I saw the beautiful woman just now, at the corner of the corridor.” His face flushed red.
  ”You mean snake spirit?”
  ”Oh, Yuan Feng, your reaction is so quick. She is so beautiful, I used to be afraid of her, but today, after I exchanged glances with her, I suddenly changed view.”