Teng Biao: To my wife, from jail

Hu JiaTeng Biao is a legal scholar and a good friend of Hu Jia. He co-authored an open letter “The Real China and the Olympics” with Hu Jia. He has also been active in advocating for Hu since he was arrested. Teng was kidnapped on 6 March and was illegally detained for 2 days before he was released without charge. During his detention, the police threatened to arrest him and to have him dismissed from his position at the university if he did not stop raising Hu Jia’s case, writing about the Olympics, and accepting interviews from foreign journalists.

I am dedicating this translation to Hu Jia. According to an AFP report quoted by China Digital Times, Hu Jia’s verdict will be announced this Thursday. I wish him good luck, while I, and my co-blogger “Ned Kelly”, will remember him and his family in our prayers.

Presently as I confront prison walls,
Now I write this poem for you, my Love, my Lady, my Wife.
Even tonight, the stars glitter in the cold sky of apparent isolation.
Glowworms yet appear and disappear among the shrubs.

Please explain to our child why I did not have a chance
to bid her farewell. I was compelled to embark on a long journey away from home.
And so, everyday before our daughter goes to bed,
And when she awakes in the morning,
I will entrust to you, my Lady, my Love, my Wife:
I entrust to you, my warm kisses on our daughter’s cheeks.

Please let our child touch the herbs beneath the stockade.
In the morning on a beautiful sunlit day,
If she notices the dew on the leaves,
She will experience my deep love for her.

Please play the Fisherman’s Song every time you water the cloves.
I should be able to hear the song, my love.
Please take good care of our silent but happy goldfish.
Hidden in their silence are memories of my glamourous and turbulent youth.

I tread a rugged road,
But let me reassure you: I have never stopped singing, my Love.
The leaves of the roadside willow tree have gradually changed colour.
Some noises of melting snow approach from afar.

Noises are engulfed in silence. This is just a very simple night.
When you think of me, please do not sigh, my Love.
The torrents of my agonies have merged with the torrents of my happiness.
Both rivers now run through my mortal corpse.

Before the drizzle halts,
I would have returned to your side, my Lady.
I cannot dry your tears while I am drenched in rain;
I can do so only with a redeemed soul after these times of testing.

(I wrote this on 7 March 2008, on the second day after I lost my freedom. At that time, I was not sure how long I needed to stay there before I would be released. So I simply treated the jail as my home. I meditated in front of the walls, practiced my writing and composed some poetry. I initially wrote this on a piece of paper, which was confiscated by the guard. I was released in the afternoon of 8 March 2008. That evening I wrote this down from memory. Until now, I still have no idea where I have been “jailed”.)

The original Chinese poem is published at this website.

Ned Kelly adds:   Thus does China treat its handful of real lawyers.

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8 Responses to Teng Biao: To my wife, from jail

  1. Ned Kelly says:

    As my Lady, my great Love (and my co-blogger) Catherine’s first language is not English – as mine is – she asked me to assist in polishing her translation of Teng Biao’s poem from Chinese into English.

    While I was reading Catherine’s translation of Teng Biao’s poem in English, my jaw dropped in astonishment, and I said to Catherine, “I like this man, very much. This man, Teng Biao, is is a far better poet AND A BETTER MAN than I can ever hope to be.”

    Mr Teng Biao, I bow deeply to you, with all the humility I can muster.

  2. Ned Kelly says:

    Now as I re-read this poem the next day, I remember that the reason why we curse is because blessings would be cheapened otherwise.

    The cheap standard in “Alice in Wonderland”, to say “all must have prizes”, is irrational, untruthful and corrupt in the real world. The truth is, that some men really do deserve prizes, and some men really do deserve prison and death.

    But as we can see, in today’s China, those who deserve prizes are in prison, and those who deserve prison and death are walking about, raking in money and luxuriating in warm baths of prestige, flattery, praise and many other morally corrupting and corroding elements. And not all of them are Chinese; the most condemnable ones are the Western expatriates-in-China who aid and abet the moral imbecility of China’s Olympics.

    Equally as I bow to Teng Biao, in the spirit of Justice, I piss on the Olympic Torch.

  3. Adriana says:

    It is so beautiful that any comments are superfluous.

    No words suffice.

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