A night Visitor

 -A true Story a ‘Celebrity’ Being Interviewed

By Lou Shiyi

Mr. Huang was old. People addressed him as “Respected Mr. Huang”. Being old, he easily got tired and could not help it. After supper, having watched News Today on the TV, he began to feel sleepy, so he went about washing his face and feet before going to bed.

Suddenly the door-bell rang, announcing the arrival of a visitor. As Mr. Huang had never refused any visit before, this one should be received with courtesy too. Quickly putting his socks back on and smoothing his hair, he hurried to the door, and there he was confronted by a man with a glowing face. By the first word he uttered Mr. Huang knew that this man was from a far-off place. The man took out a calling card from his pocket and said: “I’m a reporter of the Literature and Arts Gazette of S city, and I’m here to see you on Mr. X’s recommendation. I’ve come to attend a symposium in Beijing and in the meantime I’m visiting some celebrities here. I’ve had the honor of visiting with Respected Mr. Z and Mr. J.”

“I’m not much of a celebrity though. How can I be lined up with them. However, since you’ve come, come on in and take a seat. Whatever you want to talk about please go ahead.”

“What’s your name?”

Mr. Huang was shocked. How come he is here visiting me as a “celebrity” and doesn’t even know my name?

“Well, my name is…”

“No, but I’m asking about your original name.”

“You mean the one my mother gave me when I was small? But it was eighty years ago and I’ve clean forgotten it myself. I’m sorry about that.”

“What about the pen name you use regularly?”

“For so many years I’ve written all sorts of stuff under all sorts of pen names. I’m not sure I can sort them out at the moment.”

Then came the second question.

“Where are you from? From the south?”

“Yes, quite, but not too far south. In fact I’m from a place where people are known to your area as ‘Shanghainese’.”

“Where do you work and how much do you earn?”

“I’m too old to work any more. I’m not drawing any salary except some pension-I’m a ‘pensioner’ as the Westerners call it.”

“:I see. You’re retired. How much pension do you receive each month? Not too small a sum, I guess?” he said, running his eyes around the sitting-room.

“Enough to keep me going, that’s all.”

Thinking that the answers given were too curt and brief, he came up with a new idea.

“Shall we have a photo taken together?”

He produced a camera from his bag and went on: “Let’s ask the old woman to help us, the one who’s just brought us tea. Give a push to the button. Just as simple as that.”

Feeling terribly sorry for his wife, Mr. Huang protested: “I’m sorry I forgot to introduce her to you. ‘The old woman is my wife. She knows nothing about the camera, so forget about the photo. Let’s go on with your questions.” Mr. Huang was kind of irritated to find that the visitor, while asking questions, kept jotting down notes like a security policeman checking household registrations.

“What do you do at home? Writing an autobiography?”

“Not qualified to do that. Just sitting idle at home. I haven’t touched the pen for ages, as a matter of fact.”

“Shall we talk about literature and arts?”

”Could you make it more specific, please?”

“For example, these days people are discussing Poet P’s mystic poetry. What do you think of it?”

“I’m sorry I haven’t read any of his poetry and I don’t think I can understand it. I have yet to catch up. I seldom read newspapers and magazines and never concern myself with the discussion of his poetry.”

“Would you like to talk about literature going pop, then? This is the theme of the symposium this time. Could you air some views on that?”

“Literature going pop? Very Well. Make it understandable to all. This is my view, if you like?” Mr. Huang began to feel drowsy again.

“Could you please tell me how you feel about the general trend of literature and arts at the moment?”

“I don’t ‘feel’ much about that but, ‘ at the moment’, I ‘feel’ sleepy. I ‘feel’ like going to bed.”

This was terribly disappointing to the visitor. “Well, well, I must apologize for having disturbed you. I’ll visit you again next time I am in Beijing.” With this he stood up.

“I must apologize to you, sir. You’ve come from afar but I haven’t got much to offer. Pardon me for not seeing you off. You are welcome to drop in next time.”

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