The Embassy’s China Bride
Author: Jiu Dan
Translator: Bruce Humes
Editor: Christopher Cottrell
She’s an aging Chinese female novelist of cult fame banned for her intimate portrayal of women and their men. Her lover De Niro is a wild Italian hell-bent on motorcycles. Her other lover is an ambassador to the Middle Kingdom, and this is the tale of their trysts and catkins in the heart of Beijing.
“I’m a writer, a novelist. I specialize in the study of pain,” she says.
“Enchanté, novelist,” he replies. “I’m a painter.”
Welcome to a true life inspired account of passions set largely in the luxurious and exclusive confines behind an embassy ’s steel gate in Beijing’s Sanlitun district. This is not merely the stark diary of the carnality and spirit of a blacklisted female writer in China. It also delves into the minds of the over-sexed, conflicted European men who populate the booming 21st-century capital, and the dark side of their relations with Chinese women who flock to them like moths to a white-hot light bulb.
An excerpt follows:
It was June 8, 2013. Right under the eyes of the sentry on guard, beneath the long needles of that big pine tree, the Ambassador and I performed our French greeting rites for the second time.
“Bonjour. Comment allez-vous?”
“Je vais bien, merci. Et vous?”
“Moi aussi, merci.”
When his eyes paused on my face, he still displayed the bashfulness of a young man. The knowledgeable recognize this as another signal of enticement. I caught the subtle distinction between the light in his pupils and the temperature of carnal desire as I followed him with a palpable sense of intrigue. After we entered the embassy, as soon as the main gate was shut, all that remained within that huge space were male and female. We could now begin to make up for lost time. Right down to our very nerve endings.
It was almost 11:00 am when he had sent an invite that day inquiring if I could arrive at 12:00. I said I’d need until 12:30. A date-bound woman needs to shower and change clothing. She might even need to apply oils for a fragrant body. He said coming half an hour late was acceptable, naturally. He could easily imagine what she would be up to during that extra thirty minutes. Particularly a somewhat older woman.
My hair was a mess. It had never been brought to heel and couldn’t be fixed within a set framework. In his painting studio that still exuded the aroma of pigments, a big hand twisted those disorderly strands of hair into greater chaos. My lips and tongue were instructed to search for tiny pink beans buried in the fur on his chest. They believed in the tongue’s power.
My mouth was moved downwards. In no time flat it was crammed full by what emerged from inside his pants. I raised my palette, employing my rose-colored tongue and tightened lips to earnestly envelope and caress despite a slight soreness. According to research, a woman’s endurance is five times that of a male. In order to reach her goal she is capable of using her entire lifetime to engage men in games. I believe this is an instinct. It is also a driving force.
He conducted himself coolly until the final sprint. A spasmodic quiver past, he didn’t seem to have come to himself yet.
If I were to praise his physique, I’d likely commence with the beautiful arching testicles. They are well proportioned, full and firm. Smack in the middle of them is a tiny protrusion — a pearl in the sea — that bobs up and down in concert. A pearl that does not disappear or melt. I gently licked it. I realized that apart from his two nipples, this was his third bean.
He pulled on his pants. He zipped his zipper. A man’s zipper never goes all the way up. When there is an opening, light leaks out of it, and the world is much brighter for it. Perhaps because hidden inside is an orange life jacket. Or some kind of helmet. It can distort a woman’s face with joy and pain. Throughout the history of the fine arts, the scent of oil paint pigments has been permeated by the tang of sperm — as natural companions as a horse and its rider.
When we’d seated ourselves calmly and sensibly on the living room sofa, he told me to look at his wall.
My head was still buzzing and my eyes waterlogged, but I strived to follow his instruction. I observed his wall. It was covered by his ocean tableaux, all executed in Spain. This time, when he relocated to Beijing, he had them transported here.
Despite the fishy flavor left behind in my mouth, I recalled our initial topics on WeChat. We’d explored the ocean, lifebuoys, and the utter hopelessness of reaching safety on a distant bank. He used his wall to compose these meanings. Some of the oceans whispered in black, some cried out in grey. Waves were black and white, squeezed onto the canvass in toothpaste-tube squiggles. Twisting lines were endless illusions.
Twenty-two paintings, twenty-two oceans. He painted these works, he told me, in the midst of a great crisis. Yet he brushed aside this crisis, transforming it into component parts that he could carry with him.
From them he selected four large and eighteen small ones. Then he mounted and framed them and hung them on the wall. He recalled all this on a night when a cool autumn breeze blew through the embassy window, caressing his hair. He observed the paintings with an expression of utter detachment.
At the time, it didn’t occur to me that, an excess of accumulated hormones aside, he had any distinctive heaviness about him. I observed the wall at length. The whole space seemed to be suffused with the same super salty sea-flavor.
He held the French edition of my novel in his hand. It was so gripping he couldn’t sleep at night. Could I give it to him? “Because your novel also mentions the ocean,” he said. “Although it’s Singapore’s, but it’s related to mine. It seems like it’s the same ocean.”
This was my last copy of the French translation. But I nodded my head without hesitation. It was as if due to this novel there was a new association between us, a blended fiber, or simply a rope. It was firm.
He opened the book to the blank space page following the title page. “Write something here. A sentence from you. In Chinese.”
I gazed at the blank space. Though I long ago lost my penchant for calligraphy, my inner heart is an abandoned horse corral. At that instant, there were so many horses stuck in my throat. I knew that was only left-over, Beijing diplomat’s jizzum.
“How is your novel progressing?” he asked. “Are you writing about your romance with the Paralympics star?”
I licked my lips. No, I still hadn’t finished expounding on the French and their Arabes.
“How many pages do you intend to write?”
“Four hundred or so. I’ve already completed about three hundred.”
“Marvelous,” he said, eyes wide in admiration.
I wondered how a man could return so quickly to his rational role in life, while my face was still twisted.
“You haven’t finished it and you’re already praising it?”
“Well then, just suppose I’ve already finished the book,” he said, pointing at the novel on the desk. After which he gave me a self-satisfied look.
“It really is a good novel,” he protested.
I adjusted my position on the sofa, and told him that at the time it caused an uproar in China. And Singapore too. Predictably, mainly due to people badmouthing it.
“I wrote about ‘Little Dragon Girls’ — Chinese students-cum-call girls on the loose in Singapore — so they reckoned I must be one too. People don’t sympathize with that kind of woman. Philosophically, they can’t comprehend them either.”
“So if you write about a chauffeur, then you are considered a chauffeur?”
I chuckled again.
“I really enjoy the tone of the writing: dark, cruel, genuine.”
My head lowered, I listened.
“But frankly, I do have a question: Was the male protagonist based on an actual person?” In his querying eyes was a hint of perplexity.
I admitted that yes, he was.
“Of course, I’m just asking.”
He comforted me, casually patting me on my head. He seemed to feel a bit sheepish; that wasn’t the sort of question that should come out of an intellectual’s mouth.
“The Chinese race doesn’t attach importance to experiential novels,” I said.
“Perhaps we haven’t evolved to this point yet. Writing based on theory tends to prevail.”
We also touched on Mo Yan, the Chinese winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. What’s the story behind Mo Yan’s writing, he asked.
Of course, the prize hadn’t been given to the wrong person, I replied. As to the controversy surrounding the man himself, that’s another matter. But in terms of his published works, he is the pride of Asian literature.
I had a sudden inspiration about what to convey in my autographed note to him. So I picked up a pen and wrote: “你的脑海是无边的海.”
At the side, I translated it into English, “Your head sea is a shoreless sea.”
I couldn’t use English, or French for that matter, to translate the beauty of the Chinese original. I explained that our thoughts and moods — packed in a container — that’s a “head sea.” But he didn’t get it. So I elaborated: We Chinese like to take the things that occur to us in our brains, or all the stuff inside, black or white, stir them up and form a sea. Literally, a “head sea.”
He only half comprehended, but he adored the phrase “head sea.”
He gave me a sheet of paper and told me to write 脑 海 on it. When I’d done so, I said, “To simplify, ‘nǎo hǎi ’is a kind of warehouse for storing one’s thoughts.”
He was still perplexed. It was as if he’d entered a narrow alley and couldn’t find his way out. He took the paper in hand and mouthed ‘nǎo hǎi ’.
I offered another analogy, “For instance, inside my ‘nǎo hǎi’ appears the image of my maternal grandmother. She suffered throughout her life. She lived to be very elderly, just skin and bones, and died a pitiful death. The socially polished daughter of a well-to-do family, when she was married she came with a camphor chest. Its four corners were gilded. That became part of my mother’s dowry. Eventually my mother had this treasure transported to Beijing and placed beside my bed.”
“All of these things appear in my ‘nǎo hǎi ’.”
He put down the paper in his hand, and disentangled himself from the ‘nǎo hǎi ’ conundrum. He directed his interest toward my maternal grandmother. I also returned to reality and words began to pour forth. I recounted that this well-born daughter became the wife of a landlord. During the revolution someone put a cat inside her crotch, tightened the bottoms of her trousers, and then took a stick to that cat.
He was too appalled to listen. So I stopped speaking.
I looked at him. After a long time, he suddenly placed his hand on top of my head, and twisted it firmly in the opposite direction. “Look at the vast ocean.”
I genuinely began to observe the ocean. My back broke out in sweat. I suddenly realized that my love affair with the Ambassador was a colorful one. Together, we faced filth, desolation and terror. They were his ocean. At that ocean side moment, I longed for him to press my head down violently. To mess up my hair, take out his utterly beautiful phallus, sever my tongue and block all my orifices.
If only he had whipped it out. That would have been Easter and Good Friday. Perhaps many years thereafter I wouldn’t remember his face. But I’d be able to recall our expressions as we lifted our heads to watch the ocean in unison. The ocean’s spray flew. The ocean roared. The white ocean, the black ocean. The first liquid mutually spewed as we arrived back on earth . . .
The hand on the top of my head relaxed. He didn’t know that in this huge living room, this wall needed to pioneer a newly stimulating domain. I’m confident the heat of his spermatozoa could have warmed those oceans that praised death like exhausted poems.
Imprinted on his faintly blue shimmering silk scarf is the head of a horse galloping forward that suddenly turns its gaze backwards. Its mane waves in the wind. The horse crooks its head to the side, displaying a single eye lost in concentration. The white of the eye and the eyeball, tempered by experience, transcend the mortal world. The silk scarf wasn’t folded around his neck; it hung diagonally across his bedroom.
As if it were a magnet, I often stared at this horse eye. And I recalled his words: This is me. [终]