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Chinese stories for those who are not familiar with Chinese

Chinese stories for those who are not familiar with Chinese

Postby chungyn » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:32 pm

Chinese stories for those who are not familiar with Chinese culture

A tale from Yangzhou (揚州故事)

During the early period of the Republic of China (1911AD to ?) there lived
two rice merchants in the city of Yangzhou (揚州) in Jiangsu province (江
蘇省). One was called Chen Keqiang (陳克強) and the other Li Dawenen (李
大文). They had been good friends for many years.

During the great flood of 1931 Li Dawen was in financial trouble and borrowed
$500.00 from Chen Keqiang. In return Li Dawen signed an I.O.U. and gave
it to Chen Keqiang to keep and promised to repay the loan later.

After the flood Li Dawen went to establish a business in the city of Hefei
(合肥) in Anhui province (安徽省). Being a well-off business man Chen Keqiang
did not ask for the repayment of the loan.

When Chen Keqiang received the news of Li Dai-Wen's death he remembered
that Li still owed him $500.00. So Chen went to Hefei to attend Li's funeral.
He brought with him the I.O.U. hoping that he could collect the loan from
Li's son.

Li Junior, the son of Li Dawen, was much obliged to see Chen for coming
from so far away to attend his father's funeral. He received Chen with great
hospitality. Chen thought it was not the right time to ask for the repayment.

A few days later Chen showed Li Junior the I.O.U. that his father signed
and politely asked for the repayment. Li Junior promised that he would repay
his father's debt within a few days. Chen went back to the hotel.

The following few days Li Junior came to see Chen several times. One day,
Li Junior, accompanied by one of his assistants, went to see Chen. Li Junior
advised Chen to have a steam-bath in a public bathhouse. He said that his
assistant would accompany him to the bathhouse. So Chen had a steam-bath.

Since he was a businessman Chen could not afford to waste too much time
in Hefei. So he decided to go home. Before leaving he went to Li Junior's
house asking for the money. Li Junior said,
"Uncle, I have the money for you. Please give me the I.O.U. and I'll give
you the money."
Chen was very happy and put his hand to the pocket trying to take out the
I.O.U. However, it was not in his pocket. Chen searched and searched through
all the pockets and he could not find the I.O.U.

Li Junior said again,
"How can I give you the money if you don't give me my father's I.O.U.?"
Chen was stunned and he knew the I.O.U. was definitely in his pocket the
night before he went for the steam-bath. He suspected that Li Junior's assistant
had stolen it from him, but he had no proof. Li Junior tried to talk his
way out for not paying the money. Chen did not argue with him but asked
Li Junior to swear with him in front of his father's coffin which was to
be buried the next day.

Chen swore that if he had not lent the deceased $500.00 he would become
a donkey in his next incarnation and to be ridden by Li Junior forever.
Li Junior also swore that if he had wronged Chen his deceased father would
become a donkey in his next life and to be ridden by Chen (Note: his deceased
father and not he himself Li Junior). After that Chen went back to the hotel
and told people about his dispute with Li Junior. Then he went back to Yangzhou
and told members of his family about the whole affair.

Many months later, one rainy afternoon while Chen Keqiang was standing in
front of his house staring at the rain he saw Li Dawen walked into his house.
It had been a long time since Chen last saw his old friend. So Chen followed
him to the lounge. However, his friend had disappeared. Although Chen had
searched through the whole house he could not find him. Suddenly, Chen remembered
that his friend had died many months ago and he presumed it must be his
friend's spirit.

Soon after his servant told him that the donkey mother had given birth to
a baby donkey. Quickly, Chen went to see the baby donkey which nodded to
him when it saw him. Chen thought that it was very strange. Then he recalled
the swearing in front of his friend's coffin. He said to the baby donkey,
"If you are really my friend Li Dawen please nod your head three times".
Indeed, the baby donkey nodded its head three times. Chen was much amused
and knew that the baby donkey was the reincarnation of his friend. He looked
after the baby donkey with great care.

Several days later Chen discovered that there was a tuft of hair, which
resembled the two characters of Dawen, under the donkey's belly. Daiwen
was the given name of his late friend. That was another proof that the donkey
indeed was his deceased friend Li Dawen.

News about the donkey spread far and wide in the country. There was even
a story about the donkey in the local newspapers. Many people flocked to
Chen's house to see the strange donkey which was born to repayment its loan.
Chen named it Dawen.

A year later, Chen rode the donkey to a town called Caoxian (曹縣) which
was not far from Hefei. After arriving at the town the donkey went straight
into a porcelain shop and damaged a shelf of porcelain wares. The shopkeeper
demanded Chen to pay for the damage. Chen was furious and scolded the donkey,

"You stupid bastard, Dawen. See what you have done and I have to pay for
your silly action."

The shopkeeper was puzzled to hear Chen calling the donkey Dawen. So he
asked Chen why he called the donkey Dawen. Chen related the story about
his donkey. After hearing the story, the shopkeeper said, "Forget about
the damage. I had borrowed seven dollars from Dawen two years ago. I did
not repay him as he was dead. I think he is coming back as a donkey to demand
for his money." Chen and the shopkeeper counted the losses which were surprisingly
amounted to seven dollars.

Again the news about the donkey's demanding for repayment spread like wild
fire. Li Junior was enraged to hear that the donkey was the reincarnation
of his father and he sued Chen for defamation.

The case had never been brought to court due to the Japanese invasion. Li
Junior died during the Japanese occupation.

The abridged chapter 47 from the book entitled
"With Love And Irony" by Dr Lin Yutang (林有堂)"

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(布先客家老 CHUNG Yoon-Ngan (鄭永元)
Posts: 8423
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:06 am

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