Part Two: The Infamous Outlaw (江洋大盗)

Hey everyone, sorry for the late post. Happy International Women’s Day! Serendipitously, continuing the translation of Sanmao’s work seemed appropriate for celebrating the occasion.


Part One – After I made up my mind, I decided to go and get an X-ray.

“Wow, it really is empty!” The doctor exclaimed after taking a look at my results.

“Yet you’ve managed to survive 14 years, truly impressive.”

I grab the x-ray image off him, quickly run home and slide it under my bed to keep it hidden and safe. I decide that twenty years later, I will go get another x-ray scan and see if by then, I will be a full person.

As I don’t have a heart or any courage inside, my will has always been a weak one. Even after being inspired by the Japanese thieves, I did not try my own hand at pickpocketing, letting precious time slip through my fingers day by day.

That was until one year, when the neighbours nominated our family to be the district’s model family. Everyone in our district already knew of my parents’ characters but they were still very careful with the selection, coming over and conducting a thorough interview with them.

Question after question cemented the committee’s initial assessment that we were a model family. Alas as the interviews were wrapping up, I walked by the kitchen and was spotted by the interviewer.

“Today isn’t Sunday, why isn’t your daughter at school?”

Mother, trying to protect me, replies “my daughter’s not well, so she has quit school.”

“What type of illness does she have? She looks quite healthy.”

“She has honeycomb shaped holes in her organs. It’s an incurable disease. As you can imagine, it’s very frustrating for us all.”

In the end, because of my strange illness, our family did not become the exemplar of a perfect family. According to the interviewer, a family with a mysterious sickness does not set a good role model to others.

That night, tears streamed down my face as I lay there in the silent night. I vowed in that moment to become a thief.

Now, out of all the outlaws in the world, I bet you could not name even one driven by anything other than greed or power. I did not have a master in the craft but these basic principles I understood well.

As I scanned my surroundings carefully, not letting even a blade of grass escape my sight, my eyes settled on my parents. As a novice thief, they were fantastic practise targets. If I get caught, the stakes would be much lower. It’s not like they’d actually report me to the police!

I carefully sized up my prey. These two are very principled people who are harsh with themselves and endlessly generous to others. They are responsible in all their actions and supportive of their children. They never speak about others behind their backs, never ones to brag either. They are neither insecure nor self-pitying. If others owe them money, they would never chase the debt and often when it comes time to pay, they are the ones footing the bill and then some. I’ve never properly assessed my dear parents before but having taken a look, aside from their above average looks, all this stuff inside them is so outdated! All these old fashioned qualities that nobody wants anymore, yet they treat them like gold!

It was a decade or so ago where they met a ‘Count of Monte Cristo’ type. Since then, both of them have become more and more foolish. Idiotic buggers beyond all hope! Even to me, an empty person, stealing from them would not be worth my time. From the perspective of an absolute beginner desperate for some practise, I decide that these two chumps just don’t make the cut, no thank you sir.

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