Part Three: The Infamous Outlaw (江洋大盗)

Life Update: I’m tossing up whether I want to do a Masters in Translation/Interpreting.

I’m not sure if it’s worth it (time + money wise). It’ll be minimally helpful for my career (though deeply personally interesting) and I’ve been told by the course coordinator it is not a degree designed for part time study.

Surely 1-2 subjects a semester is manageable though? I’m not sure, but I’d like to at least explore this idea a little further – watch this space.

Start here for Part One.


The thief looked at the boy in contempt one last time, decides there is nothing worth stealing, and knows it’s finally time for her to head out and test her skills in the wider world.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if her family is full of the poorest souls.

Now that she is making her own way in the world, the budding outlaw saw possibility around every corner. Why she could steal all over the globe from family and friends to complete strangers. The world is so big and much is ripe for the taking.

Filled with gusto, her fingers twitch with excitement.

《白云堂》an ancient Chinese poems gives her the ability to steal mountains and disguise water. Master Shao, a traditional artists gift her gardens filled with lush greens and a wide varietyof insects, fish and birds to catch. It’s rare to find 《制乐小集》, a musical album, at the market but she buys some beansprouts instead. “Taipei People” accompanies her to the United States as the thief stealthily chews on modern literature. She tip toes around Old Master Q, a comic-book character, as he snoozes, hoping the English poems jingling about in her rug sack do not wake him.

When Mr Cai, a famous astronomer was not paying attention to the observatory, the thief extends her crimes to the galaxies, stealing the stars and moon to illuminate her path of notoriety.

Fang Xinzheng’s “Sleep on the Gale” led the thieving girl to search for Linda’s last summer among the willow trees. She watches as a young man whistles out of tune and trims Whitman’s hair, grown into the grass on his grave. Homer began to sing blindly at some point, please don’t tell anyone else it was me who reached into the window and stole his soul. Aesop, previously a slave, I merely ate his flesh but skipped over the quack toad he speaks of.

Sha Linjie hunted in the fields, but he could never capture half these precious treasures I have. I justified it all too, why Hemingway, if I didn’t kill him now, he will kill himself in the future anyway. Picasso’s circus, Gauguin’s girl, Cézanne’s apple, Van Gogh’s sunflower, all were consumed by me on the grass for a well-balanced breakfast. I also pocketed Dali’s melting clock, a useful tool to improve the precision of my crimes.

That was not all. “The Brothers Karamazov” are all stolen one by one. “The Hunter’s Diary” she also took, though her guilty conscience made her refrain from “Crime and Punishment”.

Little by little, her diet became these squares, squiggles and lines that she could swallow whole.

You may ask why this thief is so focused on literature and art. These cheap and rotten things, what use do they have? Oh, don’t look down on her for her hunger, these are just to tide her over, the good stuff is yet to come.

Over the course of the next few years, the girl’s crimes piled up into a small mountain and she truly earnt the title of the infamous outlaw. One day, she stole a plane ticket, said goodbye to her family, crossed the oceans to embrace new adventures that awaited her.

“Oh lord help us, the infamous outlaw is coming!”

The thief chuckled coldly as shrieks from the people pierced the skies.

She meets a fellow thief in a cornfield. A lone wolf by nature, this was the first time the thief has met a colleague. She quickly gave him a handful of her popcorn.

The other thief bursts out in laughter at her offering, “It is not honourable to steal food, that is for the most squalid of creatures!”

“What do you steal if not food then? I am the empty-bellied thief, out to consume all there is for the world to offer.”

“Well you’ve spent all this time and effort to come here, why not steal… a doctorate?”

“A doctorate? What use does that have? Is it more savoury or sweet?”

“Hah, a doctorate is not food!”

“If it is not edible, it is not my style. I do not wish to steal it.” The thief takes a closer look at the man in front of her. Really he was just sallow skin holding onto sharp protruding bones yet on his back was a huge, bursting backpack.

“Is it a doctorate you have in there? Why do you not eat it?”

“Oh you swine! All you know to do is to eat, do you really not know the benefits of a doctorate?”

“No, please enlighten me.”

“The stealing of this doctorate took all my blood, sweat and tears but now that I have it, it brings me plenty of benefits. At the very least, I can swap it for a beautiful bride. Do you understand now?”

The thief took a look around for eavesdroppers before she lowers her voice and whispers: “You see, yours truly is an empty-hearted thief. Things I cannot eat, are much too heavy and cumbersome for my tastes. Even if it may be used to purchase love in the future. Thank you for your guidance, farewell now.”

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