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一只猫的忧伤往事

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  After a certain age—and for some of us that can be very young—there are no new people, beasts, dreams, faces, events: it has all happened before, masked differently, wearing different clothes, another nationality, another colour; but the same, the same, and everything is an echo and a repetition; and there is no grief even that it is not a 1)recurrence of something long out of memory that expresses itself in unbelievable 2)anguish, days of tears, loneliness, knowledge of betrayal and all for a small, thin, dying cat.
中国论文网 /9/view-3591597.htm
  当人过了一定的年龄,就觉得不存在什么新人、新动物、新梦想、新面孔和新事件了,而我们当中的某些人可能还非常年轻:因为所有这一切以前都已经历过了,只是化着不同的妆,穿着不同的衣服,有着另一个国籍,另一种肤色,但本质上都是一模一样,分毫不差的,而每件事都只是一个回声,一种重复;也没有什么悲伤不是某种遗忘已久的记忆重现,那曾经难以置信的痛苦、日以继夜的泪水、孤独和背叛感——而所有这一切只因为一只羸弱垂死的小猫。
  
  I was sick that winter. It was inconvenient because my big room was due to be whitewashed. I was put in the little room at the end of the house. The house, nearly but not quite on the crown of the hill, always seemed as if it might slide off into the 3)maize fields below. This tiny room, not more than a slice off the end of the house, had a door, always open, and windows, always open, in spite of the windy cold of a July whose skies were an 4)interminable light clear blue. The sky, full of sunshine; the fields, 5)sunlit. But cold, very cold. The cat, a bluish-grey Persian, arrived purring on my bed, and settled down to share my sickness, my food, my pillow, my sleep. When I woke in the mornings, my face turned to half-frozen 6)linen; the outside of the fur blanket on the bed was cold; the smell of fresh whitewash from next door was cold and 7)antiseptic; the wind lifting and laying the dust outside the door was cold—but in the crook of my arm, a light purring warmth, the cat, my friend.
  At the back of the house a wooden tub was let into the earth, outside the bathroom, to catch the bathwater. No pipes carrying water to taps on that farm: water was fetched by ox-drawn cart when it was needed, from the well a couple of miles off. Through the months of the dry season the only water for the garden was the dirty bathwater. The cat fell into this tub when it was full of hot water. She screamed, was pulled out into a chill wind, washed in 8)permanganate, for the tub was 9)filthy and held leaves and dust as well as soapy water, was dried, and put into my bed to warm. But she sneezed and wheezed and then grew burning hot with fever. She had 10)pneumonia. We 11)dosed her with what there was in the house, but that was before 12)antibiotics, and so she died. For a week she lay in my arms purring, purring, in a rough trembling hoarse little voice that became weaker, then was silent; licked my hand; opened enormous green eyes when I called her name and 13)besought her to live; closed them, died, and was thrown into the deep 14)shaft—over a hundred feet deep it was—which had gone dry, because the underground water streams had changed their course one year and left what we had believed was a reliable well, a dry, cracked, rocky shaft that was soon half filled with rubbish, tin cans, and corpses.
  That was it. Never again. And for years I matched cats in friends’ houses, cats in shops, cats on farms, cats in the street, cats on walls, cats in memory, with that gentle blue-grey purring creature which for me was the cat, the Cat, never to be replaced.
  And besides, for some years my life did not include extras, unnecessaries, 15)adornments. Cats had no place in an existence spent always moving from place to place, room to room. A cat needs a place as mush as it needs a person to make its own.
  And so it was not till twenty-five years later that my life had room for a cat.
  
  那年冬天我生病了,令人不便的是,我的大房间到了该粉刷的时候了。于是我被安置在房子末端的小房间里。那所房子虽然不是正正屹立山顶,也可谓在山之巅了,看起来总像是要滑进山下的玉米地里似的。这个小房间顶多算是那所房子末端的一角,有一扇门却总是开着的,几扇窗户也总是开着的,尽管七月的寒风(译者注:当时作者住在南半球)呼啸而过,天空却是一片无限明净的淡蓝。天空中溢满了阳光,原野被阳光笼罩。但依然寒冷,非常寒冷。那只猫,一只蓝灰色的波斯猫,呼噜呼噜喘鸣着来到我的床上,并安顿下来,分担我的疾病,分享我的食物、我的枕头和我的睡眠。当我每天清晨醒来时,我的脸转向半冻住的亚麻布;床铺上靠外面的毛毯冷冰冰的;隔壁传来的新鲜石灰水的味道寒冷而干净;门外的冷风将尘土卷起又洒落——但在我的臂弯里有一团轻轻打着呼噜的温暖,是那只猫,我的朋友。
  在房子后面的浴室之外有一个木桶嵌入地里,用来接洗澡水。在那个农场里,并没有管道连通到水龙头:需要用水时,就用牛拉车从几英里之外的水井里取水。在旱季的那几个月里,这桶脏洗澡水是花园里唯一的水源。那只猫在桶里装满了热水时跌了进去。她尖声大叫,被拉出来时吹到了凉风,因为桶里肮脏污秽,又接满了树叶、尘土和肥皂水,所以用高锰酸钾给她洗了澡,然后把她弄干塞进我的被子里取暖。但她不停地打着喷嚏,接着发起了高烧,浑身发烫。她得了肺炎。我们满屋子找药给她服下,但那时还没有抗生素,所以后来她死了。在那一个星期里,她躺在我怀里呼噜呼噜地叫,她那粗糙嘶哑的小嗓音颤抖着,变得越来越微弱,直到寂静无声;她舔着我的手;当我呼唤她的名字恳求她活下来时,她睁开绿色的大眼睛;然后闭上眼睛,死了,被扔进了深井里——那井有一百多英尺深——井早已干涸了,因为某年地下水流改变了流向,留下了一个我们认为是相当可靠的深井,一个干燥、残破、满是石块的竖井,很快被垃圾、罐头和尸骨填了半满。
  就是这样了。再也没有下一次了。这么多年来,我将朋友们家的猫、商店里的猫、农场里的猫、街道上的猫、墙上的猫和记忆中的猫与那个温柔的蓝灰色的打着呼噜的小动物作比较,对于我来说只有那只猫,“那只猫”,是无可取代的。
  此外,多年以来,我的生活里不包括多余的、不必要的东西和装饰物。在这段总是从一个地方搬到另一个地方,一个房间搬到另一个房间的生活里没有猫的容身之处。就像需要一个属于它自己的人一样,猫也需要一个属于它自己的地方。
  所以直到25年之后,我的生活里才有了一只猫的一席之地。

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