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爱尔兰老人睿智的人生话语

更新时间:2018-3-29 22:06:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The wise words that changed my life
爱尔兰老人睿智的人生话语

It was one of those Dublin summer days that don't make sense; the sun was hiding behind a dark grey cloud and the air felt muggy and oppressive. I was working as a nanny, and my youngest charge was complaining about the weather and trying to get out of going to nursery. I was only half-present; early that morning, I had checked my email and my sister had written to tell me that our beloved grandfather had been diagnosed with cancer. At that time, I had no idea that it was already too late, but I was feeling fragile and alone in a country that was not mine.

都柏林(Dublin)的夏日,极为平常的一天,太阳掩藏在铅灰的乌云后,空气又沉又闷。彼时,我是个保姆,少东家正在抱怨天气,闹别扭不肯去托儿所。我也心不在焉,早上在电子邮箱里收到姐姐写来的信,说是我们亲爱的祖父确诊患了癌症。那时,我还不知道祖父的病已到了晚期,只是感到身在异乡的我脆弱而又孤独。

We set off on the short walk to the nursery, where I deposited the grumpy three-year-old and walked back home, wrapped up in myself. That was when I first saw Gráinne; she was slowly shuffling down the path of a house. It was the print of her dress that caught my attention first; it was splashed with big bright sunflowers – my favourite flower – and she wore a little green hat on her head. I had already walked past the gate by the time she reached it, and when I turned around at the end of the lane, she was shuffling back up the path to her home.

我带着臭脾气的三岁毛孩去附近的托儿所,把孩子放下后,转身回家,心思都拢在自己身上。那是我第一次见到格拉涅(Gráinne),她正慢慢悠悠从房子外挪向大门。最先映入我眼帘的是她连衣裙的印花——我最爱的向日葵,大朵大朵、鲜艳无比地散落其间。她还戴了顶小绿帽。等她踱到门前,我早已走远,待我到巷口转弯,她也转身回房子里去了。

The next day, I was walking back from nursery drop off when I saw Gráinne – this time wearing a sky-blue dress patterned with cherries – walking to the gate again. I stopped and waited for her to get to it so I could say hello. She reached the gate and smiled at me inquiringly. I smiled back and told her I'd seen her on my walks to and from the pre-school. She asked me what my name was, and she told me hers. She lived alone, she said, although her son – a lawyer with a practice not too far away – looked in on her regularly. But it was the way she said it, a little wistfully, that made me think that she was as lonely as I was.

第二天,再次见到格拉涅,是我从托儿所回来的路上。这次她穿了缀满樱桃的天蓝色连衣裙,又朝着大门走来。我驻足等她过来,好跟她打招呼。她走到门边,好奇地对我微笑。我也冲她笑了笑,说自己在往返托儿所的路上见过她。她问了我的名字,然后自报家门。还说自己一个人住,不过有个当执业律师的儿子,住得不远,定期来看她。然而她的语气略为惆怅,让我觉得她大抵和我一般孤独。

My morning routine coincided with Gráinne's daily walks to and from her gate, and we began having conversations there; she would lean on her cane and I would stand at the gate and lean over it. After about a week of this, she invited me into her house for a cup of tea. I was pleased to accept, and we went right into the large sunny kitchen towards the back of the house where copper pots gleamed from polished hooks over the counter and bunches of dried herbs were strung like garlands on the back door. A large AGA range sat in state with immense dignity, and classical music played from a small radio perched on top of the fridge; I would come to learn that Gráinne was a huge fan of RTÉ radio, particularly the classical music service. She said that it helped her feel less alone, and reminded her of all the music and beauty in the world.

每天早上我的路线和格拉涅往返她家大门的时间刚好吻合,于是我们会在大门边聊两句。她倚着拐杖,我靠在门边。大概一周后,她请我去她家里喝杯茶。我很高兴地接受了邀请,两人当即走向房子后头阳光明媚的厨房,台面上的挂钩擦得锃亮,挂在上面的铜盆闪闪发光,一束束干草药捆得犹如门上的花环。一大台AGA牌集成灶"宝相庄严"地矗立着,冰箱上的迷你收音机放着古典音乐。想来格拉涅应是爱尔兰电台(RTÉ)的铁粉,尤其是古典音乐节目,这让她不那么孤独,能欣赏到人世间所有的音乐和美好。

She was an easy conversationalist, and she had a charming habit of focusing entirely on me as we talked; she would tilt her head to the side to watch me as I spoke, and she loved to listen to my interesting hotchpotch of an accent, even though I had to repeat some words because she didn't understand them. Her own accent was indubitably Irish and her voice had a sweet musical lilt that reminded me of a little bird. I told her so and she laughed.

她很健谈,每次两人聊天,她都全神贯注、歪着头听我说话,着实可爱。她喜欢听我南腔北调的口音,虽然有的词她听不懂,我还得重复一下。她自己当然是地道的爱尔兰腔,语调甜蜜又轻快,让人觉得像一只小鸟。我这么一提,她哈哈大笑。

She told me she was 87 years old, and she marvelled that I was only 26. She herself had been 26, she said, a lifetime ago. She told me that I had my whole life ahead of me, and that I mustn't waste a moment of it doing anything I didn't want to do. She wanted me to choose to stay only in the experiences – and with the people – that made me happy.

格拉涅跟我说自己87岁了,还很惊讶我只有26岁,她觉得自己26岁好像是上辈子的事。她告诉我,有大好的时光等着我,可千万别浪费一分一秒做自己不想做的事,希望我无论做事还是交友,都能开心。

She had lived a very interesting life; she’d travelled and lived all over Europe with her husband, Patrick, and they had had one son, the lawyer, whom I got to meet once when he looked in on her when I was there. She had wanted more children at one time, she told me, as we pored over photograph albums with yellowing pages one rainy morning, but somehow they had ‘never got around to it’.

她的一生都很有趣,和丈夫帕特里克(Patrick)走遍欧洲各地旅居,还有个律师儿子,有一次他回家看母亲时我碰巧也在。一个下雨的早晨,我俩一起翻阅她泛黄的照相册子,她说自己一度想再生几个孩子,不过不知怎的,没腾出空来。

She and her husband had clearly been deeply in love for all of their lives; they had been married for 62 years and he had died less than six months ago. She cried once when she spoke about him because she wanted to see Patrick again in heaven, but she wasn't sure if she would. A devout Catholic all her life – she even wore a little garnet cross on a silver chain around her neck that she'd been given at her confirmation – she couldn't help but question whether it was all true. As she'd got older, the state of the world had depressed her more and more, and she wasn't sure that heaven existed. I was already an agnostic at the time, but I assured her that she would see Patrick again. I simply didn't think any other outcome could be possible. She was reassured by my certainty, and said it buoyed her.

格拉涅和丈夫显然一生都很相爱,婚后携手走过62年,直到小半年前,丈夫去世。有次提及帕特里克,她哭了,因为想在天堂与他重逢,又不知能否成真。她一生都是虔诚的天主教徒,甚至一直在脖子上挂着在教堂行坚信礼时获赠的银链子,上面坠了个红色小十字架。但她还是忍不住去想,这到底是不是真的。后来她老了,世界的现状让她越来越沮丧,搞不清到底有没有天堂。那时我已是宗教怀疑主义者,但我还是安慰她,保证他们能天堂重逢,因为我实在想不到别的结局。我的肯定令她安心且振奋。

I told her about my own love story that had ended when I was 21; my fiancé had died in a car accident, crushing my hopes for a life with him and breaking my heart in a way that I felt could never be unbroken. I had hoped to marry my love and have children with him and grow old with him, the way she had with Patrick. “I became a widow before I became a wife,” I told her, and she grasped my hands in hers, then pulled me to her in a hug that was fierce and transformative. “It will come again, with someone else,” she promised me. “You have too much love to give. It will come.” I hoped she was right and I told her so, and she assured me that she was. She just knew these things, she said.

我告诉格拉涅,自己的爱情终于21岁,未婚夫死于车祸,碾碎了我与他共度余生的希望,撞碎了我的心,再也拼不回去。我曾期盼像她和帕特里克那般,与爱人结婚生子、携手共老。"还没做妻子,先成了寡妇。"我这么说。她紧紧握住我的手,又把我拉过去,用力抱住。"会再有的,会有新的人,"她向我许诺,"你能给别人很多爱,会再来的。"我说,希望她是对的。她说,那肯定的,自己就是知道。

I told her about my grandfather and his illness; I had managed to speak to him on the phone the previous day as he recuperated in hospital after his prostate surgery, and we'd talked about how we both hoped that the doctors had got to the cancer in time, not knowing then that it had already spread. She made it a point to inquire after him every day, and I appreciated it. I found myself telling her other things that I hadn't necessarily told anyone. I told her how I had never felt at home anywhere, and how disconnected I had always felt from India, the country of my birth. “I thought I was travelling in order to find myself, but I think I'm travelling to find out where I fit,” I told her. She just smiled at this, but didn't say anything.

我跟她谈起我祖父和祖父的病情,说前一天我跟祖父打了电话,当时他已做了前列腺的手术,在住院恢复。我们多么希望医生及时控制了癌细胞,当时却不知道他的癌细胞已经扩散。此后每天她都特地问起祖父,令我十分感激。我发现自己把不足为外人道的事,也一一向她倾诉。我还告诉她,自己无论到哪里,都没有归属感,甚至与自己的祖国印度也总是那么疏离。"一直以为自己是想在旅游中找到真我,现在看来,是为了找到适合自己的地方。"我如是说,她笑而不语。

One morning, when I visited her, she was making mozzarella cheese. She had lived in Italy and learned to make mozzarella there from experts, and she told me that she made the best mozzarella in all of Ireland. “You stick with me,” she said. “I'll teach you all my secrets.” I was excited about the possibility of learning to make my own mozzarella; I had lived in Italy myself, but somehow the education had avoided me. I hadn't realised how easy it was, but it was, and in not very much time we had a smooth, silky, creamy ball of mozzarella, which she insisted I take home. I eventually accepted it and asked her if I could bake her a cake as a thank you. She loved the idea of that, and so the next day I took her a lemon cake.

某个早晨,我去拜访时,她正在做马苏里拉奶酪(水牛奶酪)。她以前住在意大利,向大师学过,还说自己做的马苏里拉是全爱尔兰最好的。"你跟着我,"她说,"我把秘方都教给你。"可以学会做自己的马苏里拉让我十分兴奋,以前我也在意大利待过,但因教育的缘故,莫名其妙没学成。没想到做起来这么容易,很快我们就做了一大块丝滑细腻的马苏里拉,她还非要我带回家。最后我收下了,不过想给她烤个蛋糕当谢礼。她很喜欢这个主意,于是隔天我给她带了个柠檬蛋糕。

While we both looked forward to my daily visits, and as our friendship blossomed and grew, bad news was already brewing on my horizon. I had heard again from my sister and she confirmed my worst fears: that my grandfather's condition was serious and that he had only some months to live. I began to consider when I would return home so I could see him. It was starting to weigh me down, how far away I was, and how long it had been since I had seen him. I told Gráinne that I would probably be going back to India soon. She was adept at using the internet, which she loved, and she promised me she would email me often. “How will I do without you?” she asked. I had no reply, but I hugged her. The day before I left Dublin for the last time, I went to say goodbye to her. I wasn't sure if I would be coming back, and we didn't say what we both knew – that we were likely talking to each other in person for the last time.

正当我们的友谊越来越浓,每天都盼着见面时,坏消息来了。姐姐来信,证实了我最深的忧虑——祖父的病情恶化了,没几个月好活。我开始考虑自己什么时候回家去看祖父。心头沉甸甸的,想到如今我们离得那么远,又有那么久没见他。我告诉格拉涅,自己怕是很快就要回印度了。她保证会经常给我发邮件,因为她擅长上网,还挺热衷。"没有你我可怎么办呀?"她问。我没说话,抱了抱她。最后离开都柏林的这天,我去与她话别。我不知道自己还会不会回来,我们也没有点破,这可能是两人最后一次面对面地聊天。

Shortly after my return to India, my grandfather passed away. I emailed Gráinne a few days after his funeral to let her know that my whole world had changed. “I lost the only person whose love I never had to question,” I wrote. “I lost the only person who made me feel less alone.” Gráinne wrote back, an email full of compassion. She ended with these words: “You told me once that you travelled in order to find out where you fit. I hope you understand now that you don't fit into places, you fit into people. You will always fit where you have people to fit with.”

回印度后没多久,祖父就去世了。葬礼后数日,我给格拉涅写邮件,告诉她我的世界彻底变了。"世上就那么一个人,我坚信一定是爱我的,我失去了他。"我写道,"就那么一个人,让我不那么孤独,我也失去了。"格拉涅回了一封充满同情的信:"曾经你说旅行是为了找到自己适合的地方。如今我盼你能明白,不是你适应地方,而是去和人相处好。你在哪能和人相处得好,哪里就是适合你的地方。"

Although I was never able to see Gráinne again, my friendship with her remained steadfast and constant; we emailed each other often, and our emails were newsy and long or short and matter-of-fact. Her emails normalised my life, as mine did hers. Two years and some months after my grandfather's death, I received a thick envelope bordered in black in the mail. It was a letter from Gráinne's son, informing me that she had passed away peacefully in her sleep a fortnight ago. I sat down suddenly on a chair because I was trembling, and I felt incredibly bereft. My tears fell on the letter as I read that Gráinne had wanted me to have her garnet cross on its silver chain, the one she'd worn all her life. “Thank you for being a generous and loving friend to my mother,” he wrote. “She treasured you.” I shook out the cross from the envelope, held it to my heart, and wept.

尽管我再也没能见到格拉涅,我们的友情却从未动摇,两人书信往来频繁,或长或短、就事论事、趣闻多多。她的来信让我的生活步入正轨,我的信于她亦然。祖父去世了两年零几个月后,我收到了厚厚一封黑边来信,来自格拉涅的儿子。信上说半个月前,她在睡梦中安详地走了。我一下子瘫在凳子上,颤抖着,悲伤至极。读到格拉涅希望我收下她戴了一辈子的项链,就是那条带红色十字架的银链子,我的泪水滴在了信纸上。"你是我母亲慷慨而忠诚的朋友,谢谢,"他写道,"她十分珍视你。"我从信封中抖出十字架,贴在胸前,潸然泪下。

It was one of the most beautiful friendships I've ever known, and it spanned the years. I was 26 and alone in a foreign country, and she was 87 and alone in her own home. Together we made the world make sense again, at least for a while.

这段交往历时多年,是我人生经历中最美好的友谊之一。26岁的我独在异乡,87岁的她独居在家。至少有那么一段时光,我们一起给彼此的生活赋予了意义。

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