"Back to the Tribe!"
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Provided by Walis Nokan

電子書:Back To The Tribe!

Back To The Tribe!

When he discovered that he was inch by inch disappearing,

Bihao, primary school teacher in the city, decided he must go back to the tribe.

That morning, Bihao got a call from the tribe

but eeh-eeh-ah-ah-ing, he no longer made sounds that Yaya understood.

Bihao’s throat had become just like that of the lying dog,

disappearing on a quiet city morning!

Letting his tears stream into the receiver was all he could do

as if at the end of the line there were a priest receiving his confession.

When his people asked what he’d come back for-

Bihao managed to squeeze out a sickly sound: “To cure the pain in my throat.”

But no one understood his A-me-ri-can.

When she discovered that she was inch by inch disappearing,

our Giwas, who sang in the city, decided she had to take her leave.

That night, Giwas turned on the fluorescent light in her room

and a deathly white hue covered the deep dark of her face.

Our healthy Giwas had become just like the child running down the mountain,

a face belonging to the Atayal inch by inch disappearing.

In the empty vastness of the city night

Giwas could no longer see her own face.

When her people asked what she’d come back to do-

Giwas, covering her white face with dark hands, said:

“To find my face back.”

But in the tribe, who cares if your face is round or square?

When he discovered that he was inch by inch disappearing,

Wadang, strolling amid city jungle scaffolding, decided he must return to the tribe.

That day, oh! Not one cloud had the nerve to block the sun at high noon.

Our nimble Wadang in the glass of a skyscraper’s windows

finally saw a tailless monkey lost in the city.

It was rocking back and forth, as if tied down in a huge mechanical trap-

at some point, the tribe’s hunter had changed into a quadruped!

When his people asked what he’d come back to do-

Wadang flexed his pulsating muscles and said, excited:

“To go up the mountain and hunt!”

And what was the use of hunting, his people disdainfully asked:

“All prey now know about legislation on wildlife preservation!”

When he discovered that he was inch by inch disappearing,

Hajuong, our shift leader at McDonald’s, decided he had to say good-bye to the city!

That day, before he left work, all the tired insects came back.

Our Hajuong received an epistle from across many mountains:

the orchard that Yava had tilled for over thirty years (this land, no less,

had become theirs through Yudas’s lifelong struggle) had overnight

been stuck full of members of the tribe, just like the Japanese sun-flags.

In the blink of an eye (to be more exact, the offical date was December 3, 1994)

the orchard that had put him through middle school had been made state property.

In the reflection of glittering tiles produced by a capitalist empire, our Hajuong

at long last saw a pitiful fellow whose nationality had disappeared!

Didn’t McDonald’s pay him high wages? and his people asked him what he’d come back to do-

“To check carefully if the tribe is still here!”

For one who had not gone blind to say such things … his people said:

“This fellow-the city’s driven him crazy! How sad!”

Like tired salmon covered with cuts and bruises, our people-

oh! all of our people in the city want to come back to the tribe!

Together they cut through the raging seas

weaving their way amid hidden reefs and shark attacks

straight toward the brook of young life.

No one knows what they will find,

but we are happy that our wandering people have finally come home!

Our wandering people have finally come home!

(published 1996)

(translated by Maghiel van Crevel)


 In “Back to the Tribe!” “Bihao” is an Atayal man’s name. “Yaya” is a form of address for one’s mother. As to “the lying dog” : according to Atayal mythology, the dog was once able to speak but liked to lie to the Atayal people, driving them to cut its throat so that it could no longer speak words but only dark dog language. “A-me-ri-can” is a foreign language incomprehensible to the Atayal. “Giwas” is an Atayal women’s name. “Child running down the mountain”: according to an Atayal legend, the Pingpu were a people who came down from the mountains in search of new arable land; because they played tricks to cheat those continuing to live in the mountains out of their rightful share, they were later the targets of ritual hunting. “Wadang” is an Atayal man’s name, as is “Hajuong.” “Yava” is a form of address for one’s father, and “Yudas” for one’s grandfather.