Ju Dou

Jin Shan: Tian Qing!

Tian Qing: Hmm?

Jin Shan: Tian Qing, what are you doing? Hurry up!

Tian Qing: Ah, I’m coming!

Jin Shan: Hurry, look how high the sun is!

Tian Qing: Right, I’m coming!

Jin Shan: You can’t learn anything, yet you’ve learned how to be so lazy. I call you and you don’t even move. Hmm, a lot of work was put into these pieces of cloth. We’ll get some good money off of them.

Tian Qing: Right.

Jin Shan: You should learn how to barter. Don’t sell for less than it’s worth.

Tian Qing: Right.

Jin Shan: Only stay at cheap inns. Don’t spend a lot when you don’t make a lot.

Tian Qing: Right. I’ll lead the mule on ahead then.


Village Elder: Eldest Brother Jin Shan! You’ve bought a red lantern, eh?

Jin Shan: Yup.

Village Elder: You’ll have many descendants to take over for you!  

Jin Shan: Just hoping for some good luck!


Ju Dou: Come back so soon?

Tian Qing: Ah, Auntie?

Ju Dou: Hmm?

Tian Qing: What’s wrong with your face?

Ju Dou: Oh, it’s just my own carelessness. I took a fall. Your uncle is killing a pig at home. It’s August 15th, time to make a sacrifice for the Moon Festival.

Tian Qing: Auntie, your arm is hurt too.

Ju Dou: That’s from the fall too. I’m now the object of everyone’s joke. Alright, go on back now. You’re so thin. There’s some meat for you to eat down below. Oh listen, that pig is screaming for its life.


Ju Dou: Ah!

Jin Shan: This must make you feel good!

Ju Dou: I can’t take it anymore!

Jin Shan: Who’s there?

Tian Qing: It’s me.

Jin Shan: Tian Qing, is that you?

Tian Qing: Yes, it’s me.

Jin Shan: Did you feed the mule?

Tian Qing: Yes, it’s been fed. Is Auntie sick?

Jin Shan: She’s fine. It’s just that her chest hurts. I’m worried she hasn’t been eating properly.

Tian Qing: I hope it isn’t anything urgent. I’ll go get Doc Li to take a look at her. I’ll try not to delay.

Jin Shan: It’s fine, take your time. Let’s be practical about this.

Tian Qing: Then I’ll go take a rest.

Jin Shan: Go sleep then. What was that noise just now? It startled me.

Tian Qing: It’s pitch dark out there. Who knows?


Tian Qing: Auntie, what is it?

Ju Dou: Tian Qing, let me first tell you how things are. Sooner or later your uncle is going to kill me. I’ve been at a loss on how to pass these past few days. Just let that old fool come and kill me. And don’t hold him back, it’s not like I have any hope left in living anyway.

Tian Qing: My uncle has a bad temper.

Ju Dou: And he’s a human! Can your uncle be considered a person? Tian Qing, I’ll be honest with you. The old fool is sick and on the verge of death. He’s moving towards death and tormenting me with it. And I frankly can’t take it any more. I just can’t take it!


Jin Shan: Our mule won’t get hungry on the road will it?

Tian Qing: Three meals a day, with some roots at night.

Jin Shan: I’m afraid it might be dry cholera.

Jin Shan: Old Mr. Zhang wants it dyed turquoise and Shopkeeper Cui has it rose-colored. The cloth has already been sent off. That leaves hot water fees and firewood.

Tian Qing: Got it!

Jin Shan: Go on back.

Ju Dou: Tian Qing, sleep easy tonight. Our treasured mule is sick, and that old fool won’t be coming back tonight.

Tian Qing: Auntie, please wake me up in the morning so I can dye the cloth. I sleep like a log.

Ju Dou: And when have you ever overslept? The old man isn’t here, what else could you be afraid of? You’re such a block of wood.

Ju Dou: Tian Qing! What are you afraid of?

Tian Qing: What am I afraid of?

Ju Dou: Don’t be afraid. Why did you lock your door at night? You’re a full-grown man! Does Auntie look like a wolf to you? Are you afraid I’m going to eat you?

Tian Qing: My uncle, he...

Ju Dou: Don’t mention him! Let the ol’ fool die!

Tian Qing: What if someone should break in?

Ju Dou: You didn’t seem afraid when you were peeking at me.

Tian Qing: Then why didn’t you block up the hole the second time? 

Ju Dou: Tian Qing, Auntie has saved this body of hers for you.


Doctor: How’s my medicine working? Ah, she’s pregnant!

Jin Shan: Really? Is it a boy or girl? It’s a boy, right?

Doctor: It’s all up to your fortune now.

Jin Shan: Ancestors! Blessed ancestors! Please bless me with a boy! Allow the Yang family to live on in future generations to keep the incense burning! Ancestors!

Jin Shan: Doc, you’ve such long-lived merit and mercifulness! I will never forget your great kindness! Doc, should I get a son I will visit you with genuine thankfulness!

Doctor: Alright, alright, alright.


Tian Qing: Ju Dou! Ju Dou!

Ju Dou: Tian Qing!

Tian Qing: Are you really with child?

Ju Dou: Yes, I am. And that old fool, he really thinks it’s his! Tian Qing, I’ve already counted the days. This child is yours.

Tian Qing: Ju Dou, eat well, sleep well, and give birth to a fat and healthy son!

Ju Dou: Right.

Tian Qing: I’m off then. Take care not to run into the old man.


Midwife: Jin Shan! Jin Shan! A big pot of wine! A big pot of wine with a spout between its legs! A boy! Jin Shan! Ju Dou has done you well!

Jin Shan: My son!


Elder 1: A name chosen with “Tian” or day, yet not many good first names remain. Let us just make up one then.

Elder 2: Nonsense! This tradition has been passed down from our ancestors! Is it that your learning is greater than that of the ancestors? The Yang family has only this one descendant, to choose an improper name would mean the end of our Yang family’s fortune.

Elder 1: Yang Tianbai! Yang Tianqing! Qingbai as in purity. Oh! Qingqing Baibai! These two characters are the perfect choice for a name chosen in accordance with “Tian”!

Original English translation by Patrick Nowlin, copyright 2012.