Compared to the past few years, this might be my last chance to write a story in such a casual manner. It’s because Guan Gen’s story can hardly be polished and described in the first person.
Before I met Guan Gen, I wrote articles for a travel magazine.(1) The magazine was mainly given away at airport convenience stores, so my royalties weren’t that great. I still believed that I should write a novel, but there wasn’t anything good to start with. Moreover, the contract with the magazine stated that I had to write about thirty articles. My last article was on Kathmandu, so after finishing it off, I left the publisher. I was full of frustration and had nothing to lose, so I decided to head to Namche Bazaar. While there, I attended a seven-year-old girl’s wedding. The local girls there get married twice in their lifetime. The groom for the first marriage isn’t human, but a carefully chosen fruit called the bael fruit.
It’s said that bael fruits are very tough and can be preserved for a very long time. As a result, the first marriage is eternal and the groom is considered the “real eternal husband”. The marriage with a real man, however, is full of variables and uncertainty, so it’s considered “hypocritical and short”. I think it’s essentially saying that women in the Newari community think a tree is more reliable than a man(2)–my original words sounded even harsher, but I still wanted to save some face when I met my boss.
I first heard the name Wu Xie in the mouth of this seven-year-old girl. I traced his footsteps from the post office in Nepal to Motuo. All the things I heard along the way made me curious about everything behind this man. He seemed to be looking for something in the Nepali and Himalayan regions. His questions to the locals were very strange, and I was almost certain that the thing he was looking for was in the Himalayas.
Although the story I heard along the way was enough to make a good start, I didn’t want to steal his story. In the end, I was more interested in what he had experienced than writing a novel about it.
(1) “I” = Lan Ting
Translated by: Yvette
Edited by: merebear226