Half A Kennel

He would have been more dumbfounded, had he known that she made the decision because of half of a kennel.

He finally acceded to her request after three years. Yet, she cowered.

   She once firmly believed that she would never fall for a married man like him. Yet, firmly, too, she once believed that should she ever fall for a man, she would have loved him, bravely and unapologetically.

Her disposition was probably formed since young. She had always perceived herself to be a free and independent woman, and was strongly convinced by the notion that happiness was never for someone else to give. This conviction was probably why she never kept pets. She did have a liking for dogs. However, as she had later on realised the vast and inherent difference between the lifespans of humans and dogs, something dawned on her: wasting your emotions on something that could so easily pass on was simply worthless. She loved dogs as a child. Whenever she had passed by the pet shop with her Daddy, she was never able to take her eyes off those puppies. Just a few weeks before her birthday that year, her Daddy told her, “I’m going to give you the most, most special birthday present this year.” And that gift was the pure white chihuahua she had been eyeing for the longest time. 

“I will also build a beautiful kennel for the chihuahua,” her Daddy said.

Although she had no clue how the beautiful kennel would have looked, she was still so thrilled that on some nights, she would dream of the different shapes and constructions of the kennel. However, Daddy was not much of a carpenter. He took ages to build the kennel, and amidst the numerous heated arguments with Mommy, the kennel was never completed. 

She was reminded of these trivial matters when she saw a stray dog on the streets. At that time, she had finally decided to confront the man’s wife. They were living in the same city, and were sleeping beside the same man. And yet, despite seeming to be so near to each other, she had never seen the woman before. She had seen pictures of the woman, but she knew that these were useless in saying anything beyond the photos. This sitch was very much like how she could not say what breed the stray dog was despite the self-asserted dog knowledge of hers. The stray dog lumbered about the streets slowly. It looked lonely…so lonely, that it was compelling people to pat its head; that yet, at the same time, looked so dirty that people would subconsciously avoid the unkempt canine from afar. She avoided it, while imagining how the woman who opened the door would call her a bitch. It was as if she could see the anger and abhorrence in the woman’s eyes. Her feelings towards the stray dog then got even more perplexed.

She thought of that chihuahua she never owned. At times, when she looked at her family portraits taken when she was young, she would always regret not taking a picture of the chihuahua. When Mommy subsequently took her to walk past the pet shop, the chihuahua was no longer to be seen on the outside of the shop. Someone must have bought it, she thought. She had desperately wanted to cry at that moment, but with Mommy beside her, she held her tears back. She held on. And on. And on. And all of a sudden, she had already walked to the doorstep of his house.

Never had she considered that his wife was not home. It was their 8-year-old daughter who opened the door. She looked a lot like her father. Stunned, she widened her eyes with all her might. The girl was holding a pure white chihuahua in her arms.

Then, she was reminded of that one deeply buried in her heart, that one uncompleted and will forever remain as, that half of a kennel.

Translated by Chia Wan Ting Jolene

谢婉婷 (20-A1)

半间狗屋

要是知道她作这决定是因为半间狗屋,他会更错愕。

三年了,好不容易他答应了,她却退缩了。

曾经她坚决地以为自己不会爱上这样的男人,一个有妇之夫。而曾经她又坚决地以为自己如果真爱上了一个男人,她便会爱得义无反顾,九死未悔。

这个性是自小养成的吧。她一直自认是一个独立而自主的女人。幸福不是别人给的,她坚信。这或许也是她不养宠物的原因。虽然她很喜欢狗,但后来领悟到狗的生命和人毕竟大有不同,把感情用在一个随时会轻易逝去的东西身上,太不值得。

小时候她是真的很喜欢狗的,爸爸带她路过宠物店时都会目不转睛地盯着小狗们看。那一年生日前的几个礼拜,爸爸说,我会送你一份最特别最特别的生日礼物。那是她盯了好久的一只纯白色吉娃娃。爸爸说,我会再给它盖一间漂亮的狗屋。她不知道漂亮的狗屋是长什么样的,却兴奋得在好几个夜晚的梦裡模拟了各种不同形状的狗屋。但爸爸的手工不太好,狗屋盖了好几天,和妈妈也大吵了好几次,却一直都没盖好。

这些琐事是她看到街上的一只杂毛野狗时想起的。那时她好不容易正狠下心要去找他太太面对面摊牌。她从未见过那女人,虽然她们住于同一个城市,睡于同一个男人身旁,虽然她们的距离看起来是那么地接近。她是看过那女人的相片的,但她知道那并无助于了解任何相片以外的东西。就像她说不出那杂毛野狗是什么品种,虽然她自认对狗还算有研究。野狗慢悠悠地在街上蹉跎着,神情落寞得让人想过去摸摸它的头;但它又有点脏,脏得让人从远处便会下意识地避开。她避开了,预想着开门的女人如何痛骂她狗男女,彷彿看见了女人眼睛裡的愤怒和鄙夷,于是对狗的感情便更复杂了起来。

她又想起了那只她不曾拥有过的纯白色吉娃娃。有时候她看着小时候照的全家福,颇会后悔当时为什么不也给那吉娃娃拍张照。妈妈后来带她再次路过宠物店时,她在店外怎么也再也找不到它了。肯定是被人买走了吧。她那时候就很想哭,但妈妈站在旁边,她便一直把眼泪忍着,忍着忍着,忽焉她已走到了他的家门口。

却万没想到他太太不在,开门的是他们八岁的女儿。女儿眉宇间实在像她爸爸,她愣了一下,用力地撑了撑双眼,清楚看到了小女孩手上正抱着一隻纯白色的吉娃娃。

于是她就忽然想起了那间深深隐蔽着的,没盖好,也永远盖不好的,半间狗屋。

作者:庄祖邦 

(Eunoia Junior College MTL Department)  

我为何选择翻译本作品:首先,这篇文章是由我们最亲爱的翻译老师–庄老师写的。因此,作为我对老师谆谆教导的答谢之礼,我希望我能学以致用,尽我所能地把老师所教的翻译知识展现在这篇译文上。除此之外,我本身也非常喜欢这篇文章。行文言简意赅,仅从一个女人的角度来诉说故事的经过,看似平淡无奇,却耐人寻味,我读后深有感触。所以,我很荣幸能有机会翻译此作品,也希望能通过这个’portfolio project’的平台与他人分享庄老师的作品。