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Please Don't Call Me Human

by Wang Shuo

How far is it possible to make someone go to save face? Read this and draw your own conclusion.

Extract

'Idiot.' Yuanbao lowered his leg and glared at his kid sister, then sucked in his breath and walked down the steps. Picking up two cactus pots, he ripped open the nylon straps covering them and tied one around each calf, then strutted over to the old date tree, legs spread, knees out.
'You're the idiot' Yuanfeng bellowed from the steps behind him. 'The way you lift your leg, you look like a dog taking a piss!'

When he reached the tree, Yuanbao squatted down into a riding position, straining until his face was red as he held his fists at waist level and began pounding the date tree, reaching out after every punch to steady the tree, as if he was afraid he might knock it over. Every third punch was followed by a foot kick, keeping his balance - remember, he had a cactus plant tied to each leg - with the skill of an acrobat.

Translated by Howard Goldblatt

Parallels

Farewell my Concubine - the film
 

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