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十大金剛去借錢* 王克難 Ten “Bodhisattvas” Went Borrowing Money* Claire Wang-Lee
創作散文 2021/02/23 00:13:38

1950 年代,我們外文系幾個同學為了喜歡聚,成立了小讀書會, 為了繼續讀書會,男女會員不准在會裏談戀愛,五男、五女自稱十大金剛 ,大家的目標是拿書卷獎, 幾乎每個都拿到了。拿到的獎金,全部拿出來開會用,會在陽明山、碧潭、烏來、外雙溪....開。

一愰已到畢業時光,最後的浩舉是畢業環島旅行。第一站花蓮,坐的是常塌方蘇花公路的公車。十大金剛,看著峭壁下的太平洋,唱著四年來學到的美國流行歌。

接下來是橫斷公路,路上真的遇到幾次大小塌方,又驚、又喜,直到天祥。

下一站台東,下塌一家小旅館,涼爽的夏夜,大家擁被坐在乾淨的塌塌米上,圍著的小桌子上滿了花生、瓜子、餅乾、牛肉乾等, 第二天清早,有薇爸爸安排的專車送我們到墾丁, 是當時的大奢侈。

那晚香港來的嫚用撲克牌跟大家算命,專算將來職業,她說我們都會跟文學、藝術有關,輪到算我,說會無一專精,但樣樣都沾到,我一面聽,一面把小桌子上的花生、瓜子、餅乾、牛肉乾等每樣都抓來吃,一面遐想墾丁藍色的海洋、大尖山、乳牛、 燈塔。

後來政做了外交官, 衡做了系主任,還當了大劇院院長,薇官拜美國政府最高級的職員,我做了多年社會學研究、公共衛生研究後在家做了幾年家庭主婦,去學了畫圖、音樂、寫作,無一專精,嫚算大家的命都算對了。

話說第二天專車送我們到墾丁,巴士海峽的海比我想像中還藍,海邊少人,許多地方是海事基地,不能進去。國家公園有許多稀有植物, 然後就是牛群,黃的、白的、花的,比我們在台北郊外看到千篇一律的灰色水牛漂亮多了。

然後管錢的蘇把錢包掉了,所有公費都在她包裏,環島旅遊才環了一半,到了阿里山連吃飯錢都不夠,只有吃香蕉,睡在山裏人家冰冷的塌塌上, 半夜摸黑就起來爬山看日出,凍得牙齒格格打抖,爬到祝山頂時,太陽早已照在頭頂上。我們不死心,又走去看神木,那株三千多年的紅檜高五十三公尺,枝疏葉濃,像一個傲然不屈的巨人,我們十個人手接手合抱它還圍不住整個樹幹。

我們目送下山的火車嗚嗚而去,再一步步往山下走,數著香蕉, 誰也不准多吃一根,餓了就唱歌,走不動了,就再吃一根香蕉,從寒帶林走到溫帶林、暖帶林、亞熱帶林,終於出山了。

一群蓬頭垢面的我們,在那沒有ATM的時代,走到我台南的堂哥家去借錢,好繼續玩日月潭、梨山、靑草湖...

節省的堂嫂,馬上替我們做了一桌容易消化的大餐,叫我們慢慢吃,她悄悄在粥裏放了一些她家祖方安靜劑。

我們吃了個飽,塌塌米上橫七豎八倒頭大睡,堂嫂趁我們休息的時候,趕到台南鄉下她哥哥家去拿錢,她家有錢,一下就借到了。

十大金剛錢包又滿之後,罷免了蘇,換了大手筆嫚,一路住好旅館,吃好吃的玩回台北,人生有幾次大學畢業呢。

*六十三年後我們當中七人尚有聯絡,每人成家立業,如今退而不休,含怡弄孫

 

Ten “Bodhisattvas” Went Borrowing Money* Claire Wang-Lee

     In the late 1950s several of us who majored in English in National Taiwan University liked to stick together and established a writing club. The first rule was members of the opposite sex couldn’t not fall in love so the club could last. There were five males and five females. Our purpose was to get on the honor list and receive award money. All the money was to go for travels. Each one of us got on the honor list at least once during the four years of our undergraduate studies. All the award money we donated to trips to places like Yang Ming Mountain, Wulai Falls, and Double Outside Streams around Taipei.

    Soon it was graduation time.  The ultimate program was travel around the Island, which was quite a feat.

    The first stop was Hualian. We took the adventurous highway on the cliffs of the East seashore of Taiwan. We saw from the bus the sharp cliffs on the coast and sang U.S. popular songs at that time.

    Next was the trans-island highway, which was still under construction and with severe road conditions.

    Many landslides had claimed quite a number of workers’ lives. We experienced several landslides and were awed and excited at the same time.

Next stop was Taitung. We stayed in a quaint, little hostel. The summer night still required a heavy quilt to ward off the cool night. We sat crossed-legged around a table in a tatami straw–matted room. The low table was pilled high with snacks of all kinds, candies, beef jerky, peanuts, watermelon seeds, cookies, crackers…

Early the next morning, Vivien, whose father was a regional manager of the local government, had a special bus which took us to Kending along a less traveled road.  It was a special gift from him to the graduates. We felt extremely privileged.

    Mandy, who was an overseas student from Hong Kong, had a deck of cards and she knew how to tell fortunes; that night mostly about our future career. She predicted that every one of us would have a career related to literature and art. As for me, she said I would dab in all the fields but with no big success in any one of them. I listened and grabbed all the different kinds of snacks and ate all of them. Her predications turned out to be true to this day.

    Kong became a diplomat and worked as far as New Delhi and Rwanda. Heng became the head of the English Department at our Alma Mater and later became the head of the Taiwan Metropolitan Opera House. Vivien got the highest rank in the U.S. government teaching Chinese. I worked in social research for years before turning into a housewife. Then I studied art, painting, composing, writing, but had not excelled in any field.

    The next day we arrived in Kending. The Bashi Strait was bluer than we had imagined. There were very few people at the seashore. There were many military sensitive areas that we couldn’t go in.

    The National Botanical Garden had many rare plants. There were cattle everywhere, brown, beige, unlike all the gray buffalos we saw in the outskirts of Taipei.

    Then Sue found out she lost her pocketbook with all our funds in it. The around-the-island trip was half done. When we arrived Ali Mountain, we didn’t have enough money for food. We stayed in a freezing mountain lodge and tried to climb to the top of the mountain to see the famous sunrise.

    We started at three a.m. with our teeth chattering in the cold. By the time we arrived, the sun was high in the sky. We weren’t discouraged and tried to find the “Divine Tree,” which was still alive then and only ten or more people joined hands could go around it. We tried to join our arms around it and couldn’t make it because there were only ten of us and we were starved.

    The last few dollars we spent on was cheap unripen bananas. Each of us had our share for the day, one and half bananas. We had no money for the train to go downhill and tried to run all the way.

    We ran past the snow belt seeing only firs and pines, then the cold belt, then the warm belt, subtropical belt to the equatorial belt.

    We looked like beggars when we reached my cousin’s house in Tainan. His wife fed us soft foods and soups and secretly put some Chinese tranquilizing herbs in them. We ate to our hearts content and all fell into a deep sleep on the straw-matted living room while she went to her brother’s house to borrow money for us so we could finish our around-the-island trip and return to Taipei.

Equipped with enough funds, we took a fancy tour bus continuing northward. There were the Sun Moon Lake, the Green Grass Lake and Tiger Head Mountain ahead of us.  We replaced Sue with the big-spending Mandy and staying in the best hotels and ate at all the famous restaurants on the way home. After all, one only graduated from college once during those days.

*Sixty-three Years laterthere are seven of us still in touch and are well today.

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