In the last set of packages that I sent to my Chinese friends I included storybooks and novels suited to their personalities. For example, I gave one of my friends ‘The Princess Diaries’ (and told her what I could recall of the films) since she is into fashion. I also gave someone else a story about a mythical adventure in the woods since she enjoys sports (it was the closest match I could think of). This prompted me to ask my friend about traditional Chinese stories. I wanted to know if China had their equivalent of fairy tales like Cinderella, but since their culture is so different to the west I came to terms with the fact that I’d have to satisfy my expectations with Mulan (by that famous company also mentioned in my first post, whose name shall go unmentioned…yet again). Instead my friend offered to teach me a fable. The story that I will share with you today is called 夸父追日(kuā fù zhuī rì) ‘KuāFù chasing the sun’ and it explains the formation of the Deng forest. I worked with her to translate the story into English from a children’s book she had, so what I am sharing is what I understand the story to be.
古时候，有一个人名字叫夸父，他很有志气。Once upon a time there was a man called KuaFu, he was very ambitious.
他看见太阳在走，便说：“太阳我要和你比赛！”. He saw the sun whilst walking and said “Sun I want to compete with you”.
他追呀赶呀，一直追赶到太阳落山的地方。He chased and chased, and stopped chasing once he reached the place of the sunset.
他累得气喘吁吁，渴得侯咙冒烟，就喝干了渭河的水。He was tired of running and his throat became thirsty, so he drank from the river.
可是他仍然渴得不行，又喝干了黄河的水。After drinking from Wei River, he was still thirsty so he drank in the Yellow river (the longest river in China).
喝了黄河水也不解渴。他听说北方有大泽，便向北方赶去。The water from the Yellow river was not sufficient for him to drink, so he went to the north to drink from the North Lake.
还没有赶到大泽，夸父就渴死了。他留下的手杖，化成了桃林。However before he reached the grand lake, he died of thirst. He dropped his staff and it transformed into the Deng forest.
Since my encounter with the story of KuaFu, I have asked my teacher the same question about Chinese stories as I had originally asked my friend. My teacher prepared some Chinese storybooks for me to read; but without English translation or pinyin! (-it’s actually quite fun, and my teacher praised my ability to read characters that I am yet to learn). Perhaps I will share a few of the stories for you to read. Also, whilst searching for a suitable picture to upload I came across a site that had also explained the fable. It’s fairly short so if you are interested here’s the link: http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/13Traditions457.html I noticed that the author gave greater detail to describing who KuaFu is, which is worth reading.
The moral of the story is that you should not bite off more than you can chew.
If you ever become thirsty like KuaFu, good luck 世界.
从欣妍 – From Xinyan.