A Few Memories of Mr. Lu Xun
Mr. Lu Xun had a plant pot in his sitting-room. It looked like the jar European women fetched water with, as shown in paintings. It was of a bluish-gray, with a few ripples naturally embossed with its own glaze and, on either side of it, there was a handle close to the top. Planted in it was some evergreen.
The first time I visited Mr. Lu Xun I asked:
“What is the name of this plant? There is no fire in the room, but it is not frozen.”
It was toward evening one winter day. The sitting-room downstairs was dim. Mr. Lu Xun was smoking a cigarette. When he took it away from his lips, holding it between his fingers at the corner of his desk, small puffs rose as high as the top of his grayish hair and, further up, they were no longer visible.
“This plant is called evergreen. It’s always like that.” He flicked the cigarette ash to the ashtray next to the pot and the cigarette grew redder still like a small flower glimmering two or three inches from the cuff of his sleeve.
“It is not affected by the cold, is it?” I asked another time, not remembering exactly when.
“No, it is not.” said Mrs. Lu. “It’s a very tough plant.” She held the pot by the top, shaking it for me to see.
I noticed there were some pebbles around the bottom. Later, as I got to know them better, went up to the black table once or twice for a closer look at the plant. As I came from the cold north I always wondered why this plant did not wither even in winter.
The plant was now still alive. Sometimes it was placed on the black table, other times in front of Mr. Lu Xun’s photograph. But it had been transplanted into a glass pot through which their yellowish roots could be seen at the bottom.
Mrs. Lu would chat with us while moving from one plant to another, checking if any of them had turned yellow or needed clipping or watering. She would keep herself busy in her room. Sometimes she examined the evergreen, sometimes she talked of Mr. Lu Xun, in front of his photograph, as if of someone of remote past.
But where was the pot now? It was standing in the graveyard, in the grass, its bottom missing. The bottomless, empty pot had been there spring through autumn until the pomegranate at the head of the neighboring tomb had blossomed and borne fruit.
Since the Japanese bombardment of Shanghai only Mrs. Lu has made a detour to visit the tomb, but no others have ever been there. The tomb must have been overgrown with wild grass and the porcelain bust of Mr. Lu Xun buried up to the chest, not to mention what would have happened to the pot.
As for us over here, there is not much we can do but write some memorial articles. But who will go and trim the grass on his tomb? We are getting further and further away from him, but no matter how far away we are, we must remember the grass on his tomb.