Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Man on the Moone and Friends

The damsel of about eighteen stared at the scenery around her in amusement. She had long, silky dark hair carefully put up with combs, large, innocent wide eyes as soft as that of a doe and a figure so graceful it reminded one of a lovely swan immediately. The young lady had a creamy complexion with a tinge of roseate; her skin was as soft to the touch as a baby, as if it had never been used before. The dark-haired girl was dressed in appropriate to that of an ancient Chinese dynasty. Her robes were weaved out of the softest fabric you ever saw, frail and easily-crumpled by appearance, but strong to the touch. She was in fact wearing numerous layers, each layer peeking out from underneath the previous one, all tastefully matched in accordance with pure winter tones: white, green, blue and grey.

“Good evening kind sir,” she said haltingly in an oriental-sounding accent. “Would I be so fortunate to be meeting the famous Man in the Moon?”

The lanky thin man who had previously been staring at her with an amused expression on his pallid face snorted and looked away distastefully. “Get your grammar right, Earthling,” he muttered. “I certainly don’t live in the moone. I live on the moone. And it’s moone with an ‘e’.

“An ‘e’?” the girl enquired politely.

“Yes. Can’t you people understand simple English? I live on the moone. I don’t quite know what is wrong with you Earthlings…I mean, honestly – what’s your name?”

“For now, Chang Er,” said she.

“Well, Chang Er, how would you like it if I just dropped the ‘r’ from your name and just called you Chang E?”, the Man on the Moone asked.

“Actually, people do that a lot,” Chang Er voiced. She was getting tired of being civil – the Man on the Moone wasn’t well-mannered at all.

“See what I mean?” the Man slapped a hand against his forehead. “I don’t even know why Earthlings are so uninventive.”

“What do you mean?” the young maiden snapped, feeling insulted.

“I’ve met a dozen girls on the moone in the past week, all of them named Chang Er. Eleven of them had white rabbits with them and the twelfth had a white dog. She said she couldn’t find a white rabbit at such short notice. Where’s your pet?”

“I don’t have one,” Chang Er said indignantly. “I’m not like them at all.”

“Oh?” The Man on the Moon looked interested. “Then what’s your story, if not having an idiotic notion of swallowing longevity pills?”

“Longevity pills don’t work – everyone knows that,” the dark-haired damsel expressed, rolling her eyes. “Those salesmen will do anything these days. It’s all a scam.”

“Try telling it to all the Chang Ers I’ve met. They were so annoying I sent them all away, ” the male replied. Wisps of a bond begun to creep between the acquaintances. “How did you end up here, then?”

“It’s a long story,” she sighed.

“Make yourself comfortable,” the Man on the Moone said graciously as he settled down on a moone rock and motioned for his companion to do the same. “After all, we aren’t going anywhere soon, are we?”

“I guess it all started because I was so inadequate. This great Feng Shui master came to my name-giving ceremony, you see.”

“And he predicted something?”

No. He told my second sister Huang Zhao Jun that she would grow up to be a very beautiful singer and marry a king. My third sister, Xi Shi shared a similar fate. Yang Gui Fei, my eldest sister kept making him drink wine and before the Feng Shui master could reach me, he was too drunk to say anything. He didn’t even get a chance to name me, although he had named all my sisters during their name-giving ceremonies.

My relatives quarrelled a bit about my name and they finally settled it by drawing lots and asking the wisest man they could find to pick a name out of the box. They didn’t like the name he picked, so they drew another.

Hence, my first name was Xiao Long Nv. My parents bought an Ancient Tomb for me to live in and…”

“They made you live in a tomb?” the Man on the Moone exclaimed incredulously.

“Ancient Tombs are very fashionable on earth,” the young maiden reassured her friend. “Anyway, the lessons were my problem.”


“They made me take lessons from an emotionless lady who attempted to teach me a special type of martial arts where one was forbidden to show feelings of any sort.”

“How ridiculous,” he said.

“Yes. I did have a liking for martial arts, but I certainly didn’t like being restrained.

Therefore, it was the end of that name for me. My relatives came together again, and after much discussion decided to name me Zhi Nv.”

“Oh? Fascinating.”

“Not really. They made me sew day and night and I hated sewing. They also mentioned eligible shepherds named Niu Lang to me whenever they could. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against shepherds. I just wasn’t interested, do you understand me? After a while, they gave up. Yet again, my relatives wanted to choose a new name for me. I don’t quite understand the difference my name makes – I’m still me. After going through Princess Chui Ping, Princess Huan Zhu, Mei Chao Feng, Zhao Min, Huang Rong…they decided to name me Chang Er and bundled me onto a spaceship headed for the moone. Of course, the spaceship left immediately. They told me to tell you I came here because I’d swallowed my husband’s longevity pills, but obviously I don’t have a husband yet, I’m too young. I guess their last option was to strand me on the moon,” the Lady on the Moone muttered as she rolled her eyes again. “How about you?”

“Me?” the pale man asked, looking surprised. “Oh, I wasn’t very satisfactory either,” he said diffidently.

“When I was six, my parents left my younger sister and I in the woods. We wandered about and found a gingerbread house. The pleasant lady we found there gave us a decent meal and showed us our way home the next morning, giving us sweet rolls to take along on the journey. That was when all the trouble started.

After my eighth birthday, they told me to pull a sword out of a stone. I did pull it out, but the young man next to me started crying. Nobody was watching, so I handed him the sword to pacify him and he was the one who ended being known as ‘The Lad Who Pulled out the Sword from the Stone’.

I was twelve when they got very upset at the idea that I wanted to grow up and I didn’t agree when the fairy Tinkerbell offered to take me to Never Never Land. It sounded like a preposterous place to me. Apparently, my parents didn’t think so.

My parents were very disappointed when I wasn’t turned into a frog by the age of sixteen. ‘How else, can you find a princess to marry?’ they asked me. I merely shrugged. I didn’t exactly relish the idea of being turned into an amphibian. They then told me to go and rescue a girl with ridiculously long hair by climbing up her hair to the tower she was locked up in, but I was afraid of heights. I was next asked to go to a ball and look for a poor girl who was mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. Nevertheless, I couldn’t find any. I picked up a glass sneaker at the end of the ball and gave it to my younger sister. I think she still has it.”

“A glass sneaker? How…refreshing,” the Lady on the Moone replied, startled.

“Yes. My parents weren’t pleased at all. They told me to find a mermaid who had exchanged her voice for a pair of feet but she was too quiet for my liking. In desperation they sent me to the funeral of this girl named Snow White. I stared into the plastic coffin of the olive-skinned young lady with dark hair and I mourned for her in the proper way. I still don’t understand what I should have done that day, my parents yelled at me every time the funeral was mentioned.”

“People can be weird,” the maiden said, shaking her head.

“I know – hey!” he stopped halfway through his sentence and stared as a man with a huge axe approached them.

“Who are you?” the duo asked in unison.

“I’ve been sent to cut this tree…” the newcomer broke off awkwardly. “Are you two the Man and the Lady in the Moon?”

“On…” Chang Er corrected.

“…the Moone…” her partner finished.

The woodcutter stared for a long time. “Well, I’m sorry for intruding. I was only sent here because I was so derisory…”

A little long, a little redundant, but oh well. One of the Man on the Moone's perspectives.

No comments: