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The Broken Paintings

2006-07-29 11:21

  THE EAGLE hovered above the clouds, its mighty talons clenched and its eyes sweeping across the vast expanse of mountains and rivers below. The soul of the painting by Xu Bei Hong, a late Chinese master artist, came to life on its wings as we unfolded the scroll gently.

  “Ah!” —— a gasp escaped all those present in one voice as the paper broke into bits like leaves torn off twigs while the wooden roller crumbled into scraps like ridges in the fields sinking asunder. Yet the bird's eyes shone like torches, casting sad compassion over a land enshrouded in gunpowder smoke.

  This was the third scroll that we had opened. The first depicted a horse neighing towards the sky, its head held high; the second showed a group of desperate warriors ready for the last battle. But the fourth painting stopped short of displaying its full charm. When the tips of a pair of wings appeared, our fingers could move no further. Time seemed frozen then and there.

  Still more eagles, we feared, might shed their feathers or break their wings because of our ignorant curiosity. After long years of dryness, the paper of those ink-and-wash paintings had become extremely fragile. How could we have the heart to risk damaging more of them?

  Another dozen of scrolls were still slumbering in the ebony box —— in dream, oblivious to light for untold years. Their current owners recalled how their late grandmother had jealously guarded that dark brown, gold-laced box, forbidding anybody to touch it. To them, her keen attachment for whatever kept inside was as mysterious as the butterfly-shaped padlock that had been securing Master Xu's priceless works all the time.

  碎画

  鹰,凌空,脚爪抓满劲力,俯瞰,浩浩山河。徐徐开卷,悲鸿大师的墨魂,展翅而飞。

  啊!观者都不禁发出同一个音调。纸,碎裂着,像叶子离开枝桠;木屑,洒脱脱,像块块沉沦的田畦。鹰眼如炬,硝烟年代睥睨大地的悲情。

  这已是我们打开的第三张画了,另两幅,一匹仰天啸马,一幅壮士悲怀。开到第四卷时,才露出两对翅膀的尖角,我们的手指再也挪不动了,时间静止了。

  怕到底多少只鹰会羽毛散落在我们的无知好奇中。这些水墨画,纸张因久燥而变得如斯脆弱不堪,叫我们怎么忍得再将画幅打开呢!

  檀木箱里,还睡着十多幅画卷,睡,想是它们多少年没见光了。而子孙,谈起老祖母生前视镶金花边的黑褐箱子如珍宝不许人动的感情,就有如那蝴蝶锁般,锁住一幅幅都是徐大师的画的谜一般。

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