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Spirit-of-the-Dead Flowers

2006-07-29 11:07

  IN his private garden, the old man, Kawamata by name, grows no other flowers but peonies, keeping exactly 580 plants. “But should I say plants or people, to be correct?”

  People? Yes, surely they are humans —— the spirits of 580 of his victims. During the heinous Rape of Nanking —— capital of China then, Colonel Kawamata ordered the death of tens of thousands of Chinese people. “But those he personally killed for pleasure numbered no more than 580.”

  Having escaped the trial of war criminals, Kawamata reappeared later and purchased the garden, in which he now keeps peonies, each plant representing one murdered woman. The Colonel, it transpired, had a cherished hobby of killing females exclusively.

  Well, I am just retelling a story by the late Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, with some direct quotes. Now the garden-owner is admiring a peony plant dubbed “the rising sun” and, as a diehard militarist, enjoying the spirits of those innocent dead like flowers that gratify his sensuality. “Is he covertly celebrating his wartime atrocities, or overtly parading his wickedness that lingers in his mind?”

  Later, however, the very writer took his own life. Wearing a white headscarf, Yukio Mishima knelt down and performed the ceremonial seppuku, thus planting a flower of evil to ensure eternal life for himself as a champion of militarism.

  Another Japanese garden, which came to light recently, keeps spirit-of-the-dead flowers alone. Shigeto Nagano, the owner-gardener, derived his horticultural recipe from another wartime hobby —— he had collected eyeballs from corpses on the battlefields. Later, he buried them all in the garden soil as fertiliser, it is said. (Translated by Allen Zhuang)

  招魂花

  那个叫川又的老人,在他买下的花园里只种牡丹,不多不少,只种580棵。“该说是580棵呢?还是580个人?”

  人?是的,是人!580个冤魂。川又大佐,在南京大屠杀中,在他令下杀死的中国人数以万计,“但是他真正当作乐趣,亲自下手杀死的不过580人。”

  逃过了战犯审判的风头,现身时买下了牡丹园,每一棵牡丹,代表着一个女人。原来,川又大佐只有爱杀女人的“个人兴趣”。

  啊!我所描述的不过是三岛由纪夫的一篇小说而已。这个牡丹园主,正凝视的是一株“旭日东升”的牡丹。无辜的冤魂,仍是军国主义者心中莳养的花朵。“他是在以隐密的方法纪念自己的恶,还是在彰显自己难以忘怀的恶?”

  后来,三岛由纪夫头裹白巾,跪地切腹,供养一朵恶之花以求永生。

  最近冒出头的永野茂门的花圃里,养的则是清一色招魂花。他莳花的秘诀,都是当年他起于个人兴趣,从战场上搜集回来的眼睛,

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