Pathlight: Rainbow’s Boutique” by Liang Hong 梁鸿

2019-04-13 ☼ translations

There was something not quite right, that summer morning. They felt it deep down in their stomachs, the people passing by the post office at the old crossroads on their way to market. After a swift double-take, they realised what it was: the door of Rainbow’s Boutique was shut. This was a remarkable moment in the history of Wuzhen. Unprecedented, in fact. Since 1988, come rain or shine, the doors of Rainbow’s Boutique always opened at eight in the morning and closed at ten in the evening, and nothing — not the birth of a child, the wedding of a sister, the execution of a brother, or the death of a father — was ever going to change that. Caihong — the eponymous Rainbow — was sitting on the bench outside the operating theatre in the Wuzhen local clinic. Her husband, Luo Jianshe, was unconscious inside. Some time after seven o’clock that morning he had tumbled head-first from the roof of their new house, smashing his legs against a pile of cement slabs. A crowd of people surrounded Caihong: her mother, fat and perpetually out of breath; her mother-in-law, with her grey hair and fear-spangled eyes; a few other semi-distant relatives who had come along for the ride; and Hongguo, Luo Jianshe’s pal, who was the one she got the call from. They were all arguing loudly, dividing their attention between Caihong and the other girl who was sitting a little way apart, with her hair all mussed up and her face unwashed. They narrowed their eyes at her and she bowed her head, bleary with tears, scratching at the strap of her little black bag.

This translation of 《美人彩虹》by 梁鸿 was originally published in Pathlight Issue 2016.4; the story is now available to read online in its entirety at the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing Bookclub