Lunchtime on a Farm During the Chinese Cultural Revolution
by Jianqing Zheng

Back from the rice paddies for lunch, we slump down on the porch, listless as slugs. Chopsticks stir slowly in bowls to pick out tiny rocks; white rice and brined turnips are tasteless as day. A fly humming around like a drunkard wheels down on Pigsy’s rice. Horse chuckles with gloating eyes, “Pigsy, you get a bowl of maggots. Do they taste good?” “Don’t fart, buddy! You want to try some?” Pigsy shouts like vomit and casts rice over Horse. Everyone bursts out laughing: maggots wriggling on Horse’s face.

plain life
plain rice plain laughter—
taste of those days


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