Saturday, 3 January 2009

Truong Ba's Soul, Butcher's skin

A long time ago, there was a Truong Ba, a young man who played Chinese Chess very well. His clever chess moves couldn't be snared up by anyone. He won all chess prizes available in spring festivals. The rumour about him spread everywhere, even in China. In the same days there was Ky Nhu, who also played Chinese chess very well in China. He went to Vietnam to find Truong Ba, and to challenge him in playing chess. They were playing a few moves when it became apparent that both were very good and that neither could recognise who would be the winner. But Ky Nhu was driven to a stalemate at the third move. Truong Ba was proud of his achievement and when he saw that his rival was at a loss, he said: -This chess move couldn't be cleared up even if the Chess fairy, De Thich, were to fly down to play. De Thich, the fairy, was in Heaven and heard that sneer of pride, and so he decided to challenge Truong Ba's pride. When they were playing, an old man appeared and took a moment time to show Ky Nhu some chess moves. After the old man imparted some ancient wisdom unto Ky Nhu, he changed the game from what appeared to be to his defeat into a victory. Truong Ba scowled the old man, who taught Ky Nhu to holdfast onto his Queen & turned the stalemate upon Truong Ba. But, then the old mans face transformed into the fairy's face of De Thich. When seeing this, Truong Ba was smitten with shame and knelt down to the old man and confessed: - You must be De Thich, the fairy? I am an earthman and cannot have guessed who you are. Please forgive me. De Thich laughed and said: - I heard that you were proud of playing chess well so I had to come here to see if it's true. Truong Ba kept De Thich to entertain him fully and carefully. De Thich was also fond of Truong Ba. Knowing that Truong Ba wanted to learn his chess moves, De Thich told him: - I see you have heartfelt feeling. I give you this joss stick. I will come down whenever you light it. De Thich flew away on a cloud to the heaven after that. From that time, Truong Ba sometimes prepared feasts and invited De Thich to come there for fun. They deeply understood each other. Then, Truong Ba suddenly died one day. One day, after Truong Ba had been buried, his wife cleaned the house. Seeing a joss stick at the roof, she took it down casually, burnt and put it on the altar of Truong Ba. In heaven, De Thich got this news through an aroma of the joss stick, so he went down right away. He was surprised to see Truong Ba wasn't there. He asked: - Where is Truong Ba? Truong Ba's wife wept and said: - My husband died about one month ago - Gracious me! Why didn't you call me at that time? - It's late so I can't help you anymore. After thinking for a while, De Thich asked more: - Is there anyone just died in your alley? Truong Ba’s wife said: - There’s a butcher who just died last night. De Thich asked her to take him to the butcher’s house and said: - I will find the best way to make your husband return to life. Then he flied back to the heaven. As for butcher’s family, people were around his coffin to moan and cry a lot. Suddenly they saw the body sat up. He threw out all of shrouds then no say with everybody; he went straight to Truong Ba‘s house. Truong Ba’s wife saw the butcher, knowing that De Thich made Truong Ba came to life again, she was happy to welcome him to the house. But the butcher’s family also came there to pull back him to them. But Truong Ba’s wife pulled back to her and the butcher also didn’t want to come back. Both of sides argued and it became a big argument at last. Their neighbours didn’t know how to justice so they had to report this to the mandarin. The mandarin asked their neighbours to law court to interrogate. All of them said that the reliving man was the butcher. But Truong Ba’s wife insisted that it was Truong Ba, her husband. The mandarin asked: - What did he often do every day? She said: - My husband was only good at playing chess. The mandarin asked the butcher’s wife: - What did he often do every day? She said: - My husband was only good at operating pigs. After hearing what they said, the mandarin ordered to bring a pig into law court so that the butcher could operate it. But he didn’t know how to do. The mandarin ordered to invite some famous chess players to play with the butcher. He couldn’t imagine that the butcher had well chess moves, nobody could defeat him. He ordered him to go back to Truong Ba’s house. Therefore, we have a saying: “Truong Ba’s soul, butcher’s skin”.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet