By Chou Tung (Snow Reid)

Happiest of all are the guests
Sorriest are the servants
Half happy half sorry is the host.

Chunk upon chunk of meat,
Goblet after goblet of wine,
sent tumbling down their gullets,
Exhilarating to death the guests,
Worrying to death the host,
And tiring to death the servants.

Talking and joking,
Shaking hands, exhausting words;
Time flows by swiftly.
Does the host do all this just to please his guests,
or could it be that …

He’s just indulging in another grand celebration
of his own loneliness?
Or perhaps this is only an exercise,
to test the strength and stamina
of the servants.
No blame in killing two birds with one stone.

No wonder people love parties:
Eating heavy food,
Speaking hollow words,
Smiling frozen grimaces;
Hearts cold,
Brains blank,
Each guest aiming at a different mark.

There’s meat, there’s wine,
and sweet desserts,
And every form of pleasure.
We have not come here in vain:
Engaging in brief rencounters,
While filling our bellies full.

Say “Hello”, say “Good night”,
“Great party, good food,
Hate to run,
but have to go …”

Leaving behind a pile of rotting bones,
dirty dishes, and stale crumbs,
And the scowls on the frowning faces
of the servants.

Chiang Mai, Thailand 1992

This work by Chou Tung (Snow Reid) was first published in Chinese in the Feb 23, 1992 issue of The World Daily News in Thailand; The above is a translation by Daniel Reid, sub-titled as “A Meditation on the Mind of a Host”

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