So today I was struck by the supernatural. The big man himself moved in a most unexpected way. I will relate:
We had maybe fifteen minutes left in class. So I asked Shirley to pick a good sounding (hǎo tīng 好听) phrase out of her Chinese novel, which I already knew by asking her about it to be a collection of works by a Russian playwright and author, Anton Chekov, who is well known enough among the Chinese to make it into my computer’s Chinese dictionary. So she flips almost to the back of the book, knowing which phrase she wants.
She writes it up on the board in Chinese and we all start translating it. At first the kids tell me that the first part is Kiki's Chinese name. They were joking, but I thought they were serious, so that's what I wrote down. The preliminary translation went something like this. "Kiki is coming. The people with good intentions will go to heaven and the bad people will burn in a forever burning fire for the rest of their lives."
I'm really not paying attention to what I'm writing at this point, because I thought the passage was referring to some dark lady's rise to power or something.
Then they correctly translate the first part. It's not Kiki's name.
It's “The End of the World.” And then someone suggested "Judgment day," I’m not sure who, because most of them don’t know what ‘judgment’ means.
So I proceed rewrite it in better English, not considering the phrase as whole because I’m explaining new words to them piece by piece. When I finished I looked at what I had.
"Judgement day is coming. The pure of heart will go to heaven, and the wicked will burn in an endless fire for the rest of their existence."
(I asked them whether "life" from the preliminary translation was normal life or something longer. Kiki told me it was longer, so I explained the word "existence" to them.)
It was asked at some point if I thought Judgment Day was coming and I told them yes. And there was a brief discussion of whether or not anyone could be pure of heart. Kiki said no one could be pure when I explained just what “pure” meant, and Jennifer, who was born in America, said “Except God.”
Then the day was over.
The kids cleared out and I was left shell-shocked as realization crept in on me. I can’t wholly relate the feelings. I was in tears for a short while as I found John and explained what had occurred. Something was begun with that translation. I only hope I can help to see it through, whatever end that might be.
Because I must…