《蛙文》/ Frogscript 3 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok

Japanese Frog for Frogscript_Thumbnail_2 FEB 2018

Please scroll down for the English translation!

《蛙文: 蝸牛》

郭少鳳著

蝸牛呀!蝸牛呀!點解你咁慢嘅?!蝸牛俾人嘅感覺就係慢,可能係揹著一個同自己身體差唔多大細嘅背殼。不過正正因為佢走路慢吞吞,好多細路仔都好容易捉到佢。

喺香港呢個城市中心長大嘅我,細細個都冇咩機會走入大自然,慶幸喺舊時屋企附近,有一個大大哋嘅公園叫海心公園,裏面都有唔少嘅園圃同植物。去公園除咗玩千鞦、滑梯同搖搖板之外,最鐘意就係捉蝸牛玩。

記得有一段時間,成日捉蝸牛玩,一見到蝸牛,即刻捉住佢哋,但說時遲,那時快,佢哋次次都好快咁匿埋喺個殼裏面,想睇清楚佢哋嘅身體都唔得,好奇心重嘅我成日想掂吓佢哋傳說中軟淋淋嘅身體。仲記得試過放低蝸牛喺地下,等咗一陣,佢喐都唔喐,細路仔邊會咁好耐性咁慢慢等,於是我去咗其他地方玩,諗住佢轉頭會伸返個身體出嚟。玩咗一陣,諗住返去摸蝸牛,點知佢已經唔見咗,心諗:又話蝸牛行得慢嘅…

又有一次,將捉到嘅蝸牛放喺掌心,諗住等佢伸返個身體出嚟時可以摸下。終於等到啦,一見到佢嗰身體,就急不及待咁掂落去,一掂,佢就即刻縮返入個殼裏面,根本感覺唔到佢個身體係咪真係軟淋淋,自此知道蝸牛殼係幾咁重要,俾到非常怕羞嘅蝸牛好多安全感!

曾經聽講過,只要喺蝸牛身上灑鹽,蝸牛就會從殼中爬出嚟,不過聽到都覺得蝸牛會好痛,所以唔想做呢個實驗!從此之後,我一直認定蝸牛係又慢又軟弱無能嘅動物。

直到喺最近嘅工作上,認識咗一個識講流利廣東話嘅澳洲文學家,佢曾經形容自己似蝸牛,當時覺得好奇怪:點解一個咁叻、咁值得尊重嘅人會話自己似微不足道嘅蝸牛嘅呢?!係時候要再新認識呢種不被重視嘅蝸牛。

蝸牛通常係伴隨著雨水出現,我呢個朋友,啱啱識佢時,佢真係為香港帶嚟超多雨水,陪伴佢而嚟嘅係黑色暴雨警告同埋八號風球,你都咪話唔厲害。蝸牛喜愛潮濕嘅天氣,其實蝸牛係好好嘅指標:見到蝸牛代表天氣潮濕,好大機會會落雨,當然雨後更差唔多可以肯定遇見蝸牛。咁啱得咁橋,呢個朋友細細個時都鐘意捉蝸牛玩,通常捉一大堆,同佢哋舉辦蝸牛爬行大賽,據聞從來冇一隻蝸牛能爬到終點。

蝸牛其實係一種零舍聰明嘅動物,佢會冬眠,又會夏眠,太凍丶太熱丶太乾燥,佢都會匿埋喺個殼內面,時間可以長達幾個月!蝸牛亦係大自然嘅藝術家,佢走路時總會留下一條濕濕痕跡,喺地面上構成一幅獨一無二嘅圖案!

曾經聽過一個童話故事,故事講述一隻蝸牛慢慢向前行,目標就係去一棵提子樹食提子,途中佢遇到青蛙,青蛙恥笑佢行得咁慢,去到啲提子一定俾其他動物食晒啦。蝸牛又遇見雀仔,隻雀仔從中知道提子樹嘅位置,即刻飛去揾提子樹,佢一見到一串串嘅提子,就急不及待將放提子入口中,嘩,提子根本未夠熟,又酸又澀,𦧲都𦧲唔切!蝸牛繼續以蝸牛嘅速度慢慢、慢慢咁行,佢自己都唔知過咗幾多日,終於去到提子樹,雖然樹上只淨低幾粒提子,但全部都又甜又多汁,蝸牛都心滿意足咁食飽飽,再慢慢丶慢慢咁行返去佢住開嘅地方。

IMG_5062

“Frogscript • Snails”

by Evette Kwok

Why are you so slow, snails? Why? The feeling people get from snails is one of slowness, the result, perhaps, of having to carry a shell on their backs that is roughly the same size as their body. And yet it is precisely because they dawdle about that it is so easy for so many children to catch them.

Having grown up in one of the most built-up parts of Hong Kong, I never had much chance to go out into the natural world as a kid. Fortunately, however, there was a big park near where I used to live, Hoi Sham Park, with quite a large number of flower-beds full of plants. I used to go there to play on the swings, the slides, and the seesaw, but I also liked to go snail-hunting!

I remember that, for a while there, I was always catching snails — whenever I saw a snail, I would pounce on it. But, every time, before you could say “Jack Robinson”, they would go back into their shells and I would never get a clear look at them. I was bursting with curiosity to touch for myself the soft, slimy body I had heard about from others. I also remember putting a snail down on the ground and waiting for it to come out, but there wasn’t the slightest movement on its part. You can’t expect a child to show much patience in waiting, and of course, before long, I went off somewhere else to play, thinking that the snail would come out again after a while. Some time later, I remembered my snail and went back to touch it again, but  — surprise, surprise! — it was nowhere to be seen. I thought to myself: But snails move so slowly, they say . . .

On another occasion, I held one of my “captive” snails in the palm of one hand in the hope that I could stroke its body when it came out. At last, after a long wait, it started to emerge, but I was so eager to touch it that as soon as I did, it went straight back into its shell and so I missed the chance to find out for myself whether snails actually were soft and slimy. But this taught me just how important a snail’s shell is: it gives this most timid of creatures a very strong sense of security!

I once heard someone say that if you sprinkled a little salt on a snail, it would come out of its shell, but I was sure that this would give it a great deal of pain, so I never tried out the experiment! From that time onwards, I was well aware that snails were both slow movers and soft, helpless creepy-crawlies.

That is, until recently, in the course of my work, I met an Australian literary scholar who could speak Cantonese quite fluently. He once described himself as being like a snail. At the time, I thought it was a strange thing to say: why would such a capable person worthy of respect declare that he was on a par with an insignificant snail? It was time for me to get to know this neglected species a bit better.

Generally speaking, snails tend to appear when there is rain. This friend of mind, when I had only just met him, had in actual fact brought a lot of rain with him, together with a Black Rainstorm Warning and a Typhoon Signal Number Eight. You couldn’t help but be impressed by that! Snails prefer damp  weather, which makes them rather a good indicator: if you see a snail, that means things are humid and there’s a pretty high likelihood of rain and — if it does rain — it’s even more certain that you’ll come across a snail or two. And just be coincidence, my friend from Australia was also fond of catching snails when he was a little boy. Often, when he had caught a whole heap of them, he would make them all crawl in a big Snail Race, although, according to him, not a single snail ever made it to the finish line.

In actual fact, snails are very intelligent. They hibernate in both the Winter and the Summer, and can retreat into their shells whenever it gets too cold, too hot, or too dry — for several months, if necessary! Snails are also natural-born artists. As they move around, they leave a moist trail behind them, making unique designs on the surface of the Earth!

I once heard a fairytale about a snail. The snail was slowly crawling along with the aim of reaching a certain grape vine when he met a frog. The frog laughed at it for being so slow and was sure that the grapes would all be gone by the time the snail got there. Later, the snail came across a bird. When it had learnt of the location of the grape vine from the snail, it immediately set off in search of it. When the bird saw all those clusters of grapes, it couldn’t wait to pop them in its beak. Ugh! The grapes weren’t yet fully ripe, tasting both sour and puckery, and it spat the pieces out as fast as it could! Going at a snail’s pace, the snail kept on going, slowly crawling along until it finally reached the grape vine. Although there were only a few grapes left by this stage, each one of them was sweet and full of juice, and the snail ate its fill contentedly before, slowly, slowly crawling back to where he had come from.

Translated by Simon Patton

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