On the Day that Liu Xiaobo is absent at the Nobel Prize Ceremony
By Tienchi Martin-Liao, December 10, 2010
Today is the day that Liu Xiaobo receives the Nobel Peace Prize. In its one hundred year history, this is the first time that the prize is awarded to a Chinese citizen. Yet the laureate, his family members, even close friends are incarcerated in their own country, and no one can come to receive the Award. Scottish PEN has produced a "Liu Xiaobo chair," it has been sent over the ocean to reach Oslo. Now it stands in the city hall. This empty chair, a reminder that its owner, who should enjoy the highest international honor today, is absent from the ceremony, banquet and concert, which are devoted to him. The host country's king, the queen and the European royal families, foreign ambassadors and representatives, as well as invited guests from overseas, gather together in the bright hall, decorated with flowers, and make a toast to him. But many of us are still melancholy, and we ask, where is Liu Xiaobo and his beloved Liu Xia?
Let us overstep time and space and visit Liu Xia first. We are now in Haidian District, Beijing, Yuyuantan South road, number 9. From a distance one can see the white building where the Lius live. The white police cars parked in front of the house, several policemen parade around. The journalists from far and near are blocked some hundred meters away, no one can cross into the forbidden zone. Thin, with a shaved head (or short-cropped hair), Liu Xia is sitting alone in the empty home.
Rinse the ashtray the coffee table wiped
Take the glass cups
Boil two cups of Longjing or Oolong
Aside the table you sit
Looking at the cup in front of the empty seat
Stare at the cup, listen
Is there the move of key in the hole
The cup in the hand, you take a sip
Lifted the cup to the sun
Cup and your fingers
Penetrated by the sun
Palm was stained by the transparent green
A hint of panic is there too
The cup on the opposite site you know
Will be empty for a long time
It takes long
Till the man opens your door
----Quote of Liu’s poem "Sunshine and Cups - to my Little Finger who drinks tea every day"
Liu Xia may wait for a long time, maybe another ten years.
Now we visit Xiaobo in Jinzhou prison in the small town Nanshan in Liaoning Province. Entering the gate, we confront several buildings scattered in disorder. Surprisingly we see huge numbers painted on a great wall of an office building: 1984. A few months ago, Liu Xia, accompanied by the Stainless Steel Mouse Liu Di, Wang Jinbo, Mo Zhixu and Wang Zhongxia, came here for a visit. They were amazed at Orwell’s rebirth in a Chinese prison; snickering, they took pictures in front of the "1984" wall. Several officers rushed furiously out of the building and took them into custody. Separately they were interrogated for several hours.
We enter Xiaobo’s cell now. He shares with five other prisoners a 3 by 4 meter space. His head is bald, shaved like an ordinary criminal, his body is swollen by the padded jacket and trousers. Scarf, hat and gloves are a must in the cell, because the concrete floor is cold. The small window under the high ceiling is always open. In winter, the indoor temperature is higher than outdoors, it is a few degrees above zero. The odor of the open toilet bucket in the corner is neutralized by the cold air, but one cannot pretend that the daily waste of several men is not there. The smell not only fills the room, it penetrates through clothes, into the pores of the skin. This is the first winter that Xiaobo spends in a prison in northern China; he will have to adjust himself to the circumstances. He does not know whether he will have frostbite. To sit and lie on the concrete floors all year round may cause neck and spine pain and lead to kidney problems. His stomach disease has given him a hard time since his imprisonment.
Xiaobo has exited his cell today, but he does not want to show it, otherwise his cell-mate might become cynical and angry. Sitting there, his thoughts fly to Oslo. He has constant dreams about it. Who will be there at the ceremony, who will receive the prize for me? It could not be Liu Xia, she has not sent any sign of life for a while. My acceptance speech is long written in my head, but who can read it out loud for me? Does the King wear a majestic tuxedo, and the Queen her crown at the banquet? Will the distinguished guests think of the dead in Tiananmen Square and the Tiananmen mothers and make a toast?
Sitting in the dungeon Xiaobo does not know that the announcement of his award induced a tsunami in Zhongnanhai, and the rulers had a mild concussion, followed by delusions: they believe that their enemies are all over the world, so the grip on the naughty writers and the guy who held the crab dinner party must be tightened, they must not go outside the country, otherwise they could endanger national security.
Liu Xiaobo’s dinner on December 10, 2010 may look like this: boiled vegetables with sand, a few pieces of fat meat as a special treat from above. He might have an extra piece of steamed bread, and his rice bowl could also be refilled today. In short, it is a privileged meal that will long be remembered, because it is a meal that will leave the stomach truly filled. After all, he is the first Chinese to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
(Modified on 2010/12/10) (博讯 boxun.com)
独立中文笔会“狱中作家日”新闻公报 授予刘贤斌、扎加纳2010年刘晓波写作勇气奖和六名荣誉会员称号 (图)