Diglot Weave Mandarin Short Story – Passing Dawn

Lvl 1 Nouns

The 雨 – yǔ is a 雾 – wù so fine that the 男孩 – nánhái, having watched the ephemeral 斑点 – bāndiǎn放下 – fàng xià’ since their arrival, couldn’t tell if they reached the 地面 – dìmiàn. They hang there, drifting on 电流 – diànliú of 空气 – kōngqì that would not disturb the soft downy 丝状物 – sīzhuàngwù of a 羽毛 – yǔmáo. Each tiny 滴 – dī a 点 – diǎn of 光 – guāng illuminated by the 路灯 – lùdēng in the still 早晨 – zǎochén 空气 – kōngqì, frozen in 时间 – shíjiān.

The 早晨 – zǎochén is 寒冷 – hánlěng, a crisp 寒冷 – hánlěng that cuts through everything and curls 寒冷 – hánlěng 手指 – shǒuzhǐ into trembling fists. When the 男孩 – nánhái pulls the 空气 – kōngqì into his lungs, the 寒冷 – hánlěng seems to become trapped and spreads across his 胸膛 – xiōngtáng. It is not entirely unpleasant, and rather than dampening his 兴奋 – xīngfèn, it only serves to highlight it.

For despite the fact that it is perfect 天气 – tiānqì for sleeping in, for wrapping yourself tighter in the warmth of your 床单 – chuángdān and pushing back waking for a few hours more, the 男孩 – nánhái up and dressed when his 父亲 – fùqīn gently tapped on his 门 – mén at 5.30 am.

Each of the three 钓竿 – diàogān he holds has the 勾住 – gōu zhù pulled down and latched onto an 孔 – kǒng, their 提示 – tíshì curving downwards as if a 鱼 – yú is already tugging at the 结束 – jiéshù.

“Zip up your 夹克 – jiákè,” the 父亲 – fùqīn instructs.

But before the 男孩 – nánhái can move to comply, his 父亲 – fùqīn is already leaning in zipping it up for him, pulling the 夹克 – jiákè closed. He tussles the boys hair, then returns to the 任务 – rènwu of unloading the gear from the 汽车 – qìchē.

Whether by the zipped up 夹克 – jiákè or by a fathers 爱 – ài, the 寒冷 – hánlěng that had gotten stuck in his 胸膛 – xiōngtáng is pushed back and replaced by something that can only be described as warmth.

The 男孩 – nánhái shuffles in 地方 – dìfāng while his 父亲 – fùqīn prepares, the movement keeping him warm while also serving as an 出口 – chūkǒu for his restless anticipation.

They bundle everything together as best they can and head down to the 沙子 – shāzi. The 走路 – zǒulù is a 平衡术 – pínghéng-shù, both of their 装备 – zhuāngbèi filled with fishing gear, but why make two trips when you can do it in one?

The 太阳 – tàiyáng was yet to breach the 地平线 – dìpíngxiàn, but as he watches his 父亲 – fùqīn threading the 饵 – ěr onto his 钩 – gōu, the 世界 – shìjiè had never seemed so bright.

“There you go 伙伴 – huǒbàn.” The 父亲 – fùqīn 递给 – dì gěi or 交给 – jiāo gěi the 男孩 – nánhái the 杆 – gān.

He looks at the 饵 – ěr dangling in front of him and finds it hard to imagine any 鱼 – yú out beyond the shore being tempted by the eyeless 鱼 – yú head pierced through and through by the 钩 – gōu.

“Thanks 爸爸 – bàba.”

“Want me to cast it for you?”

“Nah, I got it..”

The 男孩 – nánhái 勾住 – gōu zhù his finger around the fishing 线 – xiàn just above the 卷轴 – juǎnzhóu and unlatches the 环 – huán that stops the 线 – xiàn from unspooling under the weight of the tackle. The 环 – huán is called the “bail 手臂 – shǒubì”. When Dad had brought the 杆 – gān home earlier in the week, the 男孩 – nánhái had studied the 手册 – shǒucè with feverish diligence. Without 犹豫 – yóuyù, he could name every element of the 杆 – gān and 卷轴 – juǎnzhóu and describe its 目的 – mùdì.

With a steady 姿势 – zīshì, he keeps a keen eye on the 杆 – gān‘s tip, positioning himself for the cast. Focusing on the tip of the 杆 – gān is a habit he had picked up while practising in his 后院 – hòuyuàn. A necessary adaptation to avoid the low-hanging 分支 – fēnzhī of the neighbour’s 桉树 – ān-shù that reached over the 栅栏 – shānlán. As he cast towards the back of the yard every afternoon after school that week, his 接近 – jìejìn to the branches had not initially been an issue. But by 星期三 – xīngqīsān, standing by the overhanging 桉树 – ān-shù and targeting the far left back corner was the longest unobstructed 线 – xiàn he could find in the confines of the 后院 – hòuyuàn.

He lowers the 杆 – gān until it’s parallel to the 地面 – dìmiàn, then with a sudden 运动 – yùndòng, he flicks it up over his head, unhooking his finger from the 线 – xiàn just a fraction after it passes directly over his head. The 饵 – ěr and 沉重物 – chénzhòng-wù swing around each other as they sail through the 空气 – kōngqì, creating an audible 重重地放 – rèngrèng-dì-fàng when they hit the 水 – shuǐ twenty to thirty 米 – mǐ out into the bay.

He lets the 沉重物 – chénzhòng-wù 拉 – lā the 线 – xiàn from the 卷轴 – juǎnzhóu as it sinks, then flicks the bail 手臂 – shǒubì back in 地方 – dìfāng and winds in the slack.

“WHAT?!” his 爸爸 – bàba turns to him, incredulous. “Where did you learn to do that?” Truly speechless, the 父亲 – fùqīn‘s 钦佩 – qīnpèi is more than the 钦佩 – qīnpèi a 父亲 – fùqīn shows a 儿子 – érzi. Although neither of them recognises it, it is the dawning 尊重 – zūnzhòng that one 男人 – nánrén has for another. “Wow!”

The 男孩 – nánhái shrugs, but there is 骄傲 – jiāo’ào in his 声音 – shēngyīn as he replies. “I watched how to do it on youtube.”

His 父亲 – fùqīn rests his 手 – shǒu on the back of the 男孩 – nánhái‘s head and leans in. “I wish I could have been there to help you practice.”

The 父亲 – fùqīn looks at his 儿子 – érzi his gaze carries a blend of 骄傲 – jiāo’ào and melancholy. I just held you for the first 时间 – shíjiān only yesterday. The 父亲 – fùqīn thinks. When did you become this small, capable 男孩 – nánhái? An unsettling 回答 – huídá arises from his mind: during those five days a week when there weren’t enough 分钟 – fēnzhōng left in the day for a 父亲 – fùqīn to tell a 儿子 – érzi all the things he wanted to say.

“How do I teach him to be a 男人 – nánrén in a 世界 – shìjiè so different to the one I grew up in if I can’t even find the 时间 – shíjiān to teach him how to cast?”

He brushes these 思想 – sīxiǎng aside and sets himself to the 任务 – rènwu at 手 – shǒu.

“Sit that one in the 支架 – zhījià or 架子 – jiàzi and cast this one out that way.”

The 男孩 – nánhái does as told, nestling the 杆 – gān into the stand his 父亲 – fùqīn had set up – a humble 杆子 – gānzi affixed to a 沙子 – shāzi screw.

“We’ll leave that as a set 线 – xiàn,” he 递给 – dì gěi or 交给 – jiāo gěi the 男孩 – nánhái a second 杆 – gān, “and we’ll use this one with a 诱饵 – yòuěr.”

The 男孩 – nánhái looks up, eyeing the rubber 鱼 – yú attached at the 结束 – jiéshù of the 线 – xiàn, a 钩 – gōu protruding from its 肚子 – dùzi.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d be ready for the 诱饵 – yòuěr,” the 父亲 – fùqīn admits, “but after seeing how good you are at casting, I reckon you’re up to it.”

“How do I do it? ”the 男孩 – nánhái asks, curiosity in his eyes.

“First, cast it out that way,” the 父亲 – fùqīn points out across the 水 – shuǐ, “ I’ll talk you through it the rest.

The 男孩 – nánhái moves with practised intent once more, dipping the 杆 – gān behind him as he 勾住 – gōu zhù his finger around the 线 – xiàn.

He flicks the 杆 – gān, and the 诱饵 – yòuěr sails through the 空气 – kōngqì in a graceful arc before hitting the 水 – shuǐ.

“Ok, now let it sink to the bottom like you did before.”

The 男孩 – nánhái lets the 诱饵 – yòuěr descend and then drops the bail 手臂 – shǒubì into 地方 – dìfāng before winding in the slack.

“Perfect. What you need to do now is gently lift the 诱饵 – yòuěr off the bottom and 拉 – lā it towards you. Make it hop along the bottom so it acts like a 鱼 – yú swimming towards you.”

The 男孩 – nánhái pulls the 杆 – gān back, in his mind’s eye envisioning the 诱饵 – yòuěr lifting off the 沙子 – shāzi. He then reels it in, keeping the tension on as he lowers the 杆 – gān again, allowing the 诱饵 – yòuěr to sink gently back to the seabed.

“You’re a natural 伙伴 – huǒbàn.”

Pride fills the 男孩 – nánhái as he continues winding in the 诱饵 – yòuěr with a rhythmic 抬起 – tái qǐ and 放下 – fàng xià. Until the 诱饵 – yòuěr emerges from the 水 – shuǐ, dancing across the 沙子 – shāzi coming to rest at the 男孩 – nánhái’s 脚 – jiǎo.

“Just keep on casting. Mix it up a bit; aim your casts at different locations,” his 父亲 – fùqīn advises while uncapping a bottle of pungently smelling 鱼 – yú oil. He pours a steady stream into the 水 – shuǐ, the scent cutting through the crisp 早晨 – zǎochén 空气 – kōngqì. “This should let the 鱼 – yú know there’s some food in the area worth investigating. Remember to keep an eye on your set 线 – xiàn too.”

The 男孩 – nánhái positions himself again and skillfully cast the 线 – xiàn over the 水 – shuǐ. His 父亲 – fùqīn finishes organising the gear and sets up his own 线 – xiàn, baiting the 钩 – gōu on one 杆 – gān and casting it out. He then casts the 诱饵 – yòuěr, sending it out over the 水 – shuǐ.

Father and 儿子 – érzi cast out from the beach, all the while chatting and enjoying one another’s company. They don’t notice the 太阳 – tàiyáng peek above the 地平线 – dìpíngxiàn. They barely comment when the gently falling 雾 – wù no longer falls. Their attention is now filled with one another. They each tell of their week’s adventures and share funny stories they had been saving for just such an occasion. They cast and recast happy and carefree. Until bam!

The 男孩 – nánhái jolts as the 杆 – gān is almost pulled from his 递给 – dì gěi or 交给 – jiāo gěi.

“Dad!” The 词 – cí is a panicked plea, a call of 兴奋 – xīngfèn and uncertain 兴奋 – xīngfèn.

“You got one!” The 父亲 – fùqīn reels his 线 – xiàn in quickly and sets it aside.

“You take it, Dad. I don’t know what to do.”

“No, you got it, 伙伴 – huǒbàn.”

“No, 爸爸 – bàba, I’m scared.”

The 鱼 – yú on the 结束 – jiéshù of the 线 – xiàn pulls ferociously.

“Argh, Dad take it!”

The 父亲 – fùqīn kneels in the 沙子 – shāzi next to his 儿子 – érzi. His 声音 – shēngyīn is soft when he speaks, the 世界 – shìjiè drops away, and all the 男孩 – nánhái can hear is his 父亲 – fùqīn‘s 声音 – shēngyīn.

“I know you can do this.”

The 男孩 – nánhái looks away from the 杆 – gān, his 装备 – zhuāngbèi tense, and looks at his 父亲 – fùqīn.

His 父亲 – fùqīn‘s eyes fix on his, “You got this, 伙伴 – huǒbàn. Just like reeling in the 诱饵 – yòuěr, 拉 – lā it up then lower it down, reeling it in as you go.”

The 男孩 – nánhái struggles against the 拉 – lā from the other 结束 – jiéshù of the 线 – xiàn.

“It’s too heavy.” Doubt and fear are close winning, but the 父亲 – fùqīn’s 声音 – shēngyīn remains soft and calm.

“Loosen the 拖 – tuō, just a little. GIve him a bit more 线 – xiàn but not too much, make him work for it.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can,” There’s no room for doubt in the 父亲 – fùqīn’s 声音 – shēngyīn “let go of the winder and use your free 手 – shǒu to adjust the 拖 – tuō.”

“He’s going to break free.” The statement is a plea.

But the fathers 声音 – shēngyīn never waivers. “It’s ok if he breaks free 伙伴 – huǒbàn, sometimes they do that. But if you don’t try you’ll never know if you could have got him in on your own.”

Slow and uncertain, the 男孩 – nánhái takes his 手 – shǒu off the winder and twists the dial on top of the 卷轴 – juǎnzhóu, loosening the 拖 – tuō. “Just a little bit.” Cautions his 父亲 – fùqīn.

He dips the 杆 – gān and winds in a few 脚 – jiǎo of 线 – xiàn before raising it again. The 拖 – tuō performs perfectly, letting out just enough 线 – xiàn to buffer the tension as he raises the 杆 – gān to it’s peak. With a fluid movement, the 鱼 – yú is pulled closer to the shore.

“How’s that? Better?”

The 男孩 – nánhái nods, intent now on the 线 – xiàn. “Uh-huh”.

He lowers the 杆 – gān again, reeling in 线 – xiàn as he does.

A 微笑 – wéixiào flashes across his face. “It’s a big one, isn’t it Dad?”.

The 父亲 – fùqīn barks a laugh, “I think it is, 儿子 – érzi.”

The 线 – xiàn slices through the 水 – shuǐ as the 鱼 – yú pulls to one 侧面 – cèmiàn. The 男孩 – nánhái instinctively counters by pulling the 杆 – gān in the opposite 方向 – fāngxiàng.

“You’re doing it, 伙伴 – huǒbàn! You got this!”

The 微笑 – wéixiào is now plastered across the 男孩 – nánhái‘s face, stretching from ear to ear. The 父亲 – fùqīn takes his eyes from the 线 – xiàn and looks at his 儿子 – érzi. He forgets the 鱼 – yú and loses himself in awe at how much a 人 – rén can 爱 – ài. His 儿子 – érzi’s 微笑 – wéixiào fills his entire 世界 – shìjiè.

“I think I can see it, 爸爸 – bàba!”

The 父亲 – fùqīn looks back to the 线 – xiàn. It ends just a few 米 – mǐ from the shore now. His eyes follow the 线 – xiàn beneath the surface, and there, pulling against the 线 – xiàn, the 鱼 – yú. A flathead at least 40cm long shaking its head from 侧面 – cèmiàn to 侧面 – cèmiàn.

“I see it!” Exclaims the 父亲 – fùqīn. “It’s a flatty,” he pauses for 效果 – xiàoguǒ “, and it’s huuuuge.”

Each 抬起 – tái qǐ and 放下 – fàng xià of the 杆 – gān is now confident. No 影子 – yǐngzi of 犹豫 – yóuyù or 不确定性 – bù-quèdìngxìng remains.

“I’ll get the net.” The 父亲 – fùqīn rushes to the gear piled up on the 沙子 – shāzi and retrieves the net. He turns back to see the flathead splash from the shallows onto the wet 沙子 – shāzi.

A gentle wave perfectly timed crashes on the shore and pushes the 鱼 – yú further up the 沙子 – shāzi away from any chance of escape.

He rushes down, digs the net into the 沙子 – shāzi beneath the 鱼 – yú, and lifts out from the small 波浪 – bōlàng.

“I did it. I did it. I caught a 鱼 – yú.”

“You didn’t just catch a 鱼 – yú, you caught a huge 鱼 – yú!”

The 男孩 – nánhái holds the 杆 – gān aloft with one 手 – shǒu and raises the other, clenched as a fist in 胜利 – shènglì.

The 父亲 – fùqīn cheers, “Yeaaaaah wooooo. You caught 鱼 – yú!!”

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