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使馆楼02——击球,扣杀。击球,扣杀

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2019年06月13日

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On 6 August,Fatou walked past the embassy for the first time,on her way to a swimming pool. It is a large pool,although not quite Olympic size. To swim a mile you must complete eighty-two lengths,which,in its very tedium,often feels as much a mental exercise as a physical one. The water is kept unusually warm,to please the majority of people who patronize the health centre,the kind who come not so much to swim as to lounge poolside or rest their bodies in the sauna.Fatou has swum here five or six times now,and she is often the youngest person in the pool by several decades. Generally,the clientele are white,or else South Asian or from the Middle East,but now and then Fatou finds herself in the water with fellow Africans. When she spots these big men,paddling frantically like babies,struggling simply to stay afloat,she prides herself on her own abilities,having taught herself to swim,several years earlier,at the Carib Beach Resort,in Accra. Not in the hotel pool—no employees were allowed in the pool. No,she learned by struggling through the rough grey sea,on the other side of the resort walls. Rising and sinking,rising and sinking,on the dirty foam. No tourist ever stepped on to the beach (it was covered with trash),much less into the cold and treacherous sea. Nor did any of the other chambermaids. Only some reckless teenage boys,late at night,and Fatou,early in the morning. There is almost no way to compare swimming at Carib Beach and swimming in the health centre,warm as it is,tranquil as a bath. And,as Fatou passes the Embassy of Cambodia,on her way to the pool,over the high wall she sees a shuttlecock,passed back and forth between two unseen players. The shuttlecock floats in a wide arc softly rightwards,and is smashed back,and this happens again and again,the first player always somehow able to retrieve the smash and transform it,once more,into a gentle,floating arc. High above,the sun tries to force its way through a cloud ceiling,grey and filled with water. Pock,smash. Pock,smash.

8月6日,法图第一次经过大使馆,当时她正走在去游泳池的路上。那泳池很大,尽管跟奥运会不能比。如果要游上一英里,你得打四十一个来回,过程无比单调,对精神的考验常常不比对体力少。水总是异常温暖,好取悦大多数光顾健身中心的客人,他们并不怎么热衷游泳,宁可懒洋洋地靠在池边,要不就是来蒸个桑拿,让身体放松放松。法图在这里游过五六回,通常她都是整个泳池里年纪最小的一个,别人都年长她好几十岁。这里的顾客一般都是白人,要不就是南亚人或者中东人,不过如今法图间或也能在水中找到几个非洲同乡。这些大个子男人像小娃娃那样瞎扑腾,费尽力气就是为了不让自己沉下去,她看在眼里,想起几年前在阿克拉[1]加勒比海滩靠自己揣摩就学会了游泳,不禁得意起来。她不是在酒店泳池里学会的——酒店雇员是不许进泳池的。不,她是在度假村墙外的那片风高浪急的灰色大海上挣扎着学会的。浮起来,沉下去,浮起来,沉下去,四周泛着脏兮兮的泡沫。没什么游客踏上过这片海滩(到处都是垃圾),至于跳进那冰冷的、变化莫测的海水,这样的人就更少了。酒店里的其他女佣也都没来过。只有几个莽撞的十几岁男孩会在半夜里溜过来,而法图是在清晨。在加勒比海滩游泳和在健身中心里游泳几乎没法相提并论,健身中心里的水温是那么惬意,水面平静得像是在浴缸里。在去泳池的路上,法图经过柬埔寨大使馆,看见一只羽毛球在高墙顶上飞来飞去,看不见打球的人。那羽毛球沿着一道长长的弧线缓缓向右侧飘过去,劈头遭到一记重扣往回落,这情形周而复始,前一个打球的人总是有办法瓦解对方的扣杀,然后再一次把球打出舒缓而飘逸的弧线。更高处,太阳努力想从那灰色的、积满水分的云层中钻出来。击球,扣杀。击球,扣杀。

 

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[1]阿克拉(Accra),加纳首都。


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