The Shout of Silence

Qijiang River has been quite a controversial site in my mind, probably for every person residing here. The River was there long long before I was born and it has played a great role in my life as I grew up. It has always been filthy to me. It is so muddy that you cannot tell what’s below the surface or how deep it is. Despite its unwelcoming appearance, a lot of people are drawn to it, or rather, lured by it, to undress themselves in a hungry manner and plunge into its soft body, exploring the myth underneath. They must have been enchanted when they looked into this fluid body, and only when they were unexpectedly swallowed by some of its unseen power did they begin to feel regret and despair.


Qijiang is a place where the temperature can surge to 44°in the summer. People here are desperate for water, a lot of water, thus the river has become a holy site where they can wash their unbearable sweltering bodies, despite the fact that swimming has never been permitted by the government. It’s not banned either, if they just ignore the warning sign at the river's edge. Sometimes I find the warning board—shouting silently in its bright red uniform and watching a bunch of naked people playing in the river—quite funny. They are not put there to be seen, they just need to be put there.


Nothing shouts more desperately than the guy who found his buddy disappearing in the river just a few seconds later. He shouted himself hoarse to get no reply. There was no professional diver on hand and the salvage by local people was so slow that it took 3 days to finally find the dead body. During those 3 days he didn’t leave the riverbank, and he stood there watching people happily playing in the river, just like the warning board did, shouting silently in his heart. I suppose he would never come back here again.


Every year there are these shouts along the river, like the yell between the living and the dead—no matter how loud on one side, it always remains ghostly silent on the other, while the rolling river makes its own mourning.