Sometime in the late 90s while residing in Kaohsiung, a little storefront on a side street near my house was rented to a guy who repaired motorcycles. He was a kind man, a bit younger than me. What made his shop similar to all others of the sort was a typical mess of greasy parts and dirty cardboard boxes full of replacements. What made it different than others was the walls, which were hung with oil paintings that he had done.
The main branch of the library was a couple blocks away. I liked going to the basement gallery, where exhibitions were regularly hung. I’m not a fan of calligraphy, but the room was large, carpeted and air conditioned, so when our daughter was young we regularly stopped there on the way home from church on Sunday morning to give her a place to run about where she wouldn’t get run down by a scooter. One day at the gallery I ran into my neighbor, the motorcycle repairman, looking at others’ paintings. I really liked that guy. Even though I didn’t have a motorcycle, I’d stop and chat with him from time to time. He earned his living in grease and oil. He expressed his inner self in oils. That’s the way it goes for lots of people, both in Taiwan and in the town where I’ve retired.
I had the great good fortune to be able to express myself in my work, which in my last 2 decades in Taiwan included a great deal of writing and translating. I was a bit sad, though, because much of what I wrote stayed in the little college where I worked, and much of what I translated was spoken simultaneous stuff, which went unrecorded, and slipped away into the ether. Now in retirement I’ve been able to retrieve parts of things that got written. A few weeks ago I ran into a document containing translations from Taiwanese to English of stuff originally written in Xiamen in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Admittedly, they are church hymns, and some of them are rather dreadful poetry even in Taiwanese. But my translations appear to be a first-time thing. Before they de-materialize in a hard disk crash, I’ve made them into an ebook. If you’re willing to part with $2, you can buy a download here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/989863
I’ve found other files, all of which seem to have been created between 2002 and 2012, that are making their way into ebooks as well. Though these also started while I was in Taiwan, they’re not translations. Nonetheless, should you think to invest further two-dollar bills, you’ll also find them at www.smashwords.com
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.