Chapter 23: Becoming Slightly Famous!
The next day on the way to work, while walking past the subway’s west newsstand, Zhang Ye asked, “Has the Beijing Times newspaper arrived? How much?”
“A dollar.” the owner replied mechanically.
Zhang Ye took out some money, “Give me a copy.”
The owner took the money and handed a copy over, “Okay, take it.”
Zhang Ye, broke as hell, felt bad giving the dollar. But it was unavoidable; money ought to be spent that had to be spent. He held up the paper and flipped through it page by page. When he arrived at the subway and pushed through the crowd at line 10, a sparkle appeared in his eyes. He flipped to the center page, saw his name printed across the page with the headlines especially attention-capturing – “Two Poems Saved a Life”!
Yesterday night, on Beijing Radio Station’s Literature Channel program “Talk About the World” special, during the call-in session for the “Matters of the Heart” topic, a female university student attempted suicide on the air over her boyfriend’s plans to further his studies in New York. The program host, Wang Xiaomei, attempted to talk her out of it, but failed. In the end, the guest of the show, the Literature Channel’s “Late-night Ghost Stories” host, Teacher Zhang Ye, saved her life with two poems!
The dark night gave me black eyes, but I use them to seek the light – A Generation.
The furthest distance in the world is not the distance between opposite sides of the world. It is that you don’t know that I love you, when I stand in front of you…The furthest distance in the world is the love between the bird and fish. One is flying in the sky, the other is looking upon the sea. – “The Furthest Distance in the World”, also named “Flying Bird and Fish”.
The above are the poems in their original form.
According to sources, the two poems were composed on the spot by Teacher Zhang Ye. Our reporter also contacted Teacher Zhang for an interview late last night. Although it was just a phone call, he was awed by Teacher Zhang Ye’s literary talent.
Awed by my literary talent?
Zhang Ye blushed a little. He had taken the reporter to be a ham salesman. Literary talent, my ass!
The report continued: We have to mention here a side story. At midnight, the editorial department was rushing the report. After seeing the two works, they were moved. An explanation and review of the two poems were done, but when handed over to the head editor for checks, we were held back from publishing it. After reading the poems, his own words were, “Delete all the reviews and analysis. Do not use the old way of writing the report. ‘Flying Bird and Fish’, a modern poem like this would immediately hit it off with the reader. And the other, ‘A Generation’, the strength in this cannot be explained by words. This is a great modern poem. Whether or not the author is a rookie, the only word to describe this poem is ‘Great’. Maybe the author’s fame and current era’s background are not enough to make this poem well-known throughout the world, but I believe time will prove much. A few years or maybe a few decades, or even a few hundreds years down the road, the future generations will remember this poem and remember a person – Zhang Ye and his ‘A Generation’. Our generation, their next generation and the future generation of the next generation.”
The review was highly positive. Zhang Ye’s heart fluttered.
“Morning.” Zhang Ye walked into the office.
Assistant Xiaofang was the first to welcome him, smiling and revealing her small canine teeth, “Teacher Zhang, you came at the right time. We were just talking about the report in the Beijing Times. Have you seen it?”
Zhang Ye smiled. “I’ve also seen it.”
Xiaofang giggled, “People were chatting before about it. You are the first person in our Literature Channel to go in the Beijing Times in the recent years.” She was happy for Zhang Ye. “This is, after all, the Beijing Times. Even though it’s limited to the capital area, the circulation numbers are in the hundreds of thousands. Most people don’t have such a treatment!”
The old host, Teacher Feng, of “Old and Young Story Club” looked over and gave high praises, “Teacher Little Zhang, I heard the rebroadcast last night. I listened to the two poems again and again. Hai, indeed the younger generations will surpass us in time. I’m about to retire soon, so this station will be in the hands of you young people.”
Zhang Ye quickly said, “It’s not as serious as you make it out to be. My literary standard is still far from accomplished. I came to the station with a learning attitude. Today, it will still be the same. I’m hoping to receive lots of advice from every Teacher.”
Tian Bin and Li Si had already came to work.
Zhang Ye also noticed him and saw the rage in Tian Bin’s eyes. He was jealous and ignored Zhang Ye, before sitting at his desk. After having Zhang Ye rob the position of main host of “Late-night Ghost Stories” from him, Tian Bin was now a stand-in DJ. He usually did not have any work to do and only stood in when there was a shortage. He had not gone on a program for days, so it wasn’t strange that he was mad.
However, Li Si’s attitude today was completely different. It was clear he did not want to speak, but for some unknown reason, he suddenly stopped just as he was about to turn around, “…Teacher Zhang, morning.”
Zhang Ye looked at him, “Oh, morning.”
Li Si nodded with his head and then returned to his seat. It seemed like he had given in and had sized up the situation.
Seeing this, Tian Bin’s expression turned worse. His popularity was always average amongst his colleagues. Previously, he would often speak about people behind their backs, so it was not strange that he was abandoned by the masses today.
Later on, the top celebrity of the station, Wang Xiaomei, came in. She did not look towards Zhang Ye and greeted a few old comrades and friends she had good relations with, before surprisingly saying to Zhang Ye, “Teacher Zhang, quite a number of letters from my program’s listeners were written to you. I will get an assistant to give it to you in a while.” Although her attitude did not seem to change, one had to know that Wang Xiaomei had never privately addressed Zhang Ye as “Teacher Zhang”. A change in salutation clearly showed a subtle form of recognition.
Twenty minutes later, Zhang Ye received the letters from the listeners of “Talk About the World”. In the generation where the internet was pervasive, this world was similar to Zhang Ye’s world. Few people wrote letters, but Zhang Ye remained serious about it. Words written on a piece of paper felt more real and sincere.
“Hello, Teacher Zhang Ye. I heard the program yesterday. I’m also a parent, so I won’t say much. I’ll just thank you for that child’s parents.”
There was a total of 37 letters and all the feedback from the listeners was very positive.
Zhang Ye then went through the official e-mail inbox of “Late-night Ghost Stories”. He read every mail sent by the listeners and then read the comments left on Beijing Radio Station’s website. Suddenly, he saw a link and upon clicking it, he realized his “The Furthest Distance in the World” had been posted on a large discussion forum!
There had been 750,000 views!
There were more than 3,000 replies!
“This poem is too touching!”
“Why are there so many views? Isn’t this the early stages of going viral!?”
“It has gone viral online, too? When I saw this poem in the Beijing Times in the morning, I was impressed. However, I prefer ‘A Generation’ more.”
“I’m a moderator for the literature section on a website and an outright literature lover. I have always liked modern poems and I especially like writing them. I have always thought that I write very well and have left many modern poems in the literature section. However, after seeing Teacher Zhang Ye’s two poems, I now know what it means to be the frog in the well. This is a real modern poem and what I wrote wasn’t!”
There were praises and there were, of course, doubts.
“What rotten poem is this? It’s just so-so.”
“Right, it’s too lame. One moment the furthest distance is this, then the next moment the furthest distance is that. There is no precision!”
No matter how well anything was done, it could not satisfy everyone. Zhang Ye knew this, so when he logged on, he wore an anti-troll fire vest before leaving a message. He did not have any strengths; only his attitude was good and tended to be more peaceful and calm. Seeing all the cursing, he only smiled and had the bearing of a literature writer and great poet.
He answered in style, “…I f**k your second granny’s lungs! Just so-so? Do you even f**king know literature? Eh? You dare think lightly of this divine work that can last the ages!? You all are a piece of s**t! A stinking piece of ****!”
People immediately felt the rush, “Eh, why are you cursing?”
Another netizen chimed in, “#3256 is right. All of you don’t understand art!”
Another netizen said, “How can there be criticisms for a poem this classic? I really don’t understand the aesthetic values of others!”
“Right, this is a poem that has saved a life. Still so-so? Then write a poem to save a life for me to see!”
Under Zhang Ye’s lead, those people who had left their negative opinions were drowned by their spit and no longer posted. Seeing the warm enthusiasm, Zhang Ye logged off without his face red or heart throbbing excitedly. He did not feel that he was wretched. This was the attitude a literature writer had!
Lao Tze said this before: take actions when the right time comes!