2014-08-20  戈壁边缘人

The enormous sky over our head has been an inexhaustible source of astrological prophecy, romantic imagination, celestial reverence, legendary myths and unending mystery. Astrologists, the precursors of modern astronomers, were believed to possess the supernatural powers of getting the apocalyptical messages from the location and movements of the constellations. The most recent evidence was that, Nostradamus, possibly the best known astrologist in the world, has successfully foretold, as far back as 400 years ago, the terrorist air raid in New York city. Of course, as always, his equivocal and always ominous prophecy can only be explicated to us on an ex post hoc basis. The modern version of this ancient practice is simplified and accessible to general populace: one’s destiny and disposition are determined by “his or her” constellation, which can be effortlessly inferred by one’s date of birth. In Chinese folklore, the Milky Way epitomizes the insurmountable gap intervened by heavenly powers to separate two loving hearts while the pale and cool glows of moon has inspired endless poetic imaginations since antiquity.

Modern science has unveiled the mysteries of the universe and freed man from irrational worship of the lifeless heaven. The galaxies and constellations proved to be nothing but the residue of a accidental big bang. When Galileo pointed his newly invented telescope to the moon, our closest neighbor, he found something frustrating and anticlimactic to the imaginative poets: it is merely “full of inequalities, uneven, full of hollows and protuberances, just like the surface of the Earth itself.”Had the two lovers across the Milky Way known that what is lying between them were not onrushing flood but clouds of stars, they would not have to wait, with burning yearnings and longings, for another 360 days to have their long-awaited and romantic meeting: They could meet everyday and take baths together in the ‘Silvery River’, if they like.

However, modern science of astronomy and astrophysics is quite beyond the ken of the general laymen, who instead still cherish a ceaseless curiosity to the celestial bodies in the night sky. Each eclipses of the sun or the moon would allure millions of pairs of eyes thrown up at the sky. Whenever a comet orbits close to the earth, there would be a panic buying of astronomical telescopes. It is an astronomer’s lifelong dream to witness the rare occurrence of the planets in a special configuration, such as in the shape of a line or of a cross.

I can hardly be ranked as an idolater of the stars, be they in the heavens or in our secular world. But last year when they said that they would be a star shower at midnight, I couldn’t help beingseduced by its beautiful name:

“ A star shower, huh?”

“You would be remorseful if you miss it,” so I was told, “you will have to live one more hundred years to see it again.”

So the cold midnight saw us two folded in blankets at the top of our building, drinking glasses of wine to keep warm, waiting for the astronomical spectacle to come. By the hour when the stars had been anticipated to shower, we looked long up in the sky.

“You must stare at the sky long,” my friend told me in a knowledgeable way, “as the star shower will disappear in a split of second.”

“Are you sure it comes at one o’clock,” my neck began to ache and sore, but I could only see the stars twinkling mockingly at us.

“Scientists won’t make mistakes. Be patient, men.”

My patience was running out and at two clock, we went back to sleep.

The reason my friend gave me for the absence of the star shower was “ the moonlight was too bright”.

That is why I did not show excessive enthusia** when I was told there would be another Leonid meteor shower this November. “Sometimes scientists also make mistakes.” I was still browsing the net when there were hordes of university students marching to the playground to get ready for their observation.

I was just about to go to sleep when there burst out sudden shrieks of ecstasy downstairs.

“Why?! Does it really come? They say it comes around 1.” I asked myself while pulling on the clothes and dashing downstairs. After all, watching star showers is for me an unfulfilled dream.

There were already hundreds of students gathering there. Some guys were really well equipped and well prepared: they took their beddings with them so that they might look into the sky while still lying in bed, saving themselves from the neck-soaring syndrome I experienced last year. Some also had telescopes in hand. Fortunately, the moon was still not in sight now.

As this was only the initial stage of star shower, there were one or two stars occasionally fleeting across the night sky. Each would invariably evoked loud shouts of joys. As most of them vanished in a split of second, those who missed them would turn to their partner and inquired:

“Where, where?”

“There, there.”

By the time the latter saw in the direction where the star was, it had gone. Only then did both of them feel their folly and they looked at each other, **iling.

Nowhere have I felt a more harmonious relationship between man and nature than on this playground. The parent of the meteor shower was in fact a comet, the most inauspicious star in ancient astronomy. The presence of so many spectators on this playground seemed to be ridiculing the obsolescence of this old superstition. Instead, the rare astronomical spectacle was expected and embraced with enthusia**.

There burst out one after another wave of ecstatic shrieks when the stars began to ‘shower’ in bulks, in different directions, leaving behind them long and beautiful trails. At this moment, it occurred to me that I should make a wish. They say the wish made at this moment is most likely to come true. I stared at one star fleeting across the sky, crossed my hands before my chest, in a very prayerful way, and made the wish before its beautiful and greenish trail vanished. Why should I tell my wish to you? They say it won’t be effectual if it is uttered.

Should I feel joyous or lamentable if my life was just like the star shower’s, colorful, beautiful, spectacular, but fleetingly brief, winning shouts of joys for me even though I became extinguished into nothingness immediately? So I asked myself on my way back room while the multitude on the playground is still thrilling behind.

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