David Oliver Relin（大卫·奥利佛·瑞林），是个游历世界的专栏作家，其作品获奖无数。
Three Cups of Tea(Excerpt I)
From his base in Haji Ali’s home, Mortenson settled into a routine. Each morning and afternoon he would walk briefly about Korphe, accompanied, always, by children tugging at his hands. He saw how this tiny 1)oasis of 2)greenery in a desert of dusty rock owed its existence to 3)staggering labor, and admired the hundreds of irrigation channels the village maintained by hand that diverted 4)glacial meltwater toward their fields and orchards.
Off the Baltoro, out of danger, he realized just how precarious his own survival had been, and how weakened he’d become. He could barely make it down the 5)switchback path that led to the river and there, in the freezing water, when he took off his shirt to wash, he was shocked by his appearance. “My arms looked like 6)spindly little 7)toothpicks, like they belonged to somebody else,” Mortenson says.
8)Wheezing his way back up to the village, he felt as 9)infirm as the elderly men who sat for hours at a time under Korphe’s 10)apricot trees, smoking from 11)hookahs and eating apricot kernels. After an hour or two of 12)poking about each day he’d 13)succumb to exhaustion and return to stare at the sky from his nest of pillows by Haji Ali’s hearth.
The nurmadhar watched Mortenson’s state carefully, and ordered one of the village’s precious chogo rabak, or big 14)rams, slaughtered. Forty people tore every scrap of roasted meat from the skinny animal’s bones, then cracked open the bones themselves with rocks, stripping the 15)marrow with their teeth. Watching the 16)ardor with which the meat was devoured, Mortenson realized how rare such a meal was for the people of Korphe, and how close they lived to hunger.
At first, in Korphe, he thought he’d stumbled into a sort of 17)Shangri-La. Many Westerners passing through the place had the feeling that the 18)Balti lived a simpler, better life than they did back home in their developed countries. Early visitors, 19)casting about for suitably romantic names, 20)dubbed it “Tibet of the Apricots.”
The Balti “really seem to have a 21)flair for enjoying life,” Maraini wrote in 1958, after visiting Askole and admiring the “old bodies of men sitting in the sun smoking their 22)picturesque pipes, those not so old working at primitive 23)looms in the shade of 24)mulberry trees with that sureness of touch that comes with a lifetime’s experience, and two boys, sitting by themselves, removing their 25)lice with tender and 26)meticulous care.
“We breathed an air of utter satisfaction, of eternal peace,” he continued. “All this gives rise to a question. Isn’t it better to live in ignorance of everything— 27)asphalt and 28)macadam, vehicles, telephones, television—to live in bliss without knowing it?”
Thirty-five years later, the Balti still lived with the same lack of modern conveniences, but after even a few days in the village, Mortenson began to see that Korphe was far from the 29)prelapsarian paradise of Western fantasy. In every home, at least one family member suffered from 30)goiters or 31)cataracts. The children, whose 32)ginger hair he had admired, owed their coloring to a form of 33)malnutrition called 34)kwashiorkor. And he learned from his talks with Twaha, after the nurmadhar’s son returned from evening prayer at the village mosque, that the nearest doctor was a week’s walk away in Skardu, and one out of every three Korphe children died before reaching their first birthday.
Often during his time in Korphe, Mortenson felt the presence of his little sister Christa, especially when he was with Korphe’s children. “Everything about their life was a struggle,” Mortenson says. “They reminded me of the way Christa had to fight for the simplest things. And also the way she had of just persevering, no matter what life threw at her.” He decided he wanted to do something for them. Perhaps, when he got to 35)Islamabad, he’d use the last of his money to buy textbooks to send to their school, or 36)supplies.
Lying by the hearth before bed, Mortenson told Haji Ali he wanted to visit Korphe’s school. Mortenson saw a cloud pass across the old man’s 37)craggy face, but persisted. Finally, the headman agreed to take Mortenson first thing the following morning.
After their familiar breakfast of chapattis and cha, Haji Ali led Mortenson up a steep path to a vast open 38)ledge eight hundred feet above the Braldu. The view was 39)exquisite, with the ice giants of the upper Baltoro 40)razored into the blue far above Korphe’s gray rock walls. But Mortenson wasn’t admiring the scenery. He was 41)appalled to see eighty-two children, seventy-eight boys, and the four girls who had the 42)pluck to join them, kneeling on the frosty ground, in the open. Haji Ali, avoiding Mortenson’s eyes, said that the village had no school, and the Pakistani government didn’t provide a teacher. A teacher cost the equivalent of one dollar a day, he explained, which was more than the village could afford. So they shared a teacher with the neighboring village of Munjung, and he taught in Korphe three days a week. The rest of the time the children were left alone to practice the lessons he left behind.
Mortenson watched, his heart in his throat, as the students stood at rigid attention and began their “school day” with Pakistan’s national anthem. “Blessed be the sacred land. Happy be the 43)bounteous realm, symbol of high resolve, land of Pakistan…” they sang with sweet 44)raggedness, their breath steaming in air already touched with winter. Mortenson picked out Twaha’s seven-year-old daughter, Jahan, standing tall and straight beneath her headscarf as she sang. “May the nation, the country, and the state shine in glory everlasting. This flag of 45)crescent and star leads the way to progress and perfection.”
After the last note of the anthem had faded, the children sat in a neat circle and began copying their multiplication tables. Most scratched in the dirt with sticks they’d brought for that purpose. The more fortunate, like Jahan, had 46)slate boards they wrote on with sticks dipped in a mixture of mud and water. “Can you imagine a fourth-grade class in America, alone, without a teacher, sitting there quietly and working on their lessons?” Mortenson asks. “I felt like my heart was being torn out. There was a fierceness in their desire to learn, despite how mightily everything was stacked against them, that reminded me of Christa. I knew I had to do something.”
But what? He had just enough money, if he ate simply and stayed in the cheapest guest houses, to travel by jeep and bus back to Islamabad and catch his flight home. In California he could look forward to only 47)sporadic nursing work, and most of his possessions fit in the trunk of “La Bamba,” the 48)burgundy 49)gas-guzzling 50)Buick that was as close as he had to a home. Still, there had to be something.
Standing next to Haji Ali, on the ledge overlooking the valley, with such a 51)crystalline view of the mountains he’d come halfway around the world to measure himself against, climbing K2 to place a necklace on its summit suddenly felt beside the point. There was a much more meaningful gesture he could make in honor of his sister’s memory. He put his hands on Haji Ali’s shoulders, as the old man had done to him dozens of times since they’d shared their first cup of tea. “I’m going to build you a school,” he said, not yet realizing that with those words, the path of his life had just 52)detoured down another trail, a route far more 53)serpentine and 54)arduous than the wrong turns he’d taken since retreating from K2. “I will build a school,” Mortenson said. “I promise.”