The IU Arts & Humanities Council was lucky enough this week to host the Chinese-American writer Ha Jin for China Remixed, IU’s first Global Arts & Humanities Festival.
Indiana Review is proud to share a story he originally published with us in Indiana Review 17.2, Fall 1994.
“Winds and Clouds Over a Funeral” well exemplifies Ha Jin’s enduring subject, the ways in which the individual grapples with the state. In this story, he, with a sharp, unsparing eye, examines how the state encroaches on even the most personal of matters, how to bury your dead mother. — Anna Cabe, Web Editor
Sheng arrived at Gold County to work as a junior clerk in the military department at a large textile mill. Five days later, he was informed that his grandmother had passed away. The departmental chief gave him three days to attend the funeral at home. Sheng went to the bus station at noon and got on a bus bound for Dismal Fort.
He used to enjoy seeing the landscape outside the county town, especially the long reservoir that supplied water for six counties, and the large concrete dam that blocked the gorge of a valley and connected two rocky hills. In the middle of the dam stood a small house like a pillbox with loopholes. When the bus crept on the winding road along the bank, the water would flash like large fish scales in the sun. But today Sheng had no appetite for scenery. He closed his eyes and tried to take a catnap. He didn’t feel very sad, though he loved his grandmother.