Slow and Steady Wins the Race!
UNSV英语学习频道 - Slow and steady wins the race!


作者:Doreen Baingana 发布日期:1-1-2011

IMPORTANT: This transcript of the story was dictated by VAN ALLEN, the chief editor and the founder of www.unsv.com.


Now, a VOA Special English story for New Year's Day.


Our story today is called "A New Kind of Blue". It was written by Doreen Baingana. Here is Barbara Klein (with the story).

Jane got up from under her warm bed covers and faced the cold of her room. It was another New Year's Day. In the bathroom, she looked at herself in the mirror. Nothing had changed, except the lines around her eyes and mouth looked deeper.

Jane was forty-nine years old. She would be fifty this year. She did not feel old, only tired sometimes. What was age? Jane was simply and always herself, she felt. She did what she did every morning. She cleaned her teeth and washed herself. She then chose what to wear among the same five skirts and ten tops. She drank black coffee and went out the door as usual.

Today, she was visiting her mother in an old people's home outside her city. She took the same bus to her mother's that she had taken to work every day for the last fifteen years.

Jane worked with Butler & Sons company. It was not the best job. It was not the worst, either. She was now responsible for employing new workers. She made telephone calls, answered letters and questioned new people about their skills. She had done this for long enough that she did it without really thinking. The new faces became one young empty face that knew so little.

Jane, however, felt it was too late for her to change.

There was Mister Solomon walking down the street, his back was as straight as a ruler. He came out of his house at exactly the same time Jane did every day. He wore a black coat and carried a black umbrella every day, as if he lived in London, England, not Rockville, Maryland.

He moved his head in silent greeting. Jane did the same as always. They passed each other by, like clock hands moving, like machines.

Jane thought of herself. Where was he going on a holiday, to work? What would happen if she broke the unspoken rule and said "good morning" to him? Would he answer? Would he smile? Could he smile at all? She did not think so. But she did not say anything.
Down the road, came a red hair woman walking her dog. Jane did not know her name even though she saw her every day, too. The woman always said, "Down, doggy down!" The dog did not listen to its owner. It jumped here and there.

Every morning, Jane silently questioned how someone could name her dog "doggy". And every morning, Jane noted she thought that exact thought every time. Why not say "Happy New Year" to each other like normal people? But, the woman never looked away from her restless dog so Jane passed by as usual.

It was winter, cold and dry. There was no sign of snow. The tree at the end of the road had no leaves. Its branches looked cold and lonely.

Jane let out a heavy breath and pulled her coat closer around her.

She did not want to look at the house nearest the bus stop. Old Mister Alvero was always there looking out of his window. He never changed from the clothes he wore to bed. He looked like he had failed to sleep and was sad and angry. Jane had learned to avoid his hard eyes. They seemed to accuse her of having somewhere to go when he did not.

"Poor old man," Jane thought, "he has to live through the start has yet another year." She looked away and walked faster.

Luckily, her bus arrived on time.

Old Mister Alvero made Jane think of her mother. She was ninety-two years old. She and Jane were the only ones left in the family. Her father and brother had died five years apart more than ten years ago.

Jane's mother, too, had grown old and weak. She broke her hipbone two years ago, and now could not move around easily. Arthritis caused her bones to hurt. Her mind moved from idea to idea. She forgot almost everything but her childhood. She needed someone to take care of her all the time. But Jane had to work to support them both. So her mother agreed to live in an old people's home. Thankfully, she liked it because she was with people her own age.

Jane visited her mother every Sunday afternoon. On Saturdays, Jane saw a movie or a play with her good friend, Stella. Jane liked plays about love, marriage and family life. Stella did not. She said it was all talk. Jane answered, "Well, what else can a play be?" Stella liked movies with a lot of action, car chasing and shooting. They argued about the violence.

"What is it all for?" Jane asked.

"It is only a movie," Stella replied laughing, "afterwards, you feel glad you have a quiet life, don't you?"

They kept on going together to plays and movies so that each one would not feel alone. Staying home would not be considered healthy.

Jane made sure her work kept her busy all week. Other than that, she read books and watched television. She avoided the silent question at the back of her mind. Was this enough?

The bus reached Jane's bus stop. The driver said with lots of energy -- Happy New Year ma'am. Jane wanted to ask him if he liked working on a holiday. She wanted to ask him if he liked driving down the same roads day after day after day. But, she did not.


Jane got off the bus and walked into the prime of life home. Her mother smiled widely when she saw her. "Happy New Year! I'm so happy to see you," her mother said.

"You knew I was coming," Jane answered.

Her mother continued happily, "It's such a lovely morning, isn't it? I never thought I'd live this long into a whole new century."

"Why not? You are the most healthiest person I know."

"Oh, Jane, Jane, you make it sound like that is a bad thing. Aren't you so glad to be alive?"

"Well, I suppose so." Jane would not force herself to be happy just because her mother was.

"Anyway, you've seen quite a lot of new years, haven't you?"

Her mother laughed like a young girl. "Now -- now, my age is my secret."

"Don't be silly, I know how old you are! And calling today a New Year doesn't make a difference. It's just another day."

"Oh, Jane, you are just like your father. I had to teach him how to smile. Come, come outside, I want to show you something."

"It really is cold outside, mom, you'll get sick."

"But nurse lets me go out, come on." Her mother leaned on to Jane; and they walked out slowly. The cold air was fresh. The sun was shining bright and clear.

"Oh, look!" her mother said -- pointing to the sky. Her eyes were shining like a child's.

"Where? What?"

"Did you see that huge white bird, so high and still against the blue sky? It looked so balanced." Her mother let out a soft breath.

Jane looked around, "I missed it."

"Stop!" her mother said.

"What now?" her mother tried to reach down, "pick up that stone for me, that big blue one."

"This one? It looks gray to me." Jane picked it up and gave it to her mother.

She rubbed the stone clean with her coat, then held it up to the sun.

"Look, Jane, have you ever seen this kind of blue?"

"It's just a stone."

"Of course not! It doesn't look like any other. How do you think it got here? It must have come from far away, across oceans, right here to us. Imagine that! It looks so pure. It must be valuable."

"Oh, I see. You think you can sell it." They both laughed.

"Mom, really the cold is going to kill us."

Jane tried to pull her mother toward the door.

"Wait, Jane. Close your eyes." Her mother had always liked these childish games. But Jane thought she was getting worse. The only way to stop her was to do what she asked.

"Ok, they are closed, so what?"

"Wait, now open them." Her mother had placed the stone right in front of Jane's face. The sun shone just behind it. That closed for a moment. It looked like a jewel, shining and smooth.

Jane could not stop herself, "Ah -- Ah!" She forgot herself and got lost in the blue light.

"This is a new kind of blue, isn't it?" her mother said softly. They continued looking in wonder.

"There are so many new things around us."

"Okay, mom," Jane said, "let us look for them inside, please, before we die of cold."

They walked back into the home, laughing. Jane kept the blue stone tight in her hand. It was like a secret.


You have just heard a special story for New Year's Day -- "A New Kind of Blue." It is written by Doreen Baingana. This story is copyrighted. All rights reserved. Your storyteller was Barbara Klein. The producer was Lawan Davis. The VOA Special English staff wishs all of you a very happy New Year.


About Doreen Baingana

Doreen Baingana is a part-time writer in Special English. She is an award-winning author from Uganda.

Doreen Baingana is the author of Tropical Fish: Stories Out Of Entebbe, which won the AWP Short Fiction Award and a Commonwealth Prize. She has also won the Washington Independent Writers Fiction Prize, an Emerging Writer's Fellowship from The Writer's Center, and was a finalist twice for the Caine Prize for African Writing. Her stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Glimmer Train, African American Review, Callaloo, Guardian (UK) and Kwani. She has an M.F.A. from University of Maryland and was a Writer-in-Residence there.

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