⟨ Object ⟩

Twin Uncles

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

Words / 夏侯露茜
Illustration / Furze Chan

近月,將近二十二個月大的兒子蔦悠開始學習說話,我倆經常也有意想不到的談話內容。例如,有一天,我把這對收藏多年的人物模型拿出來給蔦悠看,他一邊愛不釋手地摸著,一邊以十分肯定的語氣嚷道:「叔叔!」

「噢,你覺得他們是叔叔嗎?那便應該叫『孖叔叔』吧。」我半開玩笑地胡謅著,沒想到蔦悠竟認真思考了數秒,眼裡忽爾閃出亮光,然後興奮大叫: 「孖叔叔!!」

自此以後,這對活寶貝,本是《愛麗斯夢遊仙境》裡鼎鼎大名的Tweedledee和Tweedledum,在我們的家裡卻淪為聽上去有點怪異的「孖叔叔」。實情是,我頗為這個隨意創出的稱號感到自豪,因為我向來也挺喜歡這樣沒來由地為各種東西改名字。所以在讀著江國香織的《擁抱,或是飯上撒點鹽》時,發現小說內的柳島家族是有創造家庭內部流行語的一刻,心裡不禁大樂。

話說混合了俄羅斯血統的柳島家族一直有一個關於祖先的代代相傳故事——一對名為尼金斯基和阿列克塞耶夫的表兄弟,因鬧翻了而進行決鬥,結果一個死了,另一個變成酒鬼後自殺。故事傳至其中一代的三姊弟時,三人對該故事非常著迷,經常討論箇中真實性,後來更想到將「可憐的阿列克塞耶夫。」和「悲慘的尼金斯基。」這兩句感嘆話語,化為日常對話時家人之間互相表達難過的暗號。

小說的後半部分,兩句暗號曾出現在其中一段悲傷情節:突然患病的弟弟在臨終前跟其中一位姊姊說:「我先去那裡瞭解情況。」傷心的姊姊立即回應道:「可憐的阿列克塞耶夫。」那一刻弟弟即使已呼吸困難,也接著說道:「悲慘的尼金斯基。」讀到這段,心裡不期然難過起來,但我還是慶幸,我和蔦悠已經開始了一起創作如此私密的、只屬於我倆的首個暗號。若干年後,當我們分別或一起提及「孖叔叔」時,在別人耳裏聽著再荒誕,也會是我倆最最親密的,隱秘暗號。


My almost 22-month-old son, Julian, has started learning to talk in recent months, and the two of us often have astonishing conversations. For example, one day when I showed him this pair of action figures which I have kept for many years, he held it lovingly and said with an affirmative tone, “Uncles!”

“Oh, you think they are uncles? You should call them ‘twin uncles’ then.” I jokingly responded, and was amused to find him thinking hard about this for a few seconds, his eyes suddenly brightened. He then shouted with a big smile, “Twin uncles!!”

From then on, this pair of twins, originally well-known as Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is now called “twin uncles” in our home. The truth is, I kind of feel proud about coming up with this weird nickname, since I always like to invent names for various things. So when I was reading To Embrace, or to Pour Salt on the Rice, a novel written by Kaori Ekuni, I was delighted to find that the Yanagishima family in the story loves creating their own family jargon.

One snippet of the story goes like this: The Yanagishima family has Russian lineage among their ancestors, and from generation to generation they have always passed along a story about two cousins, Nijinsky and Alekseyev, who decided to have a duel due to an arguement; one of them died, and the other one committed suicide after becoming an alcoholic. Three siblings of one generation are particularly fascinated by this story, and they often discuss about its authenticity. Later, they even come up with two lines to express sadness – “Poor Alekseyev.” and “Miserable Nijinsky.” – which then become their own family’s secret code in daily conversations.

In the second half of the novel, this secret code has appeared in one sorrowful scene: the brother suddenly becomes very ill; before he dies, he says to one of his sisters, “Let me go first and see what’s on the other side.” Sadly, the sister replies, “Poor Alekseyev.” By then, even though the brother already has difficulty in breathing, he still manages to say in return, “Miserable Nijinsky.” I felt very sad upon reading this part, but I also was glad that Julian and I have started creating our very first family jargon. Many years from now, whenever we mention “twin uncles”, even if the other people find it ridiculous, it will still be the most intimate secret code of our own.