North of downtown Beijing, across the Roma roundabout, there are two small puddles we refer to as Roma Lake. We do not call it “the lake in Roma”, because the lake is in fact sandwiched between Rogezhuang and Matou villages. It is a lake that gives way to a sense of melancholy and ridiculousness, a lake that is full of misreading and romance. Roma is not Roma. It refers to a lake.
I spent two years living beside the banks of the Lake. It was sometimes conceived as a frozen mass lying under the hazy sky. The sun would occasionally loom but never fully appeared. Two or three men could be seen prowling in its vicinity, who would at times throw stones on the ice, or let off a loud growl, followed by the barking of an pudgy dog. Most of the time I had the lake to myself, which I enjoyed by walking around or would rest sat on a lonely rock gazing into the darkness. At night, were it not for a ray of light emanating from the street lamps all would have gone dark, for not even the twinkle of distant stars could pierce the overcast sky. On one such night, I observed a stranger on ice skates dancing in circles, silently and absorbedly, freely and ecstatically. The reflection of this image under the street lamp was especially dazzling, giving off a bright flash. A little later, more people would join in, the two of them would glide together, with there were angry shouts echoing onto the bank:
Resistance and rebellion are ineffective, only starting all over again!
It’s getting darker. I picked up sounds of flowing water, gurgling and disturbing. The air was thick with many a somnambulant, jabbering their half riddles, a man full of slips of the tongue, and a few alcoholics, all mumbling their nonsense in the lingering mystery around, from entanglement to deviation, like a collapse of implied dangers in chess. There were philosophers, poets, and two apes who were too small for me to make out their faces, all wrestling with one and another.
Then the sudden deafening bang of fireworks, a magnificent array of color rippled through the misty sky, dropping a few faint and fading stars.
At 6:50pm, I dusted off my trousers and walked slowly towards my studio. Looking back at Roma Lake, though the music had ended, it still lingered.