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The Soul of Jade Mountain By Husluman Vava

Chapter :  Author’s Preface
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The Soul of Jade Mountain

cooler. After we passed the highest point—the Yakou Tunnel—and started to descend we couldn’t get used to the rapid decrease in elevation and the quickly changing highway conditions. Everyone complained about their ears constantly popping. So, I decided to stop the car beside a mountain lake for a rest. There was a Highways Department building there and I guessed that there would be rest stop facilities and we could all stretch our stiff, aching joints.

In front of the two-story building was a wide parking lot where bus passengers traveling in one direction from Kaohsiung, and in the other from Taidong, could change buses and have a rest. That day the bus from Kaohsiung had arrived a little bit early but the bus from Taidong was probably still on the way, so travellers in twos and threes were sitting or walking around in the parking lot. I spotted an older man with greying hair squatting on the edge of the lot with his arms across his chest and his hands in his armpits. He was gazing off to the endless line of mountains extending into the distance. His very Bunun facial features gave me a sense of familiarity, and I was moved by how lonely he looked. “Tama, are you crossing the mountains to Taidong?” Our people always use the respectful term, “Tama” (father’s generation), to address older people. That is our custom.

“Yeah, our elder daughter who married a guy in Taidong is sick and she wants to see me. Where are you from?” When the old man heard the only language that he understood he sized me up happily. In no time we were chatting like long lost friends. I told him which social group I belonged to and my parent’s clan, making a point to tell him the Bunun name I was given when I was born in the village. A lot of older people don’t really understand the more recent use of Chinese names. For his part, the old man openly talked about his children’s recent affairs, how many daughter-in-law’s he had, and how cute and special his grandchildren were. He also gave me an animated account of what had happened in their village lately. But most of all, like all older Bunun men, it was stirring tales of the hunt that he talked about most. While recalling hunting