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《我不是藥神》:一個相關的小故事 ''Dying to Survive'': A Related Story

   According to IMDB, "Dying to Survive" is "a story on how a small drug store owner became the exclusive selling agent of a cheap Indian generic drug against Chronic Granulocytic Leukemia in China." The film is based on the real-life story of Lu Yong, a Chinese leukemia patient who smuggled cheap but unproven cancer medicine from India for 1,000 Chinese cancer sufferers in 2004.
   《我不是藥神》這部未映先熱的電影我還沒機會看。但關於它的一些影評和介紹,倒讓我想起九十年代中期在北京遇到的一件小事。
   On its opening day on July 5, 2018, the film topped the Chinese box office and grossed $49.71 million, including preview screenings. By the end of its opening weekend, the film had grossed $199.58 million, the fourth biggest opening weekend ever in China.
   那是一個灰蒙蒙的陰天,我打車出外辦事,順便跟出租車司機聊了起來。
   I heard that the authorities are trying to "cool down" the heated discussion about this film because its popularity draws attention to some very sensitive topics in China, such as the unreasonably high price of drugs and problems in the healthcare system.


   I have not had a chance to watch this movie yet, but hearing about it triggered a memory of a true story in the mid-1990s.
   他告訴我,最近剛剛被「買斷工齡」,相當於失業下崗了,因此來開出租爲生。
   On a gloomy day in Beijing, I was taking a taxi and having a chat with the driver. He'd worked for a state-owned factory from some 20 or 30 years, and was recently "dismissed" from the factory with a compensation of only some 30K RMB yuan (about $4,500). After that, the factory wouldn't pay him any pension or cover his medical bills. This was called "mai duan" in Chinese, which means his entitlement of a pension and medical care were "bought over" by the factory with 30K yuan.
   我問他什麼叫「買斷工齡」,他就說,他所在的國營企業付給他三萬元人民幣,就相當於把他之前在工廠裏服務的二、三十年的工齡全部「「買斷」了。「買斷」以後,工廠不會再付給他任何退休金,當然也不會再給他報銷藥費。他從此以後就算與其工廠「一刀兩斷」了。「買斷」中的「斷」字,就是這樣意思。
   This was a very typical story for people of his generation. They were sent to the countryside to receive "re-education" from the peasants during the Great Culture Revolution, suffered a lot of hardships there, had a lot of trouble finding their way back to the cities, and then worked at some state-owned factories. Their wages were extremely low as they were told that the government would look after them. They would be given free housing, free medical care, and could have a pension after they retired, so low wages were not too much of a problem at that time.
   看他的年齡,應該屬於「上山下鄉」那一代吧。這代人把青春和壯年時期都貢獻給黨了,到臨近退休、輪到黨按承諾的那樣來照顧他們時,黨卻一腳把他們踢出門外,用三萬塊錢把他們的一生都「買斷」了。
   But after some 20 or 30 years, the dominant voice in the society became "reforming and opening to the outside world". Many big state-owned factories went bankrupt or were "transformed" into other types of businesses. As a result, a lot of workers were laid off with little compensation. Decades of hard work was "bought over" with just 30K yuan.
   I asked the taxi driver, "Now that you have nowhere to find reimbursement for your medical bills, what will do if you get sick?"
   我問他:「那以後你生了病咋辦呢?」
   He said, "If I catch some minor ailments such as a cold, I'll just go to the drugstore to buy some drugs myself. However, if I am unfortunate enough to have a severe illness like cancer, I will just save the trouble of getting treatment and wait to die. As with those major illnesses, usually you'll die all the same after you spend all your money. So I'd rather leave my savings for my family."
   他說:「要是生點小病,就自己到藥店買點藥吃吃。要是生了大病,像癌症這種需要幾十萬、幾十萬往裏搭錢的那種,那我也不治了,就在家等死吧。因爲一旦攤上這種大病,基本都是錢花光了,人也該死了。還不如把這錢留給老婆孩子呢。」
   My heart sank with hearing this. He spoke about "waiting to die" with such a calm and normal tone of voice, as if it were just part of his daily routine. And there are tens of millions of people like him in China: silently suffering and contributing everything to the Communist Party before they are told to "wait to die". And yet they quietly accept it.
   他說得很平靜、很自然、很「豁達」,然而我的心卻往下一沉。在中共治下的中國,生命變得如此低賤、卑微,而響應黨的號召爲黨奉獻一生的「卑微又低賤」的人們,卻如此心平氣和、「心安理得」地接受這一切,不能不讓人的心往下沉。所以這麼多年了,我一直沒能忘了這個司機和這件小事。
   So it's no wonder why a film like "Dying to Survive" is attracting so much attention and resonates with Chinese audiences. Under the Communist rule, life has become so hard and is considered so cheap with people becoming indifferent to their own fates, that a film discussing the lives of the "expendable" people is indeed much needed.
   想起這個經歷,我一點也不奇怪,爲何《我不是藥神》這樣一部電影會走紅、然後再引起官方的關注而要求「降溫」。在現實生活中,人的命雖然很難一下子變得金貴起來,但有一部電影願意反映和表現「低賤」小人物們的生活狀況,也總好於完全被忽視。
(2018/07/10 发表)
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