Qiu Ju Goes to Court

Officer: Who are you looking for?

Qiu Ju: Officer Li.

Officer Li: Go on. Go on and sit down. Hey! You two go over there and sit down. I’ve got some work here to do. What is it you want?

Officer Li: “Wan Qinglai”. What’s the matter with Qinglai?

Qiu Ju: He’s been kicked by someone.

Officer Li: And you’re Qinglai’s wife?

Qiu Ju: Right.

Officer Li: Ai, the day Qinglai married I wasn’t able to make it. They all said Qinglai’s wife was rather beautiful. And that’s you! Hmm? Ai! And you’re expecting?! Sit! Sit! “The softer tissue on the right side is heavily bruised. And the left testicle has some mild contusions.” Qinglai is such an honest man. How could he be beaten so badly by someone? Who did it?

Qiu Ju: The village chief.

Officer Li: Who? Wang Shantang?

Qiu Ju: Right.

Officer Li: Why?

Qiu Ju: My family grows chilis. Oh, you know that. Right?

Officer Li: Right.

Officer: Hey Li! I’ll be taking this.

Officer Li: Sure.

Qiu Ju: My family grows chilis. You know that?

Officer Li: I know.

Qiu Ju: My family wants to build a storage shed, and all of the tile is ready. It’s just that the village chief won’t give us clearance. There’s really nothing we could do. So we contracted it to be built on our own land and poured the foundation to be built anyway. But the village chief still wouldn’t allow it. He.. He said there is some sort of law. We said that if there really is such a law he should show us the documents so we can move on. Just give us the documents to take a look at. He said he didn’t have to let us see them. He said that he has the document, and he won’t let us see them.

Officer Li: Enough, there really is such a law. The allocated land is for farming. If you put a building on top of that land... Well, what would you eat?

Qiu Ju: It’s not like the documents have it written down that they must fight. After all, he is the village chief. A couple of quarrels is fine, but one can’t just casually kick someone in such a sensitive area.

Officer Li: It does takes two to start a fight, but to recklessly start a fight for no reason? Why is that? Why?

Meizi: My brother wasn’t able to help it but to yell at him.

Officer Li: Who are you?

Meizi: Qinglai is my older brother.

Officer Li: What did your brother yell at him about?

Younger Sister: He said that in his next life he’ll be heirless but will have a horde of hens to raise. 

Officer Li: Ah, this is something Qinglai would say, isn’t it. Everyone knows that Wang Shantang has only four daughters and no son. What he said must have hit him deep in his heart to speak that way about his family. How could he bring this up?

Qiu Ju: Regardless how you put it, isn’t starting a fight still wrong? He’s the village chief, how can he just kick someone in such a sensitive area? We wanted him to apologize. He said it’s not his problem. If he’s been kicked then he’s been kicked. I said you kicked him, and if it’s not your problem then whose is it? You’re the village chief and you’ve kicked someone! You’re simply wrong!

Officer Li: That’s how it is then? Right?

Qiu Ju: Right.

Officer Li: I’ll have you know that he is certainly at fault for having assaulted someone.

Qiu Ju: He’s just wrong! How can he kick someone in such a sensitive area? Kicked apart! He!

Officer Li: Did I not just tell you? It is certainly his fault. How’s this. You go back home for now. I’ll come by your village in a couple days to mediate the situation. Okay?

Qiu Ju: Okay...

Officer Li: Both sides will need to do more self-criticism. Got it?

Qiu Ju: Right.

Officer Li: You go on home. I’ve still got a bit to do today. I’ll hold onto this for now.

Qiu Ju: When will you go?

Officer Li: I’ll leave in two days.

Qiu Ju: Good. Officer Li, please hurry.

Qiu Ju’s Father-in-law: See you, Officer Li. I won’t need to send for you.


Village Chief’s Daughter: Dad! Dad!

Villager: Little miss.

Villager: Officer Li, please come inside and warm up.

Officer Li: I’ve some business to speak of with Old Wang. Please wait outside.

Village Chief: What is it?

Officer Li: Wonderful maize you have!

Officer Li: I’ve taken a look at both the hospital records and Qinglai’s wounds. It was wrong for him to disrespect you, I’ve already criticized him about this. Yet no matter how you put it, you are the elder here and also the village chief. It is always wrong to assault someone.

Village Chief: We handle our affairs here according to the law.

Officer Li: It’s not like the law has it written that you can attack someone.

Village Chief: Think about this carefully. Why are you beating the matter with a stick?

Qiu Ju: But you’re the village chief! Throwing a few punches is nothing, but you can’t kick someone in such a sensitive area!

Village Chief: If he’s been kicked then he’s been kicked. Now that he’s been kicked he’s stopped going on about all that nonsense.

Officer Li: Fine, fine. Qiu Ju, wait outside. I’ve some things to speak of with the village chief.

Qiu Ju: Alright.

Officer Li: Old Wang, this matter will end here. Qiu Ju.

Qiu Ju: Hmm?

Officer Li: You see? This is how it is. It was wrong for him to hit someone, and we’ve scolded him for it. But what Qinglai said wasn’t very nice either. Both sides need to do some self-criticizing. As a result the mediation will be like this: hospital fees and fines for missed work will be the responsibility of Wang Shantang to pay. Altogether it’s 200 yuan. How do you feel about it?

Qiu Ju: We don’t want reimbursement, what we want is an apology!

Officer Li: He’s a stubborn old man and also the village chief. For better or worse, you should let him save some face. Furthermore, Qinglai’s wound isn’t that bad.

Qiu Ju: That still isn’t an apology.

Officer Li: He’s coughing up a lot of money for this, proving that he’s done you wrong. Does that not equal an apology? We’ll do it like this. Tomorrow, bring the medicine receipt, and let him make a copy of it. You two will settle the money matter face to face, and then it will be over.


Qiu Ju: Village chief.

Village Chief: Did you bring the receipt?

Qiu Ju: Yes, take a look.

Village Chief: In all it’s 200 yuan. Here, take it.

Qiu Ju: Village chief, what is the meaning of this?

Village Chief: The meaning? It isn’t that easy to get ahold of other people’s money.

Qiu Ju: I’m not just here today to settle the financial matter. I want justice.

Village Chief: Justice?Do you think I’m that soft? Officer Li took the time to come a long way and it wasn’t easy for him, so I allowed him to save some face. Right, there’s a total of twenty bills on the ground here. You take one and bow down to me. Take another one and bow down to me. When all twenty have been picked up, this will be over with.

Qiu Ju: This isn’t over when you say it is.


Qiu Ju: I wish to see Officer Li.

Officer: He’s gone to a meeting upstairs.

Qiu Ju: A meeting? When will he be back?

Officer: I’m not sure.


Qiu Ju: Things were over with. But he tossed the money on the floor and said some mean things. I just can’t accept this kind of apology.

Qinglai: Our family has never been very articulate at wording things. But we can’t make a move with things as they are. The rural roads aren’t easy to walk on, and you’re pregnant. I’m worried.

Qiu Ju: Huh? What’s there to worry about? If I’m going to lose the baby, even a cough might do it. If i’m not, even a rolling pin pressed up against my womb couldn’t pop it out.

Qinglai: Don’t forget to bring some money tomorrow.

Qiu Ju: We don’t have any cash at hand. Why not open up a chili cart?

Qinglai: It’s not time yet. I’m afraid the chilis won’t be able to sell for a high enough price right now.

Qiu Ju: With money or not, I don’t care. I just want an apology.

Original English translation by Patrick Nowlin, copyright 2012.