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被暴力碾碎的美国梦:在纽约街头遇袭惨死的华人女性

A Daring Dream and a Lifelong Love, Dashed in a Moment of Violence
被暴力碾碎的美国梦:在纽约街头遇袭惨死的华人女性

Their plans were bold, with no room for devastation.

他们的计划很大胆,不容破坏。

They would leave their hometown and journey 6,500 miles to New York City together and take jobs, any kind, that allowed them to send money back to family. Eventually, they would return to enjoy grandchildren whose college funds they had helped provide, whose futures would burn bright.

他们打算离开家乡,一起旅行上万公里到纽约,找工作,只要能给家里寄钱就行。最终,他们会回到孙辈们身边,孩子们靠他们的资助上了大学,前途一片光明。
 

“不管我去哪儿都带着你,”抵达美国后不久,高占新对妻子马桂英说。

GuiYing Ma and her husband, Zhanxin Gao, had ventured out of their city of Fushun, in northeastern China, only a handful of times.

马桂英和她的丈夫高占新生活在中国东北的抚顺,生平只出过几次远门。

They were both 56 years old, childhood schoolmates whose lives had been entwined for longer than their nearly four decades of marriage. Much of their existence had been one of frugality and labor — working at a steel factory, selling vegetables at a market. Neither had learned any English.

他们都是56岁,从小就是同学,他们的婚姻将近40年,而他们的人生交织在一起的时间甚至还要长。大半生里,他们的生活勤劳俭朴——在钢铁厂工作,在市场卖蔬菜。两人都没有学过英语。

But in 2017, they decided to apply for visas in hopes of making the kind of money that was out of their reach in China. They had one son and felt a duty to continue to support him and his children. “Everyone says the United States is the best, and we want to go to the best,” Mr. Gao told the visa officer at the interview.

但在2017年,他们决定申请签证,希望能赚到在中国赚不出来的钱。他们有一个儿子,觉得有责任继续支持他和他的孩子们。“大家都说美国是最好的,我们想去最好的地方,”高占新在面谈时告诉签证官。

Many warned the couple that they were too old, too inexperienced to travel abroad. But they could not resist a last chance at adventure.

许多人警告这对夫妇,他们年纪太大,没有经验,不能出国。但他们无法抗拒最后一次冒险的机会。

And so, that year in June, Mr. Gao and Ms. Ma arrived in Queens, two small graying figures with three suitcases.

就这样,那年6月,高占新和马桂英来到皇后区,两个头发花白的小人物,带着三个手提箱。

A day later, Mr. Gao was on a bus to Philadelphia. A friend had helped him land a job manning the fry station at a Chinese restaurant there. He was eager to start, and it came with free housing. After 11 days, he returned to his wife who had stayed behind.

一天后,高占新坐上了去费城的大巴。一个朋友帮他在那里的一家中餐馆找到了一份工作,负责油炸食物。他急于开始工作,而且还有免费住房。11天后,他回到留守的妻子身边。

When she saw him, Ms. Ma began to cry and embraced him. She had felt abandoned and afraid. Mr. Gao made a promise.

马桂英一见他就哭了,还拥抱了他。她感觉自己被抛弃了,非常害怕。高占新做了一个保证。

“I won’t leave you alone anymore,” he said. “Wherever I go, I’ll take you.”

“我再也不会丢下你一个人了,”他说。“不管我去哪儿都带着你。”

He ended up working for his landlord who ran a company that changed and cleaned grease filters in restaurant kitchens. Ms. Ma took a job at a bakery, but eventually stayed home, making breakfast and dinner for Mr. Gao whose days were grueling and long. Sometimes she took a $20 bus ride to a casino in Connecticut just to collect its $40 voucher that she could turn around and sell to someone else. Rigid about their finances, they waited for produce to go on sale, accepted donated clothes, picked up free meals at a nearby church.

最后他为自己的房东打工,这位房东开了一家公司,专为餐厅厨房更换和清洗油烟机。马桂英在一家面包店找到了一份工作,最终还是待在家里,为高占新做早餐和晚餐。有时她花20美元坐公交车去康涅狄格州的赌场,只为拿到40美元的代金券,然后转手卖给别人。他们在花钱方面很严格,等待产品甩卖,接受捐赠衣服,在附近的教堂领取免费餐食。

It was the bond between them that softened the landing. Mr. Gao had always liked how Ms. Ma was gentle but spirited. She had been the kind of girl who preferred sledding with the boys over jumping rope. In turn, she admired his humility and honesty, and how he cared for his younger brother and sister. They saw each other as equals, co-conspirators in a simple life.

他们之间的纽带使得安家变得轻松了许多。高占新一直很喜欢马桂英温柔活泼的样子。她以前是那种喜欢和男孩子一起玩雪橇而不是跳绳的女孩。反过来,她也钦佩他的谦虚诚实,以及他对弟弟和妹妹的关心。他们把对方看作是平等的,是简单生活里的同谋者。

Last fall, they had begun to talk about heading home.

去年秋天,他们开始谈论回家的事。

On the morning after Thanksgiving, after her husband left for work, Ms. Ma headed down three flights of stairs and out onto 103rd Street in the Corona neighborhood. She had taken to sweeping the sidewalks around a nearby vacant building owned by her landlord, a kind man whom she often plied with steamed buns and noodles. Tidying an area often strewn with trash was another way to show appreciation.

感恩节过后的一个早晨,丈夫去上班后,马桂英走下三层楼梯,来到科罗纳社区的103街。她开始清扫附近一栋空置大楼周围的人行道,大楼的主人是她的房东,一个善良的男人,她经常给他送馒头和面条。帮他整理一个经常散落垃圾的地方是另一种表达感激的方式。

Ms. Ma set off on her usual six-block journey, past the pawnshop and the laundromat with the blue awning and the Dominican restaurant and the Greek Orthodox church.

马桂英像往常一样走了六个街区,经过当铺、带蓝色遮阳篷的洗衣店、多米尼加餐厅和希腊东正教教堂。

She arrived at around 8 a.m. at the building on 38th Avenue, which was bordered by a green wooden fence inked with graffiti.

她在上午8点左右到达了位于第38大道的这栋大楼,大楼边上是一道布满涂鸦的绿色木栅栏。

Minutes later, Ms. Ma’s 61-year-old body lay unconscious on the ground, her face smeared with blood. Someone had bashed her head in with a rock.

几分钟后,61岁的马桂英躺在地上不省人事,脸上沾满鲜血。有人用石头砸了她的头。

‘I will take care of her’

“我会照顾她的”


The rhythm of violence involving victims of Asian descent has not slowed. Even as the nation has returned to prepandemic comforts — activities that offer a sense of normalcy and an assurance that a new era has dawned — the tally of victims grows.

涉及亚裔受害者的暴力事件没有放缓的迹象。即使全国已经恢复到大流行前的舒适状态——各种活动提供了一种正常的感觉,并保证一个新时代已经到来——但受害者人数仍在增加。

In January, Michelle Go, 40, was pushed to her death in front of a subway train in Times Square. The following month, Christina Yuna Lee, 35, was followed into her Chinatown apartment and fatally stabbed dozens of times. Two weeks later, in Manhattan, a man was arrested for striking seven women in the face.

今年1月,40岁的高慧民在时报广场地铁站内被推下站台致死。接下来的一个月,35岁的克里斯蒂娜·尤娜·李被尾随,在她的华埠公寓内被捅数十刀致死。两周后,在曼哈顿,一名男子因殴打七名妇女的面部而被捕。

By mid-March, the number of anti-Asian hate crimes recorded by the New York Police Department was double the total from the same period last year.

截至3月中旬,纽约警察局录得的反亚裔仇恨犯罪数量是去年同期的两倍。

Most attacks lack the specific evidence needed to be prosecuted as hate crimes. That has not assured a larger community on alert. Racism can be felt, even if not always proven.

大多数攻击缺乏作为仇恨犯罪起诉所需的具体证据。这没能说服一个处于戒备状态的大社区。种族主义是可以感觉到的,即使不一定能证明。

It is the older victims continuously swept up in this moment who are reminders of an unsettling truth: Even the most vulnerable will not be spared.

在这个时刻,不断被卷入其中的年长受害者提醒人们一个令人不安的事实:即使是最脆弱的人也不会被放过。

Which is why on the afternoon of Nov. 26, Mr. Gao, 61, found himself at Elmhurst Hospital stunned to find his wife in a coma. He looked at her bandaged head, the bruised eyes swollen shut, the dried blood along her hairline, and he wept uncontrollably.

正因如此,11月26日下午,61岁的高占新在埃尔姆赫斯特医院震惊地发现自己的妻子陷入昏迷。他看着她缠着绷带的头,淤青的眼睛肿胀着,发际线上有干了的血迹,他禁不住哭了起来。

“I was out of my mind at the time,” he recalled in Mandarin.

“那时候我快疯了,”他用普通话回忆道。

Ms. Ma soon went into surgery to address the bleeding in her brain. Part of her fractured skull was removed. She required a tracheotomy — an incision in her windpipe — to help her breathe. A tube was inserted in her head to remove fluid. Another went into her stomach to deliver food.

马桂英很快就接受了手术,以解决脑出血问题。她骨折的颅骨被切除了一部分。她需要做气管切开术——在气管上做一个切口——帮助她呼吸。她的头部插了一根管子以排出液体。另一根管子插入她的胃输送食物。

Even if she woke, the doctor said, the left side of her body would be paralyzed.

医生说,即使她醒来,她的左侧身体也会瘫痪。

“I will take care of her,” Mr. Gao vowed.

“我会照顾她的,”高占新发誓。

For weeks he visited to hold his wife’s hand and call out her name. He spoke of memories, their friends and family and studied her face for any flicker of life. “Wake up,” he implored. “Don’t you miss your grandchildren?”

一连几个星期,他都去看望妻子,握住她的手,呼唤她的名字。他谈起回忆、他们的朋友和家人,并仔细观察她的脸,看是否有任何生命的闪光。“醒醒,”他恳求道。“你就不想孙子孙女吗?”

Finally, in early February, Mr. Gao was thrilled to find that Ms. Ma’s eyes were open and that she could move her right arm and leg.

终于,在2月初,高占新兴奋地发现马桂英的眼睛睁开了,右臂和右腿也能活动了。

He called out instructions he thought might inspire her recovery. Straighten your leg. Blink your eyes. Move your fingers.

他喊出了一些他认为可能有助于她康复的指示。伸腿。眨眼睛。动动手指。

He delighted in any slight gesture that seemed a response. It’s OK, he encouraged. You’re tired. Take your time.

任何似乎是回应的轻微动作都让他感到高兴。没关系,他鼓励道。你累了。慢慢来。

Ms. Ma was improving. And although she lay expressionless, her eyes stared into his.

马桂英的情况在改善。尽管面无表情地躺着,她的眼睛却盯着他的眼睛。

“When I see you, I feel happy,” he told her. “Are you happy when you see me?”

“看见你我就高兴,”他跟她说。“你看见我高兴吗?”

An American escapade

一次美国式逃亡


They had been raised in government housing, the children of workers at an iron mine.

他们是铁矿工人的孩子,在政府住房中长大。

Mr. Gao stopped school after tenth grade. He took an exam to get into college but failed. Ms. Ma made it through ninth grade.

高占新在高一就辍学了。他参加了高考,但没有考上。马桂英读完了初中。

They were 22 when they married. The following year, under China’s one-child policy, they welcomed a son, Yang.

他们结婚时22岁。第二年,在中国的独生子女政策下,他们生下了儿子高扬(音)。

Ms. Ma stayed with their son while Mr. Gao worked at a steel factory. On weekends, they both helped farmers clear weeds from cornfields for less than a dollar a day. At dinner, Ms. Ma would insist she was not hungry so Yang could have an extra serving of meat.

高占新在钢铁厂工作时,马桂英和儿子住在一起。周末的时候,他们都帮助农民清除玉米地上的杂草,每天的收入不到六元人民币。晚餐时,马桂英总说她不饿,让高扬多吃点肉。

When kindergarten started, Yang was sent to school with a bottle of soda, cheaper than the apples and oranges other parents packed for their children. The family lived in rented rooms in houses, forced to move whenever an owner decided the extra space could not be spared. Eventually Ms. Ma joined Mr. Gao at the steel factory.

幼儿园开学时,高扬就带着一瓶汽水去上学,比其他家长给孩子带的苹果和橘子便宜。一家人住在租来的房子里,如果房东觉得房子不够住了,他们就得搬家。最终,马桂英也去了高占新的钢铁厂工作。

“Our life was just work,” Mr. Gao recalled. “There was no time for other things.”

“我们的生活就是工作,”高占新回忆。“没有时间干别的。”

When Yang got older, they used some of their savings to throw him a wedding and help him open a convenience store.

高扬长大后,他们用自己的一些积蓄为他举办了一场婚礼,还帮他开了一家便利店。

By 2017, Yang owned two taxis and was able to offer his children a modest life. He was bewildered when his parents presented their plan to head overseas and urged them to reconsider. But Mr. Gao and Ms. Ma wanted to provide for their grandson, 8, and granddaughter, 15, both of whom were excelling in school and could be the family’s first generation to go to college.

到2017年的时候,高扬已经有了两辆出租车,能够让孩子们过上还不错的生活。当父母提出他们要出国的计划时,他感到困惑,并劝他们再考虑考虑。但两人想给他们八岁的孙子和15岁的孙女更好的生活,两个孩子在学校都很优秀,有可能成为家里第一代大学生。

When he drove them to the airport, Yang begged his father to look after his mother. She had recently had a tumor removed from her kidney. Mr. Gao gave his word they would stay safe.

开车送他们去机场时,高扬央求父亲照顾好母亲。她最近切除了一个肾脏上的肿瘤。高占新保证他们会注意安全。

It was an exchange Mr. Gao would think of often during the months his wife lay in a bed that was not theirs. To drown his guilt during sleepless nights, he kept the television on, tuned to various Chinese dramas. If a medical scene appeared, he cried.

在妻子躺在家以外的床上的几个月里,高占新经常想到那段对话。为了在那些不眠之夜里淹没自己的负罪感,他一直开着电视,换台看各种中国电视剧。如果电视剧里出现医疗场景,他会哭。

His smoking increased to a pack a day, and he grew gaunt, eating mostly rice with eggs, one of the few meals he knew how to cook. Work helped keep his mind busy in between hospital visits and save for the plane tickets home. He envisioned himself tending to his wife in a wheelchair.

他的吸烟量增加到每天一包,他变得憔悴,主要吃蛋炒饭,这是他会做的少数几道菜之一。不在医院的时候,工作可以让他的大脑闲不下来,也能为回家的机票存钱。他设想自己照顾坐在轮椅上的妻子。

But on the night of Feb. 22, Mr. Gao was preparing for bed when he got a call. Ms. Ma’s heart was beating too fast. The doctor said to come right away. Mr. Gao rushed to the train that could get him to her in 15 minutes.

但2月22日晚上,高占新正准备睡觉时接到了电话。马桂英的心率过快。医生要他马上过来。高占新匆忙赶到地铁站,坐上了15分钟就能到达她身边的列车。

He was two stops away when his phone rang again.

列车行驶了两站后,他的电话再次响起。

His wife, the girl of his childhood, the accomplice in his American escapade, had died.

他青梅竹马的妻子,他的美国寻梦伙伴,已经离开人世。

The least we can do

尽我们的微薄之力


Elisaul Perez, 33, was arrested at the scene the day of Ms. Ma’s attack.

33岁的以利索尔·佩雷斯在马桂英遇袭当天在现场被捕。

An eyewitness told the police that Ms. Ma had been sweeping when Mr. Perez engaged her in an argument. Then, Mr. Perez picked up a rock and hit her on the head, which knocked her unconscious and sent her sprawling, according to court documents.

一名目击者告诉警方,马桂英正在扫地,佩雷斯和她发生了争执。然后,法庭文件显示,佩雷斯捡起一块石头打在她的头上,导致她昏迷不醒,瘫倒在地。

Video surveillance showed Ms. Ma being struck again with the same object while on the ground.

视频监控显示,马桂英在地上再次被同一物体击中。

Mr. Perez had multiple prior arrests, including for robbery, public lewdness and assault.

佩雷斯之前曾多次被捕,包括抢劫、公开猥亵和袭击。

In Ms. Ma’s case, Mr. Perez was charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon, but not with a hate crime, which often requires explicit evidence such as a racial slur. The Queens district attorney’s office is reviewing the charges in light of Ms. Ma’s death; Mr. Perez’s lawyer declined to comment for this article.

在马桂英的案件中,佩雷斯被指控袭击和非法持有武器,但不涉及仇恨罪,这通常需要明确的证据,例如种族诽谤。在马桂英死亡后,皇后区地方检察官办公室正在审查这些指控;佩雷斯的律师拒绝就本文置评。

The absence of a tidy title has not troubled Mr. Gao, who only hopes his wife’s attacker will be thoroughly punished. Back home he had identified as Chinese, not Asian, and had not thought much about race.

高占新并不关心能不能定一个明确的罪名,他只希望妻子的袭击者能够得到充分惩罚。在他的祖国,他的身份认同是华人,而不是亚裔,也没有过多考虑种族问题。

What has greatly surprised him here though is how Asian Americans could feel connected to him, how a community could rally support for a man with no means to pay it back.

不过,在这里让他非常惊讶的是,亚裔美国人可以感受到与他的连结,以及一个社区可以如此努力地为一个人争取支持,即使他无力回报。

There was the artist who drew a picture of Ms. Ma that helped news of her plight spread across social media. The nonprofit that donated an iPad and virtual therapy lessons. The Buddhist social workers with advice about rehabilitation. The attorneys who established a trust for the GoFundMe money and arranged a visit from a neurologist. The vigils, the memorials, the messages.

有一位艺术家为马桂英画了一幅肖像,帮助在社交媒体上宣传她的不幸。一个非盈利组织捐赠了iPad和线上治疗课程。佛教社会工作者提供了康复建议。律师们为GoFundMe上募集的资金建立信托,并安排神经科医生看诊。人们举办守夜活动,纪念活动,发来慰问信息。

Yihung Hsieh, the couple’s landlord, posted updates to the GoFundMe about Ms. Ma’s progress in English and Chinese. It raised more than $200,000, much of it coming from Asian contributors.

这对夫妇的房东谢宜宏(音)在GoFundMe上用中文和英文发布了关于马桂英的最新情况。这个网站上筹集了超过20万美元,其中大部分来自亚裔人士。

“It breaks my heart to see this happen to someone that could have been my mom,” wrote one donor.

“看到这件事发生在像我妈妈那样的人身上,让我感到心碎,”一位捐赠者写道。

Mr. Hsieh, 47, served as Mr. Gao’s voice, accompanying him to the hospital and the grand jury proceedings, translating calls from the authorities. When he was not available, other volunteers stepped in.

47岁的谢宜宏担任了高占新的代言人,陪同他前往医院和出席大陪审团程序,翻译当局的电话。当他不在时,由其他志愿者代替。

“As second-generation Asian Americans, it’s the least we can do,” said Fulton Hou, 28, a Flushing resident who sometimes interpreted for Mr. Gao. “We don’t want these attacks to go unnoticed and these lives lost in vain.”

“作为第二代亚裔美国人,这是尽我们的微薄之力,”28岁的法拉盛居民富尔顿·侯(音)说,他有时会为高占新翻译。“我们不希望这些攻击被忽视,让这些生命白白逝去。”

Representative Grace Meng advocated for Mr. Gao at the hospital, which she said agreed to relieve him of unwieldy bills. She also coordinated an effort with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to intervene when a visa was initially denied to Mr. Gao’s son who hoped to see his mother one last time.

议员孟昭文在医院为高占新呼吁,她说医院同意免除他繁重的账单。高战新的儿子希望见母亲最后一面,但签证最初被拒绝,孟昭文与众议员亚历山大·奥卡西奥-科尔特斯出面干预了此事。

At the funeral in March, Yang Gao, 39, could not contain his grief. He bowed and collapsed to his knees in front of his mother’s coffin, his cries loud and anguished. He had come, he said, to take her home.

3月的葬礼上,39岁的高扬无法抑制自己的悲痛。他在母亲的灵柩前弯下腰,跪倒在地,大声痛哭。他说,他来了,来接她回家。

What they left behind

他们将爱留下


Mr. Gao will depart for China this month, a widower, with his son and the ashes of a woman who deserved a peaceful end.

高占新将于本月启程回中国,带着他的儿子和一个本应有善终的女人的骨灰。

He harbors deep regret about coming here.

他对来到这里深深感到后悔。

But it was not all darkness.

但这里并不全是黑暗。

On their own in New York, the couple found their love for each other magnified.

在纽约,这对夫妇单独相处时,发现他们对彼此的爱放大了。

On weekends, they stuck close, every errand and chore done together. Mr. Gao would insist on making dumplings with Ms. Ma, not wanting to leave her alone with the painstaking task. They would stand side-by-side in the kitchen while he shaped bits of dough and she filled each one with pork and cabbage.

在周末,他们形影不离,每件小事和家务都一起完成。高占新会坚持和马桂英一起包饺子,不想让她一个人承担这项艰巨的任务。他们会并排站在厨房里,他擀皮,她则在每个面皮中包入猪肉白菜馅。

Together, they managed to see up close the New York City of their dreams. A friend spent a summer day escorting them to Times Square and Central Park and the churches on Fifth Avenue. Ms. Ma marveled over the sights and wondered aloud why she had not been born here, why this could not have been the scenery of her younger life.

他们努力地想近距离地看看梦想中的纽约市。一个朋友花了一个夏天的时间陪他们去时报广场、中央公园以及第五大道的教堂。马桂英惊叹于眼前的场景,不禁感叹为什么她没有出生在这里,为什么早年生活的风景不是这样。

There is also brightness in the imprint Mr. Gao and Ms. Ma left here. Their world may have been small, limited by language and lifestyle, but they altered it in rich ways.

高占新和马桂英留在这里的印记也有光芒。受到语言和生活方式的限制,他们的世界可能很小,但他们努力让生活丰富多彩。

Mr. Hsieh, the landlord, quickly grew attached to the couple. His own mother had died of cancer, and in Ms. Ma he saw a maternal figure who would check in on him and slip him food. And Mr. Gao was trustworthy and reliable, someone he enjoyed working with each day, sharing stories about their lives.

房东谢宜宏很快就对这对夫妇产生了好感。他自己的母亲死于癌症,而在马桂英身上,他看到了一个母亲的影子,她会看望他并给他食物。高占新值得信赖且为人可靠,是一个他愿意每天一起共事、分享人生故事的人。

“Both of them are kind and have integrity,” Mr. Hsieh said. “There’s not many people like that.”

“他们俩都很正直善良,”谢宜宏说。“这样的人不多。”

Ms. Ma would also bring food to her friend Mary Zhang and stay to clean her house. The two had become friends when Ms. Ma first landed in Queens, and they were both from the same province of Liaoning. Ms. Zhang, 66, was unable to move around well, so Ms. Ma tried to show up regularly to help with chores. Ms. Ma had also happily watched Ms. Zhang’s granddaughter after school. She always refused payment.

马桂英还会给她的朋友玛丽·张带来食物,并留下来打扫她的房子。马桂英刚到皇后区时,两人就成了朋友,他们都来自辽宁。66岁的玛丽·张行走不便,所以马桂英尝试定期来她家帮助做家务。放学后,马桂英也很愿意照看玛丽·张的孙女。她总是拒绝为此收钱。

“She told me, ‘Don’t worry, we’re Chinese, we’re like sisters,’” Ms. Zhang said in Mandarin. “I have been in the U.S. for 25 years, and I have never had a friend like her.”

“她告诉我,‘别担心,我们都是中国人,我们就像姐妹一样,’”玛丽·张用普通话说。“我在美国已经25年了,我从未有过像她这样的朋友。”

Perhaps it could be seen as Ms. Ma’s undoing, this eagerness to be of service that led her to sweep the sidewalk on a fateful morning last fall.

正是这种服务他人的热情,促使她在去年秋天那个致命的早晨清扫人行道,也许是这种热情为她种下了祸根。

Or maybe it is this trait that made her brilliant and exceptional, memorable for far more than a violent death.

或者,也许正是这种特质使她卓越,闪耀着人性的光辉,留在人们心中的不仅仅是一场暴力死亡。
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