Episode 198: Shadowless

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Today we will talk about a story of a person with no shadow. The story is from the book ErShiLu 耳食录 from the Qing dynasty around the 18th century.

In the book, it says there was a scholar called Deng Yi 邓乙in his 30s but his had no wife. Every night, they sat in his room alone with a single night felling lonely and depressed.

One night, he was sitting under the light and saw his shadow on the wall. He started to murmur, “we have been together from so long, how can you not make me happy?”

After the words, the shadow jumped out of the wall and said, “yes sir!” Deng Yi was shocked. The shadow smiled and said, “you want me to make you happy but you can’t say how.” After a long pause, Deng Yi tried to keep calm and asked slowly, “I don’t know what you can do.” The shadow said, “anything you wish.”

Deng Yi said, “I have been by myself all these years. I have no friends. I want a great young friend who can talk with me to spend the long dark night. Can you do that?” The shadow said, “a piece of cake.” So the shadow transformed into an outstanding young gentleman. Deng Yi was pleased.




They talked a while. Deng Yi asked the shadow to transform to an official. The shadow did so. Deng Yi pretended to be polite and made a bow. They had fun doing such a cosplay.

After a while, Deng Yi asked, “can you be a beautiful lady?” The shadow nodded and became a gorgeous girl. Deng Yi stared at the girl for a while and lay on the bed with the girl for a whole night.

Since then, when the sun set, the light was on, the shadow would show up and transformed to anything Deng Yi wanted and played and spent time with him. Day after day, the shadow could leave Deng Yi during the daytime also and be his companion. Deng Yi started to become a little maniac since he lived the the illusions his shadow made for him. He was the only person that could see his shadow’s transformations so people were curious. Deng Yi finally told people what was going on with his shadow.

People saw his shadow and found the shadow wasn’t matching Deng Yi’s body. It sometimes sat sometimes stood. The shape of the shadow sometimes looked like a male sometimes looked like a female. When they asked Deng Yi, his answer was different from the shadow they saw. People thought it must be an evil spirit.

After many many years, one day, the shadow came to say goodbye to Deng Yi. Deng Yi asked the shadow where it was going. The shadow said, “the Mountain YuCi 寓次之山 thousands of thousands miles away”. I don’t know where this mountain is. But the character Yu 寓 means residency or place of living. Ci 次 means places to stay when traveling. So the destination could be the place for shadows to live or stay. Deng Yi cried and sent his shadow to the door. The shadow flew away with the wind and disappeared. After that moment, Deng Yi became a shadowless man.



耳食录 ErShiLu


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