It’s a slower chapter but a necessary one as a plot device. The entanglement with Cheng Zheng takes a backseat as Yun Jin suffers an emotional blow.
Rumours are strange things. The more you tried to clarify them, the murkier they became. Conversely, if one could steel their nerves and answer coolly with a so what if it’s real?, rumours would lose their gossip draw.
Cheng Zheng and Su Yun Jin’s rumours were no exception. Even after being swept up in the gossip squall and meeting with the teacher, both of them still staunchly declined to make a comment. Old Sun had intervened and switched their seats so the two of them had even less contact than before. Eventually, the excitement died down and the matter passed.
June was the city’s monsoon season. The start of the national college entrance examinations was fast approaching and similar to the tense atmosphere before a storm, the students were anxious and unnerved. But in Yun Jin’s world, a lightning bolt of a different form had shattered her universe.
News from home had arrived; her father’s liver disease was diagnosed to be end-stage liver cancer. Originally, both mom and dad had teamed up to keep her in the dark but unfortunately at this critical academic juncture, her father’s condition had taken a turn for the worse. Not only did his condition fail to improve after admission to a hospital, it was no longer responsive to curative treatment so palliative care was commenced.
Seeing that they could not hide it any longer and not bearing to keep a father from seeing his beloved child one last time, Su Yun Jin was summoned home in a phone call twenty days before the examinations.
When she returned to school a week later, there was a conspicuous black thread on her uniform indicating the death of a loved one. She didn’t pour out her grief to anyone; her daily schedule of self-revision, mealtimes and sleeping times were unchanged. But her eyes betrayed her loss, and her face was drained of colour.
It was unclear how it came about but her family was mired in heavy medical bills. With her mother’s retrenchment and immense grief, she too had fallen ill and the news reached the school. Old Sun informed the school board of the unfortunate situation and it was decided that a fund-raiser would be held.
Naturally, Yun Jin’s classmates were the most generous. Although their allowance was not much, they were generous in donating. In fact, they had organised a special ceremony where Yun Jin stood on the podium and received the donations formally from their class representative Meng Xue who softly consoled her with a few words.
Yun Jin had received the envelope with both hands, taken a deep bow and expressed her gratitude when there was a sudden flash. The school photography club had captured the touching moment of the close-knitted class stepping up for one of their own in need; this had to be included in the school newsletter!
From start to end, Yun Jin’s eyes were downcast and no one could read her expression under the shadow of her long lashes.