This chapter finally enlightens us on dear Yun Jin’s point of view. While most of us have been firmly backing Cheng Zheng, I must say that her perspective makes sense too. Dammit.
Now I’m confused, which protagonist am I hurting for?
The dreaded examinations finally descended upon them in the thick of a storm and passed by in a whirl of 2.5 days. Looking back, it felt surreal; all the hardships, anxiety, endurance of Year Three came to a head in a matter of 2.5 days.
The night the examinations ended, the majority of their graduating class took the initiative to hold wild, celebratory parties. Cheng Zheng’s class booked the suite of a nearby karaoke lounge. Although it was only meant to hold thirty-odd people, they squeezed in fifty.
It was a heartening view. The relief and perhaps disappointment of completing the examinations finally had a channel of release. The atmosphere was high and many rounds of beer were ordered. Even Old Sun was a little tipsy on the couch.
After a few boys had grabbed the mike and sang-shout, the melancholic tune of Red Dust started to play. One boy yelled “Cheng Zheng, here’s the song you chose.”
Cheng Zheng stood up and received the mike. A few boys started to cat-call and tease “It’s a duet … Who’ll the female singer be? Quick, pick one!”
Su Yun Jin who had been sitting quietly in a corner, hadn’t fully grasped the situation when numerous hands dragged her out from the shadows. What was worse was some boorish boy even gave a finishing shove causing her to lose her balance and colliding straight into a person standing in the middle of the dimly lit room. The person she staggered into was quick to steady her and that was met with a deafening round of whistling and cheering.
Su Yun Jin couldn’t care about the ache in her forehead from the collision and was so mortified she couldn’t decide if it was more appropriate to say “Thank you” or “I’m sorry”.
While she was still scrambling to find her balance, she was already thinking of pulling free of the person. However, in the midst of her struggling, she felt a hand grab hers opportunistically. Even though it was a split second, she could feel the tension in the sweaty palms which were shaking ever so slightly, as though it took the person all his energy to hold onto her.
It was as if Yun Jin was under a trance as she permitted him to continue gripping her hand. While in reality the contact was over in a few seconds, Yun Jin felt that time had stopped still then. The hand eventually released its hold and Yun Jin looked up to see Cheng Zheng’s collected expression.
Wordlessly, he extended the mike in his other hand to her.
Yun Jin’s right hand quivered before balling into a fist. She took a step back and avoided his gaze before saying with traces of apology “I’m sorry. I don’t know how to sing this song.” The dim lighting cast dancing shadows on Cheng Zheng’s chiselled features, alternately illuminating and darkening it. However, his stoic expression remained the same and the mike was still extended in the air and he showed no inclination of lowering it.
Everyone knew that something was off but they could only look at each other in askance. No one had any idea how to break up the awkward atmosphere.
“What a coincidence. It’s my favourite song!” A slender arm emerged from behind Cheng Zheng and took the microphone. Meng Xue tilted her head and smiled widely at the screen as though she had not witness what had happened.
Yun Jin said softly “Excuse me, I need to go to the washroom.” She turned abruptly and tried to squeeze between Cheng Zheng and the tea table. He was rooted to the ground and made no attempt to move as though unwilling to pave the way for her to walk. Her shoulders collided sharply into his tensed arm, causing her to ache.
Leaving the deafening lounge, it felt like a whole other peaceful world outside.
“… The initial laidback you
and the carefree me of my younger years
The red dust of passion eagerly swirling
It might have been the forces of the universe
Or the consequence of our previous reincarnations
Regardless, I’ll forfeit everything just to meet you again…”
Through the shut door, she could make out the faint lyrics. This was Yun Jin’s favourite Luo Da You song. She never dared to sing openly but would only occasionally hum it. So he knew …
She took in a sharp breath. Since she was out, she might as well use the washroom for real. Just as she rounded the corner to the washroom, Yun Jin once again collided into a person and she gasped in pain.
She rubbed her tender shoulders and looked up to see a familiar face. Zhou Zi Yi’s usual smirk was replaced with a shocked and unsettled expression. Even after recognizing Yun Jin, he didn’t apologise but dashed past Yun Jin as though making a hasty escape. Yun Jin turned the corner mystified and saw Mo Yu Hua’s silhouette.
Yun Jin could roughly make sense of what had happened. She took a few steps towards Mo Yu Hua and asked “Yu Hua, what are you doing here all by yourself?”
Hearing a familiar voice, Mo Yu Hua turned to face Yun Jin her eyes glistening in tears. “You saw everything right? He … reacted as if he faced a monster.”
Yun Jin sighed inwardly and walked quietly to her roommate’s side. After a bout of silence, she asked “You really confessed?”
Mo Yu Hua refused to meet her gaze and smiled bitterly “So stupid of me right.”
“You might feel better if you cry it out.” Yun Jin felt sorry for her.
“No, I don’t want to cry.” Mo Yu Hua said slowly. “I had expected this. I never hoped for there to be any outcome between us because even I knew it was impossible. Really. I was only thinking of using the washroom when I bumped into him. He was tipsy. I told myself, this could be my last chance to tell him that a girl had a crush on him for the past three years and that this same girl would look at him from afar. This girl was neither pretty nor bright and maybe he never once noticed her, but she was just like any other girl nursing a crush. When I finished, he ran.”
She paused and struggled to fix a smile on her face. “I just don’t want to graduate with this secret unrevealed because I may never see him again. Now he knows and I’ve accomplished what I wanted. What is there to be sad over?”
Yun Jin was a mixture of emotions. Even then, the faint traces of the song still haunted her “.. It’s easier to grab hold but holder to let go … My heart should have been yours but it’s still caged within me …” Meng Xue’s voice was melodious. Even from a distance, it was moving. Her voice was a perfect complement to Cheng Zheng’s and was further evidence of their compatibility.
Mo Yu Hua had already taken her leave. Yun Jin hurriedly escaped into the washroom, unwilling to listen to them sing any further.
Standing in front of the mirror, Yun Jin slapped cold water onto her face before scrutinizing her dripping wet reflection. She didn’t have Mo Yu Hua’s courage so she had to protect herself. Who cares if she was a hermit, as long as she was not hurt. She also lacked Mo Yu Hua’s clarity as she reasoned that once she gave him her heart she would never have it back unbroken. Hence, she would rather not have anything to do with him.
While she never once brought it up, she hadn’t forgotten the kiss that night, the kiss that burned with passion which kept her transfixed even after it long passed. No one’s heart was made of steel, certainly not hers. For a long period, she kept asking herself why he chose her from the many girls around. Of course she knew that love was unconditional and she could easily accept him just as Cinderella met and secured her prince. But the crux of the matter was, she was unwilling to be Cinderella.
Who ordained that Cinderella must be rescued by a prince? The fairytale only spoke of their happily ever after but had anyone ever considered how superficial their happiness was? No one had stopped to ask if Cinderella was willing. It seemed as though the moment her foot slipped into the glass slipper, she had no choice but to follow the prince gratefully back to his castle and live eternally in accordance with the royal rules. If it wasn’t for his rescue, she might have had to continue washing the laundry in the icy lake. But, what if Cinderella was meant to meet an ordinary fisherman that way? What if they fell in love and she was able to live with him, away from the clutches of her evil step-family? Then the world would not have their Cinderella princess but a mere woman who was loved by a simple fisherman.
And she, Su Yun Jin, despite her reticence and low self-esteem, was her own princess. She didn’t want to be in a high profile relationship where the two leads were oddly imbalanced in social standing. She didn’t want to be that Cinderella and endure talk of “How fortunate Su Yun Jin is that Cheng Zheng should fancy her.” Why didn’t anyone once mention how lucky Cheng Zheng was to like someone like Yun Jin? Each blossom is unique in this world. Cheng Zheng may be everyone’s ideal man but even if she was merely a roadside wild flower, she was still special in her own right.
When her father had passed away and her family in dire straits, it proved her mentality right. She was grateful to him as she was towards every classmate that had lent a helping hand. When Meng Xue passed her that envelope and informed her sweetly “Su Yun Jin, we are all very sad for your loss. Cheng Zheng and I have donated our entire month’s allowance to you”, Yun Jin knew that it was impossible between Cheng Zheng and her. She could politely and humbly receive the good intentions of strangers but she never wanted the handout of someone she loved, absolutely not!