Our friend, Little Winter has started up her own blog and is writing her own original fiction. Pop over and give her some encouragement. 🙂
And here is the official kick-off of the translation for Beautiful Bones!
I am translating from the published version of the book. From what I’ve seen, the differences between the published hardcopy book and the online version is largely just word smithing. A noticeable difference is, this first post here was actually the prologue that Mo Bao Fei Bao wrote when she first posted the story online. In the published book, it got incorporated into chapter 1. (So if it feels introductory, well, it was meant to be. :P)
Chapter 1.1 – The Unfathomable Past (1)
The rain came down in a continuous drizzle, causing Xi’an to seem like misty Jiangnan.
Shi Yi was leaning against the window and watching the street signs that were speeding by.
“What would you like to eat?” Hong Xiaoyu, who was sitting beside her, smiled and opened up the map that had been previously folded up into a small leaflet. On her mobile phone, she was flipping through various food guides while at the same time, planning out their route for after they checked-in to their hotel.
“Let’s finish up the interview you’re doing first, alright?” Shi Yi reminded her laughingly. The young videographer beside her had been playing with his camera, and when he heard this, he too let out a laugh.
The three of them stepped out of the car, walked through a quiet street, and passed by several houses that were scattered in the area until at last they found the place they were looking for.
The person who opened the door was a young girl, who appeared not much older than twenty. Hong Xiaoyu’s interviewee was this girl’s husband, a very simple and honest-looking man.
When they were all inside the house, the couple shyly invited Shi Yi and the others to have a seat.
“Don’t be nervous. Just treat this like a casual conversation,” Hong Xiaoyu told them with a warm smile and motioned for the man to sit in front of her.
It was a dreary, rainy day, and the room was very dim.
There was only a single lamp, placed between the interviewer and interviewee, that gave off a yellow light.
As the interview progressed with an answer given for each question asked, Shi Yi gradually got to understand the story.
The man before them came from a very poor place, and after working hard and diligently for several years, he managed to make a little bit of money. However, he did not keep a penny of it for himself and instead invested it all in the education of the people of his hometown, helping families that were even poorer than him.
He had no riches or estate of his own, no house under his name.
Yet, he was a man of noble character.
However, the reason why this story attracted the attention of the media was because of his young wife. This pretty girl there before them was actually a university graduate and also came from the man’s hometown. It was because she saw his story in the news that she sought him out and then married him.
The first half of the story was very touching, but the second half was truly unexpected.
Such gloomy, damp weather and there was no form of heating installed in the room.
Shi Yi and Hong Xiaoyu had been sitting the whole time, and their hands and feet had long since become ice-cold.
Fortunately, the interview was coming to an end, and Hong Xiayu finally turned toward the girl. “Based on normal standards, your husband really cannot be considered a good spouse whom one would want to entrust the rest of her life to. What are the next steps and plans the two of you have?”
The girl smiled and turned her eyes to the man. “We both have the ability to earn money and our bodies are healthy. After we return home in a couple of years, we will definitely live a very good life. And what’s more,” the girl laughed lightly, “I am not worried that he will do anything that will hurt me. He is a good man.”
The young wife’s words concluded the interview for today.
Business was finished.
They went to a nearby Mi Family Paomo. It was a very small eatery, crowded shoulder to shoulder with people, and its setting was very noisy, but business was exceptionally good. While she ate, Shi Yi allowed her gaze to wander her surroundings, and she discovered there were people who were actually holding a bowl and standing off to the side, breaking their “mo” flatbread into little pieces as they waited patiently for a seat to open up.
A Mi Family Paomo restaurant in Xi’an. Photo credit
Hong Xiaoyu was also following suit, breaking her bread into small chunks. “After seeing today’s interview, do you have any particular words you want to say to express your feelings?”
Shi Yi burst out with a laugh. “Do you want to start a blog and you’re just missing some introductory words to write?”
“Hey, you stupid woman.” Hong Xiaoyu shot a glare at her. “Hurry up and just tell me.”
Shi Yi took a sip of her soup, then thought for a moment before answering. “Most people’s eyes are shallow, seeing only the skin-deep appearance and not the ‘bones,’ the appearance of the inside. This young girl is rare indeed for she could see the intrinsic nature of this man.”
With an “oh,” Hong Xiaoyu said, “That sentence sounds really meaningful. I like it.” She added some spicy flavoring to her soup and then suddenly thought of something. “You said yesterday, that researcher or something that you met in the Guangzhou airport is going to be in Xi’an these next few days as well?”
There was still food in Shi Yi’s mouth and she answered in a somewhat unclear voice, “His university has recently been doing a knowledge exchange on a project with the Chinese Academy of Science, so he is here on a business trip.”
“Truthfully, I can’t see what’s so special about this person. His looks are just average, too. I never would have thought that you would actually take the initiative to meet him.” Hong Xiaoyu grinned at her. “This is what they supposedly mean when they say he is ‘to your liking’?”
She cast a weary glance at Hong Xiaoyu. “I just want to get to know him. I don’t have any ill intentions……”
Before she could finish what she was saying, she felt a slight weight on her shoulder. A man’s hand was resting on it.
Hong Xiaoyu allowed her gaze to move upward from the beautiful hand, and then, she could not help laughing inwardly: What a coincidence, it was the person the two of them had just been talking about.
There was a strong scholarly sense emitted from this man’s face. His appearance and facial features were very ordinary. One could not say he was ugly, yet he was not handsome either. He was someone whose appearance did not leave an impression and was easy to forget. He was wearing a white coat that could be commonly seen in any laboratory but the buttons were not done up such that the coat was wide open, exposing the button-up shirt and trousers that were underneath.
Very neat and clean in appearance. There was nothing whatsoever that was inappropriate or wrong, just that he did not fit in at all with their current surroundings.
Shi Yi still had a mouthful of soup she had not swallowed as she stared dazedly at him.
She very biasedly thought that his looks were very good; they were not very intimidating. Besides that scholarly air that seemed to give off a very slight sense of aloofness, this face could not be any better or make one feel any more comfortable.
He removed his hand in a deliberate manner and then sat down, placing his wrists on the edge of the table as he said, “Such a coincidence.”
Before he had finished speaking, he was already gently waving down the owner of the restaurant.
“’Most people’s eyes are shallow, seeing only the skin-deep appearance and not the bones, the appearance of the inside.’” Only after the owner had answered him did he once again look at Shi Yi. “This sentence is true indeed.”
 江南. Jiangnan is the region south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and encompasses parts of the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Anhui. This region is known for its mild but rainy weather. It is also recognized for its beauty, from its natural landscape of lakes and green hills, often shrouded in an enchanting mist, to the gardens, water towns, arching bridges, and pavilions.
三秦大地 “san qin da di.” Upon the fall of the Qin Dynasty, eighteen feudal states were created. Three of these feudal states were granted to three former generals of the Qin Dynasty, and hence, these together became known as the “Three Qins.” The Three Qins occupied basically what is now the present day province of Shaanxi and hence nowadays, is synonymous with it. This area is historically rich, and there are many relics left over. Relics remaining from the ancient city of Chang’an (which was located in and around present-day Xi’an) can be seen within Xi’an and surrounding area.
 长安. Ancient capital city of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history. It is now the present day city of Xi’an.
米家泡馍. “Mi Jia Paomo.” Paomo is a food from Shaanxi cuisine and would be considered “everyday food”, especially popular in the city of Xi’an. The “mo” is a type of flat bread that the customer tears up himself and then the pieces are “pao” or soaked in usually a mutton soup. It is said that the Mi Family is one of the families that made the best and most authentic form of this dish. However, which is the original “Mi Family” restaurant, no one knows anymore. All around the city of Xi’an, there are several Mi Family Paomo restaurants, each claiming to be the original, that are extremely busy. The paomo restaurants in Xi’an are akin to diners or little eateries with local flair in the Western world.
“Mo” – flat bread that is ripped up into the soup. Photo credit
“Paomo” – little pieces of ripped up “mo” soaked in soup (this particular one is beef). Photo credit
1 of 1 Prologue
1 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues