Exactly one year ago, I made my first post on this blog. This update also marks my 99th post here. Thanks to all the readers who have followed along, be it with Really, Really Miss You, My Sunshine recaps, or here with Beautiful Bones and allowing me to share my favourites with you. 🙂 And of course, my thanks to my favourite Peanuts and our missing landlord, Hui3r for sharing their blog with me.
Speaking of favourites, my Really, Really Miss You books (yes, it is “books” plural… I bought 2 because I love it so much!) arrived! WAAAAAAAAH! Unfortunately, I will have to post the epilogue translation much later (timing is approximately October) because it has a spoiler for Beautiful Bones’s ending in there, so for now, all I’ll say is, “OMG OMG OMG, I love the epilogue!! It’s too cute!!! <3”
And now… if you haven’t gotten the hint yet, things are not as they seem when it comes to Zhousheng Chen’s family.
Chapter 7.1 – Eighteen Prayer Beads (1)
These ancient library towers inevitably contained many stories.
This one that was before her now, she did not know how many people had come and gone through it or how many love stories it kept hidden inside. But this place was Jiangnan and that ancient library tower of the past that was held in her memory had once stood far away in the northwest regions. It had long ago returned to the dust.
Zhou Wenxing pulled out an old, long copper key and opened the lock.
Perhaps out of worry that Shi Yi was someone who had a need for cleanliness, as she pushed open the door, she explained to her that everyday this place was cleaned by a dedicated person so there would not be any dust. “Oh right, are you allergic to dust or any flowers or plants?”
Shi Yi shook her head.
“My big brother has allergies to dust as well as flowers and plants.” Zhou Wenxing gave a low chuckle.
Shi Yi nodded. “Noted. Our home in the future will be completely dust free and we will not grow any plants.”
Zhou Wenxing laughed, “His allergies aren’t really that serious.” She suddenly dropped her voice and whispered, as if she was siding with Shi Yi, “If you ever get in a fight with him, just make him smell some flowers and then small red bumps will pop up on his body. Not a lot of them, but it’s especially comical to see.”
Shi Yi seriously had doubts whether this girl in front of her was truly studying medicine. Even she knew that allergies were not something to be ignored, and although most allergic reactions were not severe, when they actually were, they could be very scary.
Inside, there indeed was not a speck of dust to be found.
All along the way, from the first floor to the third, it was as if Shi Yi was admiring ancient artifacts. From the decorative accents in every corner to the engravings in the wood that could be seen when she lifted her head, everything was fascinating to her. Zhou Wenxing did not appear to have much interest in ancient Chinese literature and could not provide any explanations or backgrounds of anything, so she simply let Shi Yi walk to the top level. Because it was an ancient building, the tower soared tall at a height of ten zhang [approximately 32 metres].
The east and south sides of the tower had top hung windows that opened outward. Books and manuscripts of every description filled the dozen or more rows of shelves. There were scrolls as well as bound books. It was fortunate there were no scrolls of bamboo slips, otherwise she truly would have started to suspect which era she was in.
Zhou Wenxing answered a phone call, but because the mobile reception was not very good, she hastily ran downstairs.
Shi Yi was standing by the bookshelves and had randomly picked up a book when she heard footsteps.
Soon, Zhousheng Chen appeared at the top of the stairs, his hand resting on the end of the carved, wooden handrail. Through the gaps of a three metre high bookshelf, he quickly saw her. “Are there any books that you like?”
“I just arrived not long ago.” She set down her book. “Didn’t you say there were some family matters you needed to take care of?”
“They are finished now.” He smiled faintly, “The remaining issues between the various wives of the cousins and cousin-brothers should not require my involvement.”
His expression was composed, but his voice still carried hints of awkwardness
These issues were, after all, simply conflicts in the family and indeed did not require him to provide the resolution.
As a result, he had quickly departed, and even his pace had been somewhat brisk. He wanted only to find Shi Yi and see, when she saw this gift, what sort of reaction she would have. But now that he was looking at her, he realized her response was not important.
With her back facing the window, the tranquil, content, and traditional aura she carried seemed very much like those women of legends, the ones where a single glance at their beauty would bring about the ruin of a city.
“Why don’t you go over to the window and see?” He strolled over toward her.
Shi Yi stared blankly at him for a brief moment. Her eyes flickered over to glance at the half-open window, but her feet would not move. A deep-seated terror struck her, and even her fingers started to tremble and her breathing grew ragged. She did not have a fear of heights, and ten zhang was merely a height of ten storeys anyway. Why, then, was she so afraid? She gently inhaled a deep breath, worried that he might notice her abnormal behavior.
He, however, had already stepped over toward the window, opened it up fully, and engaged the hook that would keep it propped open.
In this way, her view opened up even wider.
A breeze blew in, and on the shelves nearest the window, some books rustled as their pages were turned.
Leaning against the window, he turned back toward her and invited, “Come. Look over here.”
Shi Yi did not dare move. Her entire body was aching, the sort of pain that seeped out from the cracks of one’s bones, and she clenched her fists tightly.
He was looking out the window and had not noticed her unusualness. “Standing here, you have a complete view of this entire old manor as well as the sunset.”
His voice was light, and in the refreshingly cool evening breeze, it seemed so familiar.
Shi Yi suppressed the fear she was feeling in the depths of her heart. Slowly, step by step, she walked over and offered her hand out to him. He gently took it in his own and led her over to the window. In that instant her hand touched the window frame, she saw nothing before her eyes except the red of blood. His voice should have been so close, yet it sounded indstinct, as if she was hearing it through a curtain of mist.
“Are you unwell?” Zhousheng Chen’s one arm was beside Shi Yi, its hand against the window sill supporting himself. Lowering his head, he saw her complexion had grown a little pale. “Shi Yi?”
He called her name. His breath was beside her ear, and there was the warmth of his body.
All the things of reality that stimulated her sense of touch gradually pulled her back from her nightmare until the sights before her became clear again.
The sheen of blood dissolved away.
Only the afterglow of the setting sun remained.
The unbroken stretch of white walls and black tile rooftops as well as dense layers of vibrant green seemed to be stretched out by the sunset’s remaining glow. It was indeed an ancient manor where the eyes were unable to see its bounds. Those walls that seemed to be fire separation walls at the edge of the manor’s boundaries were hidden in the twilight.
She thought to herself, he wanted her to see the beautiful scenery.
There was a slight layer of perspiration on her forehead, and here, in the remnants of the sunlight that was about to disappear, he finally could clearly see it. “You have suddenly perspired so much. You really are not feeling well?” She shook her head, but before she had a chance to speak, Zhou Wenxing had already come back up the stairs.
Zhousheng Chen had originally wanted to help her wipe away the sweat on her forehead, but because of this, he retracted his hand that had already reached forward halfway and slipped it into his pant pocket. It seemed, in the presence of a third person, he was always very reserved, so reserved that he seemed like a monk who did not allow himself to be near a woman’s charms.
This action of his caused Shi Yi to break out in laughter.
As a result, when Zhou Wenxing walked up, the scene before her was Shi Yi laughing amusedly while Big Brother was looking at Shi Yi with a prim and proper expression and not a trace of a smile on his face, yet his eyes contained a subtle hint of joy in them.
Zhou Wenxing found that she was starting to like this future sister-in-law more and more.
One must know, this scientist big brother of hers had never shown any interest in women before.
That evening, Zhousheng Chen brought her to see his maternal grandmother.
To her great puzzlement, his maternal grandmother was very elderly in age but she still did not live in the manor.
Their vehicle drove out of the mountain areas and turned into a nearby little town that could not be considered prosperous. There, they saw the elderly lady who lived alone in a small, two-level home. Her age was approaching one century and her vision was blurry from age, but her mind was clear.
While Shi Yi sat beside the rocking chair, talking with and keeping Grandmother company, Zhousheng Chen spent the entire time patiently inspecting all the appliances and various installations. He even needed to personally check the shower head to determine if any of the spray holes had become clogged.
“Even the most patient person, when attending to an elderly person of no blood relation, will lose their patience. No matter how many people are assigned to this place, it is unavoidable that there will be times of inattentiveness, so it is best to personally inspect everything,” he explained lightly to Shi Yi, who had come over to observe him performing manual labour.
Shi Yi nodded in agreement. “There will always be lax moments by the caregivers if they are not that person’s own children.”
He smiled, “Are you empathizing?”
She told him, “There was a time when my mom and my [maternal] uncles all took turns caring for my [maternal] grandmother because they found out that the caregiver would never chat with Grandma and did not give her adequate time out in the sunshine. Those are all little things, but as a son or a daughter, they’re things you would consider.”
As she watched him, she could not help wondering, was he also this patient when he was in the laboratory?
When Zhousheng Chen had finished his inspection of the bathroom, he turned on the faucet and washed his hands.
Her eyes were fixed keenly upon him, and she discovered that his palm seemed to have a scar on it. “Your hand, was it injured before?”
With an “mm”, he answered, “It’s very normal.”
By “normal,” he, of course, was referring to the small risks that were always present when one was working in a laboratory. Shi Yi pressed her lips together. Her heart twinged slightly, but at the same time, she felt that that was his occupation and there really was not much she should say.
Seeing that his inspection work was nearly complete, she left the bathroom and went back to continue chatting with Grandmother.
Zhousheng Chen’s head was lowered as he carried on meticulously washing his hands, but he could not hold back a smile as he shook his head slightly.
When Shi Yi had returned to Grandmother’s side, the elderly lady fumbled and felt for her hand and slipped a strand of jadeite beads onto it.
Grandmother clasped her hand and gently patted it with her own. Before she could take a closer look, she heard Grandmother start to speak.
“I bore a daughter who forever shall carry the fault of having done an injustice to the Zhousheng family.” Grandmother’s enunciation was somewhat unclear, so Shi Yi bent over at the waist to be closer and listened with some difficulty. “Eldest Young Master, ah, he should not have taken her as his wife. If he had known about her and Second Young Master, then he should not have taken her as his wife.”
Shi Yi listened in bewilderment and surmised that the “Eldest Young Master” Grandmother was referring to was not Zhousheng Chen but rather, his father.
Grandmother heaved a heavy sigh.
Then, with her hand holding a circle of 108 jadeite prayer beads, she quietly began reciting Buddhist sutras.
Zhousheng Chen happened to step out at that moment, and when he saw the circle of eighteen jadeite prayer beads on her wrist, surprise flashed briefly in his eyes before quickly disappearing. During the return journey, he told her the origin of those eighteen prayer beads. “It has a circumference of twenty-eight centimetres. There are eighteen jadeite beads in total.” His hand slid down the length of the string beneath the coral guru bead. “Rose-colored tourmaline was used for the carving, and there are also beads of coral and pearl.”
She lifted up her wrist. “It’s very exquisite.”
“This is an item from the late Ming, early Qing dynasties.”
Suddenly realizing its significance, Shi Yi could not restrain a laugh. “Zhousheng Chen, can you give me a safe as a gift? I’m going to lock these up.”
“These are prayer beads. There have been many generations of people who have used them when reciting sutras and chanting mantras. Wear it,” he smiled. “Buddha will bless you.”
“That I do know.” Using her index finger, she fiddled with the individual beads. “This is the smallest type. There are also ones that have 27, 54, and 108 beads – all prayer beads used when reciting sutras.”
The car drove through the forested mountain area. This road that wound around the mountain was very serene so that even the air seemed fresher.
A light breeze blew in through the half-lowered window, tousling the stray hairs beside her cheek. Her smiling expression as well as that bit of pride that could be seen in this very small but obvious moment of showing off her learnedness caused Shi Yi to appear… rather cute.
He looked at her for a while, not speaking.
She, on the other hand, was slightly embarrassed by his gaze, so she smiled and did not say more.
A fixed distance was maintained between his sedan and the four vehicles that were following behind as they drove in a line toward the old manor.
However, when they were nearly there, several police vehicles could be seen off in the distance stopped outside of the manor gates.
Those police vehicles were quiet, but the headlights were all on. The stark, white light of those four or five vehicles crossed and interwove, clearly illuminating the roadway and stone carvings in front of the manor house. Uncle Lin quickly put on his headset and in a low voice, instructed the trailing vehicles to not follow them and leave, instead, by a side road.
Shi Yi did not understand what this was about and quickly turned to glance at Zhousheng Chen.
He did not show any surprise.
He merely pulled down his sleeves that had previously been rolled up and fastened the cuff links. “Uncle Lin, pass Shi Yi’s passports over to me.”
Uncle Lin left hand grasped the steering and he continued to drive the sedan steadily toward the old manor while his right hand reached into the glove compartment, pulled out four passports, and handed them back to Zhousheng Chen.
“Shi Yi, remember what I tell you now.” Zhousheng Chen took her handbag and placed the four passports into it. “You now hold the citizenship of four countries. I possess diplomatic immunity. On paper, you are technically my wife and therefore, you also have that same immunity.”
His voice when he spoke was level and cool. Shi Yi was having some difficulties comprehending.
“Simply put,” he told her calmly, “regardless of what may happen, you do not need to pay heed to any of it.”
Their vehicle slowly came to a halt.
Uncle Lin pulled off his gloves, carefully folded them and placed them on the driver’s seat, straightened his suit, and then got out of the car first. In a state of astonishment, Shi Yi watched everything that was happening right there before her. Two policemen approached, very politely shook Uncle Lin’s hand, and spoke in low tones with him.
Uncle Lin very quicky shook his head. He leaned over to glance inside the car and explained something to them.
A silent picture was playing before her eyes. She could not hear any of the conversation, but she could still sense the graveness of the situation.
 As opposed to modern times where a typical storey is approximately 3.3 metres, so a 3 storey/level building would be around 10 metres tall. This ancient, three level library tower is about three times taller than that.
 In ancient China, prior to the widespread use of paper, the material used for writing was strips of bamboo, called slips. Scrolls were formed by binding the slips together using thread.
 风火墙 “feng huo qiang.” Literally “wind-fire wall.” In traditional Chinese architecture, a gabled end wall that rises above the pitch of the roofline to prevent fire from spreading between buildings.
 Buddhist prayer beads, or mala, are used in Buddhism to count mantras, prayers, chants, etc. Shi Yi’s was gifted one with 18 prayer beads, all in jadeite. The picture I included, above, seems to fit Zhousheng Chen’s description very closely. In addition to those 18 jadeite beads, there is a guru bead (seen in the picture with a string hanging directly below it) and additional spacer beads of coral. This is a particularly fancy string of prayer beads, obviously. The carved decoration on the bottom of the string is carved from rose-colored tourmaline and if you look closely, on the string, there are many tiny pearls. This particular set of prayer beads also dates from the late Ming to Qing dynasty and is found in the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) in Beijing It would have been considered a treasure even in the imperial palace of the Qing dynasty.
Tehe, a little bit of a cliffhanger. What’s going on? We’ll save that for my 100th post on this blog. :p Haha!
Questions for you all: Did you understand what was happening to Shi Yi inside the library tower when she broke out in cold sweat? What are your thoughts on Zhousheng Chen’s grandmother’s cryptic talk with Shi Yi? (I’m trying to gauge how well I translated those passages.)
1 of 1 Prologue
22 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues