The announcement of my next project. 🙂 This one actually won’t start until Beautiful Bones is done in approximately mid-October, but consider me an eager beaver. 😉
My ramblings are at the beginning and the translated prologue is at the end of this post as a little teaser.
A student and her university professor. But she had seen him once before, long before he was ever her teacher. Back then, she was still only thirteen years old. He wore a white doctor’s coat as he spoke harshly to her, on that night that changed both their lives forever. And now, they have somehow managed to find one another again, and they bring warmth and love into each other’s lives.
I won’t give you a longer description on this novel. My spoiler-riddled thoughts are all over its page on SSB, so if you don’t mind being spoiled, you can head over there for more details.
This is yet another novel by Mo Bao Fei Bao, my favourite author, and once again, is different from her novels that I have already translated on this blog. Really, Really Miss You is a novel for you to escape into just pure happiness. Every girl has fantasized about her idol declaring to the world that he loves only her. In Beautiful Bones, although the romance’s progression feels down-to-earth, the story itself intrigues the imagination with the reincarnation theme and the eerie family background of Zhousheng Chen.
Together Forever, however, is firmly grounded in everyday life and reality. Our female lead, Tong Yan, is outgoing and optimistic and at first glance, you would not know she came from a broken family. Life has not been kind to her, and she shoulders many responsibilities. But there are many Tong Yan-s in this world. In fact, I see parts of myself in her. The male lead, Gu Pingsheng, is also an unsung “everyday hero.” I won’t reveal here why this is so, but Mo Bao Fei Bao created him specifically to honour real people from real life who have sacrificed themselves for others. This is what I wrote in SSB about these two:
Life has thrown a good share of unfairness at the both of them. The author does not use many words to describe their emotional turmoil, though (especially Gu Pingsheng). Often, it’s an almost nonchalant one-liner description of the situation or a small minute gesture that gives away the pain. As a reader, I would read it almost just as nonchalantly as it was written, but then, upon second thought, realize the significance of what was written… The author slowly releases more and more background about each of them, and each time, my heart would ache a little bit more. And that heartache just seemed to build until I realized how emotionally invested I was in their lives.
This story, though, is not about life’s difficulties. Rather, it is about how two people, who have had a good amount of hardships in their lives, come together and bring warmth and love to one another. They don’t cry, “Why me?” or wallow in self-pity, but instead, they try to create the best life they can have. Yes, you will feel heartache and cannot help but pray that things will turn around for them, but more so, you will smile for them because they are smiling in their circumstances.
Mo Bao Fei Bao, who does screenwriting and then writes novels on the side, says her inspiration for her novels is her own life, a way to journal what she wants to remember. In one of her earlier novels, 念念不想忘 the female lead, also a screenwriter who wrote novels on the side, described how she viewed novel writing:
“If you look at the painful aspects, then the pain will unconsciously be magnified. If you only look at the happy aspects, then your happiness meter will explode upward.”
This is so characteristic of Mo Bao Fei Bao’s writing, and this story very much demonstrates it. It is real, but it does not feel angst-y. The couple is sweet… and it is a happy ending. (Of course! I only do happy endings.)
Really, Really Miss You brought you the cute, sweet side of Mo Bao Fei Bao’s writing while Beautiful Bones showed off her beautiful, exquisite, atmospheric writing. Here, you will read about wonderful, well thought-out characters. They are not perfect, and you may not necessarily agree with all their decisions, but I connected emotionally with them and I hope you do, too.
Together Forever was the first Mo Bao Fei Bao novel I read and instantly made me a fan. It holds a very special place in my heart, largely because of the emotional connection I felt as I read the novel. I have delayed translating this one time and again because, even though it’s not as challenging as Really, Really Miss You‘s online slang and ancient-style songs or Beautiful Bones‘ ancient language, more than anything, I just want to get this one “right.”
So, consider this early announcement for the project my way of working myself up to it… and also committing to it before I back down again. (And also, in celebration of MBFB’s fan club’s anniversary, I posted this translated prologue on Weibo, so I wanted to make sure you guys here got to read it, too. I can’t play favourites, you know. Hehe.)
(As an aside, the couple in this story did have a teacher-student romantic relationship, so if that is a trigger point for you, I will forgive you if you give it a pass. *cough cough* Peanuts *cough cough* In all honesty, the teacher-student part of their relationship really only plays a small part of the overall story.)
And now, the translation!
“I graduated from King’s College London. I will be with you for an entire semester. You may call me ‘Teacher’ or you may also directly address me as Gu Pingsheng.” He gripped the chalk loosely and on the blackboard, wrote out his name. The morning sunlight shone in through the window and seemed to envelop that light-colored figure. “I cannot hear. If you have a question, please face me and I will watch your lips and eyes to read what you say.”
His voice had a slight mellow tone and was clear, bright, and gentle.
Everyone looked at him with sense of rue, and even their breathing fittingly became lighter.
King’s College London. One of the top three law schools in the United Kingdom.
Prior to this Teacher Gu’s arrival, all the teachers in the Law Faculty were either full suit-wearing pedants who had come back from studying at Waseda University in Japan or were American PhDs, dressed in sport coats on top but paired ridiculously with jeans and sneakers on bottom, returning from Yale or something similar.
From a London university? This was a first.
All the third year law courses had switched over to teach international law using English, and many were looking forward to having this teacher, who would be the only one who had actually returned from London. They had wondered whether he would be gentlemanly, elegant and modest, or quiet and refined. His appearance, though, was somewhat not what they had expected.
The way he held the chalk between his fingers was very attractive, like a surgeon holding his scalpel. Of course, it was one of those glamorized surgeons from a television drama. He was very young, much younger than expected. He was wearing a soft, stylish white dress shirt and trousers, and his sleeves were rolled up so that a tattoo could faintly be seen on his arm…
One who did not know better would have thought that he was a fellow older schoolmate from the Faculty of Architecture.
He seemed to perceive everyone’s sympathy but merely loosened his tie slightly.
And then… lowered his head, pulled off his tie, and undid the top button of his shirt. “This semester, I will be responsible for your course on International Commercial Arbitration Law. A very simple course. It will be taught in English. If anyone does not understand what you hear, you may raise your hand at any time and interrupt me.” There seemed to be a smile on his face, and at the same time, there seemed not to be one. It was difficult to distinguish. “Remember, you need to raise your hand. Speaking up to interrupt me will not be any use.”
Someone said in a lowered voice, “I’m willing to bet that he’s in his twenties.”
The voice was not overly quiet and every person pondered on this.
“In my class, you can whisper amongst yourselves.”
Oh god, he actually saw that.
“But, I will likely be able to see it. Can we call attendance now?”
He smiled. His eyes were very calm and focused as he looked out at everyone. This sort of gaze caused all the girls present to want to avoid it. But immediately, they remembered that he needed to be able to see their lips. Nearly every single person obediently turned to look in the direction of the podium.
When Gu Pingsheng finished saying this, he lowered his head slightly and added, “I will call out one name at a time. When you are called, you may ask me one question.
“Teacher.” A female student in the front row rose to her feet. “What is your tattoo?”
With a slight smile, he answered, “The name of a woman.” He did not look at the list of names as he continued the roll call. “Li Dongyang.”
A male student from the back row of the classroom stood up and grinned, “Teacher, is it the name of your first girlfriend?”
He lowered his head again to read the next name. “No, it is my mother’s name.”
Silence fell everywhere. They surmised that must have touched upon a personal, off-limit topic.
He seemed unconcerned. “Wang Xiaoru.”
“Teacher, all the other teachers in our faculty have doctorates. Do you? You look really young.”
“Teacher, do you have a girlfriend?”
The class broke out into a ruckus. The person asking was their class prefect, but the problem was… he was a man.
The class prefect cleared his throat. “Teacher, I was forced to do it.”
Several female classmates behind him became indignant and collectively buried their heads.
With a smile, he picked up the class roster and placed it across his arm. “No.”
A roar of laughter sounded out from everyone, and the room buzzed with discussion.
Because the class prefect had started things off, every student that followed also began to purposely strategize to bring the questions in a more personal direction. They probed at his personal travels and his knowledge about King’s College, and he obligingly answered each one of the questions, occasionally even expanding upon them with many interesting stories or information. It was very enjoyable listening to him.
He could not hear? That was an enormous benefit. This way, so long as he was speaking to you, it would seem like he was gazing lovingly, devotedly only at you.
“God, does our school have any rules that bans romances between a teacher and a student?” The person who had just been called sat down again and murmured quietly.
His voice suddenly paused, and he lifted his head to allow his gaze to sweep the classroom. “Tong Yan.”
In the very back row of the class, a girl stood up. “Teacher, are you a northerner?”
Since the moment he had stepped into the classroom, Tong Yan could not really recover herself. His face was so familiar, so similar to a certain person. However, that person should have studied cardiac surgery, and he was not deaf either. But if it was not him, why would they look so much alike? Even the dimple on his right cheek when he smiled was the same.
In silence, he smiled until everyone found this moment rather peculiar. Finally, he nodded and answered, “Yes.”
It really was him.
In fact, they had only seen each other once, but they had each since remembered the other person’s name.
That night outside the emergency room, he, in his white doctor’s coat, was especially striking, but unfortunately, he had not been this warm and gentle.