One of my favourite chapters. Beautiful imagery, poignant lines, thought-invoking words. (Hence, I’m sure you can guess that I have some “additional comments.” 😉)
Chapter 13.2 – Mysteries that Could Not Be Unraveled (2)
Since her fall overboard into the water, Zhousheng Chen was even more cautious regarding the people he arranged to be with her.
If she wanted to walk about in the old manor, the young girl and Uncle Lin would accompany her. Sometimes, Shi Yi would find it troublesome and would be even more content to stay in her own room, thinking, once Ghost Month was over, things would be fine.
After all, in Shanghai, she still had her own circle of friends, but here, aside from Wenxing, she truly did not have anyone she could really talk to. Then again, this also was a quiet place for her to focus and write her book.
There were times where she would write several thousand words in one day. She would then pick the passages that she felt were good and copy them again onto the actual paper she was using.
Each word, each sentence was carefully chosen.
Zhousheng Chen’s mother’s manner towards her was truly starting to change slowly.
At times, she would even invite her to have tea with her.
She was afraid Zhousheng Chen would worry, so she would only go when he could accompany her. Fortunately, she had the excuse that her “health was not very good.” Otherwise, if her own parents ever found out, they would reprimand her for being disrespectful to an elder.
His mother would always prepare highly nutritious foods or herbal medicines specifically for her alone to eat and would tell her to consume them there before her.
This practice was very odd and was the same as Zhousheng Chen’s, where, if she needed to eat or use something, he needed to personally watch before he could set his mind at ease.
“I heard Wenxing mention that you have read many ancient and classic books?” his mother asked her after waiting for her to set down her spoon.
“I have read some,” she smiled. “I find the writing in classical texts very beautiful.”
“Which ones do you tend to like most?”
“A wide variety. Hmm… I have probably read anything that has been published and is available on the market. And also some books from private collections.”
She did not enjoy having overly complicated interpersonal relationships, and as a result, in the twenty-odd years of this life, most of her time had been spent in reading about the rise and fall of dynasties and the poetry and songs that had followed after that lifetime.
“I am very fond of girls who read.” With a slight smile, his mother looked at her.
In all this time, this was the first form of approval his mother had given her.
“However… I still maintain my stance: you are not suitable for this family of ours.” His mother’s eyes were fixed on her as she continued, “You have a very good family. It is not one of distinguished or influential personages but still is an erudite family. Your mother and father have a harmonious relationship. You do not have any brothers or sisters. The social circle of your adulthood is not complicated. You have fixed routines, fixed activities – a very regular lifestyle – and a career that very much suits your wishes. Correct?”
She pondered this briefly. “Yes. I spend weekends with my parents. On workdays, the morning is spent reading while the afternoon through to midnight or so is spent in the recording studio, where I only need to face the script and the recording engineer.”
Zhousheng Chen’s eyes flicked over toward her.
He seemed as if he wanted to prevent his mother’s questioning, but for some reason, he abandoned the idea.
“Besides your relationships with your classmates, other voice actors, your supervisors, and your neighbours and friends, your social circle has never expanded, yes?”
“Yes.” Her reply was given in a serious manner. “I like to use my time for professional voice acting or reading. For the remaining time, most of it is spent with my parents. Therefore, simple types of relationships are very suitable for me.”
Zhousheng Chen’s mother smiled slightly, “You have organized and arranged your life very well, and it is very stable. Why don’t you return to that once more and continue with your life?”
Shi Yi was taken aback momentarily. She wanted to say something but was stopped.
“Miss Shi Yi, listen to what I have to say.” The bearing she carried in her very expressions was certainly not something that came about overnight. “Let me give you an example. Ten years ago, a ship left a certain coastal port. Its passengers all were involved primarily in underground businesses, which diverge into all sorts of matters including politics, mineral resources, land, gems and jewelry, drugs, and arms trade.”
She remembered, similar words had once been spoken by Zhousheng Chen.
It had been in regards to the death of Xiao Ren’s birth mother.
“And the owner of this ship was the Zhou family.” His mother tugged her shawl slightly tighter. She seemed to be pulling up the memories. “That time, nineteen people died aboard the ship, one of whom belonged to the Zhou family – that was Xiao Ren’s mother – while the remaining were all outsiders. The funds and resources that circulated through the casino totaled up to several billion in U.S. dollars. And we, on our own ship, seized the opportunity to enter Iran’s automobile market as an authorized agent. At the same time, we also seized the rights to the only independent tellurium deposit in the world.”
His mother paused slightly, instructing someone to bring a new tea.
It was Bright Moon in the Jade-Colored Mountain Stream Tea.
“When you listen to this, does it sound like those movies that you provide the dubbing for?” His mother motioned for her to drink her tea.
Shi Yi gave a slight nod of her head.
Such a concrete example that very easily illustrated the lifestyle in the Zhou family. All that she had once surmised was now confirmed. This was a completely different family that lived “underground” and possessed its own empire.
Indeed, it did sound more like a story.
It was so far-removed from real life that when she heard this, it only seemed like a thing of tales.
“Your ability to accept and adapt is very good. At least, during last time’s incident, your response was very respectably appropriate.” Zhousheng Chen’s mother sighed lightly, and her voice grew gentler. “But, you have not been able to become accumstomed to the Zhou family’s lifestyle, correct?”
Shi Yi simply gave an “mm.”
Unable to become accustomed to it and unable to agree with it.
His mother smiled indifferently, not speaking any further.
To merely touch on what needed to be said, and then to leave it at that. She had already said all that she wanted to say. The politics, the current balance of power, and the various social relationships aside, if this girl had seen the corpse of Zhousheng Ren’s mother at the time, it would have caused her to completely breakdown.
And that was not even mentioning all those family rules and underground exchanges that functioned outside of the law or conventional codes of human conduct.
Shi Yi looked over at Zhousheng Chen, holding a teacup in his hand and wearing a black shirt, white trousers, and black, metal frame glasses. When he drank his tea, when he spoke, when he did anything, there really was nothing special. Just like when she had stood outside the research institute in Xi’an and watched him, wearing his white laboratory coat, stride toward her.
Stern, meticulous, and low key, be it in his lifestyle or his work.
She had once asked him why he had devoted himself to research. His answer had been, so that he could do something that could be beneficial to even more people.
She very clearly remembered these words of his. Every sentence he had spoken to her, she very clearly remembered.
And hence, she was very resolute.
She was capable of staying by his side, to be with him as he did the things he truly wanted to do.
Zhousheng Chen had not participated in the entire discussion between Shi Yi and his mother.
At times, when he was tired, he would merely prop his elbow on the arm of the chair, remove his glasses, and lightly massage the bridge of his nose and the center point between his brows, or occasionally, he would look over at Shi Yi. After his mother had finished saying what she wanted to say, the topic quickly turned back to literature and poetry. When Wenxing arrived with Tong Jiaren and heard their conversation, they also joined in with great interest. This time, it was not only Tong Jiaren. Even Wenxing brought up the painting Shi Yi had once made and the praise that uncle had given her.
“Elder Chen is my old friend.” His mother was smiling as she recalled, “A very haughty and aloof person. Very rarely will he praise anyone.”
“Sister-in –– … “ Wenxing managed to cut herself off in time. “Miss Shi Yi, I honestly really want to see that painting of yours. Too bad it was given to Uncle Chen.”
Tong Jiaren let out a little laugh. “Why don’t you paint another one today so it can be kept here in the Zhou manor?”
“Oh, yes.” Wenxing beamed at Shi Yi. “Is that okay, Shi Yi?”
She did not really mind.
Just as she was about to agree to it, Zhousheng Chen suddenly spoke up. “Painting consumes a great deal of strength and energy. Her body still has not recovered yet.”
“That’s true.” Wenxing was somewhat disappointed.
“But,” he said in a steady voice as he offered another suggestion, “I can try to recreate it.”
His voice was level, as if this was a very simple task.
Everyone was rather surprised. After all, the painting had been put away immediately after it was completed. Even if he had seen it before, it had only been that sole instance on that day. To recreate a painting that you had only seen once was something that was easy to say you would do, but to truly put brush to paper would be very difficult.
Shi Yi was also somewhat hesitant until she saw him stand by the writing desk and bring his brush to paper.
Initially, it was reed, a single stem with many leaves.
Layer after layer was painted before he paused, as if he was remembering.
When the base of the reed was finished, the tip of the writing brush paused again. The brush was cleansed in water, then dipped lightly in ink. When the brush was brought back to the paper, it immediately created the lotus flower painted in the “boneless” style she had once painted. He was very focused, and his entire back was perfectly straight. His gaze looked through the lens of his glasses and fell upon the xuan paper in front of him.
A single stem of a lotus flower.
It was similar, yet at the same time, different.
The lotus flower and reed previously created by her brush had used brush strokes that were more light and graceful. It had been like the single lotus flower remaining in the pond at summer’s end. Pure, but somewhat aloof.
But now, the brushwork in this painting was more charming and uninhibited, like the first lotus that blossoms in early summer.
The atmosphere of the scene reflected the atmosphere of the heart.
Zhousheng Chen’s mother smiled and sighed that, although the mood of the painting was different, it already 70 to 80 percent resembled the original. Wenxing and Tong Jiaren were both staring at the painting, entranced, each of them lost in her own thoughts. Tilting his head slightly to the side, Zhousheng Chen looked at Shi Yi. “Does it look like it?”
Shi Yi was unable to speak, and so she smiled lightly. She only knew to gaze at him.
He cared about her. All this time, he had steadfastly abided by his promise made at the very beginning: to sincerely learn how to care about, treasure, and love her.
With only a single, hurried viewing, he was already able to bring a brush to paper and create the painting.
Had he not paid purposeful attention, this would have been very difficult to do.
Zhousheng Chen’s eyes were also on her. Smiling, he changed brushes, and then, on the side of the painting, he wrote some words:
See there the purity of the lotus, and know then that the heart is untainted.
This was Meng Haoran’s line of poetry.
She recognized it and also knew the connotation behind that line:
You can see, the lotus flower grows up out of the mud, yet still remains unsullied. So should you also caution yourself to not allow the world’s views to trap you, but to hold true to your own heart.
Simple words, yet each word in that line struck her heart.
Her gaze shifted from the painting over to him.
“This is a line by Meng Haoran?” Wenxing was thrilled when she realized that she recognized it. “It’s very fitting for this painting.”
Tong Jiaren also smiled and echoed in a soft voice, “Yes, very fitting.”
Within the room, only Zhousheng Chen’s mother and Shi Yi could understand what he was saying through this line of poetry by Meng Haoran.
He had not participated in the discussion earlier.
However, it was not because he was compromising.
What he did, who he chose, from beginning to end, would never change.
See there the purity of the lotus, and know then that the heart is untainted.
The Shi Yi in his heart was this Shi Yi, who was like so. His Shi Yi.
 碧涧明月 “bi jian ming yue.” Green tea. Its existence has been recorded as far back as the Qin- Han dynasties (~2000 years ago) and flourished in the Tang dynasty.
 Line from the poem, 《题大禹寺义公禅房》 “Master Yi’s Chamber in Dafu Temple” by Meng Haoran.
 孟浩然 Meng Haoran, also known as Meng Hao-Jan, was a Tang dynasty poet.
I told you I really liked the scene when Shi Yi first made that painting, but I absolutely love this re-creation of it. It’s like a mirror image. When Shi Yi first painted it, she had been absorbed in her own memories of him. The painting was, in some ways, an expression of those memories — the man who in her mind was like the pure lotus flower. And now, as Zhousheng Chen stands and makes the same painting, he is remembering her, her every movement, every detail. His painting is an expression of his feelings for her and his promise that he would learn to love her. And so he had. “All this time, he had steadfastly abided by his promise made at the very beginning: to sincerely learn how to care about, treasure, and love her.” This, right here, is what made me fall for Zhousheng Chen. Actions are a reflection of the heart, but sometimes, your actions can influence your heart. Love is not just a feeling. Love requires hard work. But how wonderful it is for Shi Yi to have someone who will work hard to love her because it means he will also work hard to maintain that love, to not fall out of love. This painting is also a demonstration of that.❤
And, ah, how I love how Zhousheng Chen fights back. A single line of poetry shows his stance and also who Shi Yi is to him. Telling his mother that he will not change who he chose and also exhorting Shi Yi to stay true and not allow herself to be influenced by the things around her. And mostly, declaring that his Shi Yi in his heart is pure and untainted.
I really appreciate how the author throws in this one little line: “The atmosphere of the scene reflects the atmosphere of the heart.” What do the two seemingly similar paintings reflect about the hearts of our leads? Shi Yi, pure and aloof, like the single lotus flower at the end of summer. This girl had spent this lifetime removed from almost everything else, for her heart was still caught in a time of the past, and now, all had faded away and her memories were the sole thing leftover from that era. But yet, her heart was pure, set only upon her goal of reuniting with him, untainted by the allure of power, wealth, etc. Zhousheng Chen, uninhibited and charming, like the first lotus blossom of summer. The Chinese words used to describe the feeling in the painting were 风流, two characters that I always bang my head against the wall trying to translate because the feeling it is supposed to give is quite complex. A bearing that is distinguished, a demonstration of talent, a sense the person is not constrained to conventional ways, a demeanour that draws people. He leads the charge, the first person to do it, acting against the constraints his family is trying to put on him. And his hard work will bring hope to the nation’s economy, like the first lotus blossom is the indication of summer.❤
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