Not quite as bad as last post, but the emotions are still running strong in this one (mine included).
Chapter 16.2 – The Roles People Play (2)
Zhousheng Chen glanced over at the hospital bed and then shifted his gaze to Shi Yi.
She, too, was looking at him, her heart pounding. She knew, in Zhousheng Chen’s current emotional state, all those things Zhou Wenchuan had once done to her… and all those things Wenxing had once done to her, he would most definitely attribute them all on Zhou Wenchuan now.
With difficulty, Shi Yi made herself breathe as she stared unblinkingly at him.
“Xiao Chen…” Pale-faced, Zhousheng Chen’s mother watched him, her legs scarcely able to hold her up. “Mom is begging you, please put the gun down, okay?… Xiao Chen…”
No one dared to speak.
Zhousheng Chen stood there, his entire body seemingly one with the gun, and he seemed to easily cause the air pressure in the room to drop to the lowest possible. Behind the thin lenses of his glasses, no traces of emotional turmoil could be seen in his eyes.
Because he was carrying Wang Man, a large part of Zhou Wenchuan’s own pants were also stained with blood. “Zhousheng Chen, you pointing a gun at me now, is that for Wenxing? Or is it for your wife? Wenxing’s gone. You can finally settle the score with me now, huh?”
Zhou Wenchuan gave a couple of laughs, and then, tears started to fall.
Wang Man was biting down hard on her own lip, and in his embrace, her facial features were contorted in agony.
He held tightly to the woman in his arms. At last, through clenched teeth, he, one word at a time, begged for mercy. “If you let me go save Wang Man, I will return and pay you back with my life.” As he spoke, he suddenly dropped to his knees. It was clear his hatred was so intense he wanted to kill, yet still, he knelt before Zhousheng Chen. “Eldest Brother, I beg you, let me go…”
“Xiao Chen…” Zhousheng Chen’s mother choked through her weeping, but she dared not take a single step forward for fear that Zhousheng Chen might do something. “Xiao Chen… The drugs your little brother gave Wenxing really weren’t the cause of her death. And as for Shi Yi… Those things that happened to Shi Yi didn’t have anything to do with your brother either… Listen to Mom. Aside from that one incident in Wuzhen, everything else was Mom’s doing. They had absolutely nothing to do with your little brother…”
A plea through choking sobs, and Wang Man’s moans of anguish.
Wenxing’s recording played over and over again in Shi Yi’s mind.
All truths would eventually be known, but it should not be by Zhousheng Chen, the one who loved Wenxing so much…
Only silence that would not dissipate permeated that moment of life and death.
After an endless standstill, Zhousheng Chen finally lowered the gun in his hand down slowly.
Without any delay, Zhou Wenchuan strode out of the room carrying Wang Man in his arms.
He and Wang Man were both persons being monitored by authorities, so under the observation of police officers, he set Wang Man down on a gurney. Immediately, doctors rushed over and pushed the gurney into the elevator, leaving that hospital floor.
In the instant the elevator doors closed, the strength seemed to go out of Zhou Wenchuan’s arms. Bending over, he hugged Wang Man and tears slipped out, falling onto her. “Man Man, thank you. Once we get through this, we’ll still have our chance…”
While he was speaking, he had already buried his face on Wang Man’s arm.
Wang Man’s face was pale from the pain, but still, she held him tightly to her. With his own hands, he had given her the drugs to induce the abortion. When life and death were separated by merely a thin line, she had needed to wager herself and her child, to gamble on Zhousheng Chen’s conscience and compassion. Even if she was insignificant in all this, if she could add even the lightest of burdens on him… Tong Jiaren had already proposed to dissolve their marriage, so now, she was the only person remaining by Zhou Wenchuan’s side who could support him.
She gripped his arm tightly, helping herself reduce the pain ever so slightly, and gradually slid into unconsciousness
Feebly, Zhousheng Chen’s mother sat down again, speaking quietly to Wenxing, who was still on the bed.
The atmosphere in the room was too suffocating. The feeling of immense shock that had come after the feeling of immense grief was somewhat too great to bear for Shi Yi. She deleted Wenxing’s recording and set the mobile phone down beside the window. Then, she walked over and quietly stood close beside Zhousheng Chen.
Outside the hospital room, Uncle Lin was meticulously attending to Wenxing’s after-death arrangements.
Steadily, time slipped by, seemingly very fast, yet also very slowly.
By the time all had been arranged, Wenxing was taken from the hospital, and it was planned to bury her in Zhenjiang. When everyone left the hospital, it was already four thirty in the morning.
Right before the arrival of dawn, the darkest hour of a day.
Zhousheng Chen’s mother was staying behind at the hospital to be with Zhou Wenchuan and Wang Man. As they stepped out of the hospital building, the officers standing guard on the first floor began to carry out their routine business and stepped forward to ask for and record the planned destination of each person after they left this place. Mei Xing remained silent during their entire questioning, and so, conflict broke out right then between them. Pulling aside his own colleagues, Du Feng stepped up and said, “My apologies, Mr. Zhousheng, Mr. Mei. We only need to understand where each of you is heading. It’s routine procedure, that’s all.”
Zhousheng Chen glanced briefly at Du Feng, and then Uncle Lin immediately stepped forward to negotiate with him in low tones.
Only Uncle Lin separated Du Feng’s group of people from Zhousheng Chen and the others, but throughout the entire process, there was not any form of verbal communication between the two groups. In that oppressive silence, a commotion suddenly started up behind Du Feng.
Shi Yi heard an extremely familiar voice. Hong Xiaoyu?
Du Feng also heard it at the same time she did and immediately turned around, brushing aside everyone. While gesturing to the person restraining Hong Xiaoyu to let her go, he quietly instructed the others around him, “Every Zhou family member who leaves this place must be followed by a team of people––“
A loud smack rang out, completely cutting off Du Feng’s words.
Hong Xiaoyu had shoved aside Du Feng’s colleague and slapped Du Feng violently across the face.
Shock came over everyone present.
“Hong Xiaoyu, don’t go causing trouble, making a scene here ––“ Du Feng forced himself to keep a check on his emotions, inhaling a deep breath.
The next second, Hong Xiaoyu had hurled her camera at him. “Screw you, Du Feng!”
The distance between them was too close and Du Feng was unable to dodge it. The camera slammed into his forehead, and instantly, blood began to stream down.
Hong Xiaoyu also froze in shock.
Tears sprang from her eyes, and she stared dazedly at him for three second, then turned and rushed over to Shi Yi.
All those highly-trained police officers were stunned by this scene of nonsense and forgot to restrain her. Before Shi Yi could react, she had already pulled Shi Yi into a bear hug. Even though she was still crying, in a trembling voice, she told Shi Yi nonstop, “Shi Yi, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know at all. I was here on assignment for a story. I knew there was trouble for the Zhou family and knew there were police… Shi Yi, Shi Yi, I didn’t know he’s a cop. I didn’t know this b*stard wanted to harm you. Shi Yi, don’t be scared. I’ve always protected you since we were kids. I won’t let him do anything to you…”
Shi Yi hugged her, repeatedly telling her, “Alright, alright. It’s okay, it’s okay.”
When Du Feng’s colleagues all heard this string of words, they at last understood the basics of the situation. But they were rather speechless about this woman who had suddenly charged out. They were clearly only doing their jobs, but this woman was taking things that were right and twisting them to say they were wrong.
Harm the Zhou family?
Since they had begun their investigation of the Zhou family, it could truly be said that every step had been difficult. Finally, they had managed to make some progress, even chancing upon the situation where there were problems internally between the people within that family, and it was a time where they could stir up more confusion. But then, this woman who knew absolutely nothing about the situation suddenly popped out of nowhere… And from the looks of it, she was their leader’s woman, too…
Someone told Du Feng to treat his wound, but Du Feng only pulled out a handkerchief and hastily pressed it against his wound. “All of you, pull that woman away! Also, once you have catalogued everyone, let them leave but have a team monitoring them.”
Hong Xiaoyu was immediately dragged away by two people.
Shutting his eyes quickly, Du Feng wiped away the blood obstructing his vision. “Mr. Zhousheng, we are simply following our procedures.”
Zhousheng Chen finally spoke up. “It is alright. We will do our best to work with you.”
Since, after all, the main focus of Du Feng’s monitoring was still Zhou Wenchuan, they were released to go very shortly. Shi Yi looked over at the people who were holding back Hong Xiaoyu. Her intuition told her that Du Feng would not truly make things difficult for her, so she followed Zhousheng Chen out of the hospital.
Worried that she might drag Hong Xiaoyu into trouble, she hurriedly sent her a text message: I am fine. Do not concern yourself with anything related to the Zhou family. Forget about this whole incident. I will take care of myself.
Then, she very swiftly turned off her mobile phone.
Regarding Wenxing’s voice recording, Zhousheng Chen had only asked her about it on the day of Wenxing’s burial.
She did not tell him about its true content.
She had once thought she would never keep anything from Zhousheng Chen and would tell him all that she knew. But for this case, Shi Yi decided she would conceal it from him to the very end. Irrespective of how much of his mother’s words Zhousheng Chen had believed, he would never suspect Wenxing, who had already departed this life. And that was sufficient enough.
She did not want to repeatedly speculate and deliberate over the actions of someone who had already passed away.
Even more so, she did not want Zhousheng Chen to have to taste another form of sorrow.
On the day of the funeral, surprisingly, the autumn sky was clear, the air was crisp, and it was a fine, sunny day.
The Zhou family burial ground was up in the mountains behind the temple where they had once gone to offer incense, and many of the family ancestors were buried there. Shi Yi stood there amongst the tombs that numbered many but were not crowded. All around, near and far, were people belonging to the Zhou family, and Mei Xing was the only outsider present.
Nobody had attempted to stop Mei Xing from being there. Each person who had experienced Wenxing’s final moments knew that he was the person she most wanted to see…
Zhousheng Chen was garbed in a black suit and dress shirt, and from top to bottom he wore no other color. Shi Yi stood beside him, dressed also entirely in black, a black coat and long, black pants.
The mountains of late autumn always contained a breeze that would ceaselessly swirl up layers upon layers of fallen leaves.
Everyone was gazing at the tombstone, silently lost in his or her own thoughts.
I’ll tell you a secret.
In the underworld, there is a bodhisattva called Ksitigarbha, who once was incarnated as a woman. He has always been very merciful to the women who have passed on into death.
If there is a woman who has an ugly appearance and a body frail with sickness but has always strove to do good, and if she sincerely and earnestly bows down in reverence before the bodhisattva, in her next life, her appearance will be pleasing and her body will be healthy. If a woman is not ashamed that she is a woman, and if she sincerely and earnestly bows in reverence before the bodhisattva, in her next life, she will certainly be a woman with a prominent family background or perhaps even a noblewoman.
As long as there is goodness in her heart, mercy and kindness are more readily bestowed upon a woman.
Of all the things in this world, there is nothing greater than life and death.
I will not hold a grudge against someone who has already died. To die means that you have nothing to do with this life anymore.
I will never mention any of those things anymore, to allow what you once did to trouble and entrap your big brother. He loves you very much. Truly loves you very much. I cannot even speculate how much pain he would feel if he ever found out… If you truly want to make recompense to me, then watch over your big brother together with me.
Despite having read this book many times, I usually skip the previous segment and this one. Therefore, while I had made a comment somewhere that I didn’t dislike Wang Man, that she was only a girl doing stupid things for love, I’m going to retract that because I forgot about this part when I made that comment. As a mother myself, never, ever could I even fathom killing my own innocent, unborn child (5+ months in!!). And for what? To create a scene so that the cold-blooded father can get off the hook for his wrongdoings.
Actually, I was again blubbering in tears this chapter, but it was for Hong Xiaoyu. To find out that the man you wish to spend the rest of your life with had only gotten close to you because he wanted to investigate your best friend’s hubby and his family… 😦 But that shock and betrayal didn’t overshadow her love for her friend, and my tears started to fall when she sobbingly hugged Shi Yi and declared she would protect her like she always had. What a wonderful friend.
I appreciate Shi Yi’s thoughts at the end of the chapter. When the book went to publishing, there really weren’t many changes made from the original version that had been posted online, mostly word-smithing, but Shi Yi’s thoughts here were changed, slightly but, I believe, made it more realistic. Aside from some subtle word changes, I’ve noted a few here. In the original version, Shi Yi had given her blessings/good wishes to Wenxing as she journeyed into the next life, but this was removed from the published book. Also, the two lines, “Of all the things in this world, there is nothing greater than life and death” and “I cannot even speculate how much pain he would feel if he ever found out…” were added. The sense that you got from the original was that Shi Yi had let go of her grudge to Wenxing and wished her well, wherever she may be. But, how many people can find out someone has been purposefully hurting you and still treat them like a friend? Here, Shi Yi chooses to let go of her grudge because she knows, having passed through reincarnation herself, that everything is inconsequential in the face of life and death when that person is gone. For Zhousheng Chen, not Wenxing, she will choose to forget and forever keep it all secret.
Lastly, thanks for all your comments last post. I’m much better, although this post did me in again in a couple of places.
I know many of you had commented before that you liked Wenxing, and I carefully chose to keep silent and not respond to any of those. For those of you who never suspected Wenxing, the feelings of anger and betrayal are not surprising. During my initial read of Wenxing’s death, my reaction was quite similar to many of yours, and I do understand the mixed bag of reactions you all had. I had mentioned I had felt sadness and regret… not for her, though. It was for Shi Yi and Zhousheng Chen.
What translating has made me not just cognitively understand but truly experience is that the author has carefully planned out and given everyone their own story (Tong Jiaren, the crown prince, Wenxing, etc.). A person’s actions, motivations, situations, etc. all come with a story behind them. And though, ultimately, they are responsible for their own actions and will have to bear the consequences, their stories, to them, are deeply personal. We, as the readers, usually merely take on the role of the spectator. Allowing myself to truly try to immerse myself into Wenxing’s story was so difficult, emotionally. Frankly, I think what she did was… stupid. But I also felt the desperation. Desperate people can do stupid things and now, somehow, I do understand, if not agree.
In the end, I, myself, do not hate her, but I cannot like her either. Like the crown prince of the past (and yes, I understand the crown prince’s life was significantly worse), I can’t like either for the decisions they made but I do feel for the horribly sad stories behind their lives.
Anyways, enough babbling. Just needed somewhere to set down those emotions.
See you next post.
1 of 1 Prologue
51 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues