Halfway mark of the story. 🙂
So, after the big surprise last update, this one has another surprise for you guys. 😉 *silly grin*
Chapter 11.2 – The Past is No More (2)
He had always had the habit of rising early, and he slept only until some time past six o’clock before he woke.
The person beside him was truly exhausted. She lay curled up in a ball, nestled tightly against him, and her long hair splayed across her pillow. Possibly because the room was a little too warm, her face had a slight flush to it.
In this way, he watched her for a long time. Finally, he picked up his mobile phone and sent a message to Pingfan: I’ve decided to go back to the U.S. for my surgery. TK
Very soon, his phone vibrated: Really? I’ll make the arrangements right away.
He let out a rather helpless chuckle: I seem to recall that I used to study medicine as well. I should be able to arrange everything myself. TK
Once his text message was sent out, he turned his head to the side to glance at her. Her face seemed to be turning a deeper and deeper shade of pink.
He pulled her arm out from beneath the quilt and set it on top. After a short while, her breathing began to slow and become even, and her complexion gradually returned to its original colour.
At the same moment, Pingfan’s message also popped up on the screen: If you insist on making your own arrangements, then at the very least, inform me after you have decided on who your surgeon will be. You’ve already done the surgery once, so this one is going to be more complex and the recovery period will be even longer. You need to be prepared for that.
He sent a very simple “okay” in response, set down his phone, and put on a shirt.
When Tong Yan awoke, he was not in the room, nor was there any movement or noise coming from outside of it either.
As she leaned over the edge of the bed to reach for her clothing, she discovered they were all neatly laid on top of clean towels he had spread on the hardwood floor. Such a peculiar practice. However, when she picked them up, she realized they were warm and did not have even a hint of the chill that should come after rousing from bed in the winter.
She donned her clothing and slid off the bed, but after taking only two steps, she seemed to think of something. Whipping around, she threw back the covers. The next second, she froze, her face instantly turning completely crimson.
Swiftly, she pulled back the bed sheets and looked down. She wanted to weep, but this was beyond tears. After all, she couldn’t change out the whole mattress, right?
In the end, she had no choice but to be selectively blind and only stripped off the bed sheets.
The washing machine for Gu Pingsheng’s home was out on the balcony, and even though the balcony was enclosed, it was still quite a bit colder than being indoors. She was worried that the washing machine would not be able to get the bed sheet completely clean and had soaked more than half of it in cold water. Right as she turned on the faucet, she heard the sound of the living room door being opened. Feeling as if she was would be caught doing something bad, she immediately stuffed the bed sheet into the washing machine and wiped her hands dry on herself.
“It’s so cold out. What were you doing out on the balcony?” Slipping off his black jacket, Gu Pingsheng watched as she walked toward him.
Tong Yan hesitated for a long moment but still was unable to form a single word.
How to say it? … How could she possibly say it?
He noticed her fingers were slightly red, and taking them in his hands, he lifted them up before his eyes for a closer look. “You’re washing something?”
He fell silent for several seconds. Then, as if suddenly understanding something, he appeared to want to hold back his laughter, but, unable to do so, his chuckles soon slipped from his lips. “You don’t need to wash it. Just change it out and put on a new one. I will send it to the dry cleaner tomorrow.”
Tong Yan looked at him in shock. “You can’t do that.” A man taking a bed sheet like that to the dry cleaning shop …
The grin on Gu Pingsheng’s face grew more and more evident. Taking her into his arms, he said softly, “It’s no big deal.”
He used his own hands to warm hers. Tong Yan was just starting to feel the warmth returning to her fingers when she felt a delicate coolness slip down from the tip of one of them. A ring, perfect in size, encircled her ring finger.
A simple band without any unnecessary adornments.
“I am not too familiar with Shanghai and was unable to find one that was most suitable for you.” Gu Pingsheng’s voice was so close and clear as it told her, “I know this isn’t something that should be treated casually, but you’re still in school. This design should be adequate as a stand-in for now.”
As if she had not heard, she remained there motionless, only staring down at her finger.
Her hands were lightly clasped in his and still showed traces of redness from being chilled by the cold water.
All around, it was quiet. There were no sounds, and even he did not say any more. Finally, she was the one who raised her head and broke this silence. “Gu Pingsheng, are you proposing to me? …”
Tears unexplainably began to roll down her cheeks without any warning.
Without warning, there was a ring. Without warning, there was a marriage proposal. Without warning, everything had happened.
Really, so unromantic. How could there be such an unromantic guy?
“This is merely making up for a ring that should have already been given. I remember I once clearly told you that only in marriage is sex the most intimate expression of love and that any type of sexual act outside of marriage is wrong.” In a half-joking manner, he gazed directly at her. “And so, that means last night, you should have already accepted my marriage proposal, right?”
Tong Yan was crying and smiling simultaneously. She could not respond at all to his words.
“My parents’ relationship was actually a teacher-student romance.” He leaned against the glass door of the balcony and held her in his arms. “I am their illegitimate child, and it was also for this reason that my relationship with my mother was never very good, to the point that, even on the night she passed away, we had gotten in a big argument. And it was also on that night that I met you.
“You seemed very much like me, when I was young. Your views on right and wrong were too strong, and your actions were extreme. I wanted to hit you, to completely wake you out of it, so that a dozen or so years later, you would not be like me, regretting everything you had done in the past but too late to repair anything.” His palm covered her cheek that he had hit many years ago, gently caressing it. “Then later, when I saw you again, I don’t know why but I just wanted to take care of you, and I ended up forgetting that my position was actually your teacher. I’m sorry, Yan Yan. When I discovered my feelings for you, my first decision was actually to run from them.”
She tilted her head up to look at him. “It’s alright. I forgive you.”
He carried on, “Running away is absolutely not something a man should do.”
Tong Yan finally could take it no longer and gave a little smile. “Are you done talking?”
He smiled as well and did not speak.
Burrowing herself against him, she said, “So, this is considered the conclusion to the one and only time in your life that you will be proposing? You’re just planning on skimping over it like that?”
It seemed she should not ask for any sort of special surprise from him. To be able to turn such a touching scene into a gathering for self-examination and criticism … He was just too adorable.
“There’s also the most important thing.” Gu Pingsheng mused briefly, then told her honestly, “I do not have a completely healthy body.”
Tong Yan shook her head and wanted to say something, but he stopped her.
“But, I will strive my hardest to regain my health.”
From his pocket, he pulled out another ring and held it before her eyes. “So, will you?”
For just an instant, Tong Yan stared blankly at him. And then, with a “pfft,” she let out a giggle.
Taking the ring from him, she very solemnly slid that small, silver band onto his ring finger. Who would prepare two rings for a marriage proposal, and one of them was actually for himself?
Probably only him.
Gu Pingsheng’s hands had just the right amount of flesh compared to bone, and they were flawless. She remembered, at the time of their initial reunion, she had once sighed in admiration over how this pair of hands was like the hands of those glamourized surgeons in American television dramas.
Osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Perhaps this was the true reason behind why he had walked away from the operating theatre.
She felt a momentary twinge of sadness in her heart. Her fingers rested for a moment on his ring finger before she lifted her head up and stated solemnly, “In sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, I will always be with you.”
Many years ago, when she first saw a wedding scene in a movie, she had felt that there had been such feeling in the words the priest had asked: in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, she would love him, care for him, respect him, accept him, and always be faithful to him, all the days of her life.
At the time, she had been young and did not understand the true meaning behind “in sickness and in health” and “for richer and for poorer.” However, possibly as a result of the family environment she had grown up in, the requirements she placed upon the word, “marriage” could practically be described as being overly harsh and severe. Yet, she did not have any negative feelings at all toward this hasty decision now.
Gu Pingsheng took her hand in his. With his fingers, he lifted up her ring finger and lowering his head, he kissed that ring.
The daylight outside the window was pale and bleak, but yet, it seemed as if it had nothing at all to do with this room. Because there were classes the following day, she returned to the university that evening.
As before, the taxi stopped near the teaching block in a location far away from the dormitory building. Gu Pingsheng stepped out of the vehicle with her and extended to Tong Yan her suitcase’s handle. She took it from him, and with one hand resting on it, she stretched out her right hand and waved it in front of his eyes.
The wind was strong, and he helped her pull up her hood and secure it on. “When you are in your fourth year of studies and are back in Beijing for your internship, we will go do the registration.”
Tong Yan paused uncomprehendingly. After finally understanding the meaning behind what he was saying, she gave a very faint “mm.” But then, remembering that he would not be able to hear, she had no choice but to open her mouth and say, “Okay.” However, upon mulling this over for a moment, she found it rather peculiar. “Why do we have to do the registration in Beijing?”
“Principle of territorial jurisdiction. Marriage registration must occur in the location in which either the male or female party’s hukou is registered [household’s registered permanent residence].
“Really.” He admitted very openly, “I just found this out today, as well. I had originally thought that as long as I had my passport, I could bring you to any government agency to register our marriage directly.”
As Tong Yan’s confusion over the procedure was resolved, she, at the same time, gradually comprehended the meaning behind what he had just said. In other words, he had actually planned to quickly and efficiently complete all of the procedures and registration today?
“Are you trying to take advantage of me while my head is not clear and caught in a moment of rashness to get everything done?” She turned her face upward to gaze at him. “Many people have said that you should never make any decisions when you are in your best or worst mood. In those sorts of circumstances, 98% of the decisions made are wrong.”
“Head is not clear?” He repeated her words.
She beamed, as if she had managed to win a hugely advantageous side of a deal. “Fine, I’ll admit it. I’ve been scheming and had my eye on you for a long time now. It definitely is not because my head is momentarily not clear.”
“When did this start?” His interest truly seemed to be piqued.
“From last semester, the moment you walked into the classroom.” She narrowed her eyes and said, “From when you had obviously noticed me the instant you came into the classroom but still had to wait until I asked you first.”
“I was just very curious, at the time, how the little girl from before had suddenly become so pretty.” Smiling, he tapped her on her forehead. “And, she kept staring at me the whole time, not thinking at all that she should curb herself.”
The glow of the streetlamps permeated out from behind him.
There, face to face with her, he exposed her but, at the same time, he was also subtly admitting to the special attention he had paid her.
 户口 “hu kou.” The hukou, or household registration system is a system in China to identify its citizens. A paper document, similar to a passport, contains identifying information as well as stating the location where the household and its members permanently resides.
“that … you would not be like me, regretting everything you had done in the past but too late to repair anything.” I honestly shed a tear at this. Who we see now is a mature, warm Gu Pingsheng who seems to still be able to smile warmly in the face of any of his troubles or adversities. But, that came with such a price. The pain he must have felt must have been so deep and etched a permanent mark on him. Thankfully, he chose to not spiral into the darkness and give up on himself but move forward, making him a better person and an amazing person who is now capable of loving Tong Yan with such strength.
It’s brilliant how the author weaves instances of their past, like the mention of his mother or his sickness and need to give up his career as a surgeon or her unhappy family situation and hence the requirements she placed upon the word, “marriage,” into such a sweet moment. It yet again reminds us that life is only partly made up of circumstance, which can be sometimes awful, but also partly made up of our choices and mindset. These two truly are trying to treasure the joys they have, and you really root for them to find their happiness.
As for the proposal, unromantic perhaps, but filled with such sincerity and promise. ❤ We’ve probably all heard the vow, “in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer,” but for them, it really seems to take on a different meaning, doesn’t it? Such a powerful promise from Tong Yan.
1 of 1 Prologue
33 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments