It’s still Good Friday for me. Wishing everyone a happy Easter!
I think you guys might have been waiting for this. 🙂
Chapter 13.2 – While Waiting For You (2)
The surroundings were very easy to identify. He should be in the hospital. Had he finished his surgery? Or had he just been admitted into the hospital and preparing for surgery? The more she guessed, the more agitated her heart felt. In the end, she could only use Gu Pingfan’s words to comfort herself.
Relax and do not stress. Only when she did not allow stress to overtake her could she first take care of everything that was happening here.
The following day, Shen Yao purposely accompanied her to the Physics Building.
Inside Zhao Yin’s office, there were many students from the Department of Physics, so the two of them stood outside and waited for a long while before the office was finally empty of other people.
“Do you need me to go in with you?” Shen Yao asked her softly.
Tong Yan shook her head. “There’s definitely nothing good about this sort of thing. Just wait for me outside.”
From when she knocked on the door and went in to when she stepped out again at the end, only a dozen or so minutes in total had elapsed.
Shen Yao had been pacing back and forth over the same spot as she waited, and when she saw Tong Yan emerge, she hurriedly grabbed her arm and began asking how everything had gone. Tong Yan had not quite recovered herself yet as she answered, “She agreed to it. She said, since I had already taken three semesters of this course and also scored higher than eighty percent on my midterm, I shouldn’t have any real problems with the final exam.”
“Just like that, she agreed?”
“Just like that.”
Shen Yao gawked disbelievingly at her. She nodded in affirmative, confirming the authenticity of this.
Initially, when she stepped through the door, she had not held out much hope. Zhao Yin thought she had come to inquire about her mark and had quickly handed her exam paper to her. Eighty-one percent. That was absolutely a record-breaking moment in history.
Unfortunately, Tong Yan had not felt any sort of excitement at this, and while Zhao Yin was still describing in a warm voice where her mistakes had arisen, she had tentatively explained her purpose for coming.
Zhao Yin had not expected that she would suddenly make this request. To a teacher, such a request was rather unreasonable.
Tong Yan hesitated at first but still told her the real reason behind it.
However, that reason by itself was woefully riddled with flaws. It was an elder two generations removed who had fallen sick with a serious illness. Why would she have to return home? And furthermore, even if she did go back for this, simply visiting should be adequate; why would she need to stay and provide long-term care while the elder was in the hospital? Most people would ask all those questions in succession, but surprisingly, Zhao Yin had not inquired further.
“TK and I are friends of many years. If there is anything you need help with, feel free to tell me at any time.” Zhao Yin wrote down her mobile phone number and gave it to her. “Before he left, he talked to me. While I do not support romantic relationships between a teacher and a student, as his friend, I still wish happiness upon the two of you.”
With her hands in her pockets, Tong Yan walked out of the Physics Building amid Shen Yao’s string of incredulous sighs.
The first level of Lianhua Supermarket was comprised wholly of stalls selling different snack foods, and Shen Yao deliberately dragged her over there to buy two egg-filled flatbreads to eat as their breakfast. Since it was raining outside, there were a lot less people buying breakfast today, and Tong Yan and Shen Yao stood beside the little stall, eating their food while taking shelter from the rain.
“Yan Yan, does Beijing have egg-filled flatbreads?” Shen Yao suddenly felt sad and sentimental.
“Don’t know. It should, I would think.” She thought for a moment before saying, “I’ve been gone for nearly three years, and every time I go back, it’s not for very long, so I’ve never really paid any attention to that.”
After this semester was over, it was a one-year internship term.
Undoubtedly, she would not be staying here in Shanghai for her internship, which meant that, once she left this time, aside from coming back for final examinations … they really did not have much time together anymore.
“I think you need to thank me.” Chomping down on her flatbread, Shen Yao stated in a voice made indistinctive because of the food, “I’ve decided I will go listen to the physics lectures and take notes for you. Do you know what a hard decision that was for me? Back then, I barely passed, too, with my mark of sixty-something percent. Definitely a nightmare for me.”
Tong Yan broke out into amused giggles.
Teachers tended to take more care of their own students from their faculty, and coupled with the help of one of the administrative teachers, she basically also received an exception for Maritime Law and was granted the opportunity to still take the final examination.
When she returned to her dormitory room that afternoon, she began packing her belongings. After everything had been placed into the boxes, the only item remaining was his computer. Worried that it would get bumped and jostled, she planned on putting it into her schoolbag and carrying it with her.
Sitting down in her chair, she, out of habit, opened her email inbox and surprisingly discovered that she had received an email from him.
Right now where he was, it should be very late at night …
Yesterday, I went back to Penn and saw my old university. It stirred in me very particular feelings.
After you graduate, I’ll bring you here for a look. The University of Pennsylvania is located in the city centre of Philadelphia. Transportation is very convenient, and it’s really close to New York and Washington, D.C. How about we make Penn the first stop on our honeymoon trip?
I am doing very well. Everything is well with me.
There unexpectedly was a video attached in the email.
Tong Yan clicked on it to open it.
In an unnamed square, he stood, arms folded across his chest, in front of a fountain as he stared at some Gothic architecture not far away. The camera was very shaky, and she surmised that Gu Pingfan had wanted to speak to him so she had jogged over until she was directly in front of him.
When he saw the camera, he realized that Pingfan was recording him and was somewhat taken aback. Then, very slowly, a smile spread across his face.
“TK, hurry and say something to your wife,” a voice offscreen urged him.
Because they were by a fountain, the loud noise of flowing water filled the video.
In the picture on her screen, his hair was slightly longer than before and a smile was on his face. The gushing column of water, the dazzling sunshine — all of these beguiled the heart and mind. As a result of Pingfan’s request, he began to seriously muse for a moment.
And then, he soon bent his arms so that, ever so casually, they formed a heart shape above his head.
Offscreen, Pingfan’s shouts of “Oh my Lady Gaga,” were sounding out incessantly. Presumably because she had never before seen Gu Pingsheng do such a thing, Pingfan was nearly going crazy …
Tong Yan sat on her chair as if in a state of shock from the picture she was seeing, and only when the video had come to an end and the screen had turned black did she gradually begin to hear her own heart again. Clear and slow, aching dully. All the feelings of yearning for and missing him these last two months were drawn up out of her by this single action of his.
Inside the video, he was handsome and healthy and possessed all that was beautiful and good.
Perhaps this had been recorded a month ago, perhaps a dozen or so days ago. She did not know, but she did know with certainty that it was not yesterday. She stared at that video and for the longest time, did not re-watch it until at last, she closed the computer and packed it into her schoolbag.
In those days after returning to Beijing, everything was hectic and urgent, as if she was fighting a war, and moved at a breakneck pace.
First, using all possible reasons and arguments, she managed to completely persuade Grandmother to accept the advised treatment of surgical removal. Then, it was scrambling to sell their home and rent a new place to stay for them. In a single month, she learned nearly all the skills that were required to survive, all those things that were not often learned in a school setting. Fortunately, Grandmother’s former student was helping them so she was not too overwhelmed by all those matters regarding the hospital and medical treatment.
Worried that moving would be too much trouble, she had rented an apartment in the building next door to their old home, and all the smaller items, she had moved over herself, one trip at a time. When it was time to move the larger pieces of furniture, she hired a moving company to move everything else all in one go and asked two of her high school classmates to help keep an eye on things.
That afternoon, after everything had been moved but the apartment was still not cleaned up and organized, she hurriedly raced off to the hospital.
When she arrived at the hospital, many of the other patients’ family members were also there. Lively conversation could be heard as everyone carried out idle chitchat.
Those who were staying in this section were all oncology patients, and they were exchanging their knowledge and experience about various illnesses they had heard of as well as some they had not heard of.
Apart from returning home to shower and change her clothing, most of Tong Yan’s time was spent in the hospital, and hence, she was rather well acquainted with these people. Occasionally, someone would ask her why her parents had not come all this time, and she would only give a vague response.
Eventually, people gradually stopped asking.
Since renting the apartment, she would use the time that she was outside buying dinner to go online at a nearby Internet café.
Shen Yao every time would send her an electronic version of the class notes and would always include a joking sentence or two, saying things like she was not even this diligent when it came to her own classes. Gu Pingsheng, as before, would send her an email every two or three days, but never in any of them would he talk about his medical condition and recovery.
And every time she replied, she would also only write things along the lines of, the weather was getting hotter, her schoolwork was really light and easy, or similar. Privately, though, she kept a diary of everything that had happened over these last several months, and when he returned, she planned to pull it out to show him and say, “Look how strong and positive a person Mrs. Gu is.”
In mid-June, Shen Yao began reminding her that her physics final examination would be taking place in July.
By the time she hung up the phone, the pressure cooker inside the kitchen was already letting out a high-pitched whistle. Dashing back in, she shut off the burner. As she looked out the window at the white poplar tree outside with its wide, leafy branches, she,in an instant, felt as if she had traveled through time.
How had time passed so quickly? In the blink of an eye, it was going to be July.
“Yan Yan?” Grandmother shakily walked into the kitchen. “Do you need to have a nap?”
“No, it’s okay.” She turned around and set the pressure cooker down on the floor, planning on taking the stewed pig trotters out from it. “After I finish preparing these trotters for you to eat, I’m going to go do some practice problems.” Zhao Yin had kindly granted her an exception by giving her the chance to still write the final examination, so even if it was simply out of thankfulness to her, she should make sure she achieved a good grade.
After managing with great difficulty to persuade Grandmother to take an afternoon nap, she returned back to the kitchen and opened the pressure cooker. When the trotters were pulled out, they were so tender the meat was nearly falling apart. She washed her hands and began to carefully separate the parts of the pig’s feet, pulling apart the tendon, meat, and skin and placing them into a small bowl.
She had just finished off one and was about to move her efforts over to the next one when a knock that was neither light nor heavy in its force suddenly sounded at the front door. Worried that it would waken Grandmother, she rubbed her hands hastily on a cloth and jogged over.
While she was pulling open the door, she was thinking that it was likely Auntie Liu and she should ask her about the results from the latest medical examination … But when she saw that person leaning against the side of the door, saw his face that was slightly thinner but still smiling lightly, all of her thoughts completely left her.
And then, she heard him say, “Is it convenient? May I come in?”
Her eyes did not so much as blink as they gazed fixedly at his eyes.
Gu Pingsheng looked her over with a smile, and in a musing voice, he stated, “Mrs. Gu does look prettier when she’s wearing a skirt, especially if it’s a mini-skirt.”
Amid his naughty teasing tone, she finally believed that this sight before her was true.
When she was about to reach her arms forward and slip them around him, she noticed the cane in his right hand, and her heart, which only a moment ago had grown warm, instantly felt cold. “The surgery outcome wasn’t good?”
With a little laugh, he handed the cane to her and explained, “There is no elevator here, so it’s a little strenuous to walk up. In about a month, I won’t need this anymore.”
Tong Yan took it from him and set it against the wall.
The hallway was too narrow, so she could not even support him with her hand and could only watched as he walked in by himself.
From simply observing him right now, it seemed that he was recovering very well.
“Where’s Grandmother?” he asked as he stepped into the living room.
“She’s taking an afternoon nap.” Motioning that he should speak quieter, she brought him into the kitchen.
After pulling the kitchen door closed behind her, she immediately turned and threw her arms around his waist. And then, she felt him return her embrace. In this way, they remained in a lengthy stillness, and as she buried her face into his chest, she heard him say, “I arrived in Beijing this morning, and at midday, I signed the home purchase agreement. It will take a few days to tidy it up and organize it and then we will be able to move in.”
She neither moved nor lifted her head to speak.
She only thought, this feeling was so nice, to have someone take care of everything for you.
He said another few things before silence was restored.
That was, until she tilted her face upwards to gaze at him, and he also lowered his head and looked at her. Tenderly, he brushed his lips against the tip of her nose, then allowed them to continue their way down, but he did not deepen his touch, only ever so gently grazing her lips with his own.
His breath, his smell, these things that she had not experienced for such a long time, now, one inch at a time, were dismantling the anxiousness, disquiet, and fear of these last several months …
 鸡蛋灌饼 “ji dan guan bing.” Beaten egg is poured into a tortilla or pita-like flatbread while it is still being pan-fried so that the egg fills the bread itself, almost like a pie filling. When the flatbread with egg inside is cooked through, it is removed from the pan, spread with sauce, and then rolled or folded, usually with lettuce inside.
 The English words, “oh my Lady Gaga” became a popular expression in China around 2010/2011 and they are used in place of “oh my God.”
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