Our Teacher Gu is a man of outstanding talent, and while it is not recognition that he seeks, he will do more than fine in more “high flying” settings.
Chapter 16.2 – My Mister Gu (2)
His words seemed to settle down into the depths of her heart.
So long as she was not occupied with anything, her thoughts would turn to these words of his.
According to his logic, she knew that her family had many issues, yet she still decided to drag him into the messiness of it all.
If he had been healthy, perhaps he would have had the strength to bear all of this with her, but to make him, who was already in this condition, face this together with her — wasn’t that even more selfish?
“What did you think of your visit to the prison this morning?” Another intern opened the microwave, took off the lid of his lunch container, and put it inside. “Before I first went there, I thought for sure that it would be really scary, but once I was actually there, I was fine with it.”
After hastily eating her lunch, she went downstairs to retrieve some written submissions filed by attorneys. In the main foyer of the courthouse were two dark-skinned elderly gentleman who were following behind their lawyers. One of them was pointing at the other one, grumbling incessantly, “It’s all your fault! You’ve made both sides have to take this to a lawsuit!” … When Tong Yan walked over and said that she needed to get some information, immediately, a friendly smile was received from both the fierce-looking individual and the party who was suppressing his objection and not daring to retort.
It was as if, so long as a person had come down from somewhere upstairs in this building, he or she would be able to take charge for them.
She could not adjust very well to this situation where people were misunderstanding her status. Right as she wanted to turn around to leave, she unexpectedly spied a seemingly familiar face. While she was still searching through her memory, that person had already approached her and smilingly greeted, “Miss Tong, do you still remember me? I’m the pharmaceutical rep who went to pick up Associate Chief Dong from the airport last time.”
With an “oh,” she responded, “I remember now. You are here because …?”
“I’m here helping a friend drop something off.” The pharmaceutical representative’s smile was very warm and amiable. “You work here? You just graduated?”
It was very easy to spot clues as to whether a person had ever worked before, and Tong Yan quickly explained, “Not graduated yet. I’m just on internship here.”
“It’s a good job placement. This type of place is suitable for young girls. It’s not tiring, and you don’t need to ask people for help.” The middle-aged man very naturally turned the topic onto Dong Changting. “Last time I was in a hurry to take Associate Chief Dong to a seminar and did not have time to meet your boyfriend. Is he a doctor as well, like Associate Chief Dong?”
Tong Yan shook her head. “He is a university teacher.”
“Oh, that’s great. Are he and Associate Chief Dong relatives? Based on their ages, their relationship should be uncle and nephew?”
Tong Yan did not want to say what their relationship was, but subconsciously, she was not willing to deny their relationship either.
Sometimes, things were just this unfair. They were legitimately father and son, yet this could not be acknowledged. Gu Pingsheng’s unwillingness to be in contact with him was his choice. However, that man, as a father, should not reject his duties and responsibilities.
Perhaps all medical sales representatives were very capable of exchanging in social niceties for she unknowingly ended up talking to that person for a long time. Piecing together many of the words spoken in casual conversation, a picture of Gu Pingsheng’s father gradually was sketched out. He was an associate chief physician for the nephrology department of a certain hospital and was very well known in professional circles. He had a wife who was also a doctor, the chief physician in the cardiology department of the same hospital.
Apart from having no children, his every aspect evoked envy in people.
That evening, the North Third Ring Road was congested for some time, and by the time she strode from the bus stop to the entrance to their community compound, she was just in time to see Gu Pingsheng at the doorway of the fresh fruits store, selecting some fruit while he waited for her.
The storekeeper’s wife very much liked him. Every time, she would choose the freshest fruits for him, but they were not the ones that looked the brightest and most attractive to the point that they were scary. When she walked up behind him, she saw that the fruit store owner’s wife was competently teaching him how to select dragon fruit and mangosteen.
She took hold of his left hand, which was currently unoccupied. Gu Pingsheng knew it was her and did not turn around, continuing instead to watch the storekeeper’s wife speak.
When the storekeeper’s wife had finished weighing everything, he finally was willing to look at her.
“I don’t like to eat dragon fruit. Every time, I feel like there’s no flavour …” Tong Yan straightaway stated her central message by asking, “How about buying some mangoes?”
“Mangoes can cause excessive internal heat.” The storekeeper’s wife was filled with mirth. “Just now, I said as well that you liked mangoes, but your husband would not buy any.”
“Then let’s just buy the smaller type …”
“You’ve had mango this week already.” Gu Pingsheng’s answer was straight to the point. “I’ll buy some for you next week.”
She still wanted to make a last-ditch effort and throw in some words of protest, but Gu Pingsheng had already handed over the money and was pulling her towards their community compound, completely severing the last of those thoughts.
Later, after carefully mulling it over again and again, Tong Yan did not mention to him those things she had heard that day regarding his father. On the other hand, after a little more than half a month, Gu Pingsheng suddenly mentioned the topic of work to her.
He and Pingfan both had law backgrounds, so naturally, he had many friends in this field.
According to what he told her, at the time when he had come to China, the best work opportunity presented to him had actually been at a foreign-based law firm. However, because he had chosen to take a position in a university, needless to say, he had turned down the offer. However, that partner of the firm who had been interested in him was actually a schoolmate and alumnus of his university, and after him, another suitable candidate for the position had never been found. To date, the position was still unfilled.
“You don’t want to be in a university anymore?” Tong Yan was holding a clothes iron in her hand, uncertain as to why he all of a sudden had this idea.
“I’d probably still continue to stay and work at the university.” Gu Pingsheng seemed to have already thought through everything he was to say. “My teaching load at the university is by no means too heavy, so if there are other opportunities, I still have time for them.”
With her head lowered, Tong Yan spread out a dress shirt and began ironing the wrinkles.
After she had finished with the two sleeves, she lifted her head and continued to question, “But I feel that your current physical state definitely won’t be able to handle it.”
“I’m clear on what my own physical state is, and I’ll make sure to work within my limits.”
Behind him were floor-to-ceiling windows. Looking out from the twentieth floor, the myriad of brilliant lights seemed to merge together into a glowing sea.
Tong Yan carried on with lowered head to iron his shirt. She could approximately guess some of what he was thinking.
He had not been working for very long, and the apartment and his little bit of savings were all from what was left to him by his late mother.
If he had been in good health and had also graduated from a well-known medical school, he likely would have led a leisurely life. Even now, though he could no longer take up a surgical scalpel, if he did not have her and a furture lifestyle that could not be predicted, it would not be difficult for him to have a comfortable life.
But now, those were all just hypothetical situations.
Even when two ordinary people came together in a relationship, they needed to be mindful about being able to manage all the unknown ups and downs that life would bring them. And he, himself, already had too many problems that could not be resolved. Concerning the matter of the osteonecrosis of his femoral heads, he would undoubtedly have to have at least another surgery, and there were those other side effects that eventually, one after the other, would be showing up in him as well. Then, there was also Grandmother’s increasing age. These were all things that had to be resolved, one by one, and needed to be thoroughly prepared for.
After the incident last time, she had also seriously contemplated this problem.
Out of the corner of her eye, Tong Yan could see that he had not moved the entire time. Raising her head, she wrinkled her nose slightly and said, ‘Fine. I’ll let you loose for now to forge your way in the world. Wait ten years for me. Ten years from now, I’ll be the bread winner, you be the gardener.”
Gu Pingsheng laughed in surprise at this, a smile lifting up one side of his lips.
Wagging the iron in her hand, she warned, “Careful of getting burned.”
But he did not care at all. Very quickly, his face drew near, and then slowly, he brought it up against hers. She, on the other hand, was alarmed by this and raised her right hand high up, keeping the dangerous device in it away from him. In this bizarre position and very unenjoyable experience for her, she exchanged kisses with him.
Gu Pingsheng was absolutely a person who put action to his words.
The following morning, she stood inside the bathroom, brushing her teeth, and through the half-open bedroom door, she saw him, head lowered and very focused on doing up the left cuff of his dress shirt. His face was not visible, but she could see his hands. Such a simple action, yet it was so pleasing to the eyes when he did it …
After the dress shirt was put on, it was the suit jacket.
And lastly, it was the pocket square. From a drawer inside the closet, he took out a handkerchief that was the same colour as his tie. Folding it diagonally down the middle by bringing the bottom corner to meet the opposite one, he spread those two corners at the top so that they were offset, then slipped the handkerchief into the pocket of his suit jacket.
Smooth. Fitting. So perfect that not a single flaw could be found.
When all of this was complete, she even somewhat felt that she did not recognize him.
“Mr. Gu, you’ve made me think of a movie.” Tong Yan cupped a handful of water and washed away the foam in her mouth before carrying on, “Roman Holiday. You remind me of Roman Holiday, except in that movie, Audrey Hepburn, who slipped into the world of commoners, was actually a princess, and you’re a man. Is this what you would have originally looked like after you graduated from King’s?”
“If I had stayed there, or if after I came back to China, I did not go work at a university, this indeed should be what I would have looked like.” As he spoke, he was leaning against the frame of the bathroom door, and reaching out a hand, he wiped away some white foam from the corner of her mouth.
Gu Pingsheng, Mr. Gu, when ever did you possess such beauty?
With a tilt of her head to the side, she joked, “Am I going to be one of those rich wives really soon, then? Ideally, the type who buys five or six big dogs, and everyday, I just walk the dogs and garden or something like that?”
“That type of request can be very easily fulfilled.” Suppressing the smile peeking through at the corner of his lips, he mused, “To some extent, those in this particular profession can actually lead a very good life. I’ll give you a simple example. I have a classmate who, in the 2008 economic crisis, did not have any projects, so his company forced him to take a one-year paid leave of absence. During that leave, the company paid him an annual salary of $500,000 USD.”
Tong Yan listened in dazed astonishment. “He didn’t bring in any business and he still got $500,000 USD a year. Then if he was actually working as normal …” She thought about her 1600 yuan monthly wage from her internship job at the courthouse and inwardly gawked that, in comparison to the legal counsel provided by foreign law firms, she was truly cheap labour.
By the time he left home, Tong Yan had already packed her lunch as well and was heading out the door.
Outside, it was raining moderately, and the platform at the bus stop was crammed with people. With much difficulty, she found a place to stand, and as she closed her umbrella, the bus was pulling into the stop.
Inside the long, articulated bus, the passengers were also packed in tightly against one another, and many people, when they saw this, decided to give up getting on this bus. Tong Yan, though, did not dare delay, for fear that traffic congestion would cause her to be late. Bracing herself, she dashed towards the door of the bus.
However, right when she had just squeezed in, someone suddenly grabbed hold of her wrist and pulled her back out from the crowd.
She let out a cry of fright. As she whipped her head around in alarm, Lu Bei was already extending his arms upwards, using his coat to shield her from the rain. “I have something to ask you.”
 上火 “shang huo.” In traditional Chinese medicine, this is describing when the yin and yang in your body have been thrown off balance, and there is excessive yang or “heat.” The resulting symptoms can vary, but the more common ones include rashes, sore throat, coughing, acne, etc.
我负责赚钱养家，你负责种草种花. The literal translation is, “I’ll be responsible for earning the money to provide for the family, you be responsible for planting the grasses and flowers.” Tong Yan is saying that ten years from now, she will take on the responsibility of supporting the family and he will just need to do relaxing things at home. This sounds singsong when it is read because it rhymes and therefore carries a playful, cute feeling.
1 of 1 Prologue
48 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments