Technically, this is a short update, but I’ve added something on the back end.
“Naughty. Pretty.” I love how these two show that they’re in love, yet you don’t get the feeling that they are deliberately flaunting. It’s just a fact to them, but it sure does even more so make everyone jealous. Unfortunately, what should have been a relaxing day turned out to be a bit of a downer.
Chapter 18.1 – What Life Looks Like (1)
They were all young teachers from the faculty who came tonight, and they did not think anything of what was going on. In fact, they were happy to watch the antics of this group of students.
Gu Pingsheng knew that he should not keep turning down the request, and tilting his head to the side, he looked at her.
“What should we do? Want me to swoop in as the hero and rescue the beauty?” She mouthed this to him.
His beautiful hand lifted her hair that was cascading over her shoulders, and leaning in toward her, he answered in a low voice, “Sure.”
He appeared to truly have been infected by the New Year’s atmosphere. From his expressions to his movements, he had become more relaxed and natural. It seemed like it had been so long already since he had accepted his second job and had become always busy and showing hints of fatigue.
The “he” of this moment carried a tranquil expression in his eyes that had not been seen in a long time.
She all of a sudden felt a twinge of guilt. Things were already hard for him, but because he now had her, there was an even greater burden placed upon him. She rose to her feet, and in that atmosphere that was charged with enthusiasm, she borrowed a guitar from the hands of a boy and sat down on a chair that someone nearby had pushed over for her.
“May I squeal? Pretty girl, you honestly are married already?” After the female emcee had finished enviously teasing Tong Yan, she looked around. “My fellow female junior schoolmates, to be a girl that Teacher Gu likes, you must first know how to play the guitar, got it?”
Below, the answers came back like rowdy jesting, and everyone answered together, “Got it.”
“Your Teacher Gu is tone deaf, so I had better take his place when it comes to any sort of performance,” Tong Yan joked deliberately.
“Hmm … That can do”—the female emcee contemplated for a few seconds—“but you can’t completely fill in for him either … How about this? If you and Teacher Gu each answer a question, we will let Teacher Gu off the hook.”
Answer a question? She truly dared not agree to that. Who knew what they might ask? …
“We definitely wouldn’t dare ask any mature-audience-only questions.” Grinning, the female emcee walked up beside Gu Pingsheng and said into the microphone, “Teacher Gu, may we start with you first?”
He gave a light shrug. “Sure.”
“Use two words to describe our Mrs. Gu who is standing here in front of everyone.” This question was a very proper and suitable one.
He nodded, and looking at Tong Yan with with a smile so gorgeous it did not seem real, he answered in English, “Pretty. Naughty.”
Praise, loving affection, and even doting were wholly and unabashedly encompassed within those two words.
“Woohoo!” From various corners, simultaneous cries rose up from different people.
Even as the person who was with Gu Pingsheng day and night, Tong Yan was still struck by these two words … And as a result, after returning to Tong Yan’s side, the emcee still maintained an expression of absolute envy on her face. Seeming extremely torn but also extremely curious, she asked Tong Yan the next question. “Well then, may I ask, what is the one thing our Teacher Gu said that touched you the most?”
“A line of lyrics.”
With an “mm-hmm,” Tong Yan adjusted the microphone stand and set the dark silver microphone beside her face. Gazing directly at him, she stated, “I am thinking of you in my sleepless solitude tonight.”
After several seconds of silence, someone finally revealed the source of this line. At the back of the crowd, a girl excitedly gripped the arm of another person and cried, “‘My All’! It’s ‘My All’! That’s my favourite song!”
It was also her favourite song.
Because of Gu Pingsheng.
As opposed to the song that, during the Anniversary Gala, had caused the entire university to boil over with exhilaration, she loved even more to sing out the feelings in this one. This song that she, holding a guitar, had sung to her fellow junior schoolmates on that train ride deep in the night, from Shanghai to Beijing, when everyone else was blearily asleep. That had been the first time she left him after they had become a couple.
I am thinking of you in my sleepless solitude tonight.
I am … thinking of you … in my sleepless solitude tonight.
In that first taste of separation, she had not known how to express those feelings of missing him, but he had used this first line of lyrics to unreservedly tell it to her.
As Tong Yan began to sing, the banquet hall gradually quieted down. The very festive and tacky neon lights were continuously moving and changing their angles.
To make up for the regret that last time, he had not seen her sing this song, this entire time, she looked only at him as she sang. Because it had been so long since she last touched a guitar and she also had to divide some of her attention to ensure that each word was clearly articulated and visible, it was unavoidable that she hit a few wrong chords. Fortunately, most of those people whose ears could hear were amazed by her singing abilities and did not pay too much attention to those subtle mistakes.
The song finished, but before her hands had even left the strings, several boys who were being silly came up to her with notebooks in hand, putting on a display as if they were chasing after their idol.
Later, when many years had passed and she again ran into his students at the time, they could all still talk about her performance of “My All” during the New Year’s celebration.
On the New Year’s holiday, Grandmother rose early and headed out to visit an old friend. Gu Pingsheng, for once, actually slept in, and Tong Yan did not have the heart to wake him. Seven or eight articles of clothing were soaking inside a washtub, and sitting on a small stool, she began with her hands to scrub the fabrics. When she was nearly done with washing the laundry, she wanted to go to the bedroom for a look, but turning rather hurriedly, she forgot that the floor beneath her feet was wet. With a loud bang, she slipped and crashed to the floor with the washtub.
She felt with her hand. Only wetness from water. She had not cut herself. Yes, it really hurt, but it should not be serious. She pushed herself up on the tiles, but then her brows creased together. Only when she was applying some force did she discover that the place that hurt most was actually not her head but rather, the area around her tailbone — it was that type of pain that rendered you unable to move. Hence, when Mr. Gu rose from bed and walked to the bathroom, the picture he saw before him was Tong Yan sitting red-eyed on the tile floor and covered with water, her face pale as she looked up at him.
This was supposed to be a hard-to-come-by day of rest, but the two of them spent several tiring hours of it in the hospital instead. As the doctor held up the x-ray film and examined it, he smilingly told her that she had fallen just right and confirmed that she had only fractured her tailbone. Throughout the entire time, besides carefully taking care of her, Gu Pingsheng maintained a somber expression on his face, as if this was an extremely big incident.
“Fracture” sounded like it was a very serious matter, but in the end, she was merely told to rest.
Utterly and completely rest.
无厘头 “wu li tou.” This term is usually transliterated as “mo lei tau” as it is actually a Cantonese term that originates from Hong Kong popular culture. The term itself means “makes no sense” or “meaningless” and is describing a unique type of humour based on wordplay, slapstick comedy, and puns.
This particular online chapter was heavily edited when it went to the printing press, and by “heavily edited,” I mean a significant chunk was removed While I’m actually translating from the published version, I thought I would include here what got cut from this chapter around Tong Yan’s tailbone fracture.
Only when she was applying some force did she discover that the place that hurt most was actually not her head but rather, the area around her tailbone — it was the type of pain that rendered you unable to move. She tentatively tried to touch her tailbone with her finger. A sharp, unbearable pain caused tears to spill over from her eyes. Could there be anyone funnier than her right now? Slipping in her own bathroom and injuring herself to the point that she could not even move …
Many ideas whirred through her mind, but it seemed, without being able to stand, no plan would actually be effective.
Not being able to move meant that she could not even turn over into a very ungraceful posture and crawl herself out of there. As she leaned back there in the bathroom, she continued to rub her head, deciding that she might as well pick up any of the clothes her hands could reach and toss them back back into the washtub.
She tried to grit her teeth through the pain, thinking that she needed to just rest through it and then perhaps it might be better. Unfortunately, after several minutes had passed, aside from the pain that was becoming ever more distinct, she remained the same.
And then she heard footsteps that seemed as if they were walking in a pair of slippers, slowly, tiredly approaching.
Hence, when Mr. Gu rose from bed and walked to the bathroom, the picture he saw before him was Tong Yan sitting red-eyed on the tile floor and covered with water, her face pale as she looked up at him.
“I’m done for. I accidentally fell and now I can’t even stand. Gu Pingsheng, have I broken a bone somewhere? Or maybe I smacked my head and now there’s something wrong with my brain? …” She started rambling nonsense.
After seeing the first half of what she said, however, he was already squatting down. “Where did you injure yourself when you fell?” His voice carried the nasal tone that comes from just awakening and was somewhat husky, somewhat anxious. The expression in his eyes was not calm, but he was purposely suppressing this.
“I think it’s somewhere around my tailbone.” She did not want to frighten him and simply stated the facts. “I touched it just now with my hand. It really hurts. I can’t really have broken it, right?”
Carefully, he stretched his hand over and slowly pulled down her pajama pants. After examining the area she had described, he quickly lifted his head again. “Put your arms around my neck. I’m going to carry you out first.” Tong Yan reached her arms up and obediently wrapped them around his neck.
In that instant when she was lifted from the ground, she inhaled sharply. But then, the next second, she could sense the exertion was somewhat strenuous for him, and his steps were not quick.
Since his return after his second surgery, he had never carried her like this. During their day-to-day life, she had not even detected this, but now even this short distance exposed what she had been worried most about. No matter what, have the same surgical procedure done once again on the same place would have a great effect.
While her thoughts were in disarray, he carefully set her down so that she was sprawled very inelegantly on the bed.
This was supposed to be a hard-to-come-by day of rest, but the two of them spent several tiring hours of it in the hospital instead. As the doctor held up the x-ray film and examined it, he smilingly told her that she had fallen just right and confirmed that she had fractured her tailbone and would need to rest at home for one month.
The doctor told her pleasantly that nowadays, it seemed very common for young girls to fall and injure that area. For example, this month, there were four or five girls who, for the sake of being pretty, had worn high heels and fallen down the stairs, or other similar incidents.
Tong Yan smiled self-consciously, feeling as well that she was unlucky.
Throughout the entire time, besides carefully taking care of her, Gu Pingsheng had maintained a somber expression on his face, as if this was an extremely big incident. When the two returned home, she lay belly-down on the bed, her head turned to the side to look at him sitting there at the bedside. She tried ways to make him smile but all to no avail.
“I want to drink some water.” She blinked her eyes, trying her best to be pouty.
Gu Pingsheng complied and brought her a glass of water.
Pursing her lips, Tong Yan looked down in satisfaction at the glass he was holding up to her, taking two sips before pulling on his button-up shirt and wiping her mouth on it. She continued to sprawl on the bed, her head resting on her arm as she stared at him. “I want to eat candy.”
Their home always had White Rabbit candy ready in all sorts of different flavours.
After Gu Pingsheng had very tirelessly and patiently unwrapped four for her to eat, she finally grew sick of the overload of sweetness.
In order to make it easier for her to speak with him, he sat on the carpet, leaning against the side of the bed as he looked at his laptop computer.
Smacking her lips, Tong Yan finished off all the milk candies in her mouth, then stuck her head out over the edge of the bed and poked his shoulder. When he turned toward her, she said with a tender smile, “I want a kiss.”
He fell into an unexpected silence. Seeing her gazing at him with her clear, sparkling eyes, he finally blew out a light breath and gave a little laugh. And then, he extended two fingers to tilt her chin up slightly, slowly moistening her lips with his own and diluting the saccharine sweetness that filled her mouth. The central heating whirred as it warmed the room. All she could feel was that she was hot. The pain from the fracture was still so great it could melt the soul, and his kiss was incomparably soul-melting as well.
I actually wish they had kept more of this. This scene really illustrates that, because Gu Pingsheng is deaf, being able to call for help in such a situation — something we take for granted — is not possible. Also, there’s the mention of his physical change, that carrying her is not an easy task anymore. In this passage, you can also see that Gu Pingsheng is quite upset with Tong Yan’s injury. I suspect that he’s frustrated at himself, at the helplessness caused by his physical condition, that Tong Yan was hurt but he did not even know it to come help her in a timely fashion. And lastly, I just love that Tong Yan’s pouty request for a kiss finally eked a smile out of him.
1 of 1 Prologue
53 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments