You can see how the presence of one of Gu Pingsheng’s students at the bank and repayment of debt has really affected Tong Yan and the experience has sunk into her heart.😦 And it’s another Lunar New Year, but this time, Tong Yan gets to legitimately meet his family. Will it be a happy day?
Chapter 19.2 – During That Season of Time (2)
“Oh yes.” Tong Yan very solemnly raised her fingers and counted off the years on them. “From when I was born, I waited thirteen years before I finally got to see you, but then we quickly separated. It was eight years later before you were finally willing to bestow me the honour of appearing before me again. So no matter how you look at it, no one has had to have a more agonizing wait than me. In the future, if someone has the misfortune of falling for you and wants to ruin our relationship, you must very sternly tell her to first save up another twenty years before saying that to you.”
Tong Yan felt that she was being so brazen the skin on her face must truly be as thick as a city wall. Stating that, she lowered her head and laughed gleefully for a while.
Her bangs slipped down, and from his angle, he could only see her lips, which were slightly pale from the cold, and discern that they were curved obviously into a smile. But, in that moment when she had lowered her head, a large tear had slid down.
For a nationwide calamity, where many dying had needed to be saved and wounded had needed to be rescued, he had lost the health that he should have rightfully possessed, but not many people knew of this.
And yet her own family situation was causing him to have to face the talk and gossip of people.
Seeing how these students worshipped Gu Pingsheng, she genuinely was very fearful that after the student from this afternoon returned to the school, he would secretly broadcast everything. Or maybe that student would say, “Look at that. The father of Gu Pingsheng’s wife is actually a gambling addict. He owed a debt for so many years and still didn’t pay the money back …”
Tong Yan glanced lightly over at Gu Pingsheng.
He was reaching down with his hand and pulling up the zipper of his jacket. So handsome was he that people could not even shift their gaze from him.
Furtively brushing away her tears, she stretched out her right hand, slipped it into his pocket, and took hold of his hand.
As the two of them left the basketball courts and the countless keenly friendly students, she silently prayed that from this moment on, the rain in their lives would clear to sunshine skies. She dared not think too deeply about the future … because she could not bear it — she could not bear for Gu Pingsheng to have to face this sort of humiliation another time.
When she set the IOU slip in front of Grandmother, Grandmother once again could not refrain from wiping at her tears that fell.
To Tong Yan, her parents were like a debt she had to pay, but to Grandmother, was Tong Yan’s father not also like her debt that she was using an entire lifetime to pay? During Tong Yan’s earlier, rebellious period, she had blamed Grandmother for letting her father go unchecked and for being unwilling to cut off all ties and the mother-son relationship with him, but as she matured, she more and more understood what Grandmother was feeling. That was why, when the elderly lady mentioned that she wanted Tong Yan’s father to come back and celebrate the Lunar New Year with them, Tong Yan did not refuse the request.
It was the eve of the Lunar New Year, and Gu Pingsheng actually drank some alcohol with her father.
Wordlessly, she kept count for him the number of glasses he drank and kicked him at least four or five times, but it was to no avail. It was fortunate that the alcohol content of the beer was not high. Nevertheless, the sight of glass after glass being consumed like that until past eleven o’clock at night was still quite frightful.
“How about having some water?” Sitting on her knees on the bed, Tong Yan held a glass up to his lips.
“I probably won’t be able to get any water down tonight.” He could not help chuckling, “It’s no problem. The alcohol content wasn’t high, so I won’t need to drink water to dilute it.”
Perhaps because he had consumed alcohol, his voice somewhat carried the quality one gets from being tipsy.
A little low, and so sexy it was captivating.
Resignedly, she obliged him, setting the glass down off to the side, and with a towel, she wiped his face for him. “I heard that you shouldn’t bathe after drinking, so don’t shower tonight. Just wipe down your face and hands.”
The dark blue towel followed its way down his forehead to his cheeks as well as his chin.
She was wiping meticulously and so gently it was as if she was doing it for a child. Gu Pingsheng simply allowed her to pour out her overflowing motherly love.
“Give me your left hand.”
Seeing her say this, he held his left hand out to her. Tong Yan had just let go of his right hand before it was already reaching up to caress her face. “Mrs. Gu is twenty-two years old already.”
His fingers glided over her eyes, down her nose, and came to rest on her lips. “I love you, Yan Yan.”
He could not hear that, right at this moment, there was the increasingly enthusiastic noise of firecrackers outside the windows.
Every year, they were prohibited, but every year, despite the repeated bans, there still would be mischievous children from various families who would sneak to buy some firecrackers and fireworks.
This was the first Lunar New Year they were celebrating together since they became a couple. This was his homeplace, but this Lunar New Year celebration of his was so quiet. He could not hear the joyful laughter of the Spring Festival Gala that was showing on the television. He could not hear those annoying messages of blessings and celebration that came from the various consulates of the different countries. He could not even hear the noise of the firecrackers outside the window. A quiet Spring Festival.
Even with her by his side, would he occasionally feel a sense of isolation? The noises were overly raucous and shrill, and she could not hold back a frown from creasing her brows.
Gu Pingsheng was slightly taken aback by this. “What’s wrong?”
“Firecrackers. The noise of the firecrackers outside is especially loud.” Seeing the relief that came over him in that instant, Tong Yan at once realized that he had misunderstood. “I love you, too. I love you more. I especially love you, the type of love where it will be impossible for me to fall in love with anyone else …”
Towards the end, even she could not help laughing.
“So sappy.” She continued to wipe down his hands with the towel.
As he gazed upon her expressive face and her lips which were moving incessantly, a streak of light from the fireworks unexpectedly flashed across the window. The sudden brightness as well as she, sitting there before him, were both quietly rousing the alcohol in his blood.
All of his sensory perceptions had been magnified.
Likely because the expression in his eyes was too bewitching — too plain and direct — Tong Yan’s feelings were soon aroused. Turning her lips up in a pout, she motioned with them to him that they should sleep. “We can’t tonight. Absolutely can’t. We have to get up early tomorrow to go to your grandfather’s house …”
“I know.” He gave a slight smile.
Amid the deafening clamour of firecrackers, she lifted up the down quilt and snugged herself tightly against him, sitting with him as they watched together the ever more dazzling fireworks outside. She did not know what he was thinking, and underneath the blankets, she sought out his hand with her own and squeezed it. Gu Pingsheng pulled back his gaze to look at her. “Not sleeping yet?”
“I still want to ask you, do you tend to get particularly energized when you drink?” Tong Yan grinned, “Normally at this time, unless you had to work overtime, you would already have been asleep for a long time.”
As she said this, she had thrown her leg on top of his already and found a nice, comfortable sleeping position.
“Don’t move,” he considerately reminded her.
Naughtily, she deliberately rubbed against his leg with light motions.
Gu Pingsheng very easily captured her ankle. At once, she settled down like a good girl and changed the topic. “Why do you have a particular fondness for blue?” While she was hanging up the towel earlier on, she realized that all the things in the bathroom were various shades of blue. Normally, she did not even notice this, but now that she was really paying attention, she discovered that there were so many it was unimaginable.
“From a psychology perspective, the colour blue generally is an expression of melancholy or instability in a person’s mood.” Using simple terms, Gu Pingsheng did a self-analysis. “That’s why you will notice that the plural form of ‘blue,’ the word ‘blues,’ means ‘a feeling of sadness or melancholy.’”
Tong Yan merely laughed, pondering on his words. “Too much blue is blues, and blue’s plural is its singular’s melancholy.” Saying that sentence made the teeth ache. “If we keep talking about this, we’re going to turn into those artsy youths.”
“That was just a simple psychological analysis.” Gu Pingsheng was also chuckling. “The real answer is, my mother used to especially like using this colour. It’s something I’ve gotten used to since I was a child, so I’ve just never changed the habit.”
With a nod, she lay on her side, wrapped her arms around him, and, like a good girl, closed her eyes to go to sleep.
It seemed as if Heaven was truly starting to turn its favour on them. Those problems she had once thought unsolvable were all starting to gradually resolve. Tomorrow, they would be going to his maternal grandfather’s home. On the first day of the new lunar year, there should be many people present that she would see …
Many people whom she had never seen before but would be family in the future.
She had only ever once been to the home of Gu Pingsheng’s maternal grandfather, and it had been a circumstance where they elderly man had not even known. This second visit, however, she was formally meeting the family elder. Sitting in Gu Pingfan’s vehicle, Tong Yan was extremely nervous the entire way and constantly asking Pingfan all sorts of things. The reason for this was that Gu Pingsheng truly did not know anything at all …
“I asked him, ‘Who will be there today?’ He said he didn’t know. I asked him, ‘Are there a lot of relatives in your family?’ He said he’s also seen only a few of them … I asked him, ‘What sort of topics does your grandfather like to talk about?’ He said again that he didn’t know …” Tong Yan was talking away until she grew gloomy. “Big Sister Pingfan, how can I not be nervous? I’m so nervous I’m going to jump from the car.”
Gu Pingfan was about to die laughing from listening to her. “Don’t be nervous. Everything he said is the honest truth. Those relatives in my family only visit during Lunar New Year or other festivities, but he wasn’t even in the country so of course he wouldn’t know. What does my [paternal] granddad like? I grew up by his side since I was a kid and didn’t leave until I graduated from high school. You can ask me.”
“Mm, you tell me then.” Tong Yan deferentially sought advice and guidance. “Does Grandfather like the lively, animated type of kid or the graceful and quiet type.”
“Can’t really say. I actually even think that he doesn’t like any sort of kid.” Gu Pingfan was intentionally teasing her, but seeing Tong Yan’s frozen expression, she right away comforted, “He likes kind-hearted kids. You need to trust the eyes of the elderly. Basically what a kid looks like on the outside is not important. The eyes of the elderly can tell in one glance what you really are like.”
Kind-hearted? Such a vague and hard-to-grasp word …
“In his early years, he worked in the Bureau of Culture, and he can be classified as a relatively stern type of person. It’ll be fine once you get used to it, though.” Gu Pingfan turned and cast a quick glance at her. “It’s alright. You still have me and TK. TK didn’t grow up by his side, but my granddad actually loves him most. He just normally doesn’t say it out, that’s all.”
She answered with an “mm-hmm.”
“But Granddad has been sick these last few years, and his energy and mental state as well as mood have not been very good. You need to be mentally prepared.”
She was startled by this, and turning her eyes to Gu Pingsheng, she asked, “Your grandfather is sick?”
He nodded. “Two years ago, he had a liver transplant, and even though it was successful, his creatinine levels have remained very high and he has never stopped dialysis.”
Tong Yan’s heart sank a little. Although she did not know what “never stopped dialysis” signified, simply from the word “dialysis” alone, she knew that it must be a very serious matter. But all this time, Gu Pingsheng had never told her about it.
She wanted to ask him but did not want to do so in front of Gu Pingfan. In the end, she secretly pulled his hand over and placed the question into his palm: “Why?”
After writing this, she tilted her head to the side to look at him. He seemed to have guessed that she would ask, but with only a smile, he turned his hand over, took hers in it, and said, “I will tell you when we get home.”
She nodded, not pursuing the matter any further.
Gu Pingsheng’s family seemed very amiable and pleasant, and there were even two aunties who, after seeing Tong Yan, hurriedly said they had not brought enough red packets. This, however, caused Tong Yan to feel even more uncomfortable. Fortunately, Pingfan was constantly helping by speaking for her, saying that this was the first time the little girl had come to the home and they must, by all means, not frighten her with their overenthusiasm.
Gu Pingsheng left her in the living room on the main level and first went upstairs himself to see his grandfather. A long while passed, though, and still he did not come down. At the outset, Tong Yan had not thought anything about this, but later, she began to feel that the amount of time was truly excessively long. Looking at Pingfan, she appealed with her eyes for help.
Even though their family members were all very friendly, this was her first time visiting, and she still needed to be by Gu Pingsheng’s side to feel assured.
“It’s been nearly twenty minutes?” Pingfan took a glance at her watch and, understanding her meaning, smiled, “I’ll go up and have a look.”
Tong Yan nodded, clutching in both hands the mandarin orange Pingfan’s mother had handed her and continuing to answer those various earnestly friendly inquiries. From her parents’ occupations to her home address to her major in university, the questions addressed everything and did not differentiate between big or trivial matters.
All of a sudden, from upstairs, the heavy thud of a hard object striking something sounded out. She leapt to her feet in fright.
Pingfan was only halfway up the stairs, and hearing this sound, she, too, was startled. A cry of “Oh no!” slipped from her lips, and she hurriedly sprinted upstairs. The seven or eight people in the living room had mostly risen to their feet, the expressions on their faces now serious, and his two uncles also strode quickly up the stairs. She dared not act rashly by dashing up as well and merely stood dazedly in that same spot, her heart inexplicably beginning to race.
When someone is said to be 厚脸皮 “hou lian pi” or “have thick skin on the face,” it means that person is brazen and unabashed.
红包 “hong bao.” The “red packets” or “red envelopes” refer to monetary gifts put in a red envelope. While they are given during other occasions (e.g. weddings, etc.) and festivities as well, these are very commonly seen during the Lunar New Year, given by parents, grandparents, and other elders to children or those who are of a younger generation and still unmarried. They symbolize good luck.
1 of 1 Prologue
57 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments