I’ve said before, I think Fang Yunyun is the only character in this novel for whom I have absolutely nothing good to say 😡, and Tong Yan nails the reason why. Anyone sense the underlying tension that is building?
Chapter 20.3 – Blessings in the Simple Things (3)
She did not so much as mention what happened on that night. It was as if she had not seen anything.
However, she used much of her free time in her internship job to search for various types of tutorials on emergency first aid, medicinal and herbal foods, and other such information and worked hard to gradually learn these things.
Gu Pingsheng had never tried to hide from her anything regarding his physical condition, and during every monthly medical examination, he would bring her along. Therefore, she was not worried that he would neglect his own health, but it was still necessary to prepare for the future.
One time, the big sister-like court clerk who was mentoring her saw what she was doing and found it puzzling. “Do you have someone in your family who is critically ill?”
“No.” She minimized the webpage and gave an arbitrary response to brush over the topic. “There will always be a use to reading stuff like this.”
“Kid, you are so amusing.”
The big sister court clerk patted her on the head and left with a grin.
Previously, apart from going home, Gu Pingsheng only needed to travel back and forth between his office and the university.
Now, due to Grandfather’s health issues, he would every day have fixed periods that he spent at the hospital. Tong Yan knew that now was not an appropriate time for her presence there, and the only thing she could do was prepare some nutritious things for him to bring every time he went to the hospital.
Perhaps due to the long times spent at the hospital, he would occasionally tell her some things about his former internship term in Beijing.
He mentioned that one time, when he was resuscitating a patient, there had been no time to do the systematic physical checks before the patient was wheeled into the operating room, and only the next day was it discovered from tests that the person was an AIDS patient.
When he told her this, she was peeling a boiled egg for him, and her eyes instantly widened. “What could you do? What if, some time during the surgical procedure, you were infected, what could you do?”
She brought the egg up to his mouth. He took a bite of the egg white but did not eat the yolk. Tong Yan pressed her lips together but ate the yolk herself and then placed the remainder of the egg white into his plain rice porridge.
“Those types of situations were not uncommon. Usually, we would see a few every month.” Gu Pingsheng gave a faint smile, the corner of his lips curving only slightly upwards. “Every profession has its own risks. It’s unavoidable.”
Tong Yan nodded her head, then nodded again, lost in thought as she watched him eat his rice porridge.
A white porcelain spoon in his hand, Gu Pingsheng ate two mouthfuls before he finally detected her gaze. Raising his head, he looked smilingly at her. “What are you thinking? Or are you still not fully awake?”
“I’m thinking you must have been a really picky eater when you were a kid.” A mysterious grin touched Tong Yan’s face. “You don’t even eat egg yolk.”
Gu Pingsheng smiled, “I was indeed a very picky eater when I was young.”
“You still are now.”
Tong Yan added this sentence and then continued to peel another boiled egg for him.
His face had always tended to be on the lean side, which highlighted the angles of his face. Now, though, he looked a little too thin. Tong Yan’s eyes swept from his fingers up his arm, and with her pinky finger, she poked him. He lifted his eyes to meet her gaze.
“You’ve lost weight,” Tong Yan remarked, not without tones of regret. “To the feeder and keeper of a household, this is such a heartbreaking trend.”
“I’ve really lost weight?” Gu Pingsheng tilted one side of his lips up and made a somewhat childish expression. “I want to eat braised chicken with chestnuts.”
Tong Yan nodded in delight. “Will you be home for dinner this evening? Once I leave the courthouse, I’ll head straight to the supermarket to buy the ingredients.”
“I’ll be home tomorrow evening.” Seeing that it was about time, he swiftly finished eating the rest of his rice porridge. “I’ll be at the hospital in the afternoon. Grandfather has a very important consultation with the specialist, and I may not be home until after dinner.”
Every time he had an eight o’clock morning class, he would leave home a little earlier than her.
But the time he arrived home would also be much later than her.
This was not something she could allow herself to dwell too much upon, nor dwell too deeply upon. There was not a single day that passed where she would not long to graduate, long to start truly working, to share the pressures that he was bearing. Yet, she could only patiently wait.
Worried that the supermarket would not have chestnuts, she purposely went to the market that was a little farther away to buy the ingredients to bring home.
As she was afraid of watching the chicken being butchered, after she had specially selected one, she ran to a far off spot to watch from a distance until the stallkeeper had completely taken care of it. Only then did she step forward again to pay and take the bloody plastic bag.
“Little girl, are you scared of blood?” the stallkeeper asked her in amusement.
“I’m actually not too scared of the blood.” Tong Yan thickened her skin and honestly admitted, “I am particularly scared of seeing something that’s alive getting killed, so a lot of the time, I’ll buy the frozen ones from the supermarket …”
“The ones at the supermarket are no good. They’re not as good as the ones that are butchered on the spot.” The stallkeeper grabbed a bunch of scallions from his own vegetable stall and handed it to her. “Here, it’s for you to calm your nerves.”
Owing to this bunch of scallions, Tong Yan broke out into an amused smile, and after saying her thanks, she took it from him.
The location of the market was very strange. There were no buses that she could take, and if she walked, it would take more than twenty minutes. Despite it still being winter, she nevertheless managed to break out into a sweat as she walked back to the community compound.
It was past six o’clock, and the sky was already completely dark. The lights in the community had long since turned on, and the briskly moving people near and far around her were all rushing home.
Since it was not dinnertime yet, her pace was actually not hurried, and leisurely, she strolled toward the building of her home. However, while she was passing the greenspace that was downstairs of the building, she saw two people standing not far away.
It was Lu Bei and Fang Yunyun.
The two’s movements were large, and in the half-open entranceway of a building, they were mutually yanking and jerking at one another. When Tong Yan saw them, they had not yet caught sight of her. All throughout, one was continuously pulling on the door, trying to enter, while the other was unrelentingly blocking the way but also not willing to have a direct confrontation. The security door had been kept open for too long, and as a result, it was sounding out with a piercing alarm.
This was her apartment building’s entrance.
She could roughly deduce what was happening, and she wanted to avoid the situation but was also worried that Fang Yunyun really would charge upstairs.
While she was still hesitating, Fang Yunyun finally noticed Tong Yan standing beneath the streetlamp, and straightaway, she flung off Lu Bei and rushed her way. Her strides were rapid and tense, as if she was afraid Tong Yan would try to escape.
Since avoidance was not possible, she might as well simply face it.
Tong Yan watched as she came up in front of her, but before she had thought of how she should greet her, Fang Yunyun suddenly raised her arm and viciously slapped her across the face. “You owed me that. What I owe you, I will settle all of it up with you …” As Fang Yunyun spoke, tears were already splattering down her face.
Her voice was frightfully loud. In the quiet, wide, open space of the community compound, it was especially shrill to the ears.
Tong Yan stood there, and for several seconds, her mind was blank. The pain on her cheek was starting to slowly spread, but she could not seem to clearly hear what Fang Yunyun was saying.
Lu Bei dashed over and jerked Fang Yunyun by the wrist. “Have you gone crazy? From yesterday to today, you’ve been making a huge fuss. Are you done yet?!”
“I have gone crazy. Lu Bei, what exactly are you not happy about? I’ve genuinely given you all my heart. What is it that you want?” Fang Yunyun was desperately trying to break free of his grip, wailing as if she did not care about anything else. “It’s been four years. What is it you want to do? Get a divorce? Be with her? Fine, I’ll help you achieve that. I’ll help you achieve everything …”
The two were both yanking on each other with all their might. Off in the distance, many people had halted their steps to watch and were beginning to speculate what the situation might be here.
The noise of their wrangling voices and all of the dialogue charged forcibly into the ears.
Tong Yan closed her eyes briefly, then opened them again. All the emotions that had been weighing down in her chest these last few days unexpectedly surged upwards.
“Let me talk to her.” She suddenly opened her mouth to say this and stepped toward them. Lu Bei’s eyes were red as he gazed at her, but while he was still wavering over whether he should let go of Fang Yunyun, Tong Yan had already turned toward Fang Yunyun, whose eyes were wide and face was streaked with tears.
She had never expected that she, the one who had been struck, would still remain so calm.
Fang Yunyun was torn with rage, and with both sobs and mocking laughter, she sneered at Tong Yan. “Say it … I know you want to say a lot of things …”
Smack! In the same way, Tong Yan slapped her across the face. “You owed me that. I never owed you anything. Never have I in the past, and never will I in the future. Regardless of whether you want to divorce or not, don’t come trying to find me. No one’s life is as good as yours. You only know to love melodramatically, like it’s life and death, and don’t know how hard life actually is.”
When she pulled back her hand, there was a slight tremor in it that she could not control.
This was the first time in her life she had raised her hand to hit anyone. In that instant when she had brought it back down, the one who came to her mind was actually Gu Pingsheng.
That time when he had struck her with his hand, had he also been like this, overcome by a trembling that could not be suppressed, feeling more grieved than if he had been the one who was hit? … When the security door of the corridor closed, Fang Yunyun’s sobbing could still be heard.
In a daze, she walked toward the stairwell and climbed up three or four floors before finally leaning herself against the white wall. Standing there numbly for a long while, tears at last began, after the fact, to roll down her face.
Eventually, her whole body was drained of strength, and she simply sagged down to sit on the steps, hugging her knees and allowing herself to cry to her heart’s content.
The world was simply that unfair. There were some people who would spend their entire lifetime making life and death revolve only around love, and they did not need at all to even consider any of the difficulties or challenges of living. And then there were others who asked only for just a minute slice of a quiet, peaceful life but always ended up having to face all sorts of deliberate hardships sent from Heaven. Prior to meeting Gu Pingsheng, she had always thought of herself as being truly worthy of pity. Her parents were like her debt that, in this lifetime, she would never be able to free herself of.
But after she met Gu Pingsheng, her heart ached only for him.
He had so longed for motherly love, but had indirectly caused his mother’s death. He had so desired to be a good doctor, but had had no choice but to forever give up that dream. In this world, the number of people who had any blood relation to him was becoming less and less, and though he tried with all his might to hold onto them, it ultimately was in vain …
Tong Yan extended a finger, and on the snow-white wall, she carefully wrote his name.
One stroke at a time, she wrote out “Gu Pingsheng.”
His name was chosen so well. Merely gazing upon it like this was able to bring a feeling of warmth.
Laying her head down on her own arms, Tong Yan sat in this way on the step of the staircase, her head tilted to look at those three characters as she thought of him. Her face still stung like fire. Earlier on, Fang Yunyun truly had been filled with extreme hate for her, for she had used all her strength. But the slap that she had given Fang Yunyun in return had not really used any force. Perhaps because there was no hatred, she genuinely could not make herself strike hard.
The sound of her mobile phone suddenly rang out. In that empty stairwell, it was very clear and distinct.
She sat herself up straight, pulled out her phone from her pants pocket, and, in that dark stairwell, stared at the blue light of the screen: I forgot to say, Mr. Gu loves chestnuts. TK
Tong Yan burst out in giggles, the action tugging at her swollen eyes from crying: Alright. I’ll make just braised chicken leg with chestnuts for you. An entire pan of chestnuts with only two chicken legs placed inside, how about that?
Sounds pretty good. TK
She took a glance at the time on her mobile phone. It was already past seven o’clock. If she still did not head upstairs, Grandmother would certainly become worried. But if she did go upstairs like this, she reckoned Grandmother would likely be even more worried … While she moved her arms around to loosen them, still hesitant over what to do, her eyes fell again on his name that was written on the wall.
Leaving it there would, after all, not be good.
But after reaching forward and scratching away the word, “Gu” with her fingernail, her gaze remained fixed absorbedly on the remaining two characters. After a while, she finally brushed the dirt and dust of the wall off her fingernails, and then, behind his given name, she intently wrote a complete sentence:
Pingsheng yi gu, zhi ci zhong nian. [What began as a single glance has henceforth become … together forever.]
 顾 “Gu” means “to look upon” or “look back at.” 平生 “Pingsheng” means “one’s entire lifetime.” Gu Pingsheng’s name can be interpreted as, “to look back upon one’s whole life.”
平生一顾，至此终年. This line was kept deliberately in pinyin as it begins with Gu Pingsheng’s given name. You will also see that his entire name is actually embedded in it, in the first, second, and fourth characters. The final four characters are the title of the novel. This is actually a beautiful, poetic-feeling line that, in a mere eight characters, expresses the wonder of finding true love. The translation within the body of the text is trying to maintain as much as possible the conciseness of this line while still communicating the meaning, as Tong Yan is writing on a wall and a wordy translation with feelings explicitly spelled out would ruin the moment. What this line is saying, though, is
“What began as one of the many glances I will take in life became something that I will keep with me to the end of my days.”
“Our beginning may have been just one of the many glances I will take in life, but henceforth we will remain together until the end of our days.”
That final line that Tong Yan wrote on the wall is almost like the essence of this story. In a most unlikely circumstance, two people were brought together. A single glance, but somehow it was meant to be. And they want that moment — their love — to carry on to be something that is forever. The line is beautiful. The words are subtle, not expressly declaring love, yet those who know about them will know how deep the feelings are. They were written like graffiti on a wall, so they are concise. At the same time, they are poetic. I kid you not, I was stuck on this line for days and had about twenty versions of it, but unfortunately, I still am not satisfied. 😦
1 of 1 Prologue
61 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments