This one hurt my heart to translate.
Final Chapter (3)
This particular project was unexpectedly problematic.
After Gu Pingsheng had arranged last-minute to switch around his class schedule for all the classes that he taught, he had only had time to return home to grab his luggage before hastening to the airport. Of course, even amid all this hurrying around, he still made a visit to the hospital. For so many years, his elderly grandfather had been tormented by sickness, and even after his liver transplant, he needed to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life. Hence, one could certainly imagine both the physical and psychological pressure that weighed on him.
During Gu Pingsheng’s visit this time, however, the elderly man for once actually showed some smiles on his face. With tones of self-mocking as well as pangs of heartache for him, Grandfather uttered, “Both of us, grandfather and grandson, can be considered to have the worst health in the family.” Seeing him dressed in his suit and carrying a suitcase, the elderly man could deduce his upcoming plans. “Business trip?”
Gu Pingsheng set his suitcase down beside the bed and took a seat on the chair. “There’s a last-minute need for me to go to London. I will be back in about ten days.”
This grandfather and grandson pair seemed to both have words to say, but as they looked at one another, both smiled and neither of them spoke first.
He did not have the time to stay too long. When he was about to leave, he suddenly stated, “Last time, there wasn’t the chance for the two of you to meet. This time, when I come back from London, I will bring her to formally see you.”
Possibly because he was physically feeling quite well today, the elderly man, surprisingly, was not very much opposed to this.
“That student of yours is graduating this year? Have the two of you considered where would be a suitable workplace for her?”
“She just completed her internship term.” Once Gu Pingsheng finished saying this, he quickly added in a joking tone, “But her grades are just average. A lot lower than mine. If she wants to find a good, suitable job, she’s going to need to put in a bit of effort.”
The elderly man laughed with amusement. “Oh, you … Vain. Still so vain. You’ve never been humble.”
During this project in London, he unexpectedly ran into an old classmate. The two of them were on opposing camps, and in the meeting room during the daytime, they would contest over every word, as if each one was worth gold. Although the two of them were old friends, due to this project, there was not much private social interaction between them. It was only after the true legal negotiations were complete that they learned they were both staying in the same hotel.
The coincidental encounter occurred in the hotel’s elevator lobby.
“TK.” The beautiful blonde woman beside his old classmate gave him a warm hug, and with non-fluent Chinese, she asked in delighted surprise, “How are you? Are you doing well nowadays?”
“Extremely well.” Gu Pingsheng’s answer was given in Chinese as well as he patted her briefly on the back in a platonic gesture.
That old classmate did not understand the greetings they had exchanged and, when they released each other, only grinned and joked that now that two old flames had seen one another, he, the new flame, had no importance at all.
Amid the nonstop jesting and teasing, there were people getting into the elevators as well as people getting off with hurried steps. Only when he heard them talk about their child did Gu Pingsheng at last, somewhat after-the-fact, ask in pleasant surprise, “Since when?”
“Last year. Last year at this time.” The beautiful woman made an expression of marvel on her face. “The kid is just too adorable. I’m even thinking I want to get married. If we have another kid, we will get married.”
Gu Pingsheng once again gave her another hug and offered his extremely sincere well wishes to them.
If it would have been possible, he very much wanted to leave London immediately.
To return home to see his own little girl.
These last several days, she had communicated distractedly with him. It seemed something might be wrong.
Ten days. One week plus three days.
On the seventh day, Tong Yan suddenly called Shen Yao. “Are you still in Beijing? I want to go to the amusement park today. How about I treat you to some fun at Beijing Amusement Park?”
The sounds coming from the other end of the phone line were noisy and seemed to echo in an open space. In a very loud voice, Shen Yao threw out a cuss of “Sh*t!” and said, “I just arrived at Beijijng Capital [International Airport], and I’m flying out in an hour. You did it on purpose, didn’t you?”
“Leave one day later, how about that?” She sat on the couch, her voice for once softening.
Shen Yao remained silent for several seconds but then let out another curse of “Sh*t!” and told her, “Tell me the address. I’ll see you in an hour … Wait, no. Wait at home for me. I need to leave my luggage at your home.”
As she stood outside the amusement park, Shen Yao began to immerse herself into character, examining with seriousness how they could reasonably use their time to go to all the attractions that they wished to see. She even took a pen and carefully drew out a route on the map, circling the key attractions that they wanted to go to.
Tong Yan was somewhat preoccupied.
“I’m telling you, Tong Yan, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m going to be leaving the country right away and won’t be back in the short term, I would have ignored this type of unreasonable request from you. You’re really treating me like I’m your boyfriend, eh? I was at the airport already, and I ended up being called back by you, just like that …” Biting on the end of the pen, she suddenly lifted her head and stared musingly at her. “What terrible thing has happened?”
Tong Yan’s hand held down her sun hat, its wide brim concealing more than half her face.
“You broke up?” Shen Yao sighed, “Women are the strongest creatures, but once they break up with their love, it’s like an injury straight to their very sinew and bone.”
“You’re talking as if I’ve never been in a break-up before.” She strolled forward unhurriedly.
Shen Yao thought for a moment. “I’ll tell you something, but you can’t get mad. Prior to Gu Pingsheng, I’d never seen you with a boyfriend when we were in school. So, before I came, I gave my man a call because I wanted to know what exactly you were like when you broke up with the one you loved. That way, I could at least prepare ways to respond and counteract.” Extending her arm, she draped it around Tong Yan’s shoulders. “To be honest, my man has never said anything good about you. His views about you are truly on the extreme end, but for this particular matter alone, he said you are more of a man than a real man.”
Tong Yan still remained unspeaking.
“Not a single tear shed. Your ex-boyfriend, on the other hand, cried like crazy… Tong Yan Wuji, you are truly callous.”
Shen Yao’s tone was light as she teasingly mocked her, but when she saw Tong Yan turn to look toward her, she completely froze.
Where was this callousness that was spoken of?
Tong Yan’s gaze was dull as it fixed on her. Though her eyes clearly were red, no tears were found in them.
Shen Yao had never seen her like this before and, like a silly fool, only knew to hug her. “What is it that’s wrong? Teacher Gu’s about to die? That can’t be it. The last time I saw him, he was still so handsomely attractive it was tragic to the world, and he looked absurdly healthy …”
As Shen Yao spoke, she worriedly touched Tong Yan’s eye.
Dry. She truly was not crying.
But this was more alarming than if she was crying.
Tong Yan shoved her hand away. “Get lost. Don’t you go cursing him!”
“You guys really have broken up?” Shen Yao gave her a nudge. “If you want to cry, just cry. Don’t hurt yourself holding it in. You’re just going to be sad for a few days. If it’s really bad, you’ll be sad for a few months, at most a few years. Once you’ve forgotten, you can find someone even better than him … But that will be hard. Based on all the people I’ve seen and assessed over these last twenty years, I honestly haven’t met anyone better than Gu Pingsheng.”
That brought a smile to Tong Yan. Never had she seen anyone console a person the way Shen Yao was doing. “And I’ve never thought about ever trying to find someone better.”
After a break-up, you could always find another person.
Thereafter, you could say goodbye to the previous relationship, and, with that person you had once loved, you would never again set foot in one another’s lives.
In this city, in its every corner, every minute, every second, this same scene was playing out. But she and Gu Pingsheng were different. The reason why she wanted to leave him was because her family was unsuitable for him and not one of those other ridiculous, messy reasons.
She originally had come to keep Tong Yan company, but in the end, Shen Yao forgot about that initial objective and became crazily immersed in all the various high-risk rides and games.
Tong Yan did not really dare ride roller coasters. Shen Yao, in contrast, was not satisfied after one ride and went again to stand at the end of that long, long line-up, ready to embark on that hell’s journey once more.
She bought a mineral water and sat down at a rest area, watching Shen Yao from a distance.
It was not yet summer vacation, and therefore, sitting in the shade of the trees were mainly young parents with their little children or couples who looked to be university students. As Tong Yan sat there, the young husband and wife couple on the bench behind her were discussing special interest classes to enroll their child in and were wrangling away. The man was in favour of self-directed development while the woman wanted to purposely cultivate the child in all areas…
Tong Yan glanced at her mobile phone. It was already past two o’clock in the afternoon. He should be awake by now?
She hesitated but still sent him a text message: Awake yet?
Just woke up. TK
She had received a response, but now she did not know how to continue.
While she was still lost in stupor, another message suddenly came in: I’ll be on tonight’s flight back to Beijing. TK
Her heart suddenly tightened.
The shortening of his itinerary was his special surprise for her.
But Tong Yan did not have the courage to break up with him face to face. Her right hand gripped her phone, and after thinking for a long time, she finally asked him: Is your schedule packed today?
Negotiations have successfully come to a conclusion. Strictly speaking, today can be considered a rest day. TK
Rest? Rest was good.
Tong Yan stared fixedly at her phone’s screen, and very slowly spelled out the words that came next: There is one thing I have been thinking about for a long time. I don’t have the courage to tell you face to face. I’ll use texting, okay?
Clutching her phone, she waited for a lengthy while, but he still did not reply.
Tong Yan was somewhat panicked, so panicked that her hands were trembling. Another while passed but there was still no message. It was uncertain whether he had not seen her text or he truly had guessed something … At last, she simply could not endure the wait any longer and followed up with another question: Did you see my message?
This time he sent a reply back very quickly: Go ahead to say it. TK
A short few words and his name. His emotions could not be determined.
Tong Yan felt as if the inside of her chest was swelling. Slowly, she managed to type out a few words, but she could not keep going with it. She lifted her head and inhaled a deep breath, watching Shen Yao off in the distance, so obliviously happy, hop excitedly into the roller coaster and wait for the lap bar to be secured over her.
For the first time in her life, she was a little envious; in fact, it could even be called jealousy.
She remembered she had once heard a story.
In Thailand, the white elephant was considered a national treasure and only the royal family could possess it. There had once been a king who bestowed a white elephant as a reward to an official. Initially, the official had been delighted at the privilege and had brought the while elephant home to painstakingly take care of it. However, he gradually discovered that taking care of such a treasure required a tremendous expenditure each day. In the span of a dozen or so years, he had spent all his money because of it and had drained his family fortunes.
Back at the time, the person who told the story had remarked, people longed to possess things that were perfect, but they forgot that not every person could afford such perfection. It was like the official in the story, who had obtained a treasure that was symbolic of the royal family’s esteem and honour but had ultimately been incapable of undertaking the responsibility.
The love between her and Gu Pingsheng was the same.
She had once stubbornly believed that she was worthy of possessing happiness. However, she had forgotten to consider whether she had the ability to take on such a love and relationship.
“In sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, I will always be with you.” When she had originally declared this to Gu Pingsheng, she had been full of self-confidence, believing that she could strive her hardest and would be able to assume the duty of caring for his daily life.
But, what if she was that person who was exacerbating his sickness and bringing poverty upon him?
She kept her head lowered and finished typing out all there was to say:
I want to separate. It’s too exhausting. I never know what tomorrow will bring and only know that it will be worse than today. I’m sorry. I couldn’t perservere to the end.
Such a dull, matter-of-fact tone, without any superfluous words.
She did not even have any recollection of how she had typed out these words and sent them out just now.
An endless wait.
The entire time, he did not provide a response.
Behind her, the increasingly heated dispute between the young husband and wife couple was being deliberately suppressed because they did not want their child to hear the sound of their quarreling. Tong Yan was absorbed in listening to them, yet she also could not remember what she actually heard.
After another dozen or more minutes, Shen Yao finally stepped off from the roller coaster and walked shakily over to her side, proclaiming how awesome it felt. “It’s such a pity for people like you, coming to the amusement park but not even riding the roller coaster.”
She handed the mineral water to Shen Yao.
When she bent her head down again, she noticed at last that, at some unknown time, there was one unread text message in her phone.
She opened it. It was very concise: Give me some time. Let me think about it. TK
Such a good effect. The bustling of the amusement park, the excitement of the people surrounding Tong Yan. Can you imagine the carnival music and sound of the roller coaster on the tracks, the laughter or even the day-to-day bickering of the couple behind her? And amongst all this, she has to carry out the action of letting go of the one she loves.
*sigh* Who am I kidding? I just needed to say something to distract myself from the dull ache in my heart that I’m feeling after I translated that.
1 of 1 Prologue
64 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments