Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 8.1

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I consider this a very important turning point in Wen Han’s mindset. It’s actually a quiet chapter, but in reality, it is only a pseudo peacefulness. There’s so much underlying. Read carefully and see if you pick up the mental switches and emotional roiling of our leads.

Chapter 8.1 — When Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Glares in Terrible Rage[1]

“There is absolutely no need for that,” he replied to the brown-haired woman. “She likes using running away as a way to enhance our relationship. This is merely our little way of having some romantic fun as a couple.” After he finished saying this, Cheng Muyun exchanged a quick smile with the woman.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

In that same instant, someone pushed open the door and walked in.

That person set two bills of money on the counter. “May I trouble you? I need a room.” The person lifted his head. It was a man with fair complexion and a slightly effeminate appearance. Following in behind him was an adolescent-age youth wearing headphones and listening to music.

At the same time as well, the person dozing in the corner—Zhou Ke—switched the arm that he was using as a pillow and carried on sleeping. A man wearing blue, metal-framed glasses spit out a grape seed and brushed past Cheng Muyun…<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

Frantically, she ran, her mind filled only with that place he had described.

There were less and less houses. The dirt road was very filthy. She almost tripped and fell. Luckily, she caught herself and managed to stay upright. Eventually, her chest began burning painfully… Panting, she looked dazedly around her. Temple. Yes, a temple. There really was a temple here, looking just like all the countless temples she had seen in Kathmandu, small and exquisite.

In the distance, local workers could be seen taking a rest.

Her steps slowed. Accompanied by the sound of her heartbeat, she straightened her torn-open clothing and dragged her aching legs behind her, her eyes lowered.

Step by step, she drew closer to it.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

An old lama wearing a turmeric-yellow cotton top ambled by her, his walking cane stabbing at the ground. She was gasping for breath from running so vigorously. Coughing, and with hands that were trembling slightly, she suddenly grasped the old lama’s arm tightly. “Excuse me, may I ask, did a man ask to buy something from you?”

The old lama’s eyes squinted, and he looked her over.

Don’t tell me he doesn’t understand Chinese. Wen Han nervously returned his gaze.

The old lama narrowed his eyes even more. She even began to feel that she wanted to retreat—

“No.” The old lama smiled, his wrinkles brimming with benevolence. “Go to the back and have a look.”

The old lama pointed to the back of the temple.

Exhaling in relief, Wen Han walked in the direction he had pointed.

Oh my.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

This place was practically a little marketplace.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Beneath the sweltering sun, more than twenty lamas stood before stall after stall. Covering every stall were all different types of small prayer wheels, as well as butter lamps, etc., all spread out in front of the lamas. Behind the lamas, there were many sun hat-wearing locals or people along the lines of travellers and tourists, sitting and resting.

She walked over, not knowing whom she should ask, and not knowing, either, what she should ask.

She even felt afraid. It was as if, since Cheng Muyun said those things to her, implying that there were many people tracking them down, she was beginning to suspect every person she saw…

Now—<>Please support the original translation and read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Should she just turn around and leave? Or… As she vacillated, Wen Han discovered that the balance scale of her heart was tipping toward him. Although he had said nothing, and aside from his name, he was willing to tell her nothing, she actually—

Wen Han finally became aware, after the fact, that the entire time, she had been clutching that small bottle. She opened her palm. This bottle of medicine was one she recognized. It was the pills she had been taking this last while. The very last thing he had stuffed to her before she left was anti-inflammatory medication.

A buzz seemed to ring across her mind. That cord in her heart that, from the very beginning, had been wound taut now, in this moment, snapped.

That man—<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Clenching the bottle tightly, she closed her eyes. When she was twelve years old, a woman had committed suicide in her family’s little inn. Her adoptive parents had not been around at the time of the incident. She had been the one to come upon the scene when she went to deliver some hot water to the guest. At the time, she had been stunned with fear. What she had felt when she ran down the stairs to call the police was the same as what she was feeling at this very moment.

Turmoil. She knew only that there was one thing that had to be done.

Back at that time, it was to call the police; now, it was to do as he had instructed and find that item.

She stepped up to that long series of stalls that was formed by white cloth paving the ground. Squatting down, she arbitrarily picked up a small prayer wheel and, acting as if she wanted to buy it, slowly contemplated on how she could find the person Cheng Muyun had spoken about.

All of a sudden, someone tossed over a black cloth bag to her. Startled, she lifted her head. A lama, who had eyes that showed they had seen the many vicissitudes of life, smiled at her. “A man bought this. He said his wife would come get it. That is you? His wife?”

Wen Han paused in surprise.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Beneath the sun’s brilliance, those lamas were beginning to look with admiring gazes at the back of her hand. She tilted her head down to look as well. At last, she realized that the near-faded henna designs on her were the key to her being recognized.

Pressing her palms together, she said thank you, then picked up that bag, which had an intricate design on it. Mimicking those locals who were not far from her, she slowly sat down on the steps in front of the temple. Several plump pigeons leisurely toddled past in front of her with not a care in the world.

From when the sun blazed in the sky until night began to fall, the people, one by one, departed from this place.

Finally, even the workers doing the temple renovations had left, and only she remained, sitting there. That early morning in the campsite, that late night in the mountain lair of the smugglers, that afternoon in the restaurant, and now today—four times. Since encountering him again in that little inn, they had over and over again said “goodbye.”

Leaning forward against her own knees, she wrapped her arms around herself to keep warm.

And moreover, each time, the goodbye was for forever.

……<>Please support the original translation by reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

If he did not come, what should she do?

Wen Han closed her eyes, restraining all the notions going through her head and trying as best as she could to allow her mind to go blank.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

She was not certain how much time had passed when, in front of her, a figure step by step walked up the temple steps, picked up that black cloth bag, and also pulled her up onto her feet.

Her heart gave a lurch, and she was so flustered she nearly collided into him. But his arms steadied her and blocked her forward motion, keeping her at a safe distance.

His eyes had once again lost their light and were now frightfully black.

This type of look in his eyes caused fear to instinctively rise in her. “The thing that you bought is in your hands. That lama—”

He shook his head, signalling she should say no more.

She stopped.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Cheng Muyun was silent, the breath he exhaled blowing against her forehead. After remaining there for a long while, he asked, “Do you know how to shave someone’s head?” She had not expected at all that Cheng Muyun would ask this question. Even later, when he had led her to a small room in the rear courtyard of the temple and she had taken the straight razor from him, she still had not pulled her mind back.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

This place was in the midst of renovations. The workers had left, but there were still unfinished rooms.

He had found some butter lamps, several of them, from somewhere and set them beside the both of them, but it still was not very bright. This was Wen Han’s first time holding a razor, and her hands were shaking slightly. She unfolded the blade several times but still did not dare bring it to his head.

Cheng Muyun sensed her hesitation. Taking her wrist in his hand, he guided her over to sit in front of himself.

“I will tell you a little bit about that friend of yours.” He told her in a low tone, “He is a trafficker of contraband goods, but he is not considered high in the hierarchy. Half a year ago, when I received his profile and information, there was no mention of you inside, so it should be that the two of you have never been together and, in fact, you are not even someone who is important to him.”

When Wen Han heard the word “trafficker,” she was already stunned.

The little pieces in her memory of all that had happened from when they left Moscow to now swiftly came together in her mind, little traces and clues, especially everything that had occurred since they met this man who was before her now. Her body alternated between cold and hot. Her emotions were swinging wildly. Wave after wave of turbulence flooded her eyes.

He took this all in with his eyes, as if it was a slow-motion picture.

She did not know that every expression in her face, every look in her eyes right now, and even the corners of her lips that were pressed together had all fallen into his gaze.

And the emotions of this man, Cheng Muyun, who was before her right now, were also in turmoil.

He needed to do something to make himself forget what had happened just earlier. The girl in front of him did not know that before he came here, he had stolen some water from the yard of an ordinary family and washed his hands. On them had been the blood of his brother and comrade, Zhou Ke.

……<>Please support the original translation by reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

“So… you’re trying to catch Wang Wenhao? You are…?” There was a unique seductiveness to Wen Han’s voice, but she was utterly unaware of it.

Still, there was only quiet. He would not answer.

His silence tonight was very different, as if she had all along been his target but now had become someone whom he was scrutinizing from the stance of a bystander.

Wen Han could not really describe it. The entire time since he came back, she had even felt fearful.

This type of fear was not a deep one, but it constantly shadowed her.

“I have many friends who are entangled in this matter.” He lowered his voice. “Wen Han, I have more than just you by my side. Every person’s life is equally important. Do not ask me anymore these questions that I cannot answer.”

“Can I make a phone call home, to let them know I am safe?” She was starting to be unable to take this type of conversation anymore, where she had no right to know anything but needed to trust him unconditionally.

“When we reach the border,” he stated.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

……<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

The wind outside was growing more and more fierce.

Nighttime temperatures here were only in the teens, and her hands and feet were becoming increasingly cold.

“What do you study normally? Say some terms I have not heard before.” Cheng Muyun stiffly changed the topic while, in passing, gesturing to her. “Let’s start.”

Wen Han nodded. Standing, she folded out the icy blade of that straight razor.

One of the advantages that came out of those days and nights she had spent with him trekking through the forest was that, by instinct, she had already learned how to be close to him. Or perhaps it could be said, in some aspects, they were beginning to have a certain degree of rapport and harmony. For instance, he had suddenly put forth this inconceivably bizarre request of shaving his head and she was able to go along and comply with it.

Or like how, in the forest, he had told her to hide and not move, and she truly had shrunk herself into the vines and not moved for hours and hours.

“Functions of a real variable, complex functions, ordinary differential equations, differential geometry, geometric topology… You’ve probably never heard any of these, right?” she asked tentatively.

“Mm.”<>Please support the original translation by reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

“I actually don’t really like math, but my adoptive mother used to be a math teacher.”

“Is that so?”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Mm-hmm.” She was out of words again.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

During this entire process that was like a monk’s tonsure, her mind was somewhat seized in a dazed state. There was still another possibility in this entire thing: he was simply a downright liar and con artist, because everything was what he said and his version of the story. But, what good was there for him to lie to her? After experiencing this day and then thinking back on the time in the forest, as well as on that river where crocodiles had swum under the boat, she mulled, if he truly simply wanted to hurt her, he would not have needed to wait until today to do it…

“Three months. Next year’s spring[2], you will be back in Moscow,” he suddenly spoke.

Her eyes lit up for a moment.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

From the shadows, he gazed at her.

If three months from now, things were not resolved, then this operation would be considered a failure. And he, irrespective of success or failure, within three months of time, absolutely had to find a way for this innocent girl to be free of any impact or influence that this whole matter might cause, to be able stand once again beneath the broad daylight, and to return to the original trajectory that her life had been taking.

“If you had not known Wang Wenhao, would you have even started this trip?” he, once more out of the blue, asked.

She pondered on this before giving him an answer that would allow him to feel a little better. “No. If it hadn’t been for him, I would not have come to Nepal this year.”

He was asking this… because he was feeling guilty?

Cheng Muyun smiled, as if he had seen through her thoughts. “You very much know how to analyze a person’s psychological processes. This answer does indeed allow my guilt to be lowered to a minimum. I trust that your future husband will be envied because he has your company.”

Wen Han paused blankly.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Her hand halted briefly, then once more began to slowly finish off the last part.

Moscow was very open regarding sexual matters. Agnesa’s views were the most common over there, where before marriage, every girl should enjoy to her heart’s content the joys that sex brings. She had almost forgotten that this man had once said he was from Moscow, and she, too, had grown up in Moscow. So, the meaning of his words should be that three months from now, the two of them would not have anything more to do with one another?

“It’s good now,” she said softly.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Cheng Muyun’s right hand ran over those parts that had been shaved bald, seeming to not feel those several wounds, some shallow, some deep, that had been left behind. “Not bad.”

With the cloth bag in his hand, he walked outside, changing his clothing out in the open-air area that was empty of people, and actually left her behind in that half-open, drafty room, as if he was purposely avoiding a situation that might imply anything unchaste. He returned very soon. The light from the butter lamps shone on his face and eyes and also the attire of lamas that garbed him now. “This place is inclusive to all different religions. Everywhere, there are pilgrims. It will be easier to leave this way.”

Through the window, she could see the prayer flags on top of the temple dancing against the sky, giving off fluttering sounds in the night wind.

It was as if she had been transported back to the Tibetan Plateau and she was seeing the him of that very first meeting.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

[1] 金刚怒目时. Because of the Buddhist references throughout the story, the chapter title was purposely chosen to be an almost literal translation. However, the idiom is actually describing someone whose face and expression is as fierce and terrifying as a warrior attendant of Buddha, who glares in terrible rage. This line will actually come up again in the actual body of the novel, so there will be a more detailed footnote on Buddha’s warrior attendant later.

[2] Unlike the Western calendar, which views spring as commencing in March or so for the northern hemisphere, the traditional Chinese start of spring is at the beginning of February, usually February 3, 4, or 5 (based on the 24 Solar Terms).<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.


Additional Comments:

I know many of you have been waiting for this, so let me say that this is where I consider them as coming out of the low point in their relationship.

…Wen Han discovered that the balance scale of her heart was tipping toward him. Although he had said nothing, that aside from his name, he was willing to tell her nothing, she actually—

Wen Han finally became aware, after the fact, that the entire time, she had been clutching that small bottle. She opened her palm. This bottle of medicine was one she recognized. It was the pills that she had been taking this last while. The very last thing he had stuffed to her before she left was anti-inflammatory medication.

A buzz seemed to ring across her mind. That cord in her heart that, from the very beginning, had been wound taut now, in this moment, snapped.

In the previous chapter, Cheng Muyun’s instructions to her to leave first can still possibly be interpreted as him wanting her to get away from the danger so she would not burden him. However, there is no other explanation for giving her the bottle of medication, other than to ensure that, before he steps into the danger, she is as well taken care of as he can possibly do, that if he does somehow end up unable to go find her again, she still has the highest chance of survival. As Cheng Muyun said last chapter, there is something within Wen Han that caused her to never completely fear him, because he never has directly hurt her. Likely, for the very same reason, this thought crossed Wen Han’s mind: “The most hateful thing was, every time, he needed only to give her a little statement that sounded even slightly sincere and then she would feel that sense of security that she so urgently yearned for, as if she only needed to believe and then it would be true.” (chapter 7.3) She was previously unable to reconcile the “evil” that she saw him doing (hurting Wang Wenhao and, after she witnessed him doing it, abducting her) with what her heart believes, that he would never hurt her and that with him, she is safe.

Her action of choosing to believe him and flee because he had instructed her to already shows the balance scale of her heart leaning toward him, that she believes him more than the thoughts that say he is wicked. But when she sees that medicine bottle, when she realizes that, even as he is walking into what could possibly be death, the last thing he thought of before he sent her away was her health, the balance scale completely tips, because of his care for her, and she chooses to follow her heart.

Does this mean unconditional trust from now on? No. That’s probably an unreasonable request to ask of anyone at this moment, given the type of circumstance she is in, but from this point on, she won’t try to only see his actions as wicked and constantly try to second guess him. She may still question what he does, still wonder if he is right, but her perspective has now shifted. And so you see her begin to reason out that, yes, he could be lying about everything, but really, if he wanted to hurt her, why wait until now?

 

I could say a whole lot about Cheng Muyun in this chapter, but I’m going to reserve it for now. (I have the advantage of having read this story multiple times and knowing exactly what has happened, so the impact of this chapter on re-read is hitting me hard.) I will just leave something for you to possibly ponder on, if you so please. 🙂

Cheng Muyun has extremely high emotional intelligence and obviously knows that if Wen Han understands the person that Wang Wenhao truly is, her hate for him might not be as strong and possibly not even exist. However, he has persisted in not telling Wen Han anything, and prior to this moment in the temple, this included Wang Wenhao’s true identity. Clearly, there is emotional turmoil within Cheng Muyun right now, as even Wen Han can sense that he is not at peace. But Cheng Muyun has never been one to make decisions based on emotions. Therefore, I don’t believe he now chooses to tell Wen Han about Wang Wenhao because he wants to appease her, or because he needs comfort, or because he can sense that there has been a shift in her and she is choosing to trust him more. I believe it is because the situation depicts that it is no longer necessary for him to keep it a secret from her. Hence, the conclusion I draw from that is, something in the *circumstance* has changed as well, i.e. something significant has happened.

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
21 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

 

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13 thoughts on “Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 8.1

  1. The more I read the more like is the more normal pattern to understanding the characters in a particular book but this story is more like the more I read the more I get lost. It’s like what I absorb are just their emotions. I now foresee myself reading this book over and over just to connect the dots. I’d be even more lost w/o your comments, hoju. 😂😂

    P.s. I’ll be banging my head on the wall if Wen Han is in Moscow already. I’m looking forward to their alone time!!

    Thanks for the efforts Hoju! 😊😊

    • Hehe. Didn’t I warn you from the very beginning that you are constantly going to be getting more and more info? This chapter is a pretty big turning point in the direction of the story. You’ll soon be fed more obvious info that will give you an inkling of what’s going on.

      Alone time… is hard to come by. 😉

  2. Thank you so much hoju for the translation! I really like this novel so far, especially the serious and solid characters.

  3. oOo liking the small snowballs falling down

  4. I expect reading this novel just like watching korean drama, yet even better, reading this is like watching blockbuster movies. Thank you

    • LOL. I like the analogy. Korean dramas and blockbuster movies are both awesome. Sometimes you have to switch it up a bit if you’ve watched one for too long. 🙂
      You’re welcome!

  5. Ooohhh sorry hoju unnie i’ve been away for so long! was working on my college applications….
    this novel is so…. different than what i’m usually used to, and thats saying something because i’ve read a wide variety of genres and literary cadences and none of them match up to this. not even linda howard’s famed romantic thrillers/mysteries hold a candle to this book in terms of thrills or mysteries. trust me on that one.
    and i have this niggling belief that zhou ke was killed by either the foreigners or by cheng muyun himself (though that possibility is highly unlikely). so witnessing zhou ke’s death may have caused an emotional upheaval for cheng muyun and he’s seeking some sort of consolation from wen han…
    also, this book is really awesome when it comes to building tension (both sexual and situational). but… we want more smexy times yunno. as of now, we’re only being thrown bones *pouts*

    • No worries. I’m so busy I barely have time to sleep.
      Didn’t I tell you all from the very beginning that this one is very different? 😉 The thrills of this one, to me, are the characters, that the author works so well with the most difficult thing to predict—the human heart and mind. The characters are not one dimensional at all in this story. You’ll really see the characters developing.
      I… won’t comment on your last request. 😉

  6. Finally made it to half-way mark of the novel…. Thank you for the wonderful read @Hoju. Very different style of writing. Indeed show the talent of Mo Bao Fei Bao. The intensity of the OTP…….. Trilling and makes it difficult to put down. Now, I wish there are more than 24 hours in a day and I could bidge read till the end without any disturbance…

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