Random troubles seem to arise from nowhere. Just another ordinary traveller?
Chapter 8.3 — When Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Glares in Terrible Rage (3)
While the people down below were still watching the excitement with heads tilted upwards, that person who had hopped up onto the bunk was already kicked back down…
Wen Han swiftly sat up, hugging her bag tightly as she stared apprehensively at that adolescent boy.
The people on the ground level all broke into guffaws.
The youth gave a roll on the floor, then crawled back up onto his feet. Patting away the dust on his body, he let out a “hee hee” and commented, “A big sister who’s got thorns. We’ll just let it be. If you don’t want me to sleep there, then I won’t. Hey, monk, give some space. Monastics are kind and benevolent. Amituofo.” Pressing his palms together, he very devoutly pleaded for a seat.
Cheng Muyun did not even so much as lift his eyelids.
The long-haired girl was chortling gleefully, and squeezing up against her companion, she opened up a small sliver of space on the side. “Hey, handsome lad, come sit by your big sister here.”
The boy did not pretend to be shy, and scuttling over, he took a seat.
Was he truly just a traveller who got on the train halfway through?
Wen Han unconsciously cast a glance at Cheng Muyun, trying to see if she could catch any hints from him. But there was nothing. It was as if no persons, no matters had anything to do with him; he was purely someone who, alone, was enjoying his journey.<>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.
And so, from when this teenage boy appeared, things below began to grow lively. This handsome lad could not seem to settle down for even a moment, talking about one thing and then another and from this thing to that, starting first with how he had come to India because he wanted to see the floating corpses on the Ganges River but had ended up seeing nothing, and then telling them about how he had narrowly escaped being bedded by a male priest…
The long-haired girl let out a yawn. “So sleepy. How come we weren’t able to buy sleeper bed tickets?” She lifted her face to look at Wen Han. “Did you reserve your ticket in advance?”
Thinking briefly, Wen Han answered, “More than a month ago. Booked it online.” She remembered, before they came, Roman, who had been in charge of the India part of their itinerary, had complained that India’s train tickets were difficult to book.
The long-haired girl nodded, then said rather glumly, “If I had known, I would have booked ahead of time, too.”
She muttered for a while like this, griping about how her three male companions were not reliable at all and none of the preparation work had been done thoroughly enough. Eventually, the girl exhaustedly looked up at Wen Han again. “Would I be able to squeeze up there with you for an hour? I’ll be getting off the train in an hour.”
Wen Han hesitated for a moment.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
“Big sister, I’m really sleepy, too, and I’m also getting off in an hour.” The boy looked even more pitiable as he tilted his head up at Wen Han as well.
After chatting for so long, they were all half-acquainted, and Wen Han did not feel right turning them down anymore. She had been lying there for so long and had been unable to fall asleep anyway, and she would be getting off the train shortly, too.
“You two go ahead and squish together for a bit, then. I’ll go down.” She thought, compared with sleeping jam-packed in one space with a stranger, it might actually be a little safer down below.
At least down below, there was Cheng Muyun.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
She soon climbed down from the sleeper berth.
“I’ll lift you up onto there.” Once the youth said this, he had already nimbly caught the other girl by the waist and lifted her up into the narrow space on that bunk above.
“I don’t want to be crammed up here together with you. Men and women should maintain a proper distance from one another.” The girl was not very happy about this arrangement.
The adolescent, however, had already slipped up there and, in a rascally manner, flopped onto his back. “You should be happy you even get to sleep, and here you are still being picky about this and that. It’s not like I’m going to take advantage of you.” Grumbling a sentence under her breath, the girl turned over to face the inside and made do with the situation.<>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.
There had already been more people than seats over where the girl had been sitting. Now that two people had left, two older Indian men immediately squeezed into the spots that had been vacated. And so, in just the space of one minute, Wen Han was left with no place to sit.
As she rubbed her arms, Wen Han thought, she would just let things be and stand like this all the way to the next station.
“Monk.” Noticing her predicament, the short-haired girl smilingly said to Cheng Muyun, “Why don’t you squeeze over a bit and let her sit by the window for a little while?”
Cheng Muyun lifted his eyes to first glance at the short-haired girl, then at Wen Han. Without uttering a word, he shifted slightly toward the outside of the seat, creating a narrow space between himself and the window.
“Go sit down. You can hardly stay standing on your feet here.” The short-haired girl gave Wen Han an amicable nudge.
“Mm.” Since Cheng Muyun had already made room for her, Wen Han had no reason to refuse. With her head bowed, she stepped over and sat down close beside him, her bare knee brushing against his leg. “Thank you.” Her tone was polite and respectful.
Cheng Muyun gave a slight nod as his response.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Her seat was small and also very cramped, and their legs were touching. She did not dare move.
Propping her hand on the small table beside the window, she let her gaze fall outside the window.
On the glass, she could see the side profile of his face. A rather hazy image. However, she could envision his deep black eyes beneath those thick, downcast lashes. When she was a child, she had heard a Chinese doctor in the hospital say that ethnic Chinese babies are born with black eyes that are very clean and pure, but with the grinding of life, those eyes lose that initial unsullied blackness. This is the price paid for maturing and learning the ways of the world.
But he seemed to violate this law.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
As Cheng Muyun turned over a page, his elbow bumped against her.
Instinctively, Wen Han straightened in her seat.
His eyebrows lifting slightly, he carried on reading.
Only then did she realize that her action had been too big. Somewhat embarrassedly, she offhandedly tucked behind her ear the strands of hair that were by her face, trying to conceal the awkwardness that was secretly roiling in the undercurrents.
……<>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.
“Look. This is the peepal fig tree the handsome lad and I were talking about.” The short-haired girl held up her camera to Wen Han to let her look at the scenery their group had encountered along their journey. “It’s already more than 2,500 years old.”
Out of politeness, Wen Han leaned closer for a look and asked, “This is the site where the eight countries divided Buddha’s body relics? I remember that should be the case.”
The other party smiled. “You’ve been there, too?”
Wen Han nodded and returned a friendly smile.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
The girl became increasingly invigorated and began showing her photograph after photograph that she had taken. Since she was so excited, Wen Han had no choice but to move a little closer and show her polite appreciation. As her body leaned forward, the ends of her hairs naturally brushed against the back of Cheng Muyun’s hand.
The train vibrated rhythmically as it rolled down the tracks, and the tips of her hairs also swayed gently with it.
This touch called up in Cheng Muyun’s mind the memories of when he abducted her into the virgin forest: how she had been so dirty she was like a little savage; the fragility she had displayed when she was fevering and wished with all her might that her bones could just be broken all at once; how she had not even had the strength to cry… His middle finger bent, passing between the soft strands of her hair. In this moment, what he was thinking about was that image of her, a thin layer of perspiration on her back, her head arched backward, her waist pressed into a deep curve.
Nothing had happened, no interaction through movement or eye contact.
But Wen Han suddenly felt perturbed. Only a moment ago, her attention had been on the photographs, but now she could clearly sense the presence of the man beside her.
She pressed her lips together, forcing herself to continue her guise and not display any outward emotion.
Cheng Muyun, though, had already set his book onto that small table first. Pressing his palms together in a humble manner, he rose and then disappeared into the crowd. She did not know where he had gone.
Five minutes later, when the train began announcing its arrival at the next station, Wen Han finally clued in—he was getting off the train.
Wen Han remembered this station. She needed to get off here as well.
Almost at the exact same time, someone tossed her bag down from above.
“We’ve arrived at the station already? I almost slept past it!” The youth leapt down, looking innocently like he had just noticed that she had stood. “Pretty big sister, you’re getting off the train, too?”
Wen Han nodded.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Without saying any unnecessary words, the boy motioned with his hand for Wen Han to follow him.
There was no door on the train car. Before the train had come to a complete stop, passengers who were getting on had already jumped up onto the car, cramming together with the travellers who were trying to get off and forming a confused mess. Within this chaos, the boy grabbed Wen Han’s hand and tried to rush off the train. At the same time, a shriek rang out behind them. “Where’s my passport?! Where is he? Where is that boy?”
Amid these screams, the girl’s three male companions immediately charged up and pressed the boy onto the filthy floor.<>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.
Wen Han sat in a corner. A badly worn chain encircled the hands of the youth beside her and shackled him to a bench.
“Big sister”—the boy shifted his bottom—“do me a favour.”
Wen Han instantly sat up straight and listened attentively, waiting for him to tell her what should be done next.
“I have a packet of tissues in my pocket. Could I trouble you? I’ve got a runny nose…” With some embarrassment, the boy asked for help.
Wen Han paused in surprise. Fishing out that package of tissues from the boy’s pants pocket, she pulled out one and stuffed it into his hand. Grinning, the boy brought his face up beside his own hands and began not the least bit self-consciously to wipe his nose.
Was he not worried?<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
He had been accused for no reason of stealing someone’s passport?
Wen Han’s nerves were still strung tight. She neither knew nor was able to guess what was going to happen next. She had already been acting according to the plan and about to get off the train, and then all of a sudden, she was being wrongly accused of being the youth’s accomplice in thievery and was brought here—the police patrol office in a corner of the station’s waiting hall.
And those five tourists were in a spot five steps away, describing to the Indian police officer stationed at the railway platform how their belongings had been “stolen.”
“My passport and wallet are both gone. My cash is still here.” The short-haired girl said, “You must interrogate them both. They know each other for sure.” The girl pointed at Wen Han and the youth.
The Indian police officer’s head was aching from the ruckus, and with a frown, he nodded.
Things getting snatched or stolen was simply too commonplace in India. This was already the sixteenth statement this station police officer had taken today.
“Last night, there were a lot of monks and one lama in that train car. They’re all monastics, so they didn’t have much for luggage. It must have been for that reason that this thief decided to make us his target.”
“All right, I got it. I have it all written down already,” the Indian police officer griped in English that had a thick accent, waving the sheets of paper that were in his hand. “Look. The statement is right here. If you are all done, let me ask those two people.”
The Indian police officer pointed at where Wen Han was.
……<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Closing her eyes, Wen Han comforted herself, It’s okay, it’s okay, Wen Han. At least you’re in a police station right now. It should be a little safer here.
Good thing he left first, she thought.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
He’s the real target these people are after.
Right when she was breathing out a light sigh of relief, someone pushed open the door from the outside. “There’s a lama here who heard about this theft incident. He says he was on the train at the time and is willing to testify for all of you.”
Wen Han’s eyes flew open.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
A tall, slender man, garbed in a red dhonka and a maroon zhen wrapped over it, calmly walked in. Her breath caught and her eyes widened—who was this?
“Who is this? I’ve never seen him before!” Shock covered the short-haired girl’s face as well.
“This is the lama who rode in the same train car the entire way with you.” A train ticket was tossed onto the table. “Here is his ticket. The time, his carriage number, and his seat all match yours.”
As if to oblige what this railway staff was saying, the lama held his palms together and, with a slight smile, addressed them, “Everyone, we meet again. I am here to bear witness for these two young people.”
……<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
The five tourists looked at one another.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
“He’s not, he’s not! Please believe what I’m saying! We’ve never seen this lama before,” the girl stammeringly tried to explain. “He’s an imposter.”
The Indian police officer massaged his temples. “You just said in your statement that last night, there was a lama. Now that person has even brought his train ticket here with him, but you are saying you don’t know him?”
The girl still wanted to argue.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“Enough!” The Indian police officer was livid. “Just to steal your one passport, a fake lama has appeared out of thin air? You’re really not here just to make trouble?”
In this country, everyone in the entire population practiced religion. Although lamas did not practice Hinduism, they were still respected.
Saying this venerable lama was an imposter was simply too blasphemous.
An elderly Indian police officer in the room next door, who had had to put up with this din for the entire morning, could stand it no more as well. “In my opinion, those two young people there seem like they have been falsely accused. Do you think these people here took a fancy to the young lady but weren’t able to get her, so they decided to frame her for stealing a passport?”
The ability of speech had wholly left those five tourists. They did not even know what to say in defense of themselves.
That lama clearly was a fake. He clearly was using another person’s items to make people misconstrue his identity…
But all of them, all five mouths, were unable to clearly explain this one fact.<>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.
The youth continued wiping his nose and could not even be bothered to lift his head.
Casting her eyes downward, Wen Han fixed them on the toes of her shoes and carried on pretending she did not really understand English.
She did not know him. That lama was truly a stranger to her.<>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.
 阿弥陀佛. This is actually a chanting of the name of the Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Radiance, who is an embodiment of love and compassion. In Buddhist teaching, this name is holy and is chanted with reverence as a way to meditate and have incorrect thoughts replaced by the perfect love and compassion of Amitabha Buddha. The Chinese pronunciation of this name is “Amituofo.” This “chanting” that the boy is doing is done more tongue in cheek, after reminding Cheng Muyun to be kind and benevolent as a monk who is striving to be like Buddha should. (Note: I am unlearned in Buddhism, so please do not take this as proper Buddhist doctrine. This footnote is merely to facilitate understanding of the story and context.)
 男女授受不亲. This is a common saying that expresses the conservative view where it is improper for men and women to have physical contact if they are not married.
 Referring to the tree at Kushinagar. Body relics, also called sarira, are referring to crystalline pieces as well as bone, teeth, etc. that are left behind after the cremation of a Buddhist spiritual master. After Buddha’s death, he was cremated. The eight countries that made up ancient India all wanted to claim his body relics, and to avoid the conflict that had been foretold by Buddha, it was suggested that the body relics be divided equally between the countries. Kushinagar (also known as Kusinagar or Kusinara) is the site of Buddha’s passing, and the tree in Kushinagar is supposed to be the site of the dividing of the relics.
<>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 of 1 Prologue
23 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue