Fangirling Chinese Novels

Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 9.3


For those who missed it, there was an extra release on Christmas Eve, so don’t jump right into this update if you haven’t read the last one.

Think Wen Han’s prayer from last update will come true? Also, you’ve met them all before, but secondary characters are officially introduced in this chapter. You will learn more about each throughout the remainder of the story, including that other girl who has been causing Wen Han’s heart to feel uncomfortable, for each has his/her own story.

Chapter 9.3 — On Whom Shall I Place My Heart’s Pining? (3)

Wen Han opened her eyes and rose rather happily to her feet. Right as she was about to say something to him, she saw a familiar figure appear from the crowd of people in the distance.

Pulling off his sunglasses, Meng Liangchuan grinned at them. “I’ve come.”

Wen Han unconsciously pulled her brows together.

Meng Liangchuan felt terribly glum with that. “Miss Wen Han, why are you not happy to see an old acquaintance? Don’t forget, those several times when you narrowly escaped death, Cheng Muyun was not the only one who helped you; I put in a lot of effort, too, eh.” Saying this, he even did not forget to shake his head. “Sure enough, to women, good looks are more important than anything else.”

Wen Han murmured lightly, “Regardless, any time I see you, nothing good ever happens.”

“… Miss, you need to get it straight. The one bringing you all the misfortune is the man behind you, not me.” As he said this, Meng Liangchuan pulled out a small bag from a pocket in front of him and handed it to Cheng Muyun.

Cheng Muyun took it from him and walked down the stone steps. Half squatting down, he opened that small bag and poured its contents into the river.

“What is that?” Wen Han asked with a soft voice, a bad feeling forming in her.

“Zhou Ke’s ashes.”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

“Zhou Ke?” The words blurted from Wen Han’s lips, and wide-eyed, she stared at Meng Liangchuan.

Meng Liangchuan confirmed, “Yes, the ashes of that young, rather handsome man who brought you from the Russian embassy back to Cheng Muyun’s side. I had originally intended on leaving them in Nepal and having Cheng Muyun bring them back to Moscow for burial. I didn’t expect he would have me bring them here and he would scatter them in this place.”

This will certainly be yet another awesome story, Meng Liangchuan surmised.

He was even beginning to enthusiastically theorize, since he was always fraternizing with Cheng Muyun, what would his own death be like? Where would he die? He must be mad. This was so darn exciting!<>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.

Too sudden.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Wen Han’s mind was in a whirl of confusion. That night in the temple, when she helped him carry out that tonsure-like process and shaved his head, could it be that Zhou Ke was already… She recalled the expression he had worn in the glow of the butter lamps, his eyes downcast as he remained quiet in his own thoughts. He had been using the tonsure process as a ceremony to release his friend’s soul from suffering?

Cheng Muyun threw the bag that had contained the ashes into the water as well, then walked back up the steps.

“There are just too many ashes in this river. And here they say it will let a soul rest in peace. If you ask me, they’re all crammed to death in there.” Meng Liangchuan was not a Buddhist, so he did not bother to filter his words.

“Zhou Ke was not a believer in Buddhism,” Cheng Muyun replied, with little expression on his face.

But the lad had once very seriously said, “Laoban, whatever you believe, I will believe.”

She had many questions she wanted to ask him, but remembering he had said that he would not answer anything, she could only allow these queries to amass in her heart—and heavier and heavier they became.

These jumbled emotions carried on until the sun sank into the west.

Noticing her low mood, those several young priests asked her, since she had seen the sunrise this morning, would she also like to go see the ritual worship that occurred daily on the Ganges River? Yesterday, she had only just arrived so these men had been too shy to invite her, but now they felt she could go have a look.<>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.

Varanasi.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

More than one month ago, she had been here in this city.

At that time, when she saw these evening rituals, it had merely been a quick, passing look. There were too many tourists and young artists gathered on this river shore—that had been her impression from last time. Back then, as she watched those priests, she had not thought that, less than two months later, she would be revisiting this place, and this time, she was sitting amongst the local people rather than observing everything from afar as a tourist.

She was watching the ritual that was taking place.

And that girl was softly conversing with Cheng Muyun about something. Wen Han could not refrain from stealing a few more glances at them, such that she did not hear much of the joke that Meng Liangchuan was telling.<>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.

That girl stood with her back to the bustling crowd. Her eyes were red, and with the back of her hand, she swiped at them. “I heard that a person whose ashes are scattered in this river will be able to rest in peace. But really, it makes no difference where he is buried, since I can’t go pay my respects to him anyway.”

Cheng Muyun lowered his eyes, not saying anything.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com 

The girl spun the ring on her finger. A minute later, she decisively removed it. “In a little bit, I’ll throw it into the river, too. Only twenty-five years old, and now I’m already a widow. That’s just… That punk just left me with the short straw. Back then, when I said he was three years younger than me, he just had to argue and say how great it was that the girl was three years older. What’s so great about it?” the girl rambled. After some time, she asked him, “Can you make an exception and tell me how he died?”

Cheng Muyun was quiet for a moment. “Someone leaked his identity out.”

On that morning, in that little hall on the first floor, everyone had thought those people would attack Cheng Muyun first. No one had expected that they actually knew Zhou Ke’s identity. Zhou Ke had not even had the chance to dodge and was seriously injured. When he managed, barely, to run outside, Meng Liangchuan happened at that moment to be arriving with the local police. That lad… had then taken yet another fatal blow for Meng Liangchuan.

Although Zhou Ke’s lips had said he looked down on Meng Liangchuan, and perhaps in his heart he truly did look down on him, still, what could he do? They had both been acknowledged and accepted by Cheng Muyun. That meant he was his brother.

“Those who are my brothers must all die after me.”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

This was the most simple of beliefs held by those who followed Cheng Muyun.

The two stood in silence. After a while, the girl suddenly smiled. “She has been watching us the whole time. Women are like that. As long as she likes you, then any woman who goes near you is her love rival. No matter how unselfish and bighearted a front she puts up, it’s no use, because here”—the girl touched a hand against her own heart—“will feel uncomfortable.”

Cheng Muyun answered, “If we cannot even fool a twenty-year-old girl, do you think we would be able to fool other people who have received special training?”

Wen Han could not know, of this group, which person had what identity, or who had what sort of relationship with another person. It was essential that she be kept in a fog, such that, in the end, she would not even be aware when she was extricated from everything. This would be the best for her and also the safest for all the people who followed 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.

The ritual had reached a climax, and all the tourists began to applaud.

Cheng Muyun walked back to her side, with the girl following behind him. Wen Han, who was sitting on a blanket, shifted over to make room for them. In front of everyone, she was still his younger sister. She straightened herself where she was sitting, trying as best as she could to overlook the girl sitting on his other side.

For the entire night, Cheng Muyun did not speak even one whole sentence to her.

But from time to time, he would converse quietly with the girl, a smile on his face.

All the while, she wanted to say something to him, but the pride in her heart did not allow her anymore to do so. Yesterday was already the extreme of what she could do, to request that he “must” be with her and to lay for an entire night on one bed with him.

But it seemed, as long as this girl appeared, all of her efforts would become nothing.<>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.

Here, the lively ritual worship was going on. Far away, although the sky was dark, people were still burning corpses. This place had a culture she had not seen before. A foreign country will cause a person’s heart to be unable to settle. Bowing her head, she stared at the corner of her skirt. It seemed Buddha still felt her wish was too small. It was only this morning that she had offered up her prayer, but now a real, concrete answer had already been given.

Cheng Muyun could perceive that Wen Han’s mood had fallen to a drastic low. After a brief silence, he continued chatting in a low voice with the girl to his right. As for the content of their conversation, no one could hear it.<>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 the grounds of a family manor estate.

When she first heard “coffee plantation,” she had thought Cheng Muyun would be bringing her to somewhere out in the countryside. Now, she discovered that her guess had been entirely off the mark.

Those young priests she had met in Varanasi were university students and also a part of this particular family. And according to the young Indian girl in front of Wen Han right now: “You did not know? You have never heard your older brother mention it before? Oh my god, he is such a low-key person. He is my eldest brother’s classmate, his university classmate. He once rescued my eldest brother when my brother was kidnapped. Our family is indebted to him.” The young girl’s eyes showed hints of admiring enamorment.

Of course, she kept it deeply hidden.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

She would even hope that she could win this man’s heart and he would take her away from this country. Though she had a rich dowry and three very powerful older brothers, she still did not like this patriarchal society in which the husband is placed in the absolute highest position.

Wen Han had not thought that he would have studied in university before.

Prior to experiencing all that had happened in Nepal, she had thought he was someone who had associated with some “improper” groups of society, and then later, unable to subsist there, or, perhaps, after suffering some sort of setback or blow, he had become a monk? And then, after she had experienced all those things, she still had thought he was involved with those improper groups of society…

He should be someone who appeared in any sort of dangerous place.

Drifting from place to place, with nowhere to call home. Not having enough food to eat or clothing to stay warm. In dilapidated temples. On the Tibetan Plateau. In any case, he did not seem like someone who could appear in normal places.<>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 young Indian girl was prohibited from being alone with strange, unfamiliar men, so after her chitchat with Wen Han, she instructed one of the manor’s servants to bring Wen Han to the coffee field.

This was Wen Han’s first time seeing a vast stretch of coffee trees at a close distance.

Right then, the workers were picking the fruit, the coffee cherries.

Sitting cross-legged beneath a tree, Cheng Muyun scooped up a handful of coffee beans. “The time required for a coffee cherry to develop is very long. This smaller type here takes eight to twelve months and then can be picked that same year. Some medium or large-sized ones will need to wait until the following year. It requires patience.”

Beside him, the girl gave an “oh” and muttered, “You need to plant them a year ahead and then harvest the next year? Then I am definitely not suited for growing coffee. Zhou Ke always said that what I lack most is patience.”

The corner of Cheng Muyun’s lips turned upward ever so slightly.

Only now, as the girl tilted her head back, did she notice Wen Han, and smilingly, she greeted, “I always have this feeling that we’ve seen each other many times. It is really inconvenient that you don’t know my name.”

Wen Han shook her head. Staring at the coffee beans inside the basket, she replied softly, “Don’t tell me. He has said before that I can’t know anything.”

The girl continued smiling at her. “It’s not that serious. You can call me Zhou Zhou.”

Another person with the surname, Zhou? Wen Han nodded.

After saying this, Zhou Zhou pointed at the three men who were strolling toward them from afar. “You’ve seen them before, right?”

Just now, when she was walking over, Wen Han’s eyes had immediately landed on the two of them sitting here side by side. Only now did she notice there were other people far off amongst the coffee trees. That man with the fair complexion and slightly effeminate appearance who was wearing a hat, wasn’t he the fake lama at the train station? The youth beside him she, of course, knew as well. And the man wearing the blue, metal-framed glasses, Wen Han remembered he was the one who had called out Zhou Ke’s name that night in the mountain valley.

With a smile, Zhou Zhou looked at the three men. “Hello, my name is Zhou Zhou.”

“Fu Ming,” the fake lama stated.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Xiao Zhuang [Little Zhuang],” the youth said.

“Chen Yuan,” the bespectacled man said.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Those all sound so awful. You know just from hearing them that they must be aliases.” Zhou Zhou laughed. Then she carried on asking Cheng Muyun curiously, “You said just now that each coffee cherry has two coffee beans inside it?”

“Yes.” Cheng Muyun split open a coffee cherry. “See? Each fruit has two coffee beans facing each other inside.

Without at all trying to avoid others reading more into their relationship, Zhou Zhou took the fruit from between Cheng Muyun’s fingers and laughed lightly. “So every coffee bean is actually part of a pair of sweetheart beans.”

Wen Han stood awkwardly, feeling as if her presence here was redundant. “It’s a little sunny here. Would you be able to bring me back to rest?” she quietly requested the servant. The servant immediately bowed and led her away.

That man and woman beneath the tree carried on as if in their own little world, discussing whether it was coffee beans or “sweetheart beans.”

Chen Yuan could not help glancing Zhou Zhou over another time.

In fact, Chen Yuan had seen Zhou Zhou twice before: once in the little inn in Kathmandu and once at the campsite, when Zhou Zhou gave all the vacationers the rabies vaccination. It was just that, during those two encounters, he and Zhou Ke had been hiding in the shadows, protecting everyone, so they had not truly met. However, Chen Yuan remembered, the look in Zhou Ke’s eyes when he stared at this Zhou Zhou had been very out of the ordinary. He had even thought that Zhou Ke secretly liked her.

But now, from the look of things, it would seem he had been wrong. It was evident this Zhou Zhou had a thing with Cheng Muyun. Why had Cheng Muyun chosen to be with one of his own people?

At the same time, Xiao Zhuang also furtively threw a suggestive look at Fu Ming:

Holy crap! You mean, once the monk decided to violate his precepts, he found himself TWO women? And one of them is even one of his own people?<>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:

Prior to this chapter, you could still view Zhou Ke as “just another” one of Cheng Muyun’s brothers, an unfortunate loss in this battle that is taking place behind the scenes. But this chapter always makes my heart twinge for him.

In the utility room, when he told Meng Liangchuan, “I quite look down on you,” you can envision a confident young man, even a little cocky. But here, when you see that he died because of his belief that “Those who are my brothers must all die after me,” you realize that behind that young, cocky exterior was a man of loyalty, principles, and strong beliefs. Then, when Zhou Zhou describes what he once said, that “he had to argue and say how great it was that the girl was three years older,” you can imagine a boy, full of life and grinning confidently as he declares to the girl he loves that he doesn’t care about the age difference, he just loves her. But now he is gone, ashes to ashes, and never again will they get to hear his cocky declarations.


1 of 1 Prologue
26 of 50 Chapter segments
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19 thoughts on “Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 9.3

  1. Thank you for the wonderful surprise, hoju! Reading two chapters is a nice way to alleviate my persistent cold. And of course, the alone time is much appreciated. I was giggling like a school girl the whole time. 😊

    Zhou ke and Zhou Zhou’s story is very painful to read. It’s just so saddening that he’s still young but has already experienced the cruelty of the world and has already developed such strong principles. It is touching and heartbreaking at the same time.

    Realized that the deception is a firm presence in Cheng Muyun’s life that even his companions are not an exception.

    Thanks for the efforts Hoju! 😊😊

    • Sorry to hear you’ve been unwell. Hope it’s better now. 🙂
      LOL. This story doesn’t bring many schoolgirl giggles out from me, but I do feel like I can breath a momentary sigh of relief when they do get those brief, rare times alone together.

      There’s probably more to Zhou Ke’s story and who he is. He’s only in his early twenties, but he’s involved in all this already. What brought him into this lifestyle?

      Yes… it’s not only Wen Han that he must keep in the dark, although hers is an utter fog while other people are privy to certain things.

      You’re welcome!

  2. She doesn’t seem that heartbroken though *pouts*
    I would kill Cheng muyun with mah bare hands if he pulled this kind of shizz on me

    • The thing is, while romance is still ultimately the point of this novel, this story is not meant to tickle your girlish heart. And it most certainly is not not all about love and romance.

      Zhou Zhou does not seem on the outside all that heartbroken about Zhou Ke’s death. What about Cheng Muyun, then? You were privy to a moment when there was only him and Wen Han and it was safe for him to show grief, and even that, though noticeable, was still subtle. You have only seen Zhou Zhou out in public. Here, they are by the riverside where there are hundreds of people in the crowds surrounding them, or they are in a plantation surrounded by servants and other people they are trying to fool. She may or may not be sad, you can formulate your own opinion on that, but she most certainly has a mission to carry out that she needs to set aside personal feelings to accomplish. There are people she must hide her emotions from.

      As for Cheng Muyun, again, you’re focused on love and romance. He is not. Even Wen Han is not. Yes, it obviously bothers her, even torments her, but she is not taking offence at it because she knows that’s not his priority. Cheng Muyun is a big picture type of person. That means he is able to see past personal emotions in order to do what he believes is best, and obviously, as he has stated before, his definition of “best” is staying alive and keeping everyone alive. “Wen Han, I have more than just you by my side. Every person’s life is equally important.” (chapter 8.1) “Between love and being alive, one should of course choose the latter.” (chapter 9.2)

      Lastly, since the temple, Cheng Muyun has been trying to keep his distance from Wen Han. Even Wen Han could sense it. “Since that night in the temple, when she had shaved his head for him, she had sensed more and more that there was an unexplainable distance being maintained between the two of them. As for why there was this sense of distance…She did not know.” (chapter 9.1) Why was this? Because he was trying to allow her to stay away from him, to not become emotionally involved with him. He would absolutely do everything within his power to send her safely back to Moscow. “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.” (chapter 8.1) He seeks nothing else between them, not even physical intimacy, despite his attraction to her. “This girl, she most certainly did not understand. Cheng Muyun had given her so many chances since they met to get away from him and maintain a distance between them.” (chapter 9.2) Since taking her away after that utility room incident, he has never initiated physical intimacy with her (discarding that one time when, if he didn’t do it, she would have died of hypothermia–and yes, she was already in late stage hypothermia!). As we saw in Cheng Muyun’s thoughts, Zhou Ke’s death signified to him that he could not have a normal relationship with Wen Han, and hence he did not seek it out anymore. It was Wen Han who approached him. But he, before doing anything, laid it out before her once more and asked her whether it was truly what she wanted. “Do you still want more?… Use your calm mind to think it through… For merely a man whose body is well-matched to yours, you will have no ring, no wedding. Let’s not even talk about a home and a fixed job. You may not even know your husband’s name. You might one minute still be staying temporarily in some private home, toasting some bread and wondering when I will be coming back, and then the next moment, your hands and feet are bound and you are tossed into the forest, where you die of a high fever… ” (chapter 9.1) It was after this that Wen Han told him, “In these next three months, you must be with me.” And it was only then that he chose not to deny his attraction to her anymore. She pulled him into her bed; he did not ask to get into it. And if she asks him to get out, he will walk away; she will not need to kick him out. What else do you think he should do? He has told her he cannot tell her anything. He has said he cannot give her anything. He has stated outright the potential outcomes of being with him. He has given no promises. He has given her a choice (and many times at that).

      And therefore, Wen Han herself does not blame him. It may pain her, but she does not blame him, and hence she does not think he is pulling any kind of “shizz” on her.

      And I agree with Wen Han. 😉

      • Just tell me one thing, though: You haven’t changed your policy of only translating HE, did you? Because everything about this stage of the plot is foreboding something really tragic. And, though I’m kinda ambivalent about Cheng Muyun at this point…. I wouldn’t want him to die. I like my HE too much!

        • I can tell you didn’t read my introduction post very carefully. *sniffles sadly*
          No change. If I did, I’d make sure you all knew from the very beginning. My heart, however, does not have the strength to do BE stories.

          • I did read your intro post very carefully *hugs hoju* I had to read it every time either Cheng Muyun or Wen Han were in mortal danger (which was many times) and every time Cheng Muyun managed to unknowingly piss me off (which also has been quite a few times lol) just to reassure myself that this story is going to end the way I want it to, though I have no control over this roller-coaster of a journey. Don’t misunderstand me: I’m loving it. It’s just that those intense moments that are generously planted in here tend to be very… disconcerting

  3. Thank you for the chapter. Zhou Ke is a little hero in his own way. Ha ha, the youth’s thought at the end 😀.

    • You’re welcome!
      I really like Zhou Ke. I remember repeating many times when I was translating Beautiful Bones, “Everyone has their own story.” The same is so true in this particular novel. We got a glimpse of Zhou Ke’s story, and you’ll understand a bit of everyone else’s story.

      Haha… Still young, still relatively innocent. He’s obviously hit the “important” point of what he should be noticing about his boss.

  4. Thanks for the update 😉

  5. Thank you so much!! 😘😘😘.

  6. looks like CMY’s brothers do not know well of each other
    thank you!

    • No, they don’t. Remember it said, “Aside from having one-hundred-percent trust in a man named Cheng Muyun, everyone in that group was suspicious of each other and keeping a close watch and monitoring one another.”
      😉 😉

  7. Hoju, I have missed out on the connecting chapters. I will take a break in the new year and catch up.
    Meantime let me thank you for the journey you have taken me on with the numerous characters starting from RRMY, down to Life.
    They educated me on the Chinese culture, traditions, and most of all your explanation of the idioms have broaden my vocabs.
    Thank you! Looking forward to more with you in the new year. So let me wish you A very Happy New Year in 2018. God bless you!!

  8. My heart almost broke reading this chapter…. OMG! Luckily I know this is going to be a HE novel. Now…. off to the next chapter…. Thank you so much @Hoju for the wonderful translation. U are simply the best! Love you to the moon and back!

  9. I just depend of the mercy of these novels translations so I didn’t know the existence of others linked stories. I don’t think that Vows of Eternal Love is even translated, such a shame.
    Ty for the hard work Hoju.

  10. The additional comments almost made me cry it’s very sad especially when you say it like that.😣😣😣

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