Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 10.1

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A little bird told me there might be a New Year’s bonus of some sort. 😉

Cheng Muyun barely makes an appearance in this update. However, we learn pieces here and there through speculations and revelations from the people around him. Is some of the fog starting to clear for you yet?

Chapter 10.1  — To Gaze Down with Compassion Like Bodhisattva (1)

Meng Liangchuan sat in the corner of a coffee shop by the river. Across from him was the police officer whom he had collaborated with during the uprooting of the mountain valley smuggling base and also that time when Zhou Ke died. The police officer handed him an envelope.

Meng Liangchuan pulled out the contents. There were only two thin sheets of paper.

The first one was a black and white copy of a photograph—a close-up shot of Cheng Muyun.

The second sheet contained a short description:

Ten years ago, Cheng Muyun, after going undercover for three years, completely destroyed the Mongolia-Russia smuggling line of an international trafficking organization, recovering thousands of Buddhist treasures, including Buddha statues, body relics, etc. His subordinates numbered 79, of which 13 died in the line of duty (no details available).

After the conclusion of this case, Cheng Muyun officially stepped down and then disappeared without a trace.

His successor is Fu Yiming (Fu Ming), but Fu did not completely take over control of Cheng Muyun’s entire operations team.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Meng Liangchuan held those papers flat on his palm. “Let me sort out my train of thought.”

He deliberated for several minutes, then took a sip of masala chai. “Half a year ago, the trafficker Wang Wenhao received the assignment to come to Nepal and do a transaction for some goods. Cheng Muyun also got ahold of this information and arrived in Nepal one step ahead to lie in waiting. Half a year later, which is one month ago, Wang Wenhao entered Nepal via India with a few ordinary friends, encountered Cheng Muyun and myself, and in the end, was robbed of his goods.”

“Didn’t you bring the goods to the coffee plantation for him? You didn’t look to see what they were?”

“I didn’t,” Meng Liangchuan answered as he carried on slowly sipping his masala chai, “because I feel that Cheng Muyun’s focus is actually not the goods. He stole them away because he wanted Wang Wenhao to convey to his higher-ups in the trafficking operation that the goods were gone and that Cheng Muyun was the one who took them.”

And that was why it was only after it had been confirmed that Wang Wenhao had indeed successfully spread this news that Meng Liangchuan acted as per Cheng Muyun’s plan and detained Wang Wenhao and the rest of the group in Kathmandu.

“And what would he do after the news spread?” the police officer asked in reply.

“Wait for people to come after him to kill him,” Meng Liangchuan affirmed. “Cheng Muyun wiped out an entire smuggling line of that organization. They undoubtedly want to drink his blood and eat his flesh. There are both the enmity of ten years ago and the hatred from this time. With new hatreds piled on top of old grudges, they definitely want to kill him off and take back this time’s goods.”

“But what is he trying to do by drawing all the fire onto himself? He wants to come back from retirement and continue the fight against that trafficking organization?”

“No. Based on his personality, since he already withdrew from all of this, he won’t come back again.” Meng Liangchuan finished the rest of his masala chai in one gulp. “He wants to clean house and close that incident from ten years ago.”

“Clean house? Clean what house? There’s a traitor in his ranks?” The police officer was astounded.

Meng Liangchuan explained, “Yesterday, after I gave him the ashes, he told me his return this time is a memorial and sacrificial ceremony for the spirits of his brothers from ten years ago. He also said, if he should die, I should not trust anyone around him, other than Wen Han. That obviously is saying there is a mole amongst those with him.”

The police officer’s brows knitted together. “Suppose there really is a spy in his midst. That person must have already gotten his mission from his higher-ups already: kill Cheng Muyun and take back the goods that were lost in Nepal.”

“Yes.”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

It all fit now.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

That’s right, it all fit.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

The more Meng Liangchuan analyzed everything, the clearer his head became. He pulled out a colour photograph. Captured on it was the daytime scene today beneath the coffee tree. “Come look. These are the people who went to the plantation today.”

Moving in closer, the police officer took in the happy and harmonious scene: Cheng Muyun, holding a handful of coffee beans, was smiling at the girl beside him, and around them stood a youth and two men.

Meng Liangchuan tapped his finger against each face, telling the other person, “Zhou Zhou, Fu Ming, Xiao Zhuang, Chen Yuan. One of these four must be a mole. And also, another one is someone sent undercover by the high-level authorities to monitor him.”

“Just amongst these four? How do you know?” The police officer did not understand the logic.

“Look at the info written on this paper.” Meng Liangchuan picked up the sheet of paper from earlier. “He had seventy-nine people working for him. For those thirteen people who died in the line of duty, even at their deaths, there were still no details available about them. This is a rule in his team. Except for Cheng Muyun himself, everyone is invisible. But these four people were actually exposed together, on the same day. This can only mean one thing: these four are the ones Cheng Muyun most suspects. By exposing them to the light, even if he himself is to die, there will be other brothers who will continue investigating to dig the person out.”

The police officer uttered “oh, oh” a couple of times. But then, he all of a sudden slapped the table. “Wait, there’s something wrong, Meng Liangchuan. We were able to guess all of this. Then, what if the mole perceives danger and bolts? What to do then?”

“It’s too late to bolt. The moment they all appeared in the coffee plantation, there was no chance anymore for anyone to run.” The look in Meng Liangchuan’s eyes was deep. “Besides the thirteen souls who died a wrongful death and the departed Zhou Ke, there are still another sixty-one people in the shadows, watching each one of them. No one can run.

“From when the mole got Cheng Muyun’s message telling him to go to the coffee plantation, even if he guessed that this was a trap, he still had to go. Otherwise, it would be equivalent to straight-up admitting to his identity.”<>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.

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

This man’s world was, as he said himself, without mercy and leniency. To those who betrayed him, he would return the act tenfold. To those who were wicked, he would use a hundredfold factor to tell the other party just what was meant by “evil shall reap evil.” His one friend, the Chinese police officer, had died in the smuggling base in Nepal, so he completely exposed that base to the police, annihilating that mountain stronghold and totally pulling it up from the very roots.

Indeed, he was harsher on the wicked than even the Eighteen Hells[1].

The thirteen lives of ten years ago and also Zhou Ke—fourteen brothers in total. How could he let that mole go free?

This was the “law” of his “clan” and the punishment for violating it.

An image floated up in front of Meng Liangchuan’s eyes.

In a great temple hall filled with lamps of oil, the Buddha attendants and arhats lining each side silently gazed down from on high at the four people who were there: Zhou Zhou, Fu Ming, Xiao Zhuang, and Chen Yuan.<>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.

After dinner, someone set up a white canopy in the coffee field.

Cheng Muyun had once rescued the eldest son of this place from the hands of kidnappers, so naturally he was an honoured guest and given such treatment. With servants surrounding them, he played cards with old friends whom he had not been able to have a good, real conversation with for many years.

From afar, Wen Han threw a glance at the excitement under the white canopy beneath the trees, then made the decision to stroll around. Circling around the plantation’s water drainage channel, she walked north. Soon, she heard lively music.

She was drawn to it. Stepping a little closer, she stood amongst the coffee trees, and from there, she saw a resplendent frame of flowers built in front of the workers’ quarters.

“It is a wedding.” In the darkness, an arm slipped onto her shoulder from behind her.

She stiffened, and her heart leapt erratically. Still, though, she did not turn around. His hand glided down her back before slipping from the side of her waist to the front of her body, his palm coming to a standstill against her abdomen.

His searing palm reminded her, he was her man.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Did you not request that I must be with you?” His voice was low and husky. “What? You are going back on your word again?”

In the spill of lights, a thirty or forty-year old Indian groom with dark, rough-looking skin was leading a teenage girl dressed in a bridal gown by the hand. There was no smile on the girl’s face at all as she walked forward amid the lively music. Wen Han had heard before that, because of the low status of Indian women, India’s impoverished people would often marry off their girls early.

In Moscow, women also outnumbered men, and their marriages were often not as they would desire.

“Yes, I’m going back on what I said,” she quietly answered. “Is that okay?”

This sort of torture that came from watching him, day and night, flirt with another woman was something that, perhaps, he did not understand at all.

“There is absolutely no problem with that. I told you long ago,”—the man behind her loosened his embrace from around her—“this is something that should make us both happy. If you feel you are unhappy, I will not force you.” Upon saying this, he took a few backwards steps and then strode back into the grove of coffee trees.

Wen Han bit down on her lip, forcing herself to stay firm and not turn her head to take even a glance.

The evening breeze was a little chilly. It was almost November, after all. A little Indian boy ran past her feet. Stretching up his arm, he stealthily picked a few coffee cherries and stuffed them into her palm, saying softly, “Eat one. Will make you happy.” Could it be that even such a young child could see her unhappiness? So, did that mean Cheng Muyun did not care at all, or was he intentionally choosing to ignore it—

Behind her, there was once again the sound of footsteps. Very faint.

He came 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.

“Hello, Miss Wen Han.”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

It was not him.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Wen Han turned her head in surprise. It was Fu Ming. Her eyes, which were originally stirred with emotions, gradually quieted and concealed her disappointment.

“I would love to chat with you. It is very rare to see a woman who is involved with Cheng Muyun.” Apparently, this was someone who spoke bluntly as well. “To thank you for satisfying my curiosity, I can answer any of your questions regarding him.”

Wen Han pressed her lips together, feeling somewhat apprehensive. However, remembering that she truly did not know anything at all, she relaxed again. “I do not know what you are curious about, and the fact is, I do not know anything.”

It’ll be fine. You just need to be a bit more careful when you answer him.

She silently warned herself.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Really? He’s unwilling to tell you anything?” Fu Ming threw back this question to her in, surprisingly, fluent Russian.

“Yes, it’s true,” she answered, her voice quiet.

This was the first time since he abducted her away that she was speaking to someone other than him in the language she was most familiar with.

Fu Ming remained wordless for a period.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Before, has he ever had other… girlfriends?” She was first to ask a question.

“You could say he has, I suppose? But not exactly. The classification is very vague. But she is dead already.”

Wen Han was taken aback.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“He caused her death,” Fu Ming flatly added. “Miss Wen Han, you don’t need to be scared. He likely won’t do that to you. That woman was later, after her death, charged with more than a hundred murders. You and she are not the same type of person.”

More than a hundred murders? Usually only very big drug lords or people who were part of mafias or triad-like criminal organizations would have such a shockingly large number of prosecutions against them.

She often watched the news and was not entirely ignorant of things.

“You should know that, given the type of people we are, we have no command, no choice in the things we do, and we experience all kinds of strange things. But, he still has my respect and admiration.” A slight furrow appeared between Fu Ming’s brows. “I tend to value relationships, so I cannot be like him and watch without even blinking while a person’s death penalty is carried out. If it were me, I would certainly feel uncomfortable inside me.”

… So, that was his past?<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Spoken about so lightly by Fu Ming.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Fu Ming looked puzzledly at her. “You have no other questions?”

“You already gave me so much information with one question. I suddenly don’t know what I should ask,” Wen Han murmured.

“Later, he went and became a monk for ten years.” Fu Ming grinned at her. “In your opinion, was it because he could not forget that woman, or was it for other reasons, hmm? Miss Wen Han?”

“I don’t know… I don’t really know him or understand him.”

“Miss Wen Han, how many men have you had?” He was actually the one directing questions at her now.

“… May I not answer that question?”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Yes, of course.” Fu Ming smiled. “Girls in Moscow are often ‘affectionate’ and amorous. Those are your little secrets. If you are not willing to share, I won’t force you. By the way, how much Chinese blood do you have in you?”

“I’m quarter Chinese,” she answered.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Fu Ming looked her up and down. “We Chinese, our genes are so strong. Only one-quarter Chinese, but that is enough to allow you to possess such Oriental poise and charm?”

When he finished saying this, he arbitrarily picked a few coffee cherries fr0m a tree. Dropping his voice, he said to her, “The question I most want to know the answer to somewhat delves into private matters, but all these years, I honestly have been very curious: why do so many women keep Cheng Muyun in their hearts? Are his bed skills really so unforgettable to women?”

“……”<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Oh, my apologies. That was too personal. Well, then, last question. If one day Cheng Muyun were to leave you, would it pain you so much you would not want to live?”<>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] 十八层地狱. Literally, the eighteen layers of hell. In the traditional Chinese view of hell, there are eighteen levels, each one subjecting the sinner to a different type of torture and punishment.<>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.

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

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20 thoughts on “Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 10.1

  1. Dearest Hoju,

    I haven’t read this novel yet, for this type of novel, I’m waiting until it reaches 75% or more then marathon it in one go. Like BB. I stop by to wish you;
    “Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
    May the Almighty always bless you and your family with health, happiness and success.

    Thanks a million for your continuous supply of addictive CNovel too, my dear.

    Hugs,
    G~

    • Thank you. Blessings of joy and health to you and your family. 🙂

      Join in whenever you find it is best for you. 🙂 The story will be here.

  2. Wishing u and family a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2018! Thank you so much for the chapter!! 😘😘😘

  3. Hi Hoju! I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Do you remember at the beginning when you decided to translate this novel that you said it is a novel that you had to stop reading halfway because it’s just that emotionally griping? Then you said you picked it up again and even after you finished it, it was still hard to recover from the story. (Or maybe I created that memory from somewhere else…) You also said that it’s not a story for everyone. Well.. so when you started translating, I tried to read ahead and had to take a long long break from it. But you’re approaching the part where I stopped so I am thinking that I’m going to follow your translation instead. It might be a better pace for my heart because I confess, this novel is tooooooo intense that it makes me want to run away. I will try my best to stick to it especially since my Mandarin listening skill is only so-so. After all, I sincerely love your translations because of all the work you put in it and your great love and respect for the author and her writing. Thank you so much for all of your hard work sharing your love for books! Have a Happy New Year!

    • Happy to see you again, chang’er.

      LOL. Yes, something along those lines. I said in my introduction to this post that this novel is not “sweet” like you would expect of the author. The novel is very intense and gripping, and indeed, I set it aside for a while and read some fluffy, sweet novels at the time it was being published online. Back then, I was nearing the end of the Beautiful Bones translation, and it was right around the time of Wenxing’s death. I needed candy sweetness to offset the wreck I was from that part of the translation. When I finally picked up the story and read it, it was not that I could not recover from the thriller parts, it was that I could not pull myself out of the characters. These characters are all three dimensional, and they leave you pondering. Are they good or bad? Right or wrong? Righteous and just or evil? Magnanimous or selfish? Can you really draw a clear line in the sand?

      And that is the reason why I love this story. Yes, the mystery is great, but to me, the fascination is more about how you think you have formulated an opinion on a character, then another layer about him is peeled off and it makes you think even worse of him. But then all of a sudden, another piece is revealed and everything you thought is overturned.

      This book left me pondering, mulling over characters a lot and also on how people view the world. I love a book that makes me think, that I’m not just relishing in the atmosphere created by the book at the time but that it has extended beyond the covers after I have turned the last page and makes me do some reflection.

      Thank you for the lovely encouragement. And thank you for your faithful support to this blog over these years.

      Wishing you a wonderful New Year!

  4. Thank you and happy new year 😗

  5. Okay, so this chapter did clear who CM is and what he is upto. Thank you for this chapter and Happy New Year wishes. New year surprises are always welcome 😀.

  6. although FM is CMY’s successor, he is quite suspicious

    Wishing you a Happy New Year!

  7. chai masala

    chai = tea
    masala = a type of indian spices, mostly used in Indian’s cuisines

    (i love watching bollywood/kollywood films….so hence the tiny knowledge above ^^)

    • That’s why I didn’t type “masala chai tea.” 😉 My knowledge, though, comes from loving Starbucks’s chai tea latte, which is so incorrectly named.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  8. Happy new year hoju, more happier ang healthier to u and your family 😁🎉

  9. This novel is a wild roller coaster ride of emotions. I am never sure of any character lol.

  10. Another while ride…. At the part: Behind her, there was once again the sound of footsteps. Very faint. He came back?…. I got really excited thinking that Cheng Muyun actually came back…. sigh…. but a good insight of his past and whom he actually is… or is it? Guess only time can tell the truth…. Indeed a very mind trilling novel…. Once again, thank you @Hoju for the hardwork on translating this novel. Am sure it is not easy…. Appreciate it!

  11. I don’t quite know where the story is going yet. Well, I am clear about the story, but not our couple’s fate. It’s so admirable that CM is willing to step back if she feels uncomfortable, I have seen a tad too much of ‘persistent’ love in movies and novels. Poor WH, I can’t wait till the puzzle is finally solved. Our hero will obviously succeed in his revenge, but what price will he have to pay?
    We already have strong hint towards the mole now, but I will hold back any judgements for now.

    One thing I can’t get over is the way the author shows my country. Obviously I can’t deny that some of it is true. Patriarchy is still alive even in educated families, and stray cows and dogs are frequent sight in some parts. But India is too big a country to fit in one particular definition. Brother has complete authority over his sister? What? Maybe in some families, but as women are starting to enter the work field, this is seen less. Cows are not commonly seen in the south, east or any of the cities of the country. While it is okay to show the reality, this seems like all stereotypes about this place have been thrust together.
    I know I shouldn’t get worked up over something like this, but I hate it when the same scenarios and descriptions are regurgitated every single time India is portrayed. I will gladly accept the truth, but for once I would like if someone showed the better side of my country. The picture these descriptions paint makes one generalize a lot about India, which I won’t know isn’t entirely true, had I not been a citizen myself.

    Ah well, thanks for the translations, they are extremely well done. The effort you put in them really shows 🙂

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