Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 15.4

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Attention Mo Bao Fei Bao international fans: I am trying to gauge interest here. I am working with some Chinese fans to put together a little gift for MBFB. The plan is a booklet that contains fans’ favourite lines from her novels and also any words and well wishes that you might want to send her. We would love to have her international fans participate in this. It would be quite simple. Let me know a quote or two from any one of her novels (it can be from the English translation) that you love, and then say some words to her. It can be literally just a few words or it can be paragraphs, and feel free to write away in English. If need be, I will translate it, but MBFB’s English is actually quite good, though she denies it vehemently. LOL. Would any of you be interested in doing something like this? If there is enough interest, I will set up a separate post for this and gather all of your words to pass on. Please let me know in the comments of this post if this is something that you would participate in. 🙂

I don’t often use photographs for the title pic of a post, but this one truly evokes “Cheng Muyun” to me.

This chapter was quite interesting to translate and to capture the feel from the original text. The emotions are not blatant, but if you dwell upon the chapter, you’ll find they are there and ache the heart. And mine ached, for Cheng Muyun, and for those others. Everyone will have their story. This, here, is at last a close on this chapter of Cheng Muyun’s life. What did he have to do? What was the price he had to pay? Good? Evil? Who can say?

(I purposely have not been leaving “additional comments,” which, longtime readers may know, is not typical of me. LOL. I do have lots of thoughts, but I’m holding them to not bias you or give spoilers. Perhaps, at the end, I will not be able to contain them all and spill out some. But only at the very end. Tehe, it may turn out to be a long babble to myself.)

Chapter 15.4 — From Hell it Came, as Hell it shall Stay (4)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized, except by linking to hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

Chen Yuan knew this was his last chance to get the Buddhist relic.

After he truly left India, it would not be possible for him to enter the country again or else it would rouse the suspicions of his brothers and comrades of the past, including his superiors.

Hence, he took a risk. After acquiring this top-secret information from the mouth of Wen Han, he had immediately hurried here—that small, three-level house along the Ganges River in Varanasi.

According to Wen Han, she had hidden that item with her own hands in a corner of this kitchen.

In a canister that held rosemary.<>Please support this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

His hand came in contact with the innermost canister, and carefully, he took it out. Beneath the moonlight, he opened the stainless steel lid, slipped his hand inside, and slowly pulled out that body relic that was about half the size of a palm.

A relic, an object left behind after the cremation of a Buddhist spiritual master. And this one contained a clear image of the Buddha, his eyes lowered and his legs crossed. How much practice in the Dharma and how great was the enlightenment in order to leave behind such an object? …

Chen Yuan stared rather dazedly at the relic in his palm.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com 

From when he first met Cheng Muyun, he had watched that man believe in Buddhism all these years, but had never understood Cheng Muyun’s religious convictions, especially in Moscow, that place where churches could be found everywhere.

But now, when he saw that relic that lay on his palm, there was a sense of pressure, as if his very soul was being gazed down upon, being dissected… Slapping the lid back on, he stuffed the canister into the corner and restacked the other spice containers, making it seem as if no one had moved anything here.

In that instant, when he closed the cupboard door, a dark shadow appeared outside the window.

A chill ran down Chen Yuan’s back. Slowly, he turned his head. By the light of the moon, he got a clear look at the shape of that shadow. It was a little dog. That little yellow dog seemed accustomed to strolling around in the nearby areas in the middle of the night. Stretching out its tongue, it licked the window and then, turning around, hopped off the high windowsill.

Just an animal. Nothing to worry about.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Clenching that relic tightly in his hand, Chen Yuan closed his eyes and calmed himself for several seconds. And then, he walked out of the kitchen.<>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.

Right as he stepped foot into that dark living room, brightness suddenly appeared in it.

A light that seemed to dance randomly and chaotically and also raucous sounds filled the entire living room. It was a late-night Indian dancing program. The television that had suddenly turned on caused the entire room to fall into an eerily lively atmosphere.

And on the sofa in the living room sat the one who should have died already beneath the feet of a frenzied herd of elephants—Cheng Muyun.

His one arm rested on the back of the sofa as he, with seriousness, watched that program of singing and dancing that was on the television, all the while never bringing his gaze over to Chen Yuan. “You should clearly know how much I had hoped that right now, you were already at Headquarters and not here beside the Ganges River that is scattered with Zhou Ke’s ashes, looking for some Buddhist relic.”

Chen Yuan knew, from this moment, that it was all over.

Standing in a spot only five steps away from the sofa, his eyes took in Cheng Muyun’s profile.

Thirteen years of friendship.<>This UNAUTHORIZED copy was taken fromhui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com 

From when Cheng Muyun first became a part of the Moscow operations team, Chen Yuan had been the shadow behind Cheng Muyun. Countless times he had brought that man who was now sitting on the sofa safely out of danger. This included that period in China. In the ten years that Cheng Muyun had been a monk, he had also lived in the wild, mountainous area for ten years.

There were even times, as he crouched on the snowy ground roasting wild game, when Chen Yuan himself had felt as if in a daze.

Would he and Cheng Muyun be accompanying each other in this way for this entire lifetime? Cheng Muyun would be out in the open, in the light, while he was in the shadows… Sometimes, he had hoped that Cheng Muyun would never come back out from seclusion.

Wearing his gray robes, his head shaved, and staying forever in that dilapidated temple deep in the mountains that did not get more than a few worshippers, weren’t those so very good?<>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.

He knew that from the moment he had stepped into that kitchen and opened up that cupboard of spices, there was nothing he could argue about. His hand holding that object was already proof of everything—he had betrayed Cheng Muyun.

Cheng Muyun extended his arm and pointed at the armchair beside him. “Sit.”

Chen Yuan walked over.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Cheng Muyun added another sentence. “Put that thing you are holding on the table.”

Chen Yuan was slightly taken aback for a moment, and then slowly, he set onto the table that relic that carried an image of the Buddha.

Cheng Muyun nodded. “Sit.”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Chen Yuan was about to sit down when his wrist was enclosed in a grip. Cheng Muyun’s fist slammed into his stomach. Painfully, he doubled over, his knees buckling to the ground. His face and body were being borne down on by Cheng Muyun and pinned against the fabric of that armchair.

In that endless silence, Cheng Muyun did not do anything.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com 

His forehead pressed against the back of Chen Yuan’s shoulder. Softly, in a voice that the other people in the room could not hear, he stated, “I am truly sorry that it is you.”

“I am very glad,” Chen Yuan answered, his voice also barely perceptible, “that you are still alive.”

That day, Chen Yuan had been in a spot not far from the explosion and enraged elephant herd, watching as the elephants madly trampled the bamboo platform. Heaven knew how he had wished he could have done as Fu Yiming had, throwing everything else aside and simply rushing in to save Cheng Muyun…

Protecting Cheng Muyun had already long ago become his instinct.

Chen Yuan did not struggle, nor did he move. His gun was behind his waist, but the thought of using it did not even cross his mind. He had shed himself of all the strength in his body, closing his eyes like someone who was dead.

He could feel that gun behind his waist being pulled out by Cheng Muyun.

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

Into his palm, Cheng Muyun placed that gun. “Fare you well on your way.”

All the weight that had been bearing down on him disappeared. He left him, released his hold on him. Chen Yuan gripped that gun that belonged to himself. Slowly, he pressed the gun into his own chest.

Many pictures of his life flashed unremittingly through his mind, never once stopping.

In this final moment of his life, he discovered that the parts of this lifetime that were most deeply impressed on his memory all had to do with this man behind him who had pinned him down.

After a loud, muffled bang echoed out, on the armchair, Chen Yuan gave a couple of slight twitches, then slid to the rug. A dark, crimson bloodstain followed the path of his body and appeared on the armchair and rug…<>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 stood in front of the television, gazing at Chen Yuan’s corpse.

Behind him, the three men and one woman in charge of monitoring Cheng Muyun stepped forward, exchanging looks between themselves.

The woman amongst them coughed. “Cheng Laoban, we will write up a detailed report about what happened tonight. In regards to Chen Yuan’s betrayal, the four of us and this relic are the witnesses and the physical evidence. I believe this whole matter can be brought to a close here.”

Cheng Muyun’s silence could be considered his consent to this.

The woman and the three men behind her all exhaled lightly in relief.

After Zhuang Yan ate the mangoes and feigned death to slip away, he had, by Cheng Muyun’s suggestion, under his own name, reported Chen Yuan. At the time, Headquarters had been divided into two factions that had disputed endlessly and been unable to come to an agreement.

Were they to believe a former ops leader of the Moscow operations team who had a soiled past but once did a great merit?

Or should they believe someone who himself was responsible for monitoring Cheng Muyun?

No one had dared make that final call. Chen Yuan’s identity and position were simply too special.

On that day, in that little farmhouse beside the sunflower field, when everyone was interrogating Cheng Muyun, they still did not have a resolution: whom should they believe?

This continued until Cheng Muyun faked his own death, after which he personally made a pact with Headquarters.

That person, Cheng Muyun, would disappear from this earth. He would hand the complete ops team into the hands of the one he trusted, Ops Leader Fu Yiming, and would no longer have any connection to the Moscow operations team. This was the punishment that Cheng Muyun handed to himself for privately and without authorization investigating who the traitor was—the rules could not be broken.

And, due to Chen Yuan’s special status, Cheng Muyun would gather sufficient evidence before convicting Chen Yuan of anything. It would not be like Cheng Jiayi, whose case had been resolved internally in the team.<>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 Laoban, our chief said, thank you for everything that you have done over these dozen and more years,” added those several people who had once monitored him. Not uttering a word, Cheng Muyun sat down, straddling the coffee table. With the back of his hand facing outward, he gave a slight wave at them. The meaning of his action: You may leave now.

They exchanged a few glances. According to proper procedures, right now, they needed to take Chen Yuan’s body away.

But… let it be. In the end, they decided to leave the corpse there and withdraw from that room. Click. The door’s lock fell into place.<>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 room, the television was still playing that Indian program of singing and dancing. Lively, with the exotic air of a foreign country.

Cheng Muyun sat on the coffee table, his eyes fixed for a long time on that corpse that lay sprawled on the armchair.

Someone tossed over a pack of cigarettes, a new one.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

The package landed on Cheng Muyun’s leg.<>Please support this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com 

Lowering his head, Cheng Muyun picked up that box, ripped open the plastic film around it, tore open the foil, and pulled out one cigarette.

The first time he saw Chen Yuan, he had already had a feeling that this man more than likely was sent to surveil him. All these years, though, he had never truly investigated or tried to confirm whether Chen Yuan had indeed been sent by the higher-ups to monitor him. This was because, as the leader of an operations team, Cheng Muyun was very clear that even if there were no Chen Yuan, there would be others. There unquestionably would be someone who would record his every action and report it upwards.

After all, he, Cheng Muyun, had a life whose first half was not very pristine.

But he genuinely had not thought that Chen Yuan would betray him. If one were to compare the degree that they had gone through life and death together with Cheng Muyun, even Fu Yiming could not compare with Chen Yuan.

The relic had been the final test. But even just earlier, when Chen Yuan walked into this three-level house, Cheng Muyun had still been finding various reasons for Chen Yuan. He had thought, perhaps Chen Yuan simply believed that he was not dead and wanted to find clues in order to contact him.

It was only when Chen Yuan stepped into the kitchen that Cheng Muyun, in that instant, was certain: Chen Yuan had betrayed him as well.

……<>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 held that unlit cigarette between his teeth. Just now, he truly had wanted to ask “Why?”

Why were you willing to risk your life and be a shadow for more than ten years, but yet, at the final moment, you still chose betrayal?

But in the end, he had still simply thrust a gun over to Chen Yuan and used death to silence the mouth that could speak, making it so that, in this lifetime, Chen Yuan would never be able provide the answer with his own mouth to Cheng Muyun.

Why?<>Please support this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, where it came from, instead

Those brothers who had died because of Chen Yuan, and also Zhou Ke, someone who had treated Chen Yuan with utmost sincerity and loyalty, who had ever given them the chance to ask “Why?”

Hence, he, Cheng Muyun, had no right to ask.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

No right to ask this type of question on behalf of those who had died unjustly.

Hiding the light from the lighter’s flame behind a hand, he lit the cigarette in that little bit of fire that was in his palm. “These past ten years, I lived as a monk in a secluded mountain area. The old monk who gave me my tonsure was more than ninety years old. He nearly could not even hold the razor steady in his hand, but still, he was not willing to be my teacher and only told me to be his junior brother.” In the most harmless tone, like he was simply chatting idly, he used Russian, that language that every person in this room could understand, to narrate quietly, “When I first got there, the old monk and I still had problems even communicating, so the two of us would teach each other, one teaching Chinese and the other teaching Russian. It was actually not boring passing the days like this, and just like that, ten years passed by. But it was miserable for Chen Yuan…”

Cheng Muyun paused for a long while before giving a light chuckle. “In these ten years, if he was not hunting for game, then he was still hunting for game. Or else he would wait for me to finish receiving the food given as alms and give some to him. Let’s not even talk about women; he did not even get to have a two-legged person with him… Even if he had money, he did not dare use it, for fear that he would expose my hiding place.”

When his words reached this point, Cheng Muyun gave a gentle shake of his head.

He did not continue with what he had been saying.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Regarding those ten years in which he had accompanied Cheng Muyun in his monkhood, Chen Yuan had not mentioned them, even on the day he reported Cheng Muyun to his superiors. In Chen Yuan’s account, he, like every other member of the team, had received Cheng Muyun’s last-minute instructions and then hurried to Nepal.

Chen Yuan had not said anything about those years and also had not reported them to his superiors.

Perhaps, in Chen Yuan’s heart, he wanted to guard the secret of where Cheng Muyun had concealed himself.

Cheng Muyun recalled the discussion he had had half a year ago while sitting across from that old monk of Tibetan Buddhism and the conclusion that the two of them had drawn from it: life is like a dream; only you know the things you have done, be they good or bad.

Cheng Muyun reached out his left arm and, like all those other times in these past dozen or so years, patted Chen Yuan on the shoulder.

It could be considered his farewell to him.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Setting that still-burning half of a cigarette onto Chen Yuan’s shoulder, he gave a long exhale. “Continue investigating. There is no need to tell me the conclusions.”

Henceforth, it would all no longer have anything to do with him.<>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.

On the wall, lights and shadows were continuously shifting. It was the glow from the television screen.

Rising, Cheng Muyun walked up beside the front door and pushed down on the door handle. The moment the door opened, that little yellow dog that had jumped off the windowsill just earlier sprang over to him and, after bounding two circles around him, let out a couple of barks while wagging its tail. He bent down and petted the little yellow dog on the head. In a half-crouch, with his back to everything on the inside of the door, he stated in a low voice, “This television program is quite good. Finish watching it before you leave.”

The door was shut ever so lightly. It was not locked and had even been left open by a small crack.

This was an order, and also a parting farewell.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

This particular program would not end until 2:00 in the morning.

Right now, it was 10:49 at night. There were still another three hours and more that would allow him to depart from here.

This was, for these operations team members—whether they were old comrades who had already been following Cheng Muyun ten years ago through life and death and had managed to escape that great purging, or new members who had been recruited by Fu Yiming—Cheng Muyun’s parting farewell to them.

The final words that he left his brothers were for them to completely finish watching this Indian singing and dancing program that they did not understand at all.

Do not follow him anymore.

Do not follow this man who is called Cheng Muyun anymore.<>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 story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized, except by linking to hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

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

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33 thoughts on “Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 15.4

  1. Hoju, thank you for wanting to do something special for one of my fav author, MBFB. I am in definitely for it… keep us posted 🤣😍😘

  2. Can’t wait for the next chapter. Still confuse though, is Chen Yuan really dead? Well I’m in for the project

    • LOL. Cheng Muyun did stand and stare at the corpse. And even if Chen Yuan wasn’t completely dead, he’s going to be lying there bleeding until 2am while the ops team members finish the program. I think we can classify him as one of the departed. 😉

      Awesome! Thanks for participating. I will be setting up a separate post for it in a week or so.

  3. That’s painful knowing someone gone through so much with you only to find out he was a traitor
    Thank you

    • It hurt for him, and as you can see for Chen Yuan, to betray Cheng Muyun was a struggle for him, too. It’s not a simple reason of hatred or greed. Read on and see. 🙂

      Thank you!

  4. I would also love to do something for my favorite Chinese author. I’m going to start rereading her stories so I can pick out quotes ☺️

    • Awesome! I’ll probably create the separate post for this in a week, around the conclusion of this story. Thanks for joining in!

  5. Oh, please please proceed with the plan! I definetely would love to join tge event! Thanking you in advance, hoju 😘

  6. Even though my English is not that great but I still like to say something to author 💗💗💗
    Thanks for the chapter 💕💕

  7. Would love to participate; I happen to be reading 2 of MBFB’s books at the moment. Will have to check back here for updates 🙂

    • That’s great! I will be making a separate post for this, probably in about a week, when this story is near its ending. Definitely check back!

  8. Definitely. Please keep me posted 🙂

  9. Aahhh i feel you CM… thank you Hoju 😉

  10. Okay, so finally only the guilty met with death. Good good 😀.

    Thank you for the chapter and do count me in for words to author 🙂.

    • Unfortunately, Zhou Ke, too… 😦 But no, Cheng Muyun did not kill or directly cause the death of anyone innocent in order to root out the traitor.

      Thank you for your interest! I will be setting up something soon!

  11. I’m glad ZY was only feigning death/being poisoned from the mango. And def lots of feels in this chap.

    I’m also down to participate for MBFB, keep us posted.

    • He probably passed out, like Wen Han did, from the mangoes, but then when he woke up, Cheng Muyun knew for sure that he wasn’t the mole and hence made him a part of his plans. Yes, you can feel sense the emotions… 😦

      Yes, yes. So happy to have you participate. Check back for the post for that in about a week. 🙂

  12. Hi Hoju, keep me posted on the project for MBFB. I definitely would love to thank and affirm her for her works which had brought me hours of pleasure and delight.

  13. A lovely idea, I’m in too!!

  14. So Zuang Yan actually is still alive…Cheng Yuan …tsk tsk..
    Thank you for the beautiful translation!

    • Yes, that would have been awful for me if Zhuang Yan really did die because of all this. I’m already sad about Zhou Ke. 😦
      Thanks for reading!

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