Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 2.3

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Jǐ Yi’s gradual idolization of Jì Chengyang…

Chapter 2.3 — Hazy Memories (3)

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. 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.

 

During the summer break of 1997, she finally saw part one of A Chinese Odyssey.

This was the one and only non-revolutionary movie that she watched in the military compound’s cinema, and it left a very deep impression on her.

A strange and fanciful plot, dialogue and lines that were difficult to understand—these were Jǐ Yi’s very first impression of A Chinese Odyssey.

She, at the time, truly did not understand this type of romance film and only felt that Karen Mok was very, very pretty. Nuannuan, though, liked the other actress, Athena Chu. As always, Zhao Xiaoying did not give an opinion, but she did express that she, too, did not understand what she had watched.

A few years later, Jǐ Yi also saw A Chinese Odyssey on television. By then, this film had already become a huge hit in Mainland China.

At the same time, she finally watched part two of this film on television as well. As it turned out, the quintessence of the film was all in part two. Part one merely consisted of demons coming from everywhere to kick up a fuss. Those touching “I will love you for ten thousand years[1]” lines were all at the very end of part two.

And it turned out that the actress she liked, Karen Mok, was just an onlooker and unimportant in the whole thing.

But actually, in this story, Karen Mok was the one who was hurt most. She loved, and she left, but Stephen Chow never took any of it to heart. The Monkey King cared only about his Zixia Fairy. Many years after that, however, when she was reading some gossip news, she found out that, outside of the story, Karen Mok was the actual winner, having defeated Athena Chu to win over Stephen Chow as hers.[2]

A Chinese Odyssey. Karen Mok as Bai Jingjing, the White Bone Demon (left); Stephen Chow as the mortal reincarnation of the Monkey King and then later, the true Monkey King (centre); and Athena Chu as Zixia Fairy (right). (Image credit)

 

Life truly is like an onion. You will peel off one layer, but there is still another layer below. And when tears are raining down your cheeks, there still is yet another layer waiting for you to uncover.

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After the movie ended, they walked from the cinema back to the military dependents’ residence area.

The cinema was situated near the main gates of the compound. Once the ten o’clock lights-out call sounded, only this main road still had lights. All the streetlamps were extinguished, and the surroundings were pitch-black, with only the glow of the moon remaining.

Normally, when Jǐ Yi and the other girls ended up playing past ten o’clock, they would sing “Valiantly, and in high spirits, shall we cross the Yalu River[3]” the whole way as they raced back to the dependents’ residence area.

Darkness is likely the thing that all girls fear most.

But tonight, they had Little Uncle Jì.

For reasons unknown, Nuannuan and Zhao Xiaoying were chasing one another back and forth and could not settle down. Jǐ Yi ambled along beside Jì Chengyang, allowing herself to take in this somewhat wondrous night. Jì Chengyang seemed unhurried as well. From his pocket, he pulled out a cigarette and struck a match alight with a hiss. Slowly, he moved in close to that small, flickering flame and inhaled lightly.

And then, he blew out a faint cloud of smoke.

The entire time, Jǐ Yi’s gaze was riveted on him. He laughed. “This I cannot let you try.”

Jǐ Yi cast a look at her two good friends off in the distance. After pondering briefly, she still told him, “I know what it tastes like. My grandfather smokes, so I was curious and tried it.”

The corner of Jì Chengyang’s eyes turned up slightly.

“It’s true.” Once she finished giving this affirming statement in a quiet voice, Jǐ Yi had an expression of “I don’t care at all to try out smoking” on her face.

Stretching out his fingers, Jì Chengyang took Jǐ Yi’s nose between them and gave it a little twist. Then, he extended his left hand to her.

Jǐ Yi stared at him in surprise, and only after a moment did she gingerly place her own hand into his palm. Up ahead, those two girlies were still making a racket, imitating the battle between the two demons, Spider Demon and White Bone Demon. With her hand like this in Little Uncle Jì’s, she strolled slowly through the darkness toward the living quarters of the military households. Actually, it was apparent that Little Uncle Jì was not used to holding the hands of children, as his clasp on her was a little too firm and was somewhat uncomfortable. Still, however, the entire time she did not move, for she was afraid that if she did, he would find her a bother and would not be willing to hold her hand anymore.

A Chinese Odyssey. Yammie Lam as Spider Demon, left. Karen Mok as Bai Jingjing, the White Bone Demon, right. (Image credit)

 

She heard a beep, beep coming from somewhere on him. She recognized the sound; it was a beeper.

Sure enough, Jì Chengyang clamped the cigarette between his teeth, used his right hand to fish out a pager from the pocket of his pants, and took a quick glance at the green-coloured screen. Then, tossing it back into his pants pocket again, he carried on having his smoke while leading her along as they walked, not paying any more attention to the content of the pager’s message.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

Perhaps due to this one movie, when Jǐ Yi and Nuannuan were chatting, they both prayed that Little Uncle Jì would leave a little later. That way, they could go to many places that they normally would not be able to go to, those places outside of the dependents’ residence area, the other ninety percent of the compound. The barracks? The shooting range? The training grounds? They even wanted to go play at the dairy farm that provided the milk for each day.

With the start of school, she would be in her second year of middle school.

She was a grown-up already and could keep going to conquer all those remaining places that were strange and unfamiliar to her. Her world was enclosed within walls of safety. As she went out and about each day, the people she encountered were ones whom she was acquainted with, and the places she went to every day were all ones familiar to her. In this world of hers, all the children carried not a single penny on them, and when they were hungry or thirsty, they returned home, had a bite to eat, had a drink of something, and then ran outside again to continue playing.

A five-minute walk with her schoolbag on her back would bring her to the primary school and kindergarten that she had already conquered, while on her right would be her middle school that she was in the midst of conquering… So simple and mundane.

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On a weekend after school had begun.

Her teacher was planning on bringing everyone out on an outdoor field trip and, therefore, had given the assignment of making a kite.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

The boys in their class had already gathered bamboo sticks, while the girls were responsible for finding xuan paper[4] to paste together to make the kites. Since young, Jǐ Yi had studied calligraphy and there were countless stacks of xuan paper at home, so she secretly took a pile and divided it amongst her classmates. She even purposely gave twenty extra sheets to Zhao Xiaoying so that at some later date, Zhao Xiaoying could just take those and have fun with them.

When she was home at noon, she discovered to her surprise that neither Grandfather nor Grandmother had gone out and both were having an afternoon nap.

Jǐ Yi was overjoyed. Furtively moving a small stool over and setting it beside the bed where her grandparents were sleeping, she very quietly spread out some newspaper and then picked up a pencil-sharpening knife to shave bamboo sticks. Grandfather would snore lightly when he slept, and the sound caused a person to feel warm and very happy and blessed. Her lips were pursed together when, in just that one moment of lost focus, the blade slipped and sliced off course…

Because she was shaving bamboo, the amount of force she had applied on the knife was very large to begin with, and when the blade cut into her, a piece of flesh and a part of her nail on her thumb were sliced right off. She had not felt any pain in the instant it happened, but the blood gushed out particularly rapidly. Hastily, she gripped her hand and ran out. Only after she had dug out some cotton balls and pressed them onto the wound did the piercing pain begin to register, and moreover, the bleeding simply would not stop.

Her face was twisted with pain. Worried that the noise from her would rouse Grandfather and Grandmother, she gripped her wound and, after speedily tidying up this battlefield, rushed out the door of her home. Once she dashed outside, she was already at the bicycle storage area beside the building. It was right at midday, and there was not a person around. At last, the pain was so great she could bear it no more, and flinging her wounded hand back and forth, she cried, “It hurts so much, hurts so much…”

After she was done venting her pain, she turned around. Out of the blue, she saw a cigarette drop down right in front of her.

She lifted her head. Jì Chengyang was leaning against a windowsill on the fourth floor, signaling to her to not say anything. Although they were a far distance apart, she could still clearly see this action. Bewildered, she stood where she was and watched as Little Uncle Jì disappeared. Before long, he was walking out the building’s door.

He was wearing a white button-up shirt today… Mm-hmm.

Jǐ Yi would unconsciously identify the different clothes he wore each time.

“What’s wrong?” Jì Chengyang seemed to have grown accustomed to asking this little lady what problem she had run into this time.

Hesitantly, she raised that finger that was wrapped in cotton balls. The bleeding had stopped, but the blood-soaked cotton balls were extremely forbidding-looking. Even she herself was repulsed by them, and Jì Chengyang obviously received a shock at the sight of them. He took her palm between two of his fingers, not daring to hastily pull off the cotton. “How did you do this? What did it? There’s no one at home again?”

“I was making the frame for a kite. Cut off a piece of flesh with a small knife…” Jǐ Yi was still in a lot of pain. “Grandfather and Grandmother are sleeping. I was scared I’d wake them up, so I ran out.”

Jì Chengyang was tall to begin with, and as he looked down from above at her upwards-tilted face, he felt even more that she seemed so small and weak and helpless.

Originally, he had tossed down that cigarette because he had wanted to see what was going on with the little girl.

The result, though, was that it evolved into him bending forward and suggesting, “I’ll bring you to the hospital, okay?”

Jǐ Yi shook her head. “I’m not going to the hospital.”

She truly had a phobia of hospitals?

Lifting his eyes slightly, Jì Chengyang looked at her. “Then how about we go to the compound’s medical clinic?”

Once the destination was downgraded a level, Jǐ Yi’s psychological resistance to it seemed much less. Picking Jǐ Yi up, he headed directly there. Fortunately, it had all the supplies that it should have, and the nurse was also the mother of one of Jǐ Yi’s classmates and was extremely gentle with her.

After she was given a needle and her wound was bandaged, Jì Chengyang brought her back to her home again. When they stepped through the door, there was no one inside once more… Jì Chengyang did not really have the heart to leave her all by herself at home, so deciding to simply stay with her, he went and brought over all those materials she had been using.

The two sat out on the balcony and began making the kite.

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He sat on a slightly larger stool. The way he held the knife was very pleasing to watch as he nimbly shaved away at the bamboo. Tiny shavings dropped onto the newspaper. Sitting on a small stool across from him, Jǐ Yi propped her chin in both her palms and earnestly observed him slicing the bamboo. His complexion was very fair, and his hair was rather soft, for when his head was lowered, his locks would always slide down to obstruct his eyes.

With his eyes fixed with such focus on the bamboo stick, the unapproachable feeling that he usually gave people was gone, and he appeared particularly kind and gentle.

This was the person Nuannuan most idolized.

He knew many things, and his grades since he was a child were outstanding. The decision back then to go abroad to study had also been made by himself, and then, once he said he was going, he truly did leave. In addition… his piano playing caused girls to go crazy for him. The only thing was, he did not really like children—so cold and unapproachable to them.

These were all things that Nuannuan had rambled on and on about before.

He had soon cut the paper and pasted it together into a kite.

As she held the kite, Jǐ Yi was so happy she could die. She very quickly brought out her brush and ink that she used for traditional Chinese painting, wanting to paint the kite. Jì Chengyang, though, chuckled. “A black and white kite won’t look nice.”

She hesitated, struggling within herself as she held the kite in her hands.

“I’ll bring it upstairs and then bring it back down to you tomorrow, how about that?” Bending at the waist, he asked her this in a gentle voice.

With an “mm-hmm,” she handed it to him.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

The following day when the kite was brought back down, it was a colourful butterfly, very beautifully painted.

She did not know what he had used to paint it. Jì Chengyang told her it was gouache paint. She committed that to memory, and then also silently added another reason in her mind to idolize him: Little Uncle Jì was really good at painting, too.

As the kite was painted simply too beautifully, she could not bear to bring it to school. Rather, she worked together with Zhao Xiaoying and made another one. As for the one from Jì Chengyang, she carefully pulled out the bamboo sticks, leaving only the xuan paper that had the painting on it. Very delicately, she folded it up and stored it away.

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On the day of the field trip outing, Zhao Xiaoying took her kite and released it into the sky.

Nuannuan, on the other hand, pulled Jǐ Yi aside and whispered to her, “Let me tell you, Zhao Xiaoying is in an underage romance[5]. It’s with that Chen Bin who’s in second year middle school.” Jǐ Yi was somewhat surprised, but her reaction was much calmer than Nuannuan’s. She simply could not figure out why Zhao Xiaoying would like that Chen Bin.

Jǐ Yi tried hard to conjure up this person in her memory—nothing special.

“Oh, yeah, there’s something else.” Nuannuan told her very excitedly, “That day, my little uncle finally was enlightened or something and gave me a set of stuff to do gouache painting. This is the first time ever that he’s taken the initiative to give me something! But, it’s really weird. It seems like it’s been used before. I asked him about it later. He said he tried it out in the store when he bought it… Jǐ Yi, when you buy stuff like this, do you first try it out, too?”

……

“Mm-hmm.” She arched her head back to look up at the kites. “Generally, I’ll try them out first.”

She did not blush, but her heart was pounding.

Little Uncle Jì had told a fib—and so had she.

Was this considered to be a secret?

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

[1] One of the most famous lines in this movie is when Stephen Chow’s character says, “Once, a sincere love was placed before me, but I knew not to cherish it. It was gone before I realized it was too late to have regrets—there is nothing more painful in the world than this… If Heaven would grant me a second chance, I would only like to say three words to her: I love you. If I must place a time limit on this love, I hope it would be… ten thousand years!”

[2] Athena Chu and Stephen Chow dated for three years during the 90s. The rumour was that Stephen Chow cheated on her with Karen Mok, and those two later became a couple, though they eventually broke up as well. Though no longer a couple, Karen Mok and Stephen Chow have maintained a good relationship to date.

[3] This is the first line of《中国人民志愿军战歌》Battle Hymn of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, which was written in 1950. (The link will give you an idea what type of song the girls would sing to help themselves not be scared when they walked back in the dark. That one line first appears at 0:06-0:10.) The Yalu River (also called Amnok River) runs near the border between North Korean and China.

[4] 宣纸 “xuan zhi.” Also called “rice paper.” A special type of white paper known for its softness, fine texture, strength, and absorption. Used since ancient times in China for brush calligraphy and painting, it is actually resistant to aging and decay.

[5]早恋 “zao lian.” In China, dating under the age of 18, especially when still in school, is generally highly frowned upon and usually prohibited within the school.

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. 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.

 


Additional Comments:

Nuannuan’s idolization of Little Uncle comes from all that he knows and can do. But for Jǐ Yi , while his painting abilities and other things he knows are extra reasons, they are not the primary reason. This sentence sums it up for me: “Jì Chengyang seemed to have grown accustomed to asking this little lady what problem she had run into this time.” He is the only adult who seems to ask her this question. Even Nuannuan’s mother, who treats Jǐ Yi very kindly, has come to accept that Jǐ Yi is raised “free-range” and that no one will be there at home with her. She doesn’t do anything about it. Jì Chengyang offers Jǐ Yi his hand on a dark road because he knows she’s scared of the dark; he brings her to a movie to cheer her up; he actually wonders what she does and checks to see what is wrong. These are basic expressions of care, but that’s the one thing Jǐ Yi has lacked throughout her childhood.

The scene where Jǐ Yi is “overjoyed” that her grandparents are at home sleeping, that even Grandfather’s snores make her feel really “warm and very happy and blessed” actually really, really makes me sad. When you never get anything, you are satisfied with the littlest of things. 😦 And so, when Jì Chengyang gives her this basic care, how can it not plant something in her young heart that, if nurtured, could possibly take root and grow into a form of attachment. (Not saying this is the beginning of romantic love. I’m suggesting this is perhaps the beginnings of the attachment of a child to a parental-like figure, a type of attachment that I believe every child unconsciously seeks to have.)

 

Completed:
4 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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26 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 2.3

  1. No wonder JY has a huge crush on uncle JCY…

  2. There is such a beauty in its simplicity. I really love how MBFB has given life to her characters with just their simple actions.

  3. JY must keep silent otherwise there will be no end know JNN’s little uncle painted a butterfly whereas she only got the paint
    thank you

    • I don’t think she’s worried Nuannuan will be jealous. I think she has developed a trust in Ji Chengyang, and since he didn’t say anything, she would not mention it, too.
      You’re welcome!

  4. Back to back days! Yay, haven’t read this chapter yet but am eager to see what plays out next. Thank you!

    • Yup. Whew! I usually breathe out and relax after a posting and get back to translating, but this time, I was thinking, “Oh gosh, have to hurry to prep the next post.” LOL.
      Enjoy your reading!

  5. The additional notes/ comments are well said they put things into perspective.

    Thank you😁

  6. Back to back read!!!
    Thank you, Hoju 🙂.

  7. What a sweet heart JY is. So considerate of her grandparents.
    Wonder what work keeps both the parents away from home for such length of time?

    • It is thoughtfulness… and there’s something more. I will save my thoughts on that little piece until you guys have read more and learned more about Ji Yi and how she thinks/behaves.

      Let’s not mention work. What keeps parents away that they don’t even have enough time to stay for a few minutes and wait? Fine, they have to rush to something. What about leaving a note? Giving a phone call? Obviously, Ji Yi’s family is well off enough that they can afford making a one-minute call. If you value something, you will make time for it, even if you can only squeeze out a little bit.

  8. Thank you. … i love the interaction between JY et JCY

  9. JY is so cute fangirling over JCY 😍
    Thanks hoju for this chapter..

    But I just can’t stop wondering how can a parents have the heart to leaves their own child like they did to JY. That just soo sad and heart-breaking..

    • LOL. Yes. Like last chapter, when she thought he is “more handsome than that Takashi Kashiwabara in Itazura na Kiss, who never smiled at all. Mm-hmm.”

      I honestly can’t comprehend it. I understand people having to leave to make a living. I get it. Some parents honestly have to make that choice, and it is not easy. My heart goes out for those families. But for Ji Yi’s parents, not even bothering to leave a note when they couldn’t stay behind? As you said, how can they have the heart? Anyway, you will find out more about Ji Yi’s family as you read on. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  10. Thank you hoju loving this one too ❤️

  11. It took me quite awhile to decide to read this novel, I am glad I did.

    I understand about parents who work outstation but I don’t understand how JY’s parents. What was the point of rushing home and dropped things off for JY without waiting for her to come home nor a note?? Also her grandparents never home, where do they go and leave JY alone by herself. What is the point of giving birth to JY and let her fend for herself??

    In this chapter, JY cut her finger and dropped her blood everywhere I assumed. What?? Don’t tell me that her grandparents can’t see the blood drop and try to find out whether JY is alright or not? They just went out just like that without finding out how was JY??!!!

    • Glad you decided to take the plunge.

      The point of it was because it’s the obligatory visit. But if she’s not there, they can say “It’s not my fault she wasn’t there” and then go back to their oh-so-busy lives.

      Remember, it said that Ji Yi cleaned up everything before she ran outside? There was probably no noticeable blood.

  12. Thank you Hujo😊. I enjoyed reading everything, from the novel, your footnotes and all the comments.

  13. Thank you so much Hoju for such a wonderful read. The fan girling part is super sweet… hahaha

    Truly appreciate your effort also to spend the time to explain and search for the pics of the movies that were mentioned in the novel, And the pic of Yammie Lam brings back all the lovely memories of her great work in the past. Especially now as she had just passed away recently. Hopefully she is finally at peace now.

  14. Thanks Hoju- ❤ your translations and your personal thoughts – it brings everything into perspective. Like other readers, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right mood to read this but like your other MBFB’s beautiful translated works, once you start reading- you can’t put it down. I started tearing up a little bit at how she just wanted to be in same room as her grandparents as they slept. In my mind, there is no justification for any child to be raised this way. Thanks again.

    • ❤ I’m glad you gave it a try.
      Xixi’s childhood is sad to me. She is not deprived financially in any way, but the emotional neglect is awful.

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