Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 5.1

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A birthday Jǐ Yi will never forget.

Chapter 5.1 — You are by My Side (1)

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.

 

In that instant, all she felt was that he was real, that he could be a refuge for her.

Her fear of the dark was swept away, and the only thing that remained was his unique, faint scent that exuded from him, mixed with the aroma of cigarette smoke.

She sensed him crouching down.

Jì Chengyang enclosed her briefly in his arms, then let go again, saying in a low voice, “I’m sorry, Xixi. I went out for a smoke.”

“It’s okay…” Those eyes of his were gazing fixedly at her. Jǐ Yi suddenly felt that that was even more frightening than the darkness, and at once she lowered her head. Retreating two steps, she summoned her courage and walked back into the house. The entire time, she did not dare turn around to look at him.

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It was only later that Grandaunt, feeling terrible after learning that Jǐ Yi had received a fright, told her that she had watched Jì Chengyang step out the front door, and wanting to conserve energy, she had turned off the light over the raised concrete step. As Grandaunt said this, she even stroked Jǐ Yi’s hair. “Fourteen years old already. You’re a big girl now. How can you still be afraid of the dark?”

Jǐ Yi felt especially abashed. Removing her shoes, she slipped onto the bed to sleep with Grandaunt.

The driver and those two soldiers who had accompanied them in their vehicle had all been arranged to sleep in neighbours’ homes, and only Jì Chengyang and Jǐ Yi were staying here in Grandaunt’s house. The three were all sleeping in the one bedroom. Jǐ Yi and Grandaunt slept on the bed, while Jì Chengyang, with a quilt covering him, slept on the old wooden bench.

He was near the charcoal stove. When she awoke dazedly in the middle of the night, she saw Grandaunt turn on the lamp and pull up the corner of his quilt for him.

Jǐ Yi sat up, staring puzzledly at Grandaunt.

Smiling, Grandaunt explained softly, “I was afraid the quilt might catch fire.”

She gave a slight nod.

Grandaunt took Jì Chengyang’s down jacket away with her and then also brought out a sewing box.

“He was working. It snagged and ripped.” Knowing that Jǐ Yi did not really understand her dialect, Grandaunt tried as much as possible to keep her words simple. Jǐ Yi examined his down jacket. Indeed, there was a tear beneath the left pocket. Fortunately there was still another layer inside the jacket, but with such a rip in it, it truly was unsightly.

Facing the lamp, Grandaunt tried many times to thread the needle, but each time it was taxing to her.

“I’ll help you, Grandaunt,” Jǐ Yi quietly offered.

“Good child.” Grandaunt’s eyes crinkled with a smile as she handed the silver needle and black thread to her.

In the end, she even began to teach Jǐ Yi how to mend a rip.

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

And so, when Jì Chengyang awoke in the middle of that night, he opened his eyes to discover that the lamp was on. Covering his eyes with his right arm, he allowed himself to adjust to the light, and then he turned his gaze onto the two people on the bed. He had originally intended to ask Jǐ Yi whether she needed to go to the bathroom again, but what he saw was the little lady holding his down jacket and carefully, solemnly mending it…

Many years later, amid the deafening roar of artillery, as he lay on soil mixed with blood and faced the beckoning of death, what he saw were not angels or demons, but rather, it was this winter night in the year 2000: how, deep in this winter, in a little mountain town, in this room where one could draw warmth only from a small charcoal stove, Jǐ Yi, under the dim, yellow glow of the lamplight, had one stitch at a time mended his garment.

These were…

His little lady. And his motherland.

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The next day, when they were nearly about to leave, a boy named A’Liang came to Grandaunt’s home.

The boy was somewhat shy and looked to be two or three years older than Jǐ Yi.

This boy had come here because of his admiration for Jì Chengyang’s reputation. In a low voice, he spoke a few sentences to Jì Chengyang. He said, he wanted to leave this place, and moreover, it was not only he alone that was to go. He wanted to bring people of this town with him so that they could together lead a decent life in the world outside. Grandaunt laughed. The town mayor, who had come to see Jì Chengyang off, also laughed. Jabbing the boy’s forehead with his finger, the mayor said that the child’s brain was so daft and that it was already bad enough his grades were not good, but he even liked to have lofty, unrealistic dreams. The mayor also remarked that what was actually important was for him to earn more money in the future to marry and have a wife.

There were more than three thousand people in this town, which was already considered a large town here in the region.

Less than four thousand people. That was not even as many people as the number of students in her little Fuzhong High School.

Knowledge can change one’s fate, but without knowledge and education…

Jǐ Yi stretched her hand over the charcoal stove, warming it above the fire. Aside from working labour or casual jobs, she was unable to think of any way that this boy, who was only a little older than her, could leave this place.

But from just working labour and casual jobs… would he really be able to accomplish his desire?

Jì Chengyang reached out a hand and pulled the boy in front of himself. Very clearly, he told him, “Only one who has the courage to carry his own dreams shall have the chance of becoming someone else’s dream.”

As the boy listened to these words, his eyes gleamed. However, after a little while, he felt rather shameful. “… I only want to be able to change my own fate and the fate of my friends and brothers around me. I want to earn more money and live a life that is better than other people’s.”

He smiled, not at all begrudging of encouragement for the boy. “There is nothing wrong with that.”

She mulled over those words he had spoken.

Only when they were both in the vehicle did Jǐ Yi ask him in a quiet voice, “Why didn’t you help him make his dream something even greater and more important?”

That would be the standards with which they were educated since they were young.

As she stared out at Grandaunt, the town mayor, and A’Liang, who were beside the vehicle to see them off, she found that she actually was sad to part from this Grandaunt who had taught her to use a needle and thread.

He, too, had cast his eyes outside the window, but he was answering her question. “You cannot demand someone whose belly is hungry to unselfishly give, right? It does not only have to be wanting to save the world before it can be called a dream.”

She pondered on this, giving a light “mm” in response.

All of a sudden, she saw his fingers nonchalantly touch the spot beneath the left pocket of his jacket. It was the rip that she had mended just last night. Feeling somewhat embarrassed, she explained. “Grandaunt said that putting a patch over it wouldn’t look good. This jacket of yours is so nice. Just mend it like this for now so the rip doesn’t get bigger. When you get back to Beijing, you can find a professional tailor to fix it properly.”

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

While their vehicle was still driving, snow began to fall. They encountered very few other cars.

Perhaps because, as the driver had mentioned, this place was still not a scenic destination, only young people who were especially fond of exploring would come here. Midway into their journey, they came across some people whose car had broken down. Their driver was very kind and got out of the vehicle to provide some emergency roadside assistance. The three grown boys in that other car all came over and chatted with Jì Chengyang.

But… actually, Jì Chengyang did not give them much attention.

When they heard the driver call Jì Chengyang’s name and inform him that they would be able to leave soon, surprise suddenly came over one of those three youth. Very excitedly, he gripped the vehicle’s window and poked his head inside. “You’re Jì Chengyang? Jì Chengyang from Dongcheng District[1]? I’m Luo Zihao, Wang Haoran’s younger cousin. I just recently got an offer from UPenn [University of Pennsylvania]. I’m your future, junior fellow schoolmate.”

Jì Chengyang thought for a moment. “I think I’ve heard Wang Haoran mention this before.”

……

Jǐ Yi wanted to giggle from listening to all of this. Bowing her head, she pressed her lips together and let a smile come onto them for a while.

That man named Luo Zihao seemed to very much idolize Jì Chengyang and engaged in another lengthy while of small talk with him. Since Luo Zihao and his other two friends were already on their return trip back, they even very enthusiastically invited him to have a little meet-up after he returned to Beijing… As Jǐ Yi listened and observed all of this, she suddenly comprehended the type of reverence that Nuannuan had for him.

Nuannuan’s father had once offhandedly remarked, every circle of friends will have one person who is the soul of the group. Only when such a person exists will this circle remain and not disperse. At the time, she had thought these were merely words to listen to. But right here, right now, right in this moment, as she saw how another older boy worshipingly tried to carry out a conversation with him, or even how those other two boys also carried expressions of great admiration, she all of a sudden understood.

Little Uncle Jì… should be one of those people who were the so-called “soul of the group.”

Those people’s car was finally repaired enough that it should be able to make it to the next town.

It was not until Jì Chengyang was bidding farewell to them that he thought of something. Casually, he asked, “I remember, in your particular circle of friends, there is someone called Gu Pingsheng.”

Luo Zihao instantly broke into a grin. “He’s my bro.”

Jì Chengyang also smiled. When the driver was about to begin driving, he tossed a pack of cigarettes over to Luo Zihao. “Chinese are all amongst the best. Don’t cause us to lose face.”

The vehicle pulled away.

These words stirred something within Luo Zihao. From his own pocket, he also pulled out a cigarette pack and tossed it in through the vehicle’s window. “Have a safe trip!”

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Their vehicle began to increase its speed, continuing upwards along this winding mountain road.

Misty clouds wreathed the mountains around them. Breathtakingly beautiful.

As for those several people they had encountered by chance, after the vehicle rounded a bend, they, too, could no longer be seen.

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Jǐ Yi watched as he pulled out a cigarette from that pack, brought it close to his other hand, and lit it with a lighter. Then, in the morning light, he leisurely blew a cloud of smoke out the window.

The wind was very strong, and before long, snow was blowing in swirls.

Feeling slightly chilly, she tugged up the zipper of her down jacket. The next second, Jì Chengyang also helped her pull the hood of her jacket onto her head. “Cold?”

She nodded. “A little bit.”

“We’ll be able to see snow mountains by this afternoon,” he told her.

Snow mountains.

At once, she had something to look forward to.

In the afternoon, they arrived at the place where they would be staying the night, but they could already feel that the weather was becoming warmer.

When the driver said he wanted to continue going deeper into the mountains, a local host was already somewhat concerned and tried to persuade them that this would be very dangerous. The road conditions to Yading [Aden] Village were very poor, and it would be a difficult drive.

“Last year, there were even two young people who just…” Their host harped on in a quiet voice about this to the driver. But it was not a far distance to their journey’s destination. Would they really have to give up now?

“There are some places that would be quite nice to see before they become official scenic areas.” Jì Chengyang in the end still made the decision to take her there.

Holding Jǐ Yi in front of him, Jì Chengyang rode with her on a horse, using this as their means of transportation as they headed into the mountains.

There was only a dirt pathway, plodded out by the feet of people and horses, stretching continuously into the deep reaches of the forest and sometimes even passing precipices.

She leaned back against Jì Chengyang, not really daring to look out at the scenery beyond the cliff’s edge. Her entire face and head were swathed in her scarf, and only her eyes were showing as she listened to the guide prattle on and on. When her gaze at last took in the mountains capped with snow, her breath was utterly swept away. A multitude of colours adorned the clusters of trees, with deep, rich reds and yellows sprinkled amongst the large spread of green. And as far as the eye could see were mountains blanketed in pristine snow…

Daocheng Aden (Image credit: top and bottom)

This place could almost be considered empty of people.

All around, other than their party, there was only one other group far off in the distance.

As they came to a stop on the grassland, they even beheld a rainbow.

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

It was different from the rainbows seen within the city, for it stretched across the entire sky—so very beautiful.

Jǐ Yi remembered the rainbow that, to comfort her, he had once cast onto the table using a drinking glass. And now, she had come with him and seen a true, majestic rainbow. She could not resist pulling down her scarf and breathing in the air of this place. “So beautiful.”

“Mm.” He smiled. “Very beautiful.”

In this place, there were only the sky and the earth. You could forget many of your troubles.

That night, when they returned to the reception centre, Jǐ Yi was still brimming with exhilaration, but she also was finally beginning to feel unwell. Their accompanying doctor hurriedly checked her over and then also brought out a lightweight oxygen cylinder, teaching her how to inhale from it.

Placing the face mask over her mouth and nose, she obediently learned how to use it. Occasionally, she would sneak glimpses at Jì Chengyang, who was sitting beside the campfire.

Due to the glow of the flickering flames, the light and shadows thrown on his body were constantly shifting, and his shadow was stretched very long, causing him to appear even taller and more slender. His facial features were very well proportioned, and the side view of his face illuminated by the firelight was truly so handsome.

Especially those eyes that were beneath his black, short-cut hair.

They were even more gorgeous than the stars that shone above this high plateau and seemed as if they had come out of a painting.

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All of a sudden, a Tibetan child came running over and stopped in front of her, examining her oxygen mask. Blinking at the child, she muffledly said through the mask, “Hello.”

A wide grin broke out across the child’s face, and then he ran away again.

So cute. She smiled and carried on inhaling the oxygen with her head lowered.

As a result of the altitude sickness, her lips also felt very dry.

Oh, please, she absolutely had to get better quickly, or else… next time he wouldn’t bring her out to play.

Next time? As these words popped up in her mind, she suddenly gave a sharp inhale. Because she had inhaled too deep a breath of pure oxygen, she actually felt a little unwell.

“Xixi.” His hiking boots appeared in her gaze. Lifting her head, she saw he had already lowered himself into a half crouch. “Happy birthday.”

… She had had too much fun and been too happy today that she had forgotten her own birthday.

Pulling down that transparent mask, she said in a rather feeble voice, “Thank you… Little Uncle Jì.”

“If you don’t want to call me uncle, it doesn’t matter,” he laughed, evidently able to tell that she did not really want to call him this.

He handed a cup of hot butter tea[2] to her, saying it had the effect of alleviating altitude sickness. He, though, drank the alcohol he was holding. As Jǐ Yi stared inquisitively at the distilled spirit in his hand, he seemed to understand. “This is honeyed qingke liquor[3].”

She was curious.

His lips came together into a smile. “This you cannot have.”

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

[1] Dongcheng District, which literally means “East City District,” encompasses the eastern part of the historic city of Beijing (and includes the Forbidden Palace, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, etc.) Hence, this district is also the heart of Beijing, being the city’s cultural and political center.

[2] 酥油茶 “su you cha.” Tibetan butter tea, also called po cha, is traditionally a blend of black tea, milk, and salty yak butter (which actually comes from the female of the species, called a “nak”). It’s very salty taste can initially be disconcerting to those who are not accustomed to drinking it, but the fat, tea, and salt are thought to be helpful in the high-altitude, cold climate.

Butter tea (image credit)

[3]青稞酒 “qing ke jiu.” Qingke is a type of highland barley that is unique to the Tibetan region and traditionally is brewed into a potent distilled spirit that generally has a final alcohol content of 42-55% vol. (Qingke nowadays is also made into beer, but from the description in the novel, Jì Chengyang is definitely drinking the liquor form.)

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:

This is one of my absolute favourite chapters of the novel: the thought, “His little lady. And his motherland”; his teaching to Jǐ Yi that “It does not only have to be a desire to save the world before it can be called a dream” or to A’Liang that “Only one who has the courage to carry his own dreams shall have the chance of becoming someone else’s dream”; or simply the breathtaking description of the scenery and the rainbow, which seems to be a further extension of what he did for her in her childhood, like how he has continued to care for her and, in fact, even more so than before… Beautiful. And of course, the mention of Gu Pingsheng, my ❤

I’m sure readers of Together Forever caught Teacher Gu’s name that was casually mentioned in this chapter. Haha, yes, Teacher Gu and Little Uncle Jì both went to the University of Pennsylvania, but Little Uncle is just a few years ahead. 😉

For those who thought that Luo Zihao’s name was somehow familiar, he’s that good friend of Gu Pingsheng who has a great love for his motherland and Chinese women and who, in this scene in Together Forever, unwittingly spurs Teacher Gu on to think about his feelings for Tong Yan. (Fast fact: The scene in Together Forever takes place almost 11 years—10 years and 10-ish months, if you really want to count—after this scene here where Ji Chengyang and Luo Zihao run into each other in Daocheng Aden.) Luo Zihao later shows up in a few more scenes in Together Forever, too, but I’ll let you search for those. Hint: Christmas Eve (every time!)

 

Completed:
10 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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18 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 5.1

  1. is the artillery scene foreshadowing for something tragic?! I was shocked to read that line. 😥

    i love the tone of the book, it’s just comforting and soothing, perhaps because we’re still in the childhood period. It brings up nostalgia and you can’t help but linger on the small details and think of the little beautiful moments in life, like a rainbow in the mountains on horseback. thank you for the chapter!

    • There is foreshadowing for sure. Whether you term it a tragedy or not, I’ll let you watch as the plot develops… (Or re-read my introductory words for this novel. 😉 )

      The overall tone of this is very nostalgic. It’s MBFB’s trip down her own memory lane as well. Like Together Forever, there is a theme in this novel (actually, this whole series, it appears), that you should not let yourself be less fortunate than others. There are many people who have better situations than yours, and many who have worse ones. Find the beautiful things that you have and cling to them, magnify them.

      I genuinely hold to the belief that whether you are blessed in life is largely determined by whether you choose to count your blessings, those little, beautiful details, as you aptly put it. And how lovely when people are willing to pour blessing into your life. Ji Yi has had many things in her life and family situation that work against her, but never has she fallen into an attitude of “woe is me.” Partly it is because she still doesn’t understand the fullness of her family situation, but an even greater part is that she chooses to stay on the straight and narrow path and be positive. And there is also Ji Chengyang, who has come in and chosen to pour care (blessing) into her life. She does not take it lightly and values it intensely, using it as her guiding compass. She is grateful for every little beautiful moment he gives her.

      Haha… long talk. 🙂 Love the evolution of this relationship and how Ji Chengyang patiently pours out his teachings into her.

  2. haha JCY can totally read JY’s mind
    thank you

    • That guy has terrible high EQ, except with children. But now that Ji Yi is older, it seems his emotional intelligence is shining through again, even with her. 😉

  3. This is also my fav chapter hoju thank you so much for the translation😃
    I can conclude from JY inner thought that she really like and admire JCY.. I hope the romance can start soon and i’m so curious how is his thought about JY..

    P.s omg the feelsss…when JCY mention teacher gu names😍

    • Glad you like it!
      She… only turned fourteen. I don’t want the romance to start soon. >_< It would change my opinions of Ji Chengyang. (Haha… I get it… you want a time skip.)

      Gu Pingsheng… ❤ ❤

      • Yeah hoju im not that kind of person too…i know she is just fourteen…what i mean is time skip not…hmm…you know….glad you get it 😂😂

  4. oh, how lovely for MBFB to join Together Forever with Healing Sunshine. I just love how the mention of GPS made my heart skips a beat. Thank you for the reminder of who Luo Zihao is in TF.
    Talk about prophecy. out of Yi po’s , mouth, the truth is set in stone??? 🙂
    Truly a birthday that will never be forgotten.

    thanks Hoju!

    • I miss Teacher Gu. I think I need to go back to Together Forever and “see” him again. He always makes my heart skip a beat. ❤

      She must have a crystal ball… 😉

      You're welcome!

  5. Butter tea from Tibet is worth drinking, full of butter and slightly salty, but wonderful taste and flavour.
    I had the privilege to drink it on different occasions. My old neighbour was a Tibetan lady who would make this tea on special days.

  6. Ahhh… My fave chapter is here! Likewise, this chapter stayed in my mind the most.

    When one thought the other is his motherland and the other thought he was even more gorgeous than the stars that shone above this high plateau and came out of a painting, how can my heart not swoon over the sweetness? And the horse ride at the mountain solidified it. Beautiful. These 2 were simply beautiful to one another.

    Thanks my dear, for another sweet memorable chapter! *hugs*

    • I’m touched by the beauty of it. These are unsoiled feelings that they have for one another. Ji Yi is still very young, much too young for me to read anything else into the feelings, but regardless of whether this eventually develops into a romantic relationship between a man and a woman, it doesn’t take away from the purity of the way they view one another here. And that’s why I love this chapter. It’s like the unsoiled scenery of the Tibetan plateau and the pure-white snow-capped mountains are a reflection of the pureness of their relationship here.

      You’re welcome!

  7. The phrase’ his liitle lady and his motherland’ touched me, love him , thank you Hoju 😘

  8. Hi Hoju, i just want to say thank you, because with your hard and amazing work, everytime I read or reread the books, is almost like live every line. THANK YOU from Guatemala 🙂🙂🙂🙂🌹🌹🌹🌹🌸🌸🌸🌸🌺🌺🌺🌺

    • ❤ ❤ Thank you for your very, very kind encouragement. The author's writing truly resounds with me, and I am happy I can bring it to you so that it can touch you, too. ❤

      Wow! Guatemala. ❤ Love our international community. Thank you for reading!

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