Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 6.2

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She said something merely casually, but he took it to heart and helped her fulfill it. “Someone was willing to spend time to do with her whatever she wanted. All along, there had only ever been one person who would do this…”

Chapter 6.2 — The Little Thought in My Heart (2)

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.

 

She discovered that the zasui soup in front of Jì Chengyang had not been touched at all.

More precisely, it seemed he had not really eaten anything except for some shaobing [baked flatbread] and rolling donkey rice rolls.

When they were leaving the eatery, Wang Haoran was also wondering about this and asked him, “Aren’t you a carnivore? Why is it that after being with the Palestinian troops for a period of time, you’ve completely changed?

“You’re respecting their religion? Everyone in their country doesn’t eat meat?” Wang Haoran guessed.

“You want to know?” He merely smiled.

Wang Haoran jeered back with a grin, “You’re trying to keep us hanging?”

Jì Chengyang’s gaze fell on the Jishuitan Bridge on the other side of the old city moat[1]. Over there, vehicles were coming and going and the lights were dim.

“If you saw with your own eyes a rocket strike an armored vehicle and a dozen or more soldiers burning until they were just charred corpses, or maybe… the commander, who only minutes ago was telling you about the battle situation, take a headshot from a sniper and spurt blood and gore right in front of you, or maybe—”

“Stop! I get it. If it were me, I’d have no appetite, too.” Wang Haoran glanced at Jǐ Yi, who was following only two steps behind the two of them. “Not suitable for children.”

Jì Chengyang smiled, not saying any more.

<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

 

He smiled more than he used to.

Jǐ Yi continued summarizing the changes that had occurred in him over this last year.

Although everything sounded so gory, she still could not restrain herself from wanting to hear it, wanting to understand everything that had to do with him.

Staring at Wang Haoran’s backside, she thought, this guy wasn’t going to be staying at Jì Chengyang’s home tonight, was he? Fortunately, this thought had only just arisen before Wang Haoran took an urgent call and left.

He seemed very fond of Jǐ Yi. His one foot was already inside the taxi, but still, he did not forget to instruct, “Chengyang, give your mobile number to the little lady; otherwise it will be so inconvenient if she needs to find you. Oh, right, and mine, too. Give my number to Xixi, too—”

Jì Chengyang’s one hand was in his pants pocket while he waved the other one, indicating that Wang Haoran should hurry up and take his leave.

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

His friend was gone.

Only the two of them remained. Walking beneath Jishuitan Bridge, they followed the old city moat and ambled back.

She was someone who liked quiet in the first place and did not really know how to carry out idle conversation. In her dormitory as well, she would always keep people company as they talked, and it seemed that whatever anyone said, she would always be able to reply with a few words. However, if it really were left to her to liven the atmosphere, there would be no chance of that succeeding. And so, in this moment now as she strolled along beside Jì Chengyang, she tried with all her might to find something to talk about, but it was in vain.

After she had already stolen several glimpses at him, finally, there was one time when he caught her in the act.

Jì Chengyang lowered his head, a slow smile spreading across his lips. “You want to say something to me?”

Jǐ Yi suddenly felt a little embarrassed, and with burning cheeks, she twisted her head away to look at the sea of cars on Jishuitan Bridge. “I was just thinking… is it fun to drive?” That was seriously just fishing for things to say.

“It’s a way to get around. It’s hard to evaluate it with just ‘fun’ or ‘not fun.’” Jì Chengyang did take her topic and continue with it.

She gave an “oh.”

Nuannuan was going to be eighteen years old very shortly and then would be able to learn how to drive.

She, though, still needed to wait another two and a half years. So long.

It was still another half a year before she would be able to get that identity card that none of her schoolmates even cared about anymore. She sighed.

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When the two arrived downstairs of his building, Jì Nuannuan, that young little miss, finally put on a big show of pulling out a box and presenting to Jì Chengyang a pair of deep blue cufflinks that gave off a cool gleam. “Little Uncle, happy birthday. Wishing for you that the older you get, the more seductive you are to people.”

Birthday?

Jǐ Yi was utterly struck stupid. She, the uninvited guest, had not even prepared a gift and had even made him spend his birthday dinner with her in an ordinary Hui Muslim eatery.

Hence, flooded with guilt, as she lay on her bed that night, she was still thinking, did she need to give him a make-up birthday gift? But she did not know at all what he needed. The next morning, when she awoke, her eldest uncle and his wife as well as her other two uncles, the younger brothers of her father, and their wives came to Grandfather’s house for a brief visit, as was their usual routine since, after all, they did not live far. They did not even stay for lunch before leaving.

Jǐ Yi pulled out by herself some leftover rice from the refrigerator, scooped out two spoonfuls of luncheon meat, found a couple of leaves of green vegetables, beat an egg, and then cooked up a plate of fried rice for herself. While she was at it, before the rice left the wok, she also sprinkled some chopped scallions and diced cilantro on top. When this “Jǐ Family’s Dish” came out of the wok, it so happened that a film had just started playing on the movie channel.

Carrying her plate over, she saw a very familiar picture: Stephen Chow was holding a bronze mirror and staring at his own monkey face in it… In somewhat of a daze, she remembered that this was the ending shot of that movie she had seen many years ago… Oh, so this was A Chinese Odyssey 2? She had heard too many schoolmates talking about it, but all this time, she had never seen it played on the television.

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

When all those classic, well-known lines became an actual picture in front of her, she actually found that she was not at all shaken to the core by Stephen Chow’s “ten thousand years” monologue. Rather, what she remembered was the line that Zixia Fairy said as she let herself dream unfettered about her lover: “The one I love is unquestionably a peerless hero…”

Something was inexplicably stirred in her heart. And at the very end, when Zixia even at her death still repeated this, Jǐ Yi was once again deeply touched, especially with that very last sentence:

“I was able to guess the beginning but did not guess the ending…”

When she finished watching, she discovered that the fried rice in front of her had turned cold already, so she had no choice but to put it back into the wok to heat it again.

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A day passed very quickly. Besides eating, all she did was work on practice problems, and it was not until the time was nearing eight o’clock that she at last completed all of her homework for the weekend. While she was tidying her desk beneath the light of her desk lamp, she unexpectedly remembered last night’s brief walk beside the old city moat…

“Xixi, telephone call for you,” Grandfather called her.

Jogging out into the living room, she picked up the telephone receiver.

“Finished your homework?” It was Jì Chengyang’s voice.

She paused in surprise. “Jì…”

“It’s me.” He confirmed with her again, “Finished?”

“Mm-hmm.” She clutched the receiver, breathing lightly.

He told her, “Then come downstairs now. Go to the old shuttle stop to find me.”

And then the call was hung up.

She was suddenly thrown into a fluster.

No one would care in the first place if she went out at night; it was very normal. However, with such instructions from him, she actually did feel guilt on her conscience, as if she was doing something wrong, and her mind dwelled only on the fact that he wanted her to go downstairs and she could not let anyone see her. Very soon, she had pulled out her favourite skirt and short-sleeved top and changed into them. Then, taking her key with her, she ran out the door of her home.

Downstairs, there were uncles and aunties whom she knew, who happened to be coming back from their strolls. Along the way as she ran to the compound’s former shuttle bus stop, she would greet them in passing. Because there was now a new shuttle stop, there was really nothing left to this place except for its name, and not many people would pass by it.

Jì Chengyang’s black car was parked in a spot that was relatively less illuminated. Seeming to have spotted her, he turned on the headlights.

Jǐ Yi ran over, panting as she pressed a hand against her chest, and then the door of the front passenger side was already being pushed open. In that instant when the door swung outward, she lifted her head and saw him, his hand resting on the steering wheel, watching her as she gasped lightly…

She brought her head back down, cautioning herself with all her might, Do not blush. Absolutely do not blush, Jǐ Yi, my friend.

And then just like that, she got into the car.

“Where are we going?” Her eyes took in the direction the car was driving. They were not heading out of the compound.

“To the outdoor training field.”

“Huh?” Jǐ Yi was taken aback.

What were they going to do there? … At night, that place only had some soldiers, both new and veteran, standing guard there. It did not even leave a few lights on.

Outside the training field were undulating hills and bushes, and there was no actual wall surrounding it.

When the car had driven to a location about a hundred metres from the entrance to the training field, soldiers came out and gave a wave with their flashlights. After seeing that the license plate number on Jì Chengyang’s car was one that belonged to the military compound, they were noticeably less tense. However, it truly was a rare occurrence for a vehicle to suddenly drive over here in the middle of the night without giving any notice or making arrangements ahead of time.

The rookie soldier had spotted the license plate number but only knew that it was one that belonged to the compound. While he was still wanting to carry out routine procedure and stop the vehicle to ask a question or two, a veteran soldier had already recognized which family this plate number belonged to and very astutely made way for the car to pass, only asking the question of whether some lights would be needed.

Jì Chengyang did not feel it was really necessary and simply drove in directly.

Their vehicle drove past the training areas for flame-throwing, light weapons firing, and chemical agent and drug detection, until it slowly came to a stop on a wide, open ground for which no perimeter edge could be seen in the black of night. Jì Chengyang said to Jǐ Yi, “Here, change spots with me.”

“Change spots?” To do what?

“I’m going to teach you how to drive.” His words were succinct.

The perplexity she had been feeling the entire way was at last resolved.

She watched as he got out of the car, walked over to where she was, and opened the door, and finally, she also accepted this happy surprise.

<>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, under Jì Chengyang’s close supervision, she truly did sit into the driver’s seat. Remnants of his warmth were still left behind on the steering wheel that her hands were gripping. Jì Chengyang seemed particularly patient and taught her very meticulously. Eventually, when he saw that she was too nervous and her fingers had turned white from clenching too tightly on the steering wheel, he chuckled. “Just treat it like it’s a toy car when you drive it. There’s nobody here. It’s okay.”

Not only was there no one, there were no lights, either.

Apart from the car headlights, there was only the moon’s glow to lluminate some of the outline of their surroundings, both near and far.

It was too deep into the night. The quiet that blanketed them all around was dreadfully frightful. Had he not been sitting beside her, she likely would have been scared to death already.

But he truly seemed to understand what a brand-new learner was most afraid of. There were no obstacles on this training ground, no scrutinizing onlookers, nobody evaluating whether things had been done correctly or not, no passersby that caused your head to spin. There was only one person in charge of readying everything for you so that you could play and have fun to your heart’s content.

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He had her step lightly on the pedals to become accustomed to the feeling. Suddenly, he started the engine and charged her, “Drive.”

Anxiously, she grasped the steering wheel, her large, black eyes staring fixedly in front of her. And then, she really did begin driving this “big toy” forward.

“I still don’t need to stop? Still don’t need to turn?”

The headlights shone upon the way in front of them, but anything further off in the distance could not be clearly seen.

She was quaking with nervousness; he, though, was not at all concerned. “It’s fine. Based on your speed right now, it’ll be another ten minutes before you reach the end.”

In this May weather, she was actually so tense she was sweating.

The result was that when she did reach the end and he said to her, “Turn,” she successfully managed to stall the car.

Jì Chengyang smiled. “That was pretty good driving.”

Saying this, he opened the door, got off the car, and, in front of a large stretch of bushes, took in some air.

That was “pretty good”? She had stalled the car.

Pressing her cheek onto the steering wheel, she heaved a long exhale, then turned her gaze onto his backside. A black jacket and hiking pants. Such a single-tone colour scheme caused all of him to meld into the darkness.

A breeze rustled through the bushes. When he turned around, she immediately shut her eyes, pretending to be asleep. Soon, she heard the door open. Jì Chengyang asked her, “Tired?”

Putting an end to her pretense, she slowly opened her eyes. “A little sleepy.”

 

By the time they headed back, it was approaching ten o’clock. Taking the same route they had come in on, the car drove out of the training grounds. With the salute of those soldiers behind them, they drove back along the main road. He wanted to have a smoke, so he opened the window. The warm night wind coursed continuously into the car, carrying away the perspiration on her face. As she leaned back where she was, she could see from the corner of her eye the glowing embers at the end of the cigarette in his hand.

He suddenly spoke. “Is there anything else that you want to do but there hasn’t been anyone to do it with you all this time?”

“Something that I want to do? Let me think…” Leaning against the back of the seat, she let her eyes take in the side profile of his face. “When I think of something, I’ll tell you.”

Someone was willing to spend time with her to do whatever she wanted. All along, there had only ever been one person who would do this, from when she was ten years old and he had helped her fulfill the wish of openly and rightly sitting in the military compound’s cinema and watching a movie that belonged to her, to later, when he had gone with her to the Tibetan Plateau to look upon the snow-capped mountains. And there was so much more—helping her save a dying bunny, or even making a rainbow for her from a drinking glass…

As she had never received much, these were all the more precious to her.

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

Jì Chengyang smiled. Resting his arm on the open window as he drove, he flicked away a long end of ash off his cigarette.

On this perfectly straight stretch of road, there were still no other vehicles or pedestrians, only the illuminating streetlamps that lined the two sides, causing the road to seem as if there was no end to it. But in reality, she knew that after driving to the end of this road and then making a few turns, they would reach their final destination.

And when they got there, she would have to say good night to him.

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Coincidentally, right when they arrived downstairs of her home, half of the streetlamps turned off.

From two intersections away, Jì Chengyang watched as her silhouette disappeared through the entryway of the building. At last, he tossed his cigarette butt into the garbage can.

“A few years ago, when I saw Xixi, she made me think of Lolita.” The words Wang Haoran had spoken during the daytime rose up in his mind. “Don’t look at me like that. I’m not that raunchy. I just feel that every time I see her, I really want to coddle and spoil her, you know, that type of feeling when a man wants to coddle and spoil a woman…”

Lolita, a novel from last century with a controversial, taboo subject that even the Westerners had not dared to casually publish[2].

He had read the 1955 publication of the book, a very well-known novel written by Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov was a world-famous novelist, but his name was much lesser known in the Mainland than Milan Kundera. However, the character, Lolita, created from his pen was known to everyone. Wang Haoran’s words had been careless and poorly chosen. The novel, Lolita, was erotic and strove to be different and shocking; it was not suitable for describing her.

Rather, Jì Chengyang thought of something else, a movie. Jǐ Yi was very much like the child actress in that movie, completely unadorned but having a petite face that you would never forget after a single glance. She possessed that same precociousness, loneliness, and seeming fragility. However, that young character in the film was standoffish and rebellious[3], while she carried a warmth in her that comforted and warmed people.

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

[1] The Beijing city of ancient times was surrounded by a moat at the foot of the city wall. (This is in addition to the moat that surrounded the imperial palace, i.e. Forbidden City). Much of this old city moat system no longer exists due to urban expansion, and only parts of it still now survive as a canal system. Beijing’s Second Ring Road is said to follow the former old city moat. This part that Jì Chengyang is looking at would have been the old northwestern moat, near the old city gate, Deshengmen. Jishuitan Bridge is a modern vehicular overpass.

Location of Xinjiiekou Subdistrict (where Jì Chengyang’s home is located) and Jishuitan Bridge relative to the old Beijing city walls and moat. Credit to Wikipedia for picture of “Old Beijing City Walls and Moat”

[2] Lolita is a novel written by Vladimir Nabokov. It is about the controversial subject of a middle-aged man having a love affair with his twelve-year old stepdaughter, Dolores Haze, whom he fondly calls Lolita. It was first published in 1955 in Paris, and only later, in 1958, in the United States. Despite its controversy, it is hailed as a classic.

[3] Referring to the 1994 film, Léon: The Professional, in which Natalie Portman plays the lonely, troubled twelve-year-old Mathilda.

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.

Completed:
13 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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3 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 6.2

  1. they each spent their birthday together, indirectly celebrating!
    thank you

  2. Thank you Hoju 😄

  3. Whenever JCY contemplated about JY, it only intrigue me more. And to know that he listened to every little wish or wonder she said and made it come true for her is aww… How could I not love him more?

    Thanks my dear, for another chapter!

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