Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 6.3

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“Is there anything else that you want to do but there hasn’t been anyone to do it with you all this time?” He asked her that last time. Her answer had been that she would tell him if she thought of something. I don’t think she really thought much about this after, but he remembered.

Chapter 6.3 — The Little Thought in My Heart (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.

 

It so happened that one month before final examinations, her Chinese orchestra team had a competition to participate in. Jǐ Yi, therefore, had no choice but to study and rehearse at the same time.

In fact, during this period, not only the Chinese orchestra but also the dance group, the symphony orchestra, and the school’s athletes needed to participate in various competitions. However, most of the people did not really study. The special-talent students of Fuzhong historically had always been particularly excellent in their respective areas of expertise. Winning first place was the norm, and they easily obtained the baosong slots that would recommend them for direct admission into university.[1]

Consequently, the existence of students who studied assiduously like Jǐ Yi was absolutely rare and weird within the orchestra team.

When she had finished rehearsing and tidied and packed up, she was planning on returning to her classroom to continue studying.

All of a sudden, a girl, a junior schoolmate, came running in with a strange expression on her face. “Jǐ Yi, there’s someone looking for you outside the main gates of the school.”

Outside the main gates?

With puzzlement, Jǐ Yi walked out of the school. There, she saw the students who were on duty at the main gates discussing in whispers amongst themselves the four cars that were splayed out in front of the school’s front entrance. It was not strange for cars to be parked in front of Fuzhong High School, but the drivers of these cars were all young boys, and also, the four cars were parked end to end in a straight line. It truly was difficult not to notice. Furthermore, those people were simply too notorious. They were all from that infamous work-study reform school.

The people in work-study reform school were mostly students still under the age of majority, but their former schools had been unable to keep them in check. They more or less had committed crimes of some sort, but those had not been serious enough for them to be placed into a reeducation-through-labour centre[2]. Hence, the difference between that school and Fuzhong was like hell and heaven.

This was especially so in 2001, when ruffians like these ones, who gave such a display of force, were still uncommon.

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She recognized that inside one of the cars was Nuannuan’s boyfriend, Xiao Jun, as well as his buddy who frequently hung out with him, Fu Xiaoning.

“Xixi.” Fu Xiaoning always spoke very gently, without any obscenities or cusswords ever slipping in to what he said. In fact, he seemed even more well-mannered and civilized than some of the poor-performing students of Fuzhong High School. “We’re not looking for you for anything special. Just wondering, do you know where Nuannuan is?”

“Xixi, come. It’s too sunny over there. Come over here to talk.” Xiao Jun was not a very talkative person, but he was courteous to her.

It was the end of the school day, when all students were dismissed, and there were people coming and going. The Fuzhong students who were trying to avoid those several cars all turned to look at her.

Now that it was nearing the end of June, the weather was already very hot. In this moment, as she stood beneath the sun, she genuinely did not know what she should do. If she did not step outside, these people would continue blocking the school’s gates. If she did go out to them… She did not want to take even a single step out of the gates.

“What’s wrong?” Fu Xiaoning walked toward her.

Instinctively, she wanted to retreat, but then out of nowhere, a figure was standing in front of her, shielding her. It was Class Prefect, who had heard reports of what was going on here and hurried over. Class Prefect had always been someone who carried the revolutionary ideals of coming against the degenerate parts of society, so he especially disliked these people.

“Fuzhong does not allow people from outside of the school to enter school grounds. This… friend, could you please help out by backing up a little bit and making way for our fellow students who are getting off from school.”

Fu Xiaoning chuckled and gave an “oh.” “I don’t want to go in, either. I just want to ask Xixi something.”

Hearing that he was addressing Jǐ Yi by her pet name, Class Prefect actually grew perplexed, and in a low tone, he asked her, “You guys know each other well?”

Jǐ Yi shook her head, answering vaguely, “I don’t really know him.”

This was hard to explain, and especially to Class Prefect, it was difficult to clarify that these people were actually associated with Nuannuan.

Luckily, they only wanted to find Nuannuan and did not really want to stir up anything unpleasant at her school, so they left things at that. Fu Xiaoning merely threw a look at Jǐ Yi at the very end and gave what seemed to be a musing smile.

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

She did not know who, but someone reported this incident to the head of her grade. Consequently, Jǐ Yi was called to the office, where she was reprimanded for an entire evening by both the head of the grade and the head teacher of her class. The approximate message was that high hopes had long been placed on her, and she should not so nonchalantly interact with people from outside the school, especially reform-school miscreants like those ones, for it could easily lead to big trouble.

Jǐ Yi suffered in silence, truly unable to even express the unjustness that she was experiencing, only giving vague replies while she was berated for the entire duration of the evening self-study period.

The explanation that Nuannuan gave later was that she and Xiao Jun had been quarrelling, so she had turned off her mobile phone. Hugging Jǐ Yi, she begged continuously for forgiveness. “My good Xixi, I was wrong… I’ll tell you in secret. Little Uncle said, when finals are done, he’s going to take us to the amusement park to play. We’ll consider that as my way of making it up to you, how about that?”

Jì Chengyang? Her heart gave a flutter and then abruptly softened.

“See! You’re smiling.” Nuannuan immediately became lighthearted. “But you’re so easy to coax back to smiles. Wasn’t our spring outing in primary school a trip to the amusement park? How old are you now? Can’t believe you still want to go… Hey, don’t glare at me, don’t glare at me. I was just randomly complaining for a few sentences…”

She truly was looking forward to it—extremely looking forward to it.

As for that “high-class” miscreant boyfriend of Nuannuan, she did not really take that relationship seriously. Who knew? Maybe just a few days later, they would break up again. At the time, Jǐ Yi had believed this was merely a little interlude in their lives. She had not expected that this was just the beginning of something.

<>Please read this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, which is the site it was originally posted on.

 

Summer vacation arrived on schedule.

Final examination results would be posted in ten days, and at that time, a ranking of all the students in the grade would be released.

And then, everyone would begin choosing his or her own fate. Beginning with deciding between the science and liberal arts streams[3], they would choose their own unique path in life.

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

Because they had been looking forward to it for so long, the day immediately after final examinations, Jì Chengyang drove the two girls to Shijingshan Amusement Park. Out of all the amusement parks in Beijing, this was Jǐ Yi’s favourite because of that castle from Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Every time she came, she would always remember the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, printed in traditional Chinese characters, that she had read when she was a child.

The castle at Shijingshan Amusement Park in Beijing (image credit)

After one time on the flume ride, Nuannuan still had not had enough, and rambling basically to herself, she went to queue for it again.

As Jǐ Yi watched her from a distance patiently line up at the back of the queue and pull out her mobile phone, she clued in that Nuannuan was simply trying to find an opportunity to escape Jì Chengyang’s gaze in order to talk on the phone with her boyfriend.

Settling down on a bench beneath some shady trees, Jǐ Yi removed her shoes, curled her legs up, and set her chin on her knees as she watched the roller coaster soaring this way and that.

Beside her, Jì Chengyang rested one arm on the back of the bench while the other hand held the bottle of mineral water that he was taking sips from.

She especially liked his look today. With merely a black, short-sleeved shirt and knee-length athletic shorts, he looked fresh and handsome, like a student.

Wait, that was not right, either. He really had not graduated from university very long ago.

“You’re going to New Zealand next month?” Jì Chengyang asked, opening his drink and taking a swallow from it. Icy water slid down along the bottle and over his arm.

Jǐ Yi stared at the small strip of sunlight that was splashed on her knees. It had streamed through the gaps in the tree leaves to land there. “Mm-hmm. Our Chinese orchestra took first place in the competition, so we’re going to New Zealand to do an exchange.” Lifting her head, she asked, “Is it fun there?”

Jì Chengyang seemed to be recalling for a moment. “It’s pretty good. It’s a place that’s very much worth visiting.”

If he said it was pretty good, then it undoubtedly was an extremely good place.

She continued resting her chin on her knees and watching the roller coaster.

He noticed this. “You want to ride it?”

“I don’t dare.” She stuck out the tip of her tongue. “But I’ve always wanted to ride it. Nuannuan, with her fear of heights, won’t go on with me.”

And if she really were told to ride it by herself, she would not dare, either.

Jì Chengyang unexpectedly leaned forward, his body blocking the view in front of her, but while she was still puzzled, she saw him sit up straight again. In his hand, there was now an empty bottle. It turned out he had noticed that she had finished her water. “I’m going to go buy water. Sit here and wait for me. Don’t run around.”

“……” She really wanted to tell him, she was going to be turning sixteen very soon, and there was absolutely no risk of her being kidnapped and sold.

Before long, he had bought the water and returned. And in his hand, he also held two tickets for the roller coaster.

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Glancing at Nuannuan’s queue that wrapped several times around, she surmised that even when she got back, Nuannuan would still be standing in line. She therefore very excitedly went with Jì Chengyang. However, when she was actually sitting inside the roller coaster car, watching as the over-the-shoulder restraint descended and secured itself on top of her shoulders, she all of a sudden was a little afraid.

“Don’t be scared,” Jì Chengyang consoled her. “I’m right here.”

That’s right. He was right by her side, just an arm’s length away. It was such that she needed only to shift slightly and then she really would be able to touch him.

While she was comforting herself, she felt the roller coaster gradually start to move. And then, after a jolt, it began slowly climbing toward the highest point. It had now changed so that she was lying completely on her back. On both sides in her vision, other than the sky, there was only him.

His straight nose bridge, and also his eyes…

He suddenly touched her arm and then turned his palm up to face her. Quivering in terror, Jǐ Yi immediately set her hand in his and clenched his three fingers in her vice grip. Right as she was about to say that she was very scared, her entire body began plummeting at a speed like she was flying.

The very first slope was the highest one, and it was also the most terrifying.

Actually, afterward, no matter how she was flipped and turned about, she did not feel anything, because all of her was already numb from fear. She knew only to grip tightly on to those few fingers of his. She dared not even open her eyes and only listened to the whistling of the wind whipping past her ears. Even when the roller coaster had come to a stop, she still felt nothing. It was not until the over-the-shoulder restraint rose again that her mind finally began to register things, and she heard the girl behind her crying from fright…

She opened her eyes. In her gaze that for a brief moment was blurry, there was only his amused smile.

Looking first at her as she sat dazedly in that spot, then glancing at the sobbing girl behind them, Jì Chengyang at last extended his arms and picked her completely up from the seat and out of the roller coaster car. Then, taking her hand in his, he led her down the stairs of the ride exit.

Only when they were back on actual ground again, standing on the scorching concrete pavement, was Jǐ Yi able to feel that her legs were limp.

They strolled along the border of where the trees’ shade met sunlight. Jì Chengyang had just shaken a cigarette out from its package and was about to clamp his teeth down on it.

Out of the blue, Jǐ Yi mumbled, “I’m never going to ride a roller coaster again in my life…”

When he heard this sentence, he finally could not restrain himself and began laughing loudly, which caused two passing girls to turn and look enviously at them.

This was the first time she heard him laugh aloud out of true happiness—it sounded so nice.

And it was also at this same time that she discovered she was still clasping his hand. Just as when she was a little child, her grip on him was especially tight.

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

During dinner, Nuannuan mercilessly made a laughing stock of this roller coaster trip.

After she had finished making fun of Jǐ Yi, she hurriedly turned to Jì Chengyang, who had taken a menu from the server, and expressed, “Little Uncle, I don’t eat scallions, ginger, garlic, and garlic chives; I don’t eat animal innards; I don’t eat any meat that has skin on it or fatty meat; and I don’t eat—”

“What about you, Xixi?” Jì Chengyang deliberately interrupted.

“I’m easy. Anything is good,” she answered.

“You don’t have anything you don’t like to eat?”

She wanted to shake her head, but Nuannuan exposed her. “She doesn’t eat fish. And that’s something I learned from observing her. When she eats, she’ll never pick up any fish with her chopsticks.”

Actually… she really was easygoing about stuff like this. If she did not like to eat something, she simply would not get any with her chopsticks. And even if someone did get some for her, it would not kill her if she ate a few bites.

Jì Chengyang was wholly able to deduce Jǐ Yi’s way of thinking. In an even voice, he told her, “Girls can’t be too picky, but they also need to learn to have an appropriate amount of pickiness.” Flipping through the menu, he said in an insipid tone, “You need to be comfortable with emphasizing your own dislikes before other people will become used to paying attention to you, respecting you, and valuing and caring for you. But remember, one or two special requests or requirements are enough. Too many will just turn people off.”

Nibbling on her chopsticks, Nuannuan blinked. “Little Uncle, this is the first time like this where you’re teaching someone.”

He could not even bother to lift his eyelids. “This is part of the art of conducting yourself. You’re a hopeless case, so you don’t need to be taught.”

……

He offhandedly ordered a few dishes before asking the server, “Do you have any soup that you would specially recommend? It can’t be a fish soup. I have someone here who doesn’t eat fish.” The server beside them immediately avoided any soups that had any connection with fish and recommended a slow-simmered one.

After the server had put in their order and left, Jì Chengyang finally picked up his tea, moistening his throat with it, and then he said to Jǐ Yi, “From now on, when you go out to eat, remember to tell people who don’t know you well that you don’t eat fish.”

Gnawing on her teacup as well, Jǐ Yi gave an “mm-hmm.”

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Jì Chengyang drove them back and dropped them off downstairs of their building. When he was about to leave, Jǐ Yi had already stepped out of the car, but then unexpectedly turned around again. Leaning on the open window of his car, she looked up at him and asked, “What’s your major in school?”

He smiled. “Doctorate in philosophy. But I still don’t have that degree yet. I’ve suspended my studies for the time being and taken a leave.”

A field of study she was not familiar with, and also an expression she was not familiar with. You could actually suspend your studies during university, too?

The university life that she would be facing one year later was, right now, still mysterious to her, especially since ahead of her, there already existed this person who was like a genius. A doctorate… in philosophy?

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

Behind her, someone was passing by and called her name.

It was Second [Paternal] Uncle and Second Aunt[4]. She turned her head and gave a greeting to them. She still wanted to ask him some questions about the liberal arts and science streams, since, after all, in ten days, she would need to decide whether her own stream would be liberal arts or science.

However, completely outside of her expectations, Second Aunt actually approached them and, with a smile, exchanged a few pleasantries with Jì Chengyang. “Xiao Jì [Lil’ Jì], it’s really been a long time since we last saw you. I hear you’ve been especially taking care of our Xixi lately. Thank you so much.”

Jì Chengyang answered, “It’s nothing. I’ve known Xixi since she was really young. I’m already used to it.”

“Yes, that’s right. Xixi has not been very considerate, and since she was little, she has liked to go with you, this uncle of hers, to go play everywhere,” Second Aunt interrupted, her manner extremely polite. “But now she is a big girl, and she should learn to avoid inappropriateness…” The implied meaning of these words was very clear: when all was said and done, it was not appropriate for a grown girl, soon to be in her final year of high school, to day in and day out be going around everywhere with a young man who was unrelated to her in any way.

Nuannuan was a little displeased when she heard this.

Jì Chengyang was slightly taken aback, but then he quickly said some polite words.

Jǐ Yi actually did not hear clearly what he had said. Her heart was in turmoil, fearing that Jì Chengyang would be angry, and hence she hastily said goodbye and returned home.

<>Please support this translation at the original site it was posted, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, instead.

Back in her own room, Jǐ Yi had stuffed on some earbuds and was listening to English listening comprehension exercises when Second Aunt walked in. In a meaningful and earnest tone, Second Aunt stated, “You’re a big girl now. Don’t always be going out with someone else’s uncle to go play. Be good.”

She did not utter a word. She suddenly remembered that one sentence he had said to A’Liang in that small mountain town.

“Only one who has the courage to carry his own dreams shall have the chance of becoming someone else’s dream.”

At six years old, he began learning the piano, which was a later age than his peers. By eight years old, he was already giving piano performances on stage. In primary school, he had jumped two grades, completing it in four years. At age sixteen, he was already studying in the University of Pennsylvania. And now… he was taking a doctorate in philosophy but had temporarily suspended his studies and was in the midst of a leave of absence.

And at the same time, he was a war correspondent.

If she really were to say what dream, what aspiration she had, it was to be like him.

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

[1] 保送 “bao song.” Students with either exceptional academic performance or exceptional talent in other areas (such as music, sports, etc.) can be recommended by their high school for guaranteed admission into their university of choice without being required to pass the National College Entrance Examinations. High schools will have a quota on the number of students they can recommend for baosong.

[2] 劳教所 “lao jiao suo.” Sometimes referred to as “re-education-through-labour camps,” persons in China who had committed minor crimes were placed into these facilities. This was separate from the prison system. Re-education through labour was abolished in China in 2013.

[3] In China (as well as some other locations, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc.), some time during high school, students will need to make the life-deciding choice of selecting one of two “streams.” The selection will determine the classes they take in high school, the fields of studies they can take in post-secondary, and ultimately, their future career. Both streams are required to take mathematics and Chinese language arts. The “science stream” focuses on the sciences and advanced mathematics. The “liberal arts stream” focuses more on social sciences such as political science, geography, history, etc. When this decision is made depends on the school, although it often is done after the first year of high school. Here, though, for Jǐ Yi, it is taking place after her second year of high school.

[4] 二婶 “Er Shen.” Jǐ Yi’s 二叔 Second Uncle is the younger brother of her father. (Jǐ Yi’ s father is the oldest of the brothers.) 二婶 “Er Shen” Second Aunt is the wife of Second Uncle, where 婶 “shen” is how you would address the wife of your father’s younger brother.

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:
14 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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5 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 6.3

  1. Ai that second aunt. Such a busybody and a morality police when she has not done anything at all to take care of JY. Thanks for the chapter.

  2. Thank you Hoju, JCY is just as kind as always to JY 😍

  3. when did JY families start caring about her…for second aunt to suddenly give out advises…
    thank you

  4. JCY knew her well, he just offered his hand wordlessly and held her hand even after the ride. A quiet simple touching gesture that won my heart.

    And that closing line on Ji Yi’s dream is also so touching. She was a simple loving girl, she didn’t want or dream much… she just wanted to be like him, JCY. Duh, my heart felt a slight pang when I read this line.

    Many thanks, my dear, for another touching chapter!

  5. Hmph….funny how for all almost her whole life…no one gives any care about her and now all sudden they start caring about her? seriously now?

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