Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 17.3

4 Comments

Xixi runs into an old acquaintance. Can you guess who? And she learns of something that is both shocking and frightening.

Chapter 17.3 — Beneath the Same Roof (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.

 

By May, the SARS situation began to improve.

During the May Day holiday[1], Jǐ Yi received a telephone call. It was from Xu Qing, the advanced science stream class’s prefect, who was now in military academy in far-off Nanjing. She could still remember the day she had written her remarks to him in his classbook. In the blink of an eye, one year had passed already. This former class prefect’s message was, he was coming back from Nanjing for May Day and was planning to arrange a classmates’ gathering.

At the time, Jǐ Yi had been eating lunch. Inside her boxed lunch were the stir-fried tomatoes with scrambled eggs and the black-pepper beef that Jì Chengyang had made. After agreeing to go, she soon heard Class Prefect ask her, “Would you be able to pass on the message to Jì Nuannuan for me? That will save me the phone call to her.”

Jǐ Yi’s hand paused. “It’s better if you call…”

“What’s wrong?’ Class Prefect was baffled. “Aren’t you the one who can get ahold of her most easily?”

Making up a vague excuse, one that obviously sounded not quite right just listening to it, Jǐ Yi declined his request. Their old class prefect was an intelligent person as well and so did not really pursue the matter. Jǐ Yi felt a slight guilt. Deep in her heart, she had actually always felt that perhaps, one day in the future, the skies would clear for their former class prefect, and his wait would eventually show him the bright clear moon again by bringing Jì Nuannuan, the girl he had fallen in love with in first-year high school and deeply loved since, back to him …

But sadly, she and Nuannuan had become like two strangers on different roads.

Jì Chengyang had said that Nuannuan had already promised him she would not tell any of their family or neighbours about them. Nuannuan did indeed keep her promise, but she also was no longer connected in any way to Jǐ Yi’s life. After hanging up the call, Jǐ Yi bowed her head and continued having her Jì-made lunch. But as she ate and ate away, a slight ache came into her heart. All the text messages that she had sent to Nuannuan had been like stones dropped into the sea, with no response whatsoever. It was as if Nuannuan would never in this lifetime forgive her.

<>Please support this translation at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, instead. Thank you.

On the day of the class get-together, Class Prefect had managed to gather enough people for two full tables. Other than the schoolmates who were studying in other provinces and were not coming back, anyone who was in Beijing had shown up. Class Prefect even had some beer for the first time, and was so happy that he was positively glowing. His happiness was because, even a year after graduating, they all still valued him, their class prefect, and basically everyone had come out to show their support.

Of all the people present, Jǐ Yi was the only one who had gone into the liberal arts stream back then, so when everyone was at the point where the food and drink had gone to their heads, they naturally began to tease her, saying that she had betrayed the organization. Everybody was bombarding and bulldozing over Jǐ Yi until she could not even get in a convincing word to defend herself. Class Prefect, though, thought that they were being serious, and running over to her table, he put himself between her and all those who were continuously trying to get her drunk on beer. “Hey, I’m telling all of you, you can’t pick on girls.”

One of the boys let out loud guffaws, saying, “Class Prefect, how is it that you’ve spent a year in university already but your thinking is still so strict and right? Let me say, O great Class Prefect, you are absolutely the most proper and serious person I’ve ever met in my whole life. We’re just playing with Jǐ Yi. Who said we wanted to actually get her drunk?”

Class Prefect gave a sheepish laugh. A layer of drunkenness cloaked his dark, brilliant eyes as he pointed at that boy and told him, “Smoking is not good. Hurry up and quit. It’s bad for your health.”

Everyone laughed.

One girl looked at Class Prefect and, in a teasing tone, urged him to drink away. “Class Prefect, a few days ago, I heard someone say that the other classes weren’t even able to get people together to have a gathering, that they lost all unity once everyone graduated. We’re actually all here only because we’re giving you face. So, are you going to drink up some more or not?”

Class Prefect’s smile was slightly embarrassed. Without a word, he filled a glass to brimming. “All right then, drink up it is!”

With these words, he really did immediately throw his head back and knock back the drink.

Jǐ Yi watched all of this. Today would not come to a close unless Class Prefect left here passed out and carried out horizontally. She felt that everyone’s horsing around had crossed the line somewhat, and she even jumped in to say a couple of sentences, trying to dissuade everyone. By the time the group had up and moved over to a KTV lounge, Class Prefect had already completely hijacked the bathroom and was puking until he was seeing stars. When he was carried back in, he lay dead to the world on the couch, fast asleep.

Someone mentioned Jì Nuannuan but then was immediately put a stop to.

Jǐ Yi knew that in fact, it might not necessarily have been to avoid her that Jì Nuannuan had not come. However, her personality was like this, where she could not help feeling guilty. Even if there were only a one in ten chance that the reason Nuannuan did not come had to do with her, she would still feel that she had done Class Prefect wrong. She thought, even if he only got a single glimpse of Nuannuan from afar, to Class Prefect, that would still be good, right?

When you are a young, a smile really is a smile, and crying really is crying.

But even though today’s Class Prefect was obviously smiling and drinking, the whole time, people could still sense the heartache behind his smile. He had begun to want to hide his feelings, and everyone had seen through this and so had begun to learn how not to expose the truth…

Everybody was selecting songs and chatting away.

Jǐ Yi told them that she was going to go buy some drinks and snacks back for the group and then stepped out from the KTV lounge. This KTV was not far from Fuzhong High School. On the way here, she had even caught sight of Fuzhong’s main gate, which had been fixed up to look like new. As well, the shop once owned by Xiao Jun and Fu Xiaoning had now changed owners and transformed into a small grocery store. There was no longer the lively atmosphere of before, nor was there that loving couple, the shopowner and his wife, from before.

Her mind was a little jumbled; there were too many thoughts in it.

It was in that little grocery store that she carried a shopping basket and randomly grabbed some snacks. She continued in this state until she almost bumped into someone. Or perhaps it should be said, that person saw her and purposely did not move, halting his steps right where he was and gazing at her.

Holding her metal shopping basket, she stared blankly for two seconds, and then she smiled. “What a coincidence…”

Fu Xiaoning also gave a light chuckle. “I’m here having some fun, too. Didn’t expect I’d see you.” His eyes were on the already almost-eighteen-year-old Jǐ Yi. As he gazed at her, he suddenly thought, how was it that that shy, gentle little girl was already so grown up? And so beautiful.

He thought, it was a good thing that Jǐ Yi had never been with him back then.

He was becoming more and more unworthy of her.

Jǐ Yi was not as scared as she had once been of interacting with him. As she held the shopping basket and conversed with him for a while, she thought of that music and video store. Fu Xiaoning was a little puzzled. “What, Nuannuan didn’t tell you?”

Jǐ Yi shook her head. There was a sinking feeling in her.

Looking at her completely oblivious expression, Fu Xiaoning found it somewhat hard to speak about this. “Let’s pay first.”

Jǐ Yi set her basket onto the checkout counter. The grocery clerk was totaling up the cost, all the while chatting with Fu Xiaoning. From the looks of things, they were well acquainted with each other. “What, you have a new one now?”

Frowning, Fu Xiaoning did not speak and simply pulled out his wallet directly.

Jǐ Yi hurriedly paid first. Seeing her trying so hard to keep her distance from him, Fu Xiaoning was taken aback for a moment. Nonchalantly, he grabbed a lollipop from the little shelf by the checkout counter, paid for it, and handed it to Jǐ Yi. “I just want to treat you to something to eat.”

She hesitated, but nevertheless took it from him.

In the end, Fu Xiaoning helped her carry the snacks and beverages that she had bought and also escorted Jǐ Yi back until they were in front of the KTV room. Before bidding her goodbye, he finally told her, “Xiao Jun was a little overly anxious to get quick success and instant benefits. He wanted too much to make money. He wasn’t careful and strayed a bit onto the wrong path, and I didn’t talk him out of it, either. I’ve watched Nuannuan break up with him a lot of times, and watched them torment themselves and each other until they’re both tired… You’re Nuannuan’s friend. Help me persuade her and give her this one sentence: don’t put herself through suffering anymore; just break up. It’s honestly not easy to pull back someone who’s gotten into drugs.”

Fu Xiaoning tried as best as he could to say all this casually and tranquilly.

But the further along he got in his words, the harder it was for her to accept them.

When he had finished saying everything, Jǐ Yi actually felt that it was all somewhat unreal. Xiao Jun had strayed onto some wrong paths and was taking drugs? Why didn’t she know anything about this? Could it be, when she was in Hong Kong, these were the things that Nuannuan had wanted to tell her?

“Don’t be scared.” Fu Xiaoning was still behaving as if he was facing a fourteen-year-old Jǐ Yi, always afraid that he would frighten her. “It’s not as bad as what they say… There’ll be ways to break the addiction.” In reality, he did not have much confidence in these words, either, but he still tried as much as possible to soothe her.

Jǐ Yi wanted to ask more.

The door was pushed open, and Class Prefect, half-propped on someone’s shoulder, staggered out, likely because he needed to go to the bathroom again. When he hazily made out in his vision that behind Jǐ Yi, there was also Fu Xiaoning, it was not known where his strength came from but he suddenly struggled free and pulled Jǐ Yi over to himself.

Class Prefect still remembered, back then in front of the school, the person who had headed up the brawl was this man who was now standing in front of the door of the KTV room.

“What are you doing? What do you want to do now?” Class Prefect assumed the same posture he had carried back when he was the head of the class who protected everyone in his class.

The boy supporting him was baffled. “Hey, Class Head, Class Head? You’re drunk, eh?” After saying this, the boy gave a nod at Fu Xiaoning. “Sorry about that. This guy here is hammered.”

Fu Xiaoning was actually able to guess the reason behind the reaction. He smiled. “No worries.”

Giving one final, extra glance at Jǐ Yi, he truly did bid her farewell this time. “Going now, Xixi.”

Fu Xiaoning turned around.

When Fu Xiaoning had gone far, Class Prefect no longer had the perception that he needed to protect someone, and immediately, his body went limp and he lost all consciousness.

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

After Jǐ Yi stepped inside the room, everyone showered her with thanks for so generously treating them to snacks and drinks. Jǐ Yi smiled, not saying much, and took a seat in the innermost part of the large L-shaped sofa. Clutching her mobile phone, she sent off a long string of words to Nuannuan, composing a total of seven separate text messages for it. She wanted to tell Nuannuan, no matter what, she was Nuannuan’s friend and hoped that she would contact her.

But even when night came, those messages, as before, were like stones that had been dropped into the sea.

When she returned to Jì Chengyang’s home, Jì Chengyang was in the middle of changing. It was apparent that he had just arrived home as well.

“What’s the matter? You seem so out of spirits after coming back from the class gathering?” One by one, he fastened each of his shirt buttons and walked over to her.

After contemplating it through, Jǐ Yi did not tell the truth of the situation to Jì Chengyang. “I want to make a trip home.”

It had been a long time since she had been home.

Using the fact that she lived in campus residence as an excuse, she had not stepped through the gates of that military compound for a long time already. Every year at set times, her parents would transfer all the money that covered her living expenses onto a bank card. The rest, though, they would not get involved in whatsoever. And her not returning to the home that she had grown up in was an ending that everyone was delighted about. Ever since she started university, the room that she had once lived in had been tidied and reorganized to become a guest room, and Second and Third Uncles’ children would take turns staying there for short periods. She, on the other hand, had no place she could actually stay when she went back.

But now, she really wanted to go back there.

She wanted to go back and give it a try to see if she could find Jì Nuannuan.

“Sure.” Jì Chengyang did not really press for details. He could tell that there were matters weighing upon her heart. Since she did not want to tell him in plain words now, he would wait until she did, and then they could talk. “Tomorrow morning, I’ll drive you over there.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“I keep forgetting to ask, what did you buy a world map for?” He smiled.

“World map?” She searched back in her memory for a moment before finally remembering that on the day she received that last phone call from Nuannuan, she had just bought a world map. And then what had happened to it? She had forgotten where she had set it aside. “You’ve seen it? Where is it?”

“You put it on my desk. I didn’t know what you want to use it for, so I haven’t dared to move it all this time.” Jì Chengyang smoothed the strands of her hair beside her cheek with his hand. “It’s untouched in its packaging and still sitting on the desk.”

It had been a month already.

“Why didn’t you ask me this whole time?” Jǐ Yi was slightly puzzled.

Jì Chengyang of course was not going to tell her it was because he could see that she was feeling down that he had deliberately found a topic to talk about. He merely answered, “I suddenly thought of it.”

Bashful with her little thoughts for a moment, she quietly explained, “I want to put it up on the wall. Then, every time when you’re out of the country, I’ll put a label on there to mark where you’ve gone, as a way to remember it. That way, I’ll feel that even if you’re not by my side, at least we’re still on the same world map…”

He was somewhat stunned as he listened to her. In that instant, it was as if, through a curtain of countless devastating images, he could see her behind those scenes that were overlaid one upon the other. Gunfire, starvation, refugees, corpses, weapons, mothers holding infants in their arms, soldiers kissing their sweetheart on a street corner.

These words of hers had struck the most vunerable place in the deep recess of his heart. A concrete, tangible fear of death had come over him. He had had the fear before, but that had merely been an instinctive reaction of fear arising in that instant when an artillery shell came down. Right this moment, though, there was more a feeling of worry for Jǐ Yi, out of fear that after he died, the girl he deeply loved would cry inconsolably and possibly even become weary of life, with nothing left to live for…

Woe are the bones lying on the shores of Wuding River, but still they live in the springtime dreams of their lover at home.[2]

If the lover at home during the spring was given news of the death of the man she loved, what then would happen?

He thought, he now could at last fully comprehend that those soldiers who experience war also fear death and dismemberment, but what they fear even more is that after they die, their parents will have no one on whom to rely on for support and their wives and children will have no one to take care of them.

……

“What time are we leaving tomorrow?” Afraid that he would think she was being melodramatic, in that brief moment of quiet, Jǐ Yi changed the topic. “Morning? Or afternoon?”

Jì Chengyang folded his sleeves up into neatly-pleated cuffs. His eyes were narrowed, and he seemed to be contemplating over what would be a suitable time. “That depends on what you’re going to do when you go back and how much time you need.”

“I’m going back—”

<>It would be greatly appreciated if you would read this translation at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, instead. Thank you.

Unexpectedly, the doorbell rang.

Given a shock with this, she forgot what she had been about to say.

Although Jì Chengyang had told her long ago that this time he had not told Wang Haoran and his other few friends that he had returned, worried that they would all run into each other and she would feel awkward… after the whole incident last time with Nuannuan, she had become even more cautious. She was scared that their old friends or acquaintances would learn that she and Jì Chengyang were dating, and that would stir up more issues or troubles.

Perplexity could be seen between Jì Chengyang’s brows, but he did not mull over this too much and strode straight over, opening the door.

“Don’t be surprised.” A woman’s voice, which carried laughter in it, drifted in from the corridor. “I only knew roughly that you live in this community compound, so I asked the security guard. Who would have thought? You’re actually quite famous. The security guard even remembers which door is yours.”

It was that female newscaster?

Jǐ Yi recognized the voice. It was his colleague from the television station. The two had even met once in the hospital. At that time, she and Jì Chengyang had not laid things bare between them and had any sort of special relationship. As she stood there in the living room, this sudden arrival of a guest left her not knowing whether she should step forward or retreat. Jì Chengyang had once discussed with her that for those people who had previously known the two of them and their earlier relationship, they would wait until she had graduated from university and then slowly make their current relationship known to them. By then, she would be at a marriageable age and all the potential effects and impact would be minimized. But what about his colleagues? He had not said anything to her about that sort of situation.

Especially since this female newscaster could be considered a colleague who also previously knew her.

Jì Chengyang merely asked the person outside the door, “Did you come find me because of some urgent matters?”

His tone was flat and neutral, without much emotion in it.

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

[1] 五一假期. Literally, the “five one” holiday, or the holiday on the first day of the fifth month. More officially known as Labour Day holiday. May 1 is International Labour Day, which is a nationally recognized holiday, and then in China, an additional couple more days off are given as a national holiday.

[2] 可怜无定河边骨,犹是春闺梦里人. This is taken from 《陇西行》 “Song of Longxi,” a poem written by Tang dynasty poet, 陈陶 Chen Tao. It describes soldiers who have gone to battle against the Tartars but have fallen dead, their bones lying on the banks of Wuding River. However, at home, their wives and lovers miss them and dream of them, and only in those dreams do they continue to live.

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:
42 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

≪ Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter ≫

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 17.3

  1. What does this lady want!! He discretely rejected her several rimes now not to outright shut her down and now she stalked him to his apartment??????
    Many thankss

  2. never expected JNN will ended up being indecisive
    thank you

  3. So that’s what troubling Nuannuan. Waiting to see if she will talk with JY.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  4. Thank you Hoju

Leave a Reply to June Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s