Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 18.3

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Another separation. 😦 In her own way, Xixi expresses her feelings to Jì Chengyang. ❤ But as time passes, something doesn’t feel right to her.

Chapter 18.3 — Two Opposite Poles of the World (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.

 

After the May Day holiday, Jǐ Yi returned to her school and Jì Chengyang left China.

Prior to leaving, he told Jǐ Yi that in order to gain the opportunity to depart a little earlier, he had changed his status. He had already resigned from his job as a reporter at the television station and, along with his former university roommate, accepted the invitation to be a contracted correspondent for a newspaper agency. This had all been told to her in a brief explanation. For matters related to his work, he never did tell her much. The main reason for this was worry that the more she understood, the more psychological pressure she would feel.

The date he travelled to the war zone was once again close to his birthday.

In that period when he first arrived in Iraq, there was some stability to where he lived and ate. On the night of his birthday, he specially made a long-distance phone call to Jǐ Yi and talked with her for a long time. Jǐ Yi instructed him to absolutely not hang up the phone yet. Setting the phone on top of the piano, she then very smoothly played the song “Angel” for him.

It truly was done very smoothly. Actually, this was not a very difficult song to play, but in Jì Chengyang’s memory, Jǐ Yi had never received any formal piano training.

Holding the telephone, he listened to her finish playing the song, and then he heard Jǐ Yi, on the other end, pick up the phone and ask him, “Did you like it?” When she spoke, her voice was somewhat breathless. It was evident that she was very nervous.

“You specially learned it?”

“Mm-hmm.” She quietly replied, “I practiced it for an especially long time, because I was worried I wouldn’t play it very well. The person who taught it to me even said it’s really simple… But I’ve never learned piano, after all… Was it okay?”

“Pretty good.” Jì Chengyang sat on the windowsill and gazed out at this foreign land, which was showered in moonlight.

He thought of how, if he had not persisted in this dream of his, by now, he likely would have been like Su Yan or Wang Haoran and in an orchestra somewhere as a young performing artist? He still remembered, on that day after he won the competition, after they had all taken the photograph together, someone had praised them, this young group of artists, saying that in the future, they undoubtedly would stand in the spotlight as the focal point of the attention of the masses and receive applause and honour.

But, the result seemed to be the exact opposite of that.

His occupation now was to fade into the background, behind the focal points, and be a pair of eyes that took in all those things.

“Do you still remember when you put this song on for me to listen to?” Jǐ Yi asked him.

“When?” He truly did not remember.

“It was… that first time I went to a nightclub. When you were taking me and Nuannuan home early that morning and then you locked us in the car, this was the song that we were listening to.” That time was deeply impressed on Jǐ Yi’s mind. She had even deliberately gone and watched the movie just for this song.

It could be heard in Jǐ Yi’s voice that she was not reconciled with it yet.

Jì Chengyang abruptly clued in and, hence, could only pacifyingly answer, “Right, I remember now.”

“Did you like this song because of its lyrics?” Jǐ Yi asked curiously.

“Lyrics?” Jì Chengyang ran them through once in his head.

He could roughly guess which lines she was referring to:

In the arms of an angel,
Fly away from here,
From this dark, cold hotel room and the endlessness that you fear.
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie,
You’re in the arms of the angel,
May you find some comfort here.

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

He looked up at the moon of this foreign land. He did not really remember what he had been thinking when he first heard those lyrics. Perhaps he had not actually had such sensitive thoughts like those of girls, but now, when he heard such a question from her, he suddenly felt that that indeed was the case. Probably every person in this world who opposes war and fighting has this sort of impractical hope, wishing that a God and angels truly do exist in this world and that they can take away all those civilians who have fallen for no reason into gunfire and death, that they can bring them out of that living hell.

As result of the moon’s illumination, which stretched long his shadow on the room’s floor, he appeared even taller and thinner.

“I reckon that was probably the case, but I’ve forgotten now. I listened to it too long ago.”

“Happy birthday.” Jǐ Yi’s voice was especially tender.

Smiling, Jì Chengyang looked down at the scratches bespeckling the windowsill, left behind by the passage of time, and said, “I hear you.”

“Also,”—Jǐ Yi took a long time to build herself up to what was next, until finally, she opened her mouth—“I love you. I especially love you.”

All of a sudden, someone knocked on the door. That university roommate was calling Jì Chengyang’s name. Of late, they had been constantly waiting to interview someone from the American side, but this was a very difficult undertaking. Journalists of all countries were all sitting in wait of just a slice of time in which they could have an interview. Before hurriedly hanging up the phone call, he told Jǐ Yi, “I may be calling you less and less. When I can, I’ll contact you through email.”

Jǐ Yi answered him affirmatively, but he had already hung up.

When he stepped outside, his roommate told him that a French journalist had relayed the news that there possibly was an interview opportunity. But, it was still only “possibly”…

<>Please support this translation by reading it on its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Thank you.

After May came to an end, the season soon slipped into summer.

Jǐ Yi was majoring in Spanish, and she was also working hard to learn Arabic by self-study. She believed that, in the future, when she was a foreign correspondent, it would be especially beneficial to know Arabic. Her goal was clear, and she was being so diligent that it was as if she was still in her senior year of high school. Hence, summer passed and autumn came, autumn passed and winter came, and she did not really feel anything.

Less and less emails came from Jì Chengyang.

When the first heavy snowfall of the year fell in Beijing, she discovered in trepidation that it had already been more than twenty days where there had been no news from him, no news at all. She would send an email every day to him, recounting for him how things were for her currently, but what she received was always the same automatic reply:

Got it, thanks.

Yang

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

This sort of trepidation had actually existed in her very early on. When it was still the summer, the number of emails from him had been extremely few, and they had all been extremely short. Never would he reply to anything of what she had written, and he would only give a simple message that said he was safe…

That night, in the late hours, when she saw that automatic reply instantly show up in her email inbox, she was no longer able to restrain herself, and she dialed the number of Jì Nuannuan, who was in the United Kingdom. It was dinnertime on that end. While still eating, Jì Nuannuan retreated into her own room to talk in a quiet voice on the phone with her. After hearing her question, Nuannuan searched through her mind briefly. “There shouldn’t be any problem. A few days ago, my mom called home and even chatted about Little Uncle. They say they’ve been getting emails from him all this time that tell them he’s safe.”

“All this time? They’re not auto replies?”

“They shouldn’t be, eh? You can tell if it’s an auto reply.” Jì Nuannuan continued consoling her in a low voice, “My little uncle is that kind of person, the type that once he’s working, it’s like he’s not even human. You’ll be fine once you get used to it. Before you and him were together, he would often go half a year at a time without sending any news. My granddad would often blow up and yell and curse about him…”

Nuannuan carried on talking as if Jǐ Yi was making a big fuss over nothing.

Maybe she really was making a fuss over nothing?

Final examinations were coming up soon. She had been worried that she would miss Jì Chengyang too much and therefore had not dared to stay in his house anymore, all along living in campus residence instead. Her schoolmate who roomed with her in the dormitory, Lu Ying, was not going home this year, either, so they were going to keep each other company during Lunar New Year’s. When the girl heard that she had been admitted from Fuzhong High School, she asked whether Jǐ Yi could take her to Fuzhong for a look.

Since the two did not have any actual business that needed to be done during the winter break, Jǐ Yi took her for a jaunt there. By chance when they were there, the orchestra was soon to be competing, and several days of focused rehearsing during the holiday period had been arranged. Jǐ Yi led Lu Ying in that direction, introducing to her as they walked, “This place here is for the symphony orchestra. I used to be part of the modern Chinese orchestra…”

Behind her, a familiar voice called her name.

Jǐ Yi’s back stiffened. Out of habit, she turned around and greeted with a smile, “Teacher Lu.”

“When I saw you just now, I was going to ask you why you hadn’t gone with the orchestra.” Teacher Lu laughed, “I blanked out for a bit before I remembered that you’ve already graduated. You’re in first-year university now?”

“Second-year.”

The teacher smiled again.

They were standing outside the rehearsal hall, and faintly, they could hear that, inside, someone was playing piano. Jǐ Yi felt as if fragments of her memory had instantly been pieced together. It seemed there once had been a similar scenario. She had also been standing in this spot, talking to this orchestra teacher who presently was in front of her, and then, when she turned her head, she had seen Jì Chengyang playing the piano.

But this time when she turned around, she saw, instead, a rather young boy.

“This student is just too exceptional. The symphony orchestra happened to want to add piano into it, so we recruited him in.” An expression of delight was on Teacher Lu’s face. “This is the best student I have seen since Jì Chengyang. Jì Chengyang…” The teacher all of a sudden looked at her. “I remember now. It seems, when you were here in high school, Jì Chengyang came back. He said you and he are from the same military compound, and he’s your little uncle?”

“Not exactly.” Jǐ Yi answered vaguely, “We were neighbours. He’s my good friend’s actual uncle by blood.”

The teacher genuinely liked this former student of hers and thus launched into this topic with Jǐ Yi, asking about Jì Chengyang’s work and life after graduation and even concerning herself with his love life and relationships. As Jǐ Yi replied, she became increasingly discomfited. She missed him too much. From May to January, nearly eight months had passed already. Her birthday was fast approaching. Where was he? He did not have time to return even a single email?

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

As a result of all of those inquiries from the teacher, even her university schoolmate was listening very interestedly from the sidelines.

After returning to her university, Jǐ Yi felt more and more unsettled in her heart, and she continually refreshed her email inbox. She wanted to send another email to him but was also scared that he genuinely did not have time to reply to her, that such frequent, useless emails from her would interfere with his work. It was not as if she had never seen that scarily crammed email inbox of his. Laying her cheek on the table, she closed her eyes and recalled that morning that she took him to the airport.

That morning, it so happened that some sort of leader had been out and about travelling, and the whole time, the expressway to the airport had been sealed off.

……

In the end, she was unable to hold herself back and wrote him an exceptionally short email.

January 20 is my birthday. You have to make some time then to send an email back to me and let me know that you’re safe.

Xixi

Her index finger rested lightly on the mouse, all along still not clicking send. After some time, she modified it.

Send me an email when you get some time. Let me know you’re safe.

Xixi

That should be short enough, right?

She wondered about this. And then, in the space of a blink, she sent the email out.

<>It would be very much appreciated if you supported this translation on its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead. Thank you.

But still it was like a stone that had dropped into the vast ocean.

On the day of January 20, she was unwilling to give up at even past midnight and carried on refreshing her email inbox until she received a phone call from Jì Nuannuan. Wishing her a happy birthday, Jì Nuannuan then in passing complained that she wanted to go home to the military compound for Lunar New Year, that she wanted to see the fireworks in the square. Jǐ Yi gave two or three absentminded “mm-hmms” in reply, feeling somewhat dispirited and not really wanting to talk.

It was only when they were about to hang up the call that she put on a façade of nonchalance and asked, “Tomorrow is Lunar New Year’s Eve. Did Jì Chengyang call and wish your granddad a happy New Year in advance?”

Telling her to wait, Jì Nuannuan purposely went and, in a roundabout way, asked her mother about this. Then, she came back and informed Jǐ Yi, “I think he said he’s really busy, but he did send an email yesterday to say he’s safe. While he was at it, he sent his New Year’s wishes, too. He’s quite busy and doesn’t have time to reply to emails. He’ll just periodically send an email.”

“Mm-hmm.” Jǐ Yi’s eyes were fixed on her keyboard.

“Are you going home tomorrow? You should be going back on Lunar New Year’s Eve, right?” Jì Nuannuan asked her.

“I guess I’m going back. The eldest granddaughter needs to go back to pay Lunar New Year’s respects and at least stay for one night. I’ll leave again after the New Year’s vigil[1] is done and we’ve eaten the dumplings on Lunar New Year’s Day[2].”

“My mom told me to comfort you. I thought about it for a long time and still didn’t know how I should comfort you, but then later, I remembered something. It’s no big deal, Xixi. In the future, when you and my little uncle get married, you won’t ever have to go back there again. Our family will love and spoil you.”

She laughed.

These words from Nuannuan had been spoken particularly cautiously, for fear that her mother, who was outside her door, would hear.

Though the two of them occasionally did speak about Jì Chengyang, it would be done very carefully. After all, this relationship was a secret that could bring about a huge quake, a secret that only a few people knew about.

<>This is a copy taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support this translation by reading it there instead. Thank you.

Prior to leaving the dormitory on this Lunar New Year’s Eve morning, she, with an unsettled heart, checked her emails again.

She had signed up for this email account specifically for corresponding with Jì Chengyang, so she only needed to open it up and then she would see that chain of automatic replies. The number of emails that he sent back was simply too few, such that she could not even bear to delete the automatic replies.

Hovering over her email inbox was a bright red “1,” which caused her heart to instantly come alive again.

Hastily, she sat down and clicked open that new email that had come in.

Happy New Year. Happy birthday.

Jì Chengyang

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

[1] 守岁“shou sui.” I refer to this as the “New Year’s vigil.” It literally translates as “to guard/stand watch over the year” and basically means to see in the New Year. Traditionally in China, the family gathers to enjoy the blessing and happiness of a family in union, and together, they stand watch over the arrival of the New Year.

[2] 饺子 Jiaozi or dumplings are a traditional food eaten during Lunar New Year’s, particularly in the northern parts of China.

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:
45 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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7 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 18.3

  1. Ohhhh somethings really not right. Hope JCY is really safe. Nuannuan is such a good friend. Again thank you for your hard work and warm wishes to you hoju

  2. JCY is making this even more worrisome
    thank you

  3. Oh poor JY, I would go crazy, if i have to wait for news like this.

  4. Gaah cliffhanger!! And this really doesn’t feel right.. maybe he’s gravely injured or something and don’t want to tell her? 😥 really hope not

    Thanks for the chapter and for translating this wonderful novel 💕

  5. What could be the reason!!

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  6. Very worrisome. Makes me annoyed with our ML as I feel so sorry for JY.

  7. I feel exhausted too upon waiting for his email. Poor our Xixi.

    Thank you so much, Hoju for your hard work on translation 🙂

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