Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 19.1

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Sorrow permeates this entire update. I’ll just let the story speak for itself. 😦

Chapter 19.1 — The Two Opposite Ends of Life (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 2002, all kinds of unavoidable man-made calamities had occurred, while in 2003, everywhere all over the world, there had been natural disasters or tragedies of war. However, 2004 was the year she was most unwilling to call up in her memory.

That year, she would always think of that foreign film that she had secretly watched twice because of Jì Chengyang.

What she would recall over and over was only that scene from the beginning of the movie, that conversation between Matilda and Leon.

Matilda asked Leon, “Is life always this hard, or is it when you’re a kid?”

Leon very calmly replied, “Always like this.”

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

When Jǐ Yi received a call from an old classmate of her former advanced science stream class in Fuzhong High School, inviting her to go to a class gathering, her heart, which had already been downcast because of Jì Chengyang’s short email, plunged straight to the bottom of the gorge. She did not really believe the content of that telephone conversation.

Their class prefect, Xu Qing, had been found to have lung cancer, and it was already in advanced stage. That male classmate informed her over the telephone of the gathering time and told her that everyone was going together to visit Class Prefect. Then in passing, he asked her, “Are you able to get ahold of Jì Nuannuan?” Jǐ Yi told him that Jì Nuannuan was in the United Kingdom and it would be difficult for her to come back. That old classmate sighed and then hung up the phone.

This was her first time facing sudden grievous news about a close friend.

Jǐ Yi thought for a long time but was still unable to come up with how she would tell Jì Nuannuan. After all, he was her first love. Even if the love no longer was present, he was still a very good friend. That person who encompassed the most beautiful memories of her youth had now stepped into the final stage of his life. Jǐ Yi was worried that Jì Nuannuan would not be able to bear this, so for the time being, she did not tell her.

The arranged date for everyone to go visit Class Prefect was moved several times, until finally the arrangements very coincidentally settled on February 14, Valentine’s Day.

That day, a thick Valentine’s atmosphere pervaded everywhere, but those twenty and more classmates who were gathered together were all very quiet. Seeing that everyone was so despondent, one of the classmates had arbitrarily bought a bag of sweets and shared it amongst the group. The piece tossed to Jǐ Yi was a liquor-filled chocolate. The organizer of this gathering took out a 100 kuai bill and set it on the table. Without any prompting, everyone else also pulled out his or her wallet, and they were able to pool together a stack of money. And then, after taking two buses, they arrived at Class Prefect’s house.

This was her first time coming to Class Prefect’s home. Even back in that year when he and Nuannuan were dating underage, Nuannuan had not come here. Everyone knew that his home was in a little village on the northern outskirts of Beijing. When they arrived, they saw that it truly was a village.

<>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 winter. The whole earth was bare. Everywhere was cloaked in a hazy gray colour.

When Class Prefect’s older sister welcomed everyone into the house, she was still trying to put on a happy, smiling front. As this was still the Lunar New Year period, there were still jujubes, peanuts, and other similar items in the home[1], and she brought them all out and set them on the table. Jǐ Yi did not really dare to walk inside first and waited until nearly everyone had stepped through the doorway before she slowly entered that large house.

Houses in villages all tend to be very large, and even with more than twenty people in it, some standing, some sitting, the room still felt spacious.

In that moment that she stepped inside, Class Prefect happened to be rising to his feet, a brilliantly sunny smile still on his face, just as before. “Seriously, how come all of you came? So, how have you all been? You should have done quite well on your exams, right?” Class Prefect had already been a very proper and serious person during their student days together. Now, after being in military academy for so long, the way he spoke was even all the more straightforward and upright. Those male classmates were all very obliging and went along with it, chatting away with him.

What did they talk about? Everything under the moon. This was especially so for those people who had gone to other provinces to study. They so very wished that they could talk nonstop, and they purposely chose amusing or interesting things to speak about.

With a smile on his face, Class Prefect listened to all of it. Apart from his somewhat pale complexion, you could not tell at all that he was someone with advanced cancer.

In the end, many girls were unable to hold back their tears, and lifting up the cloth curtain, they went out to the yard.

They could not bear it. They honestly could not bear it.

Many memories assaulted them.

That male classmate who had organized everyone to come here pulled out the money that everybody had pooled together, wanting to give it to Class Prefect. Class Prefect abruptly jumped to his feet and turned it down. “I can’t take this. I haven’t spent any money with this sickness. The military academy is paying for everything. I can expense all of it. I honestly don’t need the money from you guys.” He was refusing to take it, and his older sister was also helping him to refuse it.

Eventually, that male classmate grew agitated and slapped the money into Class Prefect’s palm. “We’re giving it to you, so take it.”

Jǐ Yi’s eyes began to sting, and quietly, she turned away to the side.

After a while, she forced her tears back. Everyone was bidding their farewells, some shaking hands with him, some saying their goodbyes. She waited until almost everybody had stepped outside before finally walking over to him, her hands in her pocket. She felt a little anxious.

It was that type of anxiety that comes with what seems like a final farewell.

Clenched in her hand was that chocolate that someone had handed to her before they came here, as a way of passing the time. Somehow, she pulled it out and placed it in Xu Qing’s palm. “Today is Valentine’s Day.” She lifted her head. Tears quivered in her eyes, and the view before her was a blur. “I just happen to have a piece of chocolate. Since no one gave you any, I’ll make up for it.”

Looking down, Class Prefect stared at that chocolate and smiled. “Thanks, eh, Xixi.”

Owing to sickness and having lost weight, the dimples on his face were not as obvious, but they could still faintly be seen.

Jǐ Yi felt that even her voice as she spoke trembled slightly, so she simply went over and embraced him. “Take care and recuperate. I’ll come next time to see you.”

She could feel him returning her hug, and solemnly, he also answered, “Okay.”

With a blink of her eyes, her tears spilled down.

He was the most upright person of their student days, the one who strove most to become better. Jǐ Yi could still remember her first impression of him when she was in her first year of high school, how his posture had been meticulous and perfect as he stood to attention during first-year military training; how, when he was dating Nuannuan, he had been so ridiculously pure and innocent that on that morning after their first kiss, he had even deliberately bought a gift for Nuannuan to commemorate that day. She also remembered, Nuannuan was not only his first love, she was also the one and only girlfriend he had ever had…

She could also remember, during last time’s gathering, Class Prefect had even urged people not to smoke.

But yet, he was the one who got lung cancer. Why was it suddenly already in advanced stage?

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

Jǐ Yi hastily bowed her head, fighting with all her might to hold her tears back. Using a laughing tone, she said to him, “Going now.”

After saying this, she dared not lift her head again, and spinning around, she hurriedly left.

<>This is a copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support the translation by reading it on that site instead. Thank you.

That day when she got back, Jǐ Yi wept in her dormitory for a long time. She had always thought that good people will be rewarded with good, but yet, the person in her life who was most kindhearted, was most willing to help others, and most believed in the beauty of life was given such an ending. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. Sprawling her upper body on the table, she wrote a long letter to Jì Chengyang in which she threw out her misgivings and questions.

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

Today, I went to visit an old classmate. He is, aside from you, the most upright boy I have ever met. He was the one who organized that class gathering last year. Last year, he even encouraged lots of people not to smoke, that it’s not good for the health. But soon, it was found out that he has advanced-stage lung cancer himself. How could he, someone who doesn’t smoke and has such a healthy lifestyle, get lung cancer?

Back then, his grades were actually really good, but to help his family save money, he went to military academy. I still remember, when I was signing his classbook, I even gave him my well wishes, that after he graduated, he could get the opportunity to go to Peking U to take graduate studies and then just rise up higher and higher in his journey of life.

I don’t know what exactly it is I’m trying to say. I just feel really sad. Why does such a good person have to reach the end of his life’s journey already? Why can’t Heaven be a little more fair and let the bad people have short lives and the good people all have long lives?

You know, when I saw him, he was still very positive, like he’s going to be completely healed really soon…

Where are you now? Why are you sending emails to everyone to let them know you’re safe and only not replying to me?

Do you not love me anymore? Or is there something I do or did that isn’t good?

I’ve sent you too many emails and that’s annoying to you? No matter what, could you please reply to me?

Love you,
Xixi

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

In front of that empty inbox that contained nothing but a string of automatic email replies, she suddenly felt that Jì Chengyang, too, was so very far from her.

So far that there was about to be no more connection between them.

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

Concealed for a long time deep in the bottom of her heart was a fear, a fear that something truly had happened to him. Her heart still was not at ease after calling Nuannuan, and she even, for the first time, of her own initiative, went to disturb his friends.

None of Jì Chengyang’s friends knew about their relationship, other than that female newscaster. Therefore, when Jǐ Yi got in touch with Wang Haoran, she used a nonchalant tone and conversed casually with him for a long while before, at the end, tossing out the sentence:

What’s Little Uncle Jì been busy with lately?

Wang Haoran’s reply was:

Jì Chengyang? Iraq. He even emailed me just a few days ago, saying that he wasn’t planning on coming back to China and telling me to help take care of you and his niece. When I’m back, I’ll come find you to have dinner together and tell you in more detail then.

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

She read through Wang Haoran’s text message three times to make sure she had not read wrong.

He was not planning on coming back to China?

Why did he suddenly have such a notion? Why had he never told her about it before? Then what about the future? What was she to do from now on?

In an instant, Jǐ Yi felt as if the sky was collapsing down on her. The first time that she felt this had been in the hospital, when she saw Jì Chengyang’s eyes bound with gauze. This feeling was especially terrifying, like suddenly being swept away into the deep ocean by a giant wave that had come crashing at her, completely suffocating and unable to move as her body plummeted weightlessly.

She dared not believe this. She sent back another question.

He said he’s not coming back to China anymore?

Wang Haoran replied to her:

That’s what he says.

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

Jǐ Yi did not ask further. She did not believe it.

Although in her emails to Jì Chengyang she would ask him whether he felt that she was too much like a little girl in her feelings and moods and that annoyed him, she still did not believe that Jì Chengyang was someone who would give her no explanation and closure. Since childhood, he was her ideal and aspiration, the example and goal she had all along been fighting to achieve, and the type of person that she wanted to become.

In the second semester of second-year university, her days became increasingly simple, consisting of only studying, emailing Jì Chengyang, and also still continually confirming over the phone with Nuannuan that Jì Chengyang was still safe. She was growing more and more fearful and uneasy, secretly conjecturing whether something terrible might have already happened to Jì Chengyang and those emails that supposedly reported that he was safe were merely an ongoing set-up of automatic emails sent to ease people’s hearts and minds.

Nuannuan laughed at her when she heard her say this. “I’m telling you, my little uncle was like this even before he was dating you. There would often be no news from him for half a year at a time, and when we did hear from him, it would just be a simple, short email to my dad. Four words only: ‘Safe. Do not worry.’ My family’s long used to this… And anyway, didn’t you hear from that Wang Haoran, too, that he’s okay? Xixi, don’t panic. Things are fine. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow, he’s going to appear in front of you and get down on one knee and propose.”

Jǐ Yi stared at the exchange student application form in front of her, her mind unsettled.

“Oh, but I think tomorrow won’t work. You still aren’t at the legal age for marriage yet[2],” Nuannuan continued laughing.

<>This copy was taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. It would be greatly appreciated if you would read it from there instead. Thank you.

By the time she had packed all of her bags in preparation for going to the University of Hong Kong to study for one year as an exchange student, it was already midsummer. Jì Chengyang had left the country for fourteen, fifteen months already. When she specially made a trip back home to say goodbye, it happened to be her little cousin-sister’s birthday celebration.

Handing her a slice of cake, Third Aunt offhandedly asked her whether she was planning on staying the night. Beside them, her little cousin-sister asked Third Aunt in her still baby-like voice, “Is this big sister going to stay in our house?”

Third Aunt had a somewhat embarrassed expression as she looked down and replied, “This is your actual big sister, by blood. This is also her home.”

The little girl did not often see Jǐ Yi, but she did frequently get to see those other big sisters and big brothers who were her older maternal cousins. “It’s Big Sister Wen Wen who’s my actual big sister.”

Jǐ Yi also felt awkward, and hurriedly, she finished her cake. When she went to the study to say goodbye to Grandfather, the elderly man merely gave a sound of “mm” and then did not look at her again.

As she walked out the door, there was a dull ache in her chest, and many memories that she had been especially unwilling to recall now rose in her mind. Back when it was time to apply to universities and fill in post-secondary aspirations, she had only applied to one major in one university. Even her teacher had been shocked at this and had asked her whether she had discussed this with her family. The answer she gave had been a vague, brush-over one, for she could not say that, actually, from the very beginning, no one had asked her about her post-secondary education aspirations after college entrance exams.

It was only after she held her university acceptance letter in her hand that her family learned of where she had applied.

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

Stepping out of the entrance stairwell of the building, she stared at that chalky-gray concrete road being baked in the midsummer sun. For a moment, she was at at a loss for where she should go. Behind her, someone jumped down several stairsteps and then gave her a pat on the shoulder. “Xixi.”

She looked back. When she saw Zhao Xiaoying, this person whom she had not seen for two years, her mind was somewhat unable to process this.

“It’s not often that I come back from Nanjing. What kind of coincidence is this that I bumped into you here?” Zhao Xiaoying was especially happy and slipped her arm through Jǐ Yi’s. “Let’s go to my place. My mom’s out of the house for the entire day today and won’t be back until tomorrow. I’ll make some tasty stuff for you to eat.”

She had nowhere to go anyway, so she followed along and went to Zhao Xiaoying’s home.

It still looked the same as in her childhood memories. The award certificates and paintings and drawings were still taped in the same places as before. Because they had been stuck there for too long, the edges and corners of the papers were somewhat yellowed. After grabbing a large mixing bowl, Zhao Xiaoying put her muscle into kneading some dough, all the while adding water to it, and laboured away over and over like this.

“I didn’t even put this much effort in when my mom wanted to have dumplings wrapped in dough that I kneaded. Let me tell you, my dough-kneading skills are particularly good. I’ll knead this a bit longer for you. When you eat it, you’ll find it’s even tastier—”

Jǐ Yi moved a wooden stool over and sat down in front of Zhao Xiaoying. As she watched her incessantly toiling away to push and massage that large, moist heap of dough, she all of a sudden felt as if she had returned to those days of her childhood. Back then, she was still an especially good girl whose thinking was also especially simple and pure. The she of that time loved Grandfather, loved Grandmother, loved Dad, and loved Mama, and she had Jì Nuannuan and Zhao Xiaoying by her side. Behind the building that she lived in was her primary school, ten paces to the left of her primary school was her nursery school, and on the other side of the primary school was her middle school.

Back then, she knew nothing about the world outside the walls of the military compound. She knew only that there was a Children’s Palace, and near the Children’s Palace, there was a Zheng Yuanjie specialty store.

……

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

That night, she ate a big plate of Zhao Xiaoying’s self-promoted, self-boasted fennel-filling dumplings. Afterwards, when she was back at her school, she received a call from Wang Haoran. Wang Haoran told her that he was about to finish up a symphony tour and would be back in the country soon. He asked Jǐ Yi where she would like to go eat. Ever since Jì Chengyang entrusted him with the task of taking care of Jǐ Yi, he had begun to fulfill this responsibility and would frequently contact Jǐ Yi, asking her how things were in her studies and life… Jǐ Yi did not really care about stuff like this and replied that she was good with eating anywhere.

Opening up her email, Jǐ Yi continued on with her routine practice of writing an email to Jì Chengyang.

When she was halfway through her writing, a new email unexpectedly came into her inbox.

Abruptly, she halted. As she stared at her inbox, she suddenly wanted to cry. But still, she forcefully suppressed her tears. This should be an especially happy thing. Jǐ Yi, don’t cry, don’t cry. He’s finally emailing you back. But what if it’s spam or an email ad? …

With nervousness flooding her heart, she opened up her inbox.

It was a letter from him.

 

Xixi,

A lot of things have happened over this period. I don’t know even where to start, so really, there is no need to say anything in detail.

I’ve begun to reevaulate this relationship between us. Even though it’s really hard to say it, I think we should give each other some space and time to begin adjusting to a life that does not have the other person.

I plan on staying here for the long term and not going back to China. I hope your life can continue moving forward.

 

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] During the Lunar New Year period, certain foods that have names homophonic with particular well wishes or blessings are laid out, symbolic of bringing in the blessing for the next year. Jujubes (Chinese dates) represent prosperity and fertility. Peanuts are symbolic of birth and multiplication of wealth, health, longevity, etc.

[2] In China, the legal age for marriage is 20 for women and 22 for men. Jǐ Yi is currently 18.

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:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is one of my favourite quotes. Not everyone can live a grand life of saving the world, but if you have been useful, honourable, and compassionate, have made a difference somewhere to someone, then you have lived well. I’m sure you can probably guess that I shed a lot of tears translating this chapter, perhaps because it really hit home. Class Prefect Xu Qing’s life was short, but he lived well. I’ve seen and even had “Xu Qings” in my own life whom I have had to say goodbye to, and it is without an ounce of doubt that I say that their positive impact will forever live on.

 

Completed:
46 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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15 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 19.1

  1. Really sorrowful chapter. Such a heavy feeling after reading this chapter. Feeling sad for Class Prefect, JY and JCY too. He must have encountered a great blow to write such an email.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  2. WHAT!! WHELP MY HEART JUST BROKE. And so did Ji Yi. Now, she can’t really move on, because the closure was…. No enough. Not explained!! It wasn’t like they were in a friends-with-benefits situation where they both agreed to have an ending whenever the other had something to do in their life. BUT IN A LEGIT RELATIONSHIP!! I guess I’ll give him credit for distancing himself… literally.
    Many thanks

  3. perhaps this separation may be good for JY in figuring out herself rather than molding into a female JCY but so absurdly…
    thank you

  4. Gosh, my heart aches for her

  5. Damm you JCY..! you better have a very good reason for this, otherwise you just commited one of the worst ways of break up ever… First being away for 15 months, barely getting in touch, then ending it via an email?!! After everything, and knowing how important you are to Ji Yi (and basically her only family)! Seriously… Really hope there’s more to this, otherwise its really heartless. The impact this will have on Ji Yi, if you were gonna do this for your dreams you should have considered before getting into an realationship with her, and even talking about marriage…

    Anyway, Hoju thanks for the chapter and wonderful translation as always! 💕

  6. (Still considering if he might be injured..? 🤔)

  7. Omg this is really a heart breaking chapter 😢all my emotions are all over the place at the moment I rally think that something really happened to him that’s why he’s telling her that they need there space this is not something that he would do with out thinking I feel really sad for her classmate I was really hoping that he will by with Her best friend 😢😢😢 I’m still crying and I’m sorry if I post too much but this is how I feel at the moment if you see this comment 2 times I’m sorry 😐 I was reading on my car and the internet is slow

  8. Anticlimax! My heart breaks with his email. JCY come back fast and explain yourself in person. A break up mail is the cruellest act one can inflict on another. My poor girl, JY! *clutching heart*

  9. *breathes* hoju only does HE hoju only does HE……
    gotta keep reminding myself else i’ll start panicking.

  10. Feeling so disgusted with JC and feeling very sorry for JY. What a super sad chapter. I hope JY will be strong enough to handle her pain. I do wonder what is the cause for JC’s decision to break up with JY.

  11. So much respect for the translator. You were able to capture with your words the emotion that befits the scenario, as if i was reading the original text. Thank you so much.

  12. Iam crying… So much sadness and grief in this chapter, oh dear u made u feel the sorrow and the feeling of each character thank u so much,… The last paragraph just broke my heart….

  13. This is sooooo heart breaking…. What exactly is happening? The email from him broke my heart….

    Thank you Hoju for this read

  14. I recently started reading this book and this is the chapter where I really wanted to leave a comment. I cried a lot while reading this chapter.
    This book has left a strong impression on me. The characters and events in this book are so natural and relatable ( to people across the world) that it has stirred quiet a bit of my memory while growing up.

    Thank you so much for the translation. 🙂

    • I have the same feeling. We may have completely different backgrounds, but commonalities exist between all people. Loss of friends, loved ones, and the impact they had on our lives… we can all relate to these. I recently lost a friend, am amazing, impactful person, and this chapter resonated even deeper with me.

      Thank you for reading!

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