Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 21.2

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They are both stepping so gingerly around one another.

Chapter 21.2 — The One Beyond those Past Dreams (2)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

Jì Chengyang slipped his mobile phone back into his pocket and stepped out from that classroom that was coated in dust.

This primary school simply lay vacant like this, occupying a corner of the military dependents’ area for all these years but all along with no plans of tearing it down or renovating it. Someone had wiped away the names on the blackboard already. Drawn in chalk in their place was a picture that covered the entire wall of blackboard. It was a drawing of Slam Dunk. The reason he recognized it was that when Jǐ Yi was a kid, she had liked to watch this anime.

Half an hour before he received her text message, he had just ended a telephone call in which he had turned down an old friend’s invitation to interview him. The other party seemed to have guessed that he must have met with some very unique experiences in that war, and hence wanted to sort out everything and put together a special news story on it. That person had even proposed that he could help him contact a publishing house, and Jì Chengyang could publish something along the lines of a memoir or autobiography.

Jì Chengyang, though, firmly denied this inference, telling the other party that he had merely dallied away some time while he was abroad and nothing astounding or terribly frightful had occurred.

To the him of this present time, those experiences that would bring pain to the ones close to him were only suited for being buried away and forgotten completely.

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

He pulled the door of the classroom closed. As he heard the click from the lock engaging, he could feel that his eyes were stinging somewhat.

Last year, during those days when he was in another country undergoing a series of psychological and physical treatments, in that period when he still had not known of Jǐ Yi’s whereabouts, every time he saw a young, ethnic Chinese girl, he had always taken a couple extra glances, trying to give his mind more room to visualize things more specifically, to imagine how she had changed.

But in reality, she had not changed at all. He, however, had.

At least healthwise, he had become the type of person who, based on current standards for selecting a spouse, was very unfit for marriage.

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

As train tickets were in high demand and difficult to get, Jǐ Yi’s return date was pushed back again and again. Her entire Spring Festival of 2008 was spent in Anhui.

He Feifei did not head south and go home like their supervisor had predicted, and rather, she returned to Beijing together with Jǐ Yi on the fifth day of the new lunar year. On the trip back, the two conversed about their work plans for after the New Year. He Feifei very merrily told her, “Once we’re back after the Spring Festival, you should go apply for the EEP [Exit-Entry Permit] for Hong Kong and Macau as soon as possible. I’ll take you to Hong Kong.”

Jǐ Yi was taken aback. “I’ll pass on going to Hong Kong.”

“Why? It’s a work-related trip. Plane tickets and hotel will all be expensed. You can just eat together with me, and when the time comes, I’ll fill in the expense account and submit it.” He Feifei found her refusal inconceivable. “Aside from needing to pay when you want to buy something yourself, you won’t need to worry about anything.”

“Getting the permit is such a hassle.” She found an excuse that really was not a great excuse.

“It’s not a hassle.” He Feifei laughed. “What are you going to do, then, when you need to go out of country? Isn’t getting a passport and visa even more of a hassle?”

“Then I just won’t leave the country.”

Jǐ Yi brought her head down and took a bite of the bun in her hand.

He Feifei was astonished. It was very uncommon to see someone who disliked going on a trip for business purposes, and especially since university students nowadays were all fond of going abroad for travel, people like Jǐ Yi were even more rare to see. She merely supposed that Jǐ Yi was being lazy and did not want to go to the trouble, and hence she continued trying to persuade her, saying “Don’t be scared of the hassle. You’re soon going to be officially working. A passport and the Hong Kong-Macau EEP are a must, or else what are you going to do if you’re sent out last minute?”

Jǐ Yi gave a vague response and skirted around this.

This was her most awkward problem. Her passport had been applied for very early on and had already expired. It was the same situation for her Hong Kong-Macau EEP. However, to renew these would require her to return to Grandfather’s home to get the hukou booklet. She was even beginning to worry over what she would do after her resident identity card expired. These things that to ordinary people were very simple matters were to her a huge problem.

Inside the train car, there was still a thick celebratory atmosphere of the Lunar New Year.

Everyone was talking about how the fifth day of the new lunar year is for welcoming the God of Wealth. Were it not for the fact that they were on a train, right now, there should be the exploding sounds of firecrackers shaking the sky, and all around, people would be inviting in the God of Wealth. He Feifei’s hometown did not have such a custom, and entertained by what she was hearing, she asked Jǐ Yi whether it truly was like this. Jǐ Yi shook her head, bewildered as well. When she was a child, every year in the military compound on the night of Lunar New Year’s Eve, there would be a fireworks display that stretched over the entire square, but as for the fifth day of the new lunar year, she had absolutely no recollection of anything. Even Zhao Xiaoying’s mother, who liked very much to talk about such things, had never mentioned anything.

Zhao Xiaoying… Jì Nuannuan…

It was as if, with Jì Chengyang’s return, the dust-covered seal that had shut away all the memories of the past had now been forcibly stripped off.

<>It would be greatly appreciated if you would read this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead. Thank you.

Along the way, the train was forced to stop several times, so by the time the two arrived at Beijing Railway Station, it was already deep into the night hours of the sixth day of the new lunar year, past three o’clock in the morning.

The seventh day of the new lunar year was the day normal work operations would resume at the newspaper agency. After evaluating the distance in her mind, Jǐ Yi felt that even if she rushed back to her school, she would not be able to sleep for very long before she would have to drag herself back up and hurry to the newspaper office, so instead, she simply towed her suitcase with her and went directly to the office building of the newspaper agency. There was one time previously when, because she had had to work overtime, she had also slept in the office, and therefore this time she was very familiar with it. While she was at it, she pulled out the unopened, one-time-use toothbrush and toothpaste that she had brought back from the hotel and used it.

When she had finished washing up, lain down on the couch, and covered herself with her down jacket, she suddenly remembered one thing.

This afternoon, Jì Chengyang had sent her a text message, asking her whether she was safely back in Beijing yet. She had not replied.

Now, in this exceptionally quiet staff lounge, she all of a sudden felt guilty.

Maybe he had been waiting for a message from her the whole time, until it was really late. But would it be too late if she replied now? She struggled over this for a while, but in the end still wrote a very brief message to him, telling him she had arrived.

Unexpectedly, here in the deep hours of the night, her phone’s ringtone began echoing out.

Abruptly sitting up from the couch, she stared at her mobile phone as her heart started hammering furiously. Countless questions were causing her to feel extremely anxious: What was he going to say? Should she answer it? What should she say if she did answer it? Amid the “reject call” thought that flashed across her mind, she, as if guided by a supernatural force, chose to answer the call.

“Hello?”

“Xixi, it’s me, Jì Chengyang.”

“I know,” she answered. “I know this is your number.”

Jì Chengyang was silent for a moment.

Leaning back into the couch, Jǐ Yi nervously waited for the content that would come after this short pause.

“Did everything go smoothly?” He asked this most common of questions.

Jǐ Yi gave an affirmative answer, but then, afraid that too brief a reply would make the two of them feel even more awkward, she could only continue along this topic and keep talking. “It was just that transportation wasn’t really convenient. A lot of roads were closed and the train also stopped several times along the way, so that’s why it was so late by the time we got back to Beijing.”

On the other end of the call, it was quiet.

And so she carried on rambling away with no real central point to her words. “This time’s snow disaster truly is very severe. When I got there, the snow had long stopped, but there was still really thick ice. Lots of people were working overtime to remove ice from high-voltage cables. One of my colleagues, who’s in Changsha doing news gathering, said that there were even a few power company workers who fell from up high because they were doing ice removal. Attempts to revive them failed and they ended up dying…”

All the content of what she was saying could be found in news reports.

But aside from these, she could not find any topic that she could talk to him about. Right now in this moment, it was as if the circumstances that had once existed in the past were abruptly reversed. When she was young, she was the one who had held the phone in a panic-stricken state and pressed him about whether or not he was safe, and then she would listen to him tell her about some current affairs. Now, she was the one telling him these things. Except, they did not sound that frightful or astonishing.

“It’s just good that you’re back safe and sound.” Finally, when she was without any more words to say, Jì Chengyang spoke up.

“Why… are you still awake so late?” she asked.

“I was waiting for your reply,” he stated. “Was worried that something might have happened to you.”

Jǐ Yi immediately made up an excuse. “The whole time, I forgot to look at my phone. I didn’t see until I got to the office…”

“You’re at the office right now? You didn’t go back to your school?” He immediately latched on to the important point.

“I need to work tomorrow. The time’s too late now for me to go back to my school, so I just came to the office to sleep for a bit.” As she spoke, her eyes were gazing completely unfocusedly at the corner of the wall, as if he was right in front of her and she dared not look directly at him.

“Is it safe for you to be alone in the office?”

“Mm-hmm. The security in this building is really good, and the newspaper has a dedicated staff lounge to rest in. Sometimes my co-workers will work overtime and into the night, and they’ll come here to catch a few winks.”

“I remember you were afraid of the dark when you were a kid. Are you scared right now, being all alone?”

She answered, “I’m used to it already. Every winter and summer break, I sleep alone in the dorm.”

At four o’clock in the morning on the sixth day of the new lunar year, the two were speaking about such superficial things, with no central point to their conversation and only aimless talking. And throughout the entire back-and-forth dialogue, there existed a slight atmosphere that made people feel awkward.

Eventually, Jì Chengyang told her, “Go sleep now.”

Jǐ Yi was surprised, not expecting the conversation to be so simple. It was as if they had returned to that period when the relationship between them had not yet begun and he was calling from the United States, asking her merely about how things were for her lately, that’s all.

“Okay. Good night.” She could not put words to what she was feeling as she quietly answered him.

Right as her mobile phone left her ear and she was about to hang up, Jì Chengyang’s voice suddenly called her again. “Xixi?”

She hurriedly brought the phone back up once more. “Is there anything else?”

“Do you have any plans for the day of the Lantern Festival[1]?”

How could she have any plans? That was a day when family members got together.

She was somewhat dejected. “No.”

“I’ll go to your school to pick you up. We’ll have dinner together.”

On the Lantern Festival?

While Jǐ Yi was still thinking about this particular date, Jì Chengyang was already asking again, “Is that okay?”

Pulling her thoughts back, she gently replied, “Okay.”

“Sleep now. Good night.”

“Good night.”

When they hung up this call, it was nearly five in the morning.

Hugging her down jacket, Jǐ Yi sat on the couch and continued staring vacantly. A long while passed before her mind abruptly started back to awareness, and she quickly opened up the calendar on her mobile phone to check dates.

The Lantern Festival. The fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar year. Thursday, February 21, 2008.

Another nine days.

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

On the afternoon of the fifteenth day of the new lunar year, Jì Chengyang made a trip back to the television station and, in the office, met with his former boss. His former boss hoped that he would take the role of associate news director of the news centre and be in charge of the Overseas Programs Department. He did not immediately provide a response. His former boss smiled. “What, you still want to always be heading out and about somewhere?”

Jì Chengyang gave a somewhat wry smile. “My physical condition no longer allows me to be running around everywhere anymore. If I insist on doing it, I’ll just become a hindrance on the work.”

“Then think it over.” The other party patted him on the shoulder. “Stay in Beijing, have a stable job, and then get married. That would also give peace of mind to the elders of your family.”

When the discussion came to a close and he stepped out of that office, he happened to run into some colleagues who had just finished having lunch. Seeing him making an appearance here, everyone came over and surrounded him. They were all enthusiastically catching up with him, until Liu Wanxia appeared. Immediately, everyone very wisely and thoughtfully dispersed. This intellectual and beautiful female newscaster had passed the big three-oh but was still single. Who knew whether it was because her standards were set too high or because she still had a thing for Jì Chengyang.

In any case, based on what they had always done in the past, playing matchmaker for these two was nearly a habit for all of them.

“How did it go? Did you accept it?” Liu Wanxia’s manner was gracious and natural as before, and she very directly asked him what his inclination was towards this position.

“I’m still thinking on it.” Jì Chengyang’s reply was concise.

“The last time we saw each other, it was too rushed, and I didn’t get a chance to ask you. I heard you got married when you were out of the country? Need me to give you a make-up red packet[2] [cash gift]?” After Liu Wanxia said these words, she quickly added, “I by chance bumped into some people from your family and heard about it from them.” After all, they had once been high school schoolmates and also colleagues of many years, so there was bound to be some intersection of their lives.

Unlike those teasing and heckling co-workers from earlier, who did not know about Jì Chengyang’s situation.

Jì Chengyang was long accustomed to handling this lie of his. Shaking his head, he told her, “No need. I’ve already gotten a divorce.”

Liu Wanxia did not hide her surprise at all as she stared at him.

This star newscaster and host was struck dumb for a moment.

Not wanting to dwell on this topic, Jì Chengyang made up an excuse and left, though he did not know what he could do prior to five o’clock, the time when he would pick up Jǐ Yi.

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

From noon onwards, Jǐ Yi was by herself in the dormitory room and, like a headless fly, also at a loss over what she could do. This entire winter break, her dormitory room, which she had been staying alone in, had seemed extremely cold and cheerless, and even the whole dormitory building only had a few people in it. The quieter it was, the tenser she became. And so, she could only pull up all her work emails from her inbox to see whether there was still any work left that she had not finished yet.

Her mouse arrow finally came to a stop over several emails that all had the same subject line.

They were the photographs taken from that university speaker series tour.

It had still been prior to the Lunar New Year celebration period when she received this set of photographs. She could still clearly remember which emails contained the photographs from the final day and, of those, which ones had captured Jì Chengyang’s silhouette in them.

While she was recollecting, the compressed file had already finished downloading.

Opening it, she went according to memory and clicked open one photograph. It was a front-view shot of all the guest speakers sitting on stage. Jì Chengyang was in the seat on the far end, and his cap had been removed and set on his right leg. The photograph was taken from a distance, so his facial features were indistinct, but even the mere contours of his face left her unable to shift her gaze away. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she sat in her chair with her legs curled up against her, staring quietly at the him inside the photograph.

So, what was the reason for this dinner tonight?

With each minute that she drew nearer to it, she would become even more nervous.

It was not until Jì Chengyang called to tell her that he was almost there that she abruptly snapped awake and realized that she had not even changed yet. Hence, her originally more-than-ample preparation time had been wasted away by her. In the end, she could only, in a panic, pull out from her wardrobe the garments that she was most, most accustomed to wearing and slip them on before dashing over to the mirror beside the sink and swiftly combing her hair.

Tie it up? Or not tie it up?

Clutching her black hair, which could not be considered long, in one hand, she flusteredly looked at herself in the mirror.

Before, did he like it when she tied it up… or did he like it when it fell down onto her shoulders?

It seemed that he had never said.

……

Suddenly, her hand paused. Thoughts that she was fearful of began to form.

If he had come looking for her without any thoughts at all of getting back together again and only wanting to apologize, or only wanting to make reparation for some of the hurt that he had inflicted back then, what should she do? Or maybe, he had never married but he did already have a new girlfriend; then what should she do? One by one, these conjectures popped up, and every one seemed reasonable and logical, since, after all, so many years had passed.

He was already a thirty-one-year-old man.

Her heart, which only a moment ago had been jumping excitedly, slowly sank. She dared not ponder on this anymore, and hurriedly combing out her hair, she left her dormitory.

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

Jì Chengyang had a new car. She did not recognize it, so only when he stepped out from the driver’s seat did she belatedly discover that he had already arrived. The two got into the car and soon left the school grounds. When the road in front of her became more and more familiar, she finally clued in, and slowly, she took a glance at him. “We’re heading to the Second Ring Road?”

Turning the steering wheel, Jì Chengyang followed the cars up ahead and switched into the turning lane. “We’re going home.”

The familiar street, the familiar community compound, and even that underground parking garage that could not be more familiar.

When Jǐ Yi had followed him all the way until she had stepped out of the elevator and was staring at that front door that was before her, her footsteps, just like that, came to a halt. Standing in front of her, Jì Chengyang stabbed the silver key in his hand into the keyhole, opened the lock, and pushed open the door. Jǐ Yi’s feet, though, still remained in their place, not moving forward.

It was only after Jì Chengyang had bent at the waist and from the cabinet taken out a pair of slippers for her that she finally walked over, squatted down, and slowly untied the shoelaces of her sneakers. With her head bowed, she remained crouched over like this, as if she would never finish changing shoes and be able to step inside.

Jì Chengyang at last detected her peculiar behavior. Reaching out his hand, he lifted her up from under her arms so that she stood back up.

“Xixi?”

Her head lifted. Her eyes were already frightfully red.

“Xixi.” Jì Chengyang called her name. His voice low, he very slowly said, “I’m sorry.”

It seemed, apart from saying sorry, there was no other language or words that he could speak right now. Though she had not cried, nor had she said anything, he remembered what this place had looked like the first time he stepped back into this home after returning to the country, how she had draped bedsheets nicely over everything in the living room and bedroom, and a layer of dust had blanketed it all.

And that key that should have belonged to her had been set on the shoe cabinet, a thick layer of dust also covering it.

<>Please read this translation at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, instead. Your support there would be greatly appreciated.

Although that had been the first relationship for both of them, he, after all, had already been a twenty-seven, twenty-eight-year-old, mature adult man when he lost her. But how had she, merely a teenager back then, managed, after losing that relationship and losing her love, to first properly take care of everything in this home before leaving behind the key and departing from this place?

He once had been unable to imagine this. And now, even more so, he dared not imagine 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] 元宵节. Yuan Xiao Festival, or the Lantern Festival, takes place on the 15th day of the first month in the lunar year, and marks the end of the Spring Festival with the first full moon of the year. Traditionally, lanterns are lit and hung as decoration or carried around during the night.

[2] 红包 “hong bao.” The “red packets” or “red envelopes” refer to monetary gifts put in a red envelope.

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:
53 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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9 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 21.2

  1. Thanks..Hoju

    Can’t wait for them to reconcile.. They still love each other, waiting for
    Sweet moment chenyang /Jiyi 😀

  2. Omg everything is coming back to her 😢

  3. Just the thought of Ji Yi going through heart break at that age has me in tears. I hope JCY can truly make up for hurting her so badly. 😭

  4. These two…so heart wrenching 😭. I hope MBFB will reveal the details of what both went through for the past 4 years.
    Thanks Hoju.

  5. guess a hukou blooklet must have been hard to keep herself that she needs to return back to her grandparents and it must have been awkward to retrieve it after not being in contact for many years
    thank you

  6. So heart wrenching and warming at the same time. MBFB, thank you for taking us gently through their emotions.

  7. So heart breaking 😧😢

    Thank you so much for the update.

  8. The last part was so touching. Looking forward to how this dinner goes. With 15 more chapters, I feel reconciliation will take its slow sweet journey.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  9. Thanks so much, hoju😍
    And can you tell me the paperbook of this book is in simplified chinese or not, please?? I want to buy the book after your translation to improve my chinese……btw, out of all translations i read, yours is my all time favourite.

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