Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 23.2

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“He had never thought of deceiving her or concealing anything from her. He had only wanted to find an appropriate time to say it.” Xixi gets to see some of the results of his years in Iraq. Just from the brief description, we can imagine the horror; yet, at the same time, we know our imaginations can’t fathom the true horror…

Chapter 23.2 — Time’s Length (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.

 

… She did not know, either. She was simply accustomed to standing in a fixed place and waiting for him.

Jì Chengyang pushed open the door. He had a habit of turning off the light, even if he was only leaving for a very short period of time.

“You were scared of the dark and couldn’t find the light switch?” he asked offhandedly as he felt around for the location of the switch.

She muttered, “No. I already told you, I’m not that scared of the dark. It’s not like when I was little…”

With a click, the hospital room was illuminated.

The corners of Jì Chengyang’s eyes had a slight upward turn. “In my eyes, you’ve always been really little.”

“I’m several months past twenty-two years old already.”

“Oh? Is that the case?” He gave her nose a light twist. “I’m thirty-one already.”

Books and an open laptop had been tossed on the table, and he tidied them up in passing. Following beside him, she pulled out the food from the plastic bag. Jì Chengyang took them from her and one by one set them out on the table while she stood uselessly on the side and watched him work away.

It was similar to the scenes from the past, when she had been temporarily staying in his home. He had never allowed her to get involved in the housework then, either, and each time, he would shoo her away. “It’s not like there is a lot to do. There’s no need for two people to do it.” Although his cooking could not be considered extremely tasty, the laundry was done by completely relying on the help of the washing machine, the way the bedrooms were tidied was only so-so, and only the study and library room were kept in careful order, all these things he would do himself and would not turn them over to her to do.

He would concern himself with her studies, her grades, and her physical and mental health. To a certain extent, the Jì Chengyang of the past had been even more like her guardian, caring more about her growing-up process than her own parents and family, and had completely doted on and pampered her.

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

She went and washed her hands. Then she pulled a towel down from the metal rack, rubbed it beneath the warm stream of water, and wrung it out, thinking that she would wipe his hands down for him. When she turned off the faucet, she discovered that Jì Chengyang was already leaning against the doorframe, watching her.

The expression he wore was the type when he did not want to say anything and simply wanted to quietly watch her for a while.

Jǐ Yi felt a little self-conscious from his gaze on her. Not knowing what he was thinking, she arbitrarily searched for a topic to talk about, hoping to fill this sudden silence. “Venezuela and Ecuador have both closed their embassies in Columbia and are starting to assemble troops at the border…[1]

“It won’t get to fighting,” he stated mildly.

“I feel like, only since I got into news reporting, and, in particular, after I joined an international news team, have I realized that the world actually is especially unpeaceful.” She said in a quiet voice, “Back when I was a kid, just hearing about 9/11 was able to scare me to death. Now… it’s like there’s danger everywhere in the world, that terrorist attacks are happening at any time and everywhere there’s a hidden risk of war.”

He did not say anything in response to this.

Some memories silently arose.

He recalled the telephone call that he had received from her on the day of 9/11, when he was in Philadelphia. At the time, the little lady had been terribly anxious and had urged him to absolutely not go running about. He had promised not to, but once the phone call ended, he had left Philadelphia and driven alone towards New York, the location of the incident.

This was how men say one thing but do another.

“I hope no more incidents are going to happen.” Taking ahold of his fingers, Jǐ Yi pulled his arm close to herself and began wiping his hand. “How nice it’d be if the whole world was at peace.”

The cuff of Jì Chengyang’s shirt was not fastened, vaguely revealing a deep-red scar.

Jǐ Yi suddenly grew panicked and wanted to get a closer look at it.

He grasped her hand in his, not allowing her to lift up his sleeve any more.

“Is it an injury you got in Iraq?” Even more terrified, she lifted her head.

Jì Chengyang lowered his eyes to take in her face and her hand that was tightly clutching the towel. In a mild tone, he explained, “Some are from shrapnel that grazed me, and some also are from metal pieces that scratched me when I was in the trenches taking shelter from a bombing.” He was not lying. Some of his external injuries had indeed come during the early period when he was following the news stories.

“Let me see.” Her heart beating rapidly in fear, she fixed her eyes on his wrist, looking in deep beyond his sleeve cuff. “Eventually… I’ll have to see it.”

Indeed, that was something that was unavoidable.

“You can see, but don’t get scared by it.” Jì Chengyang’s voice was somewhat low, his tone relaxed and calm. “And you’re also not allowed to cry.”

She hastily agreed to his words and arbitrarily set the towel somewhere beside the sink.

Jì Chengyang rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, pulling it all the way above his elbow. Beginning at his wrist, a crimson scar spanned up the inner part of his entire arm. In such a location, it was simply too horrifying a sight, and very easily it sketched out a scene that dripped with blood. The remaining scars were all irregular ones that occupied the outer part of his arm and elbow.

And this was only his right arm.

Jǐ Yi wished to contain the bitter tingling sensation that came over the tip of her nose, but ended up achieving the opposite effect. Tears gushed out from her. She did not dare lift her head, and so she simply held his fingers like this, her shoulders quivering slightly as she wept soundlessly.

She could not help it; she could not control herself at all.

The only thing Jì Chengyang could see was her silky hair and also her petite ear that was showing through. Her earlobe was very small and thin, just like his. According to the older generations’ beliefs, the thinner and smaller one’s earlobe, the less blessed one is in life and the more sufferings and misfortunes in one’s lot. But he had not shed many tears. It seemed, the tears that should have belonged to him had been doubly added on her instead.

Tugging the sleeve of his button-up shirt back down, Jì Chengyang reached his hand over to touch her face. His palm was immediately dampened.

She really was crying.

This, perhaps, was… how women say one thing but do another.

“Men aren’t afraid of getting injuries anyway.” He brushed aside her hair and placed a kiss on the tip of her ear. “It just looks a little ugly.”

It wasn’t a matter at all of whether it looked ugly…

She wanted to ask more questions, but all of a sudden, her ear felt rather hot, like it was burning.

The outer rim of her tiny ear had been taken into his mouth and was being gently tortured between his teeth.

She wanted to shrink away but was unable to evade him. His lips kissed along her earlobe and down one side of her neck, as well as onto her petite collarbone that peeked out from the neckline of her sweater. Her chest rose and fell heavily as, still, she wept quietly. In the beginning, Jì Chengyang’s actions had been somewhat impassioned, but later they gradually came to a halt. Looking at her reddened eyes, he suddenly let out a chuckle. “Little crybaby.”

Husky, resigned, and also tender.

Bewitched by his tenderness, Jǐ Yi brought her eyes to gaze directly at him.

“Anytime something happens, you first have to have a cry…” Jì Chengyang once more leaned in close, wanting to kiss her.

Jǐ Yi dodged away. In a voice carrying a heavy nasal tone, she pressed, “How many… how many more injuries…”

She wasn’t just a crybaby; as soon as she cried, she would choke up and would be unable to catch her breath, so when she spoke, her words would come out broken and disjointed. These were all things that had not changed since she was a child.

“How many more?” Jì Chengyang fell into a brief silence. He had never thought of deceiving her or concealing anything from her. He had only wanted to find an appropriate time to say it. What had caused her to suddenly want to probe like this into the truth and facts of everything? Because the words from Nuannuan’s father had triggered something in her?

Gazing into his eyes, Jǐ Yi was unable to find any fluctuation of emotions behind its deep blackness. This made her even more panicked. “You must tell me the truth. You can’t lie to me…”

“I had a part of my liver removed, my femur has been broken three times, I have lower immunity than the average person, and I can’t have too much physical exertion.” He, as much as possible, used this simplest way in which facts were stated to tell her about the injuries and trauma that his body had inevitably sustained. “So let’s not even talk about going to war zones in the future; it will be very difficult for me to complete the leg work of even a normal news story within the country.

“Also…” He paused for a few seconds, then stated the one reason for his vacillation all along. “According to the doctor’s diagnosis, the probability of me having children in the future is very low. It’s practically impossible for me to have any.”

Her heart completely sank. Her eyes that were already swollen from weeping quickly grew red again. “Why have you taken so long to tell me? …”

“On this last trip to the U.S., I did another thorough examination. That was the final conclusion… I know this is really unfair to you.”

She avoided his eyes. “I meant your injuries, not… that.”

He was quiet for a long time before saying, “You’re still not mature enough and don’t understand the importance of children to a family.”

“I want to be with you. It’s not like it’s only because I want…” she sobbed, biting down tightly on her lip. Then, thickening her skin, she argued, “It’s not like it’s only because I want to have children that I’m with you.”

Since he came back to China, what exactly had she even been thinking? She hated herself to the extreme, hated herself for her indecisiveness.

Honestly, the more she thought about it, the more she cried, and the more she cried, the more she thought about it.

Jì Chengyang enfolded her in his embrace. However, regardless of whether he used a stern, cold voice to tell her to stop or consoled her in gentle tones, everything he tried was still utterly ineffective.

In his youthful years, there had already been a little girl in his life who always liked to cry. At first, he had thought that this little girl was really overly fragile. Later, after he learned of many things, he understood that she needed an outlet to release her feelings. Crying was already the most harmless method for her and for others.

What he most wanted not to see was her crying because of him.

Alas, reality did not act in accordance with his wishes. Many of her tears were shed for him.

<>It would be sincerely appreciated if you would read this translation from its original site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, only. Thank you.

In the end, it was fortunate that his good friend came to pay a visit and interrupted this situation that had left Jì Chengyang helpless over what to do. The doctor who had once in another country removed a part of his liver for him pushed open the door, but catching sight of this scene, his steps stopped and he stood awkwardly in the doorway.

Hearing the noise of the door, Jì Chengyang turned his head around.

This attending doctor silently mouthed the question to him: Jǐ Yi?

He did not answer, which could be considered his taciturn admission.

There was laughter in the doctor’s eyes. He very much wanted to have a look to see what this girl who was Jì Chengyang’s true love looked like. In that moment when Jì Chengyang was signaling with his eyes to him that he should leave, he very tactlessly gave a loud cough.

This unfamiliar voice that appeared out of thin air jarred her mind back to awareness, and Jǐ Yi yanked herself, practically fleeing, out of Jì Chengyang’s embrace. Swiping at her tears, she confusedly turned her gaze to the unfamiliar man standing at the doorway.

Hmm… So, she was still just a young girl, eh.

This was utterly outside of the doctor’s expectations. He had thought that Jì Chengyang’s girlfriend would surely be a woman with whom there was a mutual draw due to commonalities between them, someone who could stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

“Pardon me for disturbing.” The doctor showed a broad, toothy grin, and in a low voice, he greeted, “Hi, beautiful little lady. I’m Yang’s friend and also his doctor. I’m the one who cut out his liver.”

“Hello,” she said softly. “Thank you.”

She had been crying for too long, and her throat was not quite able to properly produce sound.

“What are you thanking me for? For cutting out his liver?”

Jǐ Yi’s heart was heavy, and she did not give a response to this joke. “You two have matters to talk about?” she quietly asked Jì Chengyang.

“Right now is rest time. There’s no need to talk about anything.” Jì Chengyang told her this as he threw a look at the doctor.

The latter very sensibly chimed in with a laugh, “There are no matters, no real matters. I just wanted to come find him to chat. You guys continue, please, continue.”

This doctor had come back to China specifically for Jì Chengyang, and while he was residing here in Beijing, he was also in passing doing some knowledge exchange. Tonight, he had obtained all the reports of the medical examinations, so he had wanted to have dinner with Jì Chengyang and at the same time discuss his condition with him. He had not expected that he would see the fabled beloved of Jì Chengyang from his past.

He thought, the girl was so young, yet she was able to be with Jì Chengyang for so many years; there likely was much story in that.

The doctor had already conceived a picture in his mind. Based on his understanding of this good friend plus patient of his, this story should have taken place at least six, seven years ago, prior to the start of the Iraq War… While his brain continued sketching out a wonderful love story, he said a couple more chuckling sentences of pleasantries, then bid goodbye to them and took his leave.

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

Getting interrupted in this way by a stranger had an unexpected result: Jǐ Yi’s tears had now been quelled and forced back down.

“I told my family that I had already divorced before I came back to the country. They still aren’t able to accept that particular matter.” Jì Chengyang told her, “Give me a bit more time. The problems will be resolved.”

She nodded. “I know.”

She had very clearly heard the words spoken by Nuannuan’s father earlier.

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

After Jǐ Yi left, Jì Chengyang had a very long telephone conversation with the doctor and did not sleep until very late.

At 3:14 a.m., he awoke. He suddenly had a very intense desire: he wanted to have a smoke, to use another method to break up and scatter those ashy-gray, film-like memories that replayed in his mind.

That night when he fell asleep in Jǐ Yi’s home, it had also been like this. Unable to sleep and not wanting to startle her awake, he had lain there and watched her, quietly gazing at her for an entire night. It was not until the sky had begun to show signs of lightening that he had closed his eyes.

When this symptom was severe, it was difficult to sleep even with the aid of medication.

It was much better now. So why was it so severe tonight?

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

Leaving his room, Jì Chengyang passed the on-duty nurses’ station.

There, a young nurse was banging away on the keyboard and chatting with someone, forcing herself to stay alert. Seeing him walking over, she hurriedly stood and called to him, “Mr. Jì, why are you out?” This man was a VIP of VIPs. Everyone, from the highest to the lowest levels of the hospital, had been informed of this, and she dared not be careless.

Jì Chengyang told her that he wanted to go outside to smoke a cigarette.

When he spoke, he showed no superfluous expression, giving people a feeling of aloofness and great distance from him.

As a result of this, the nurse did not really dare stop him and merely admonished over and over that he absolutely could not go too far from the hospital and that it would actually be best to stay within a 500-metre distance so that, should anything happen, it would be easy for people to rush him back. Jì Chengyang had no desire to go far, either, and therefore agreed.

After exiting the inpatient building, he bought an arbitrary pack of cigarettes from the convenience store by the hospital entrance. Standing in front of an old garbage can, he ripped open the package’s plastic film and seal, tossed them into the garbage, and then, with a thump against the end of the package, pulled out a white cigarette.

In front of him was the brightly illuminated hospital emergency building, and coming and going from it were patients who to him were strangers. There were continually cars stopping and cars leaving.

He stood in the curtain of night, watching these cars and people, trying hard to recollect many things, things that had to do with her.

He recalled how, in a certain hotel in Hong Kong, before he and she had officially begun their relationship, he had once thought, for her health and also how she would feel, he would need to quit his smoking habit of many years… As this thought came to him, he slowly slipped the cigarette back into the package.

<>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.

Those gray-tinted memories that co-existed with his life could not be forgotten.

But, he absolutely had to yank the him that was deeply submerged in feelings of bleakness and hopelessness back out and separate himself from the darkness.

He wanted to live once more.

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

[1] Referring to the Andean crisis of 2008.

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:

I find this chapter so well written. There are many subtle emotional workings here and also a dissection of how Xixi and Jì Chengyang think. From the “how men and women say one thing but do another”, to Ji Chengyang’s struggles on what his condition would mean for his relationship with Xixi, to Xixi’s glimpse into and realization of what he has gone through and what horrors played a huge factor in his decision to leave her, to Jì Chengyang’s reflection on Xixi’s personality and how she helped herself to relieve all the hurt, to his resolution that he will walk out from the darkness that he experienced so that he can give Xixi the best that he can…

 

Also, just my little thoughts on something:

Jì Chengyang’s lie that he led Xixi to believe during his years of absence was done under well-intentions and extenuating circumstances. Whether his choice is justifiable, whether it was right or wrong, whether it is forgivable—everyone has their own opinions on this, yourself, myself, Chinese readers. And the opinions are a mixed bag.

But, there is one thing I would like to offer: Jì Chengyang’s impact on Xixi was not only during the years he was with her. During her childhood, Xixi had no parental guidance, no one to help her find the path that she should take. In her pre-teen and teenage years, Jì Chengyang stepped in and fulfilled that role. Without it, how hard it would have been for a young girl to be able to find the direction in her life, to realize what her dream is and set herself on working towards that goal, to keep her life on the straight and narrow and not fall into the wrong things. Jì Chengyang was not merely a harbour for her to park herself in during times of storm, though he did take on that role also. He was a guiding light, and his every word to her was the true north on her compass of life, a compass that she always carried with her, even when he was gone. We can’t draw a line in the sand on the day he left for Iraq and then say, at that point in time, he had nothing to do with her. Even in his absence, what he taught her, what he had modelled to her still guided her every step. “She could clearly remember what Jì Chengyang had once said to him [A’Liang], and those very words had also had a great impact on her.” (chapter 22.1) And hence she could walk out her life well. “…you deserve all of it. You were the one who took the civil service examination. You were also the one who got yourself accepted into the Foreign Affairs University, a post-secondary institution of the type that generally accepts only those who have family relations or close ties to those in the foreign affairs office. You have walked all your roads so very well already.” (chapter 21.3)

“To a certain extent, the Jì Chengyang of the past had been even more like her guardian, caring more about her growing-up process than her own parents and family, and had completely doted on and pampered her.” (chapter 23.2) A person is shaped in their growing-up years. Jì Chengyang stepped in in a crucial period of her life and genuinely did his best to pour into her, even when she was merely the daughter of a family friend. I tell my own kids, “I will do my best to model the behaviour and values that I believe are appropriate and right, and if I’ve made a mistake and gotten it wrong, I will apologize.” Xixi was once hurt, but she is willing to trust again because she knows that he tried his best in those horrible moments, knows that his regret and apology are genuine. The good and love that he has always given her are not—and cannot be—annulled in her heart, for to her, what he gave her in her life prior to that hurt are greater.

 

Completed:
58 of 69 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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16 thoughts on “The Healing Sunshine (一厘米的阳光) — Chapter 23.2

  1. Thanks for the chapter😃

  2. I was fine and even laughed at “how men and women say but do another” until I read your additional comments which made me 😭😭😭. Well said hoju. Thank you.

  3. thank goodness for second chance for this couple to reunite once again
    thank you

  4. Thanks hoju
    I love how the writer portray about their love.. So sweet how caring they towards each other.. Jiyi ❤chenyang

    • You’re welcome!
      Definitely. Their deep love is actually demonstrated in very little things, like how he knows so well how she cries and can’t catch her breath, or her phone calls to him to make sure he stayed away from danger.

  5. Over and over the story shows how they are each other’s healing sunshine.

    Thanks, Hoju. Enjoyed the chapter and your additional comments.

  6. I’m looking forward to see how this story will end.
    They both deserve to be happy T_T
    Thank you Hoju.

  7. First I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to you @Hoju! Your translation and interpretation of this novel is excellent and I’m so glad I found your blog a few years ago!

    Perhaps because of my oversight, but it’s not clear to me yet what age difference Jî Yi and Jì Chengyang have? In a previous chapter Jî Yi clearly says that they’re 8 years apart, but when their ages(22 and 32) are mentioned like in this chapter and in the beginning, the difference is about 10 years instead. I generally believe they’re 10 years part and met for the first time when Jîyi was about 8 and JC was 18 years old (1986/1976).

    Again thank you so much!

    (Ps this a bit of a reach but I love these characters so much that I want to relate to them in some way. I’m now the same age as JC, 32, but have the same birth year as Jîyi 🙂😂)

    • I don’t believe there has explicitly been mentioned that there is a ten-year age difference between them. Wang Haoran did say he was ten years older than Xixi, which could be true as we only know he and Jì Chengyang are peers in the same age range. There was a mention that ten years prior to Xixi’s graduation from high school was Jì Chengyang’s high school era, but that is merely “era,” so it’s an approximation.

      We know Jì Chengyang’s age exactly. In chapter 11.2, we learn that his birthday is May 21, 1977. We also know Xixi’s birthday exactly: January 20, 1986. They are 8 years and 8 months minus a day apart in age.

      If you go through carefully, you realize you can plot out most of this story on a timeline with many exact dates. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  8. Someway I want to cry. These chapters get me too emotional. I have the same feeling when I read “Rilla of Ingleside” those paragraphs about some episodes of first world war… JY and JC make my heart hurts. The pain of the waiting, the fears, the horror of not knowing. Really precious novel.
    I am not reading this book in order 😅 so I am leaving first episodes until the end, sad episodes get me depressed to the extrem that I cannot sleep properly 😂.
    JY is so strong, that girl is so brave. Generally when we speak about the war we think of soldiers and another people directly involved but also there are people who keep on waiting for their loved. I do not know how I would handle that matter (being a girlfriend of a war correspondent). Maybe…
    And I cannot blame JC by not saying the truth to JY. He experienced moments of high stress and in his mind he probably thought it would be the better decision for JY.
    Thank you. Hoju.

    • It touches to the very heart because I find the emotional responses very real. 🙂

      The beginning chapters are not necessarily sad in a blatant way, but they are melancholic if you take a step back and realize how neglected a childhood Xixi had. However, I don’t think that’s the point or focus of those chapters, at least, not the sadness part. The point is, despite the shadows in her life, someone was willing to be a ray of sunshine in it, and when she kept her eyes fixed on that sunshine, the darkness could not overwhelm her. This was so even in her young days, before there was anything romantic between her and Jì Chengyang.

      Xixi is strong and deserves all that she has for she worked for it. She did not allow herself to be beaten down by life and continued striding forward on her path.

      As for Jì Chengyang, I personally don’t blame him. I have tried putting myself in his situation and wondering, if I were him, what would I do? I honestly don’t know, even with the hindsight of having seen how it would affect Xixi, what I would have chosen. And even when he thought back on it, he did not know whether his decision was the best one at the moment or not; he only knew that he hurt her, and for that, he genuinely regretted it and apologized. We all can have opinions; I have seen some opinions that say his lie is unforgivable. But for many things in life, you can’t firmly, in a black and white manner, say that this is 100% right and that is 100% wrong.

      Thank yo ufor your thoughts. 🙂

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