Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 4

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We are introduced to adolescent Gui Xiao and Lu Chen. 🙂

Chapter 4 — A Person in Aimless Drifting (1)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting 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.

 

It was one of the special skills of their squadron.

In the beginning, everyone had merely been trying to learn Mongolian and Russian. Later, though, they all discovered that simply learning to speak was not enough; they also needed to speak like those were their mother tongue. In order to be able to do this for their missions, everybody of their own accord began to explore more advanced ways of voice mimicking and controlling their vocal chords, muscles, and breathing. After a few years of painstaking efforts, several masters of impersonation were produced from their squadron. Gao Hai absolutely was being modest in his word choice when he said he was “pretty good” at imitating people’s voices.

He used to be the number one master of this skill in their squadron. If he wanted to impersonate anyone, he could do it to the extent that it was as if he was possessed by that other party, let alone imitating Lu Yanchen, someone he was with every day. However, in the entire squadron, only Gao Hai had the guts to dare blatantly impersonate him.

Therefore, Lu Yanchen was very easily able to guess what was going on.

These last two years, he had been teaching Qin Xiaonan portrait drawing. The child was very talented, and in less than two years he had become rather skilled at it. Originally, Lu Yanchen had been quite happily surprised at this. Who would have known, though, that he would end up digging a pit for himself to fall into? That day, after seeing Gui Xiao, Qin Xiaonan had put in great efforts to draw a portrait of her and then told everyone, this was Commander Lu’s first love and she had come to Erenhot. Consequently, these last several days, the entire group had been bursting with enthusiasm and sparing no effort in trying to, on this night, meet the person who could tame their Commander Lu.

Lu Yanchen had ignored them.

But in less than two days, this bunch of bachelor soldiers were going to be scattered in all directions, with many miles between them, and likely would not see one another again. Moreover, by such coincidence, the girl was in Erenhot right now. No real man would let this opportunity pass. Hence, they put together this whole melodramatic performance. Their intention had been very simple and innocent: they just wanted to see Commander Lu’s first love.

They believed that your first love should be wonderful, or at least, it sounded really wonderful.

But to Gui Xiao and Lu Yanchen, this was practically a catastrophe.

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

Gui Xiao’s heart plummeted straight down. “It’s no big deal.”

What could she say to a stranger?

“Miss Gui Xiao.” Gao Hai, feeling as if he had been let off of a crime, clutched Gui Xiao’s right hand excitedly. “On behalf of my second home, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and on behalf of our squadron, I welcome you. You will love the steppe just like you love your own hometown. This is the place I… Ah, no! This is the place Commander Lu loves most!”

The mist shrouding Gui Xiao’s eyes still had not dispersed, and with great difficulty she put on an unnatural smile.

The lad carried on chattering about how Sonid mutton was delicious and how Commander Lu had time on his hands now so Commander Lu absolutely had to bring Gui Xiao to try it.

Fortunately, Lu Yanchen lifted his eyelids and gave Gao Hai a look that said, “Hurry up and get out of here.”

This time, Gao Hai was sensible enough to get the meaning and swallowed the abundant and lengthy words of welcome that he had prepared. “Well, uh, then, you guys carry on! I won’t disturb you anymore!”

Tossing out this last sentence, the lad slipped back into the crowd.

<>The translator would sincerely appreciate it if you would read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

The person on the stage had been singing so happily that he had started another round of that same song and currently happened to be howling out these few lines of lyrics: “Forget—if you can… Oh, in one’s life, what is there to cherish? Those who drift and wander aimlessly don’t have the luxury of having love.[1]

The atmosphere was lively, but it could not cover up the sense of sorrow.

It just had to be tonight. If it had been any other night, he would not have lost his temper like that.

“They’re used to fooling around normally and don’t know where to draw the line of appropriateness.” Lu Yanchen dragged the small plate on the table towards himself, wanting to find a piece of beef jerky that he could eat. His other hand pointed offhandedly at an empty chair. The meaning: sit.

Gui Xiao pressed her lips together. In a low tone, she asked in response, “Shouldn’t you apologize first, Commander Lu?”

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

She had not changed. She was always able to seize any opportunity to make him give in or acknowledge a mistake.

Lu Yanchen gave a self-mocking smirk. “Please forgive me. My attitude just now was not very good.”

Gui Xiao nodded. “On the phone earlier, I heard that you were drunk and no one was able to move you, and that you were spouting on about our past. And then I heard you call my name. I only came here because I was worried something might happen. Since it was just a misunderstanding, I’ll be leaving now.”

Lu Yanchen’s right hand was in the middle of the plate, aimlessly nudging the items on it back and forth.

That year, he was not even twenty years old. With a starving belly, he had swallowed a snake gallbladder raw and stripped the skin off of a frog. He had traversed deep into mountains and thick forests while bearing 40 kilograms of weight. None of those had caused him to collapse. But after those were over, the moment he touched alcohol, he had begun to think about her. A grown man more than 1.8 metres tall had lain in a thicket of grass that was half the height of a person and had consumed alcohol until he was like an idiot—but who knew about this?

Lu Yanchen replied impassively, “Sit awhile. I’ll take you back.”

Gui Xiao became increasingly polite. “I’ve been here for several days already. No need to take me back. After all, even if there’s this time, there won’t be a next time.”

<>This translation’s actual site of release is hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support it by reading it only from there. Thank you.

Lu Yanchen’s hand halted.

The words she had sobbingly wailed into the telephone many years ago still seemed to be ringing by his ear: “Lu Chen, if you dare hang up on me again, there won’t be a next time! And don’t even hope to see me ever again in this lifetime!” Back then, he had also had the temperament of an adolescent, and without any hesitation he had cut off the call. It was only later that he learned, that night she and her mother had been “kicked out” of their home…

The person in front of him left. All that remained were those wet shoe prints on the concrete floor.

Alone, he merely sat there, both his arms propped on the table’s surface. He lowered his eyes, continuing to nudge the beef jerky on the plate. After some time, he tossed one into his mouth and slowly chewed it. From his head to his toe, from each and every seam of his joints, there suffused a chilly ache that left a person without even the strength to move.

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

Gui Xiao’s steps were hurried as she returned to the main entrance. Qin Mingyu was still there conversing with Xiao Cai.

Yanking on Xiao Cai’s wrist, she went to push the frosted-over glass door. When the door opened, the whistling wind poured into the openings at her neckline.

“So fast?” Xiao Cai nearly fell over from being dragged. “You haven’t even stepped in the door for ten minutes yet!”

“Headache. I don’t feel really well.” Gui Xiao’s voice was somewhat tight.

Xiao Cao quickly fell silent. Based on her many years of friendship with her, she knew that Gui Xiao was genuinely angry.

From Xiao Cai’s jacket pocket, Gui Xiao fished out the car key, and after unlocking the door, she hopped into the driver’s seat herself.

Xiao Cai very docilely got into the car and flashed an apologetic smile at Qin Mingyu, who had run out after them. “See you again if we get the chance.”

<>It would be greatly appreciated by the translator if you would read this story only at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Thank you

The car key was tossed into the storage compartment. The engine was started.

With whirring noises, the heating system began to blow out slightly-cool air that still had not had the chance to warm up yet. One second, two seconds… It was as if minutes and seconds were slipping down in the hourglass of her life, noiselessly flowing away in front of her eyes. Each second was pulling further away from that time in her past.

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

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

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

In the very beginning, she had known that over on the high school campus, there was a really, really, really hot guy who was soon to graduate. She only remembered his name and had never seen him in person. Then, one day, out on the open-air sports field, she ran into Huang Ting, a junior female schoolmate in first-year middle school, and he was standing beside Huang Ting. That junior schoolmate in first-year middle school introduced him, saying, “This is my older cousin[2], Lu Chen.” Gui Xiao pretended that she had never heard of him before and was too bashful to even say hello.

In reality, though, inside, she felt as if a hundred hands were tickling her heart. Oh, Heaven! Oh, God! He is super good-looking in real life, aaaah

“Lu Yanchen.” After her eyes had done a sightseeing tour over him, he, in the shade of the trees, wearing the blue-and-white school uniform of the high school campus, spoke up to make this correction.

Huang Ting let out a cry of “Oh!” and explained, “Right. Later when he went to school and it happened that someone had the same name, he changed it. But the people in our family all still call him Lu Chen.”

Gui Xiao’s gaze was riveted on him. For the first time in her life, she feelingly sighed, The high school uniform sure looks nice.

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

After school was dismissed, Gui Xiao and Huang Ting rode their bicycles down the main road all the way back to the military compound. Passing the side gate, they got off their bikes and pushed them past the post of the soldiers on guard duty. Huang Ting had already thrown her leg over her bicycle and was sitting straddled on it when Gui Xiao asked, out of the blue, “Is your older cousin also in the compound?”

“Nope. He’s a cousin from my mom’s side.” Huang Ting was extremely precocious and immediately sniffed out something fishy. “You’ve taken a fancy to him?”

Gui Xiao pondered for a moment, then answered truthfully, “He’s just too good-looking.”

“If you think he’s good-looking, pounce.”

“……”

<>This translation’s actual site of release is hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support the translation by reading it there. Thank you.

Huang Ting was only three months younger than her but had started school a year later.

Her father was a member of the armed forces, while her mother was a doctor. She was a girl Gui Xiao had met after coming here to attend middle school.

Gui Xiao had actually not attended the affiliated primary school here, for she had been with her parents. Back then, after graduating from primary school, the ten students in her class had had two choices: one, go to their primary school’s affiliated middle school, which did not have very strong, quality teaching; or two, be tossed by their parents over to live with some relatives and attend a local middle school elsewhere. At the time, in her class, Jǐ Yi, who was well-behaved, compliant, and introverted, Zhao Xiaoying, whose family’s financial situation was poor, and Jì Nuannuan, who was kept under strict watch by her parents, had all chosen to move up directly into the affiliated middle school.

But Gui Xiao had wanted too much to seek out something new, fresh, and exciting. Owing to her ceaseless cajoling and badgering, her parents tossed her over to live in her gugu’s [paternal aunt’s] home, which was in a military compound in one of Beijing’s rural areas, a little town situated at the foot of the Yan Mountains. Although the town still lay within the Beijing municipality, it was in the remote outskirts.

This place had a few unnamed military compounds, and the rest of it consisted of villages that lay one connected to the other.

Reportedly, the middle school of this place had decent-quality teaching.

In actual fact, that was sheer nonsense talk.

There were eight classes to one grade, and each class had more than fifty people. However, no more than thirty students in the entire grade would end up making it into high school. The remainder would either go into vocational high schools or secondary trade schools or would drop out of school altogether.

The teachers were indeed quite good, but they were not able to keep their students in check.

Fights and brawls were commonplace, and there were young, dating couples[3] everywhere. Consequently, as the school’s way of preventing former students, ones who had turned into little hooligans after dropping out from school, from coming back to pick fights and cause trouble, the entire campus grounds were enclosed by metal-clad walls with electric fencing on top. Going to school every day was like going to a designated prison. Gui Xiao had never once seen a time when her school’s main gates were truly open. Of course, these details were not known to Gui Xiao’s father and mother. They were too busy.

So Gui Xiao had thus been left to grow up free-range in this “marvelous” world.

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

At the time, in addition to Huang Ting, the person Gui Xiao hung out with most was Meng Xiaoshan, a senior female schoolmate in first-year high school whose home was on the street behind the school. Only a few days after she met Lu Chen, the National College Entrance Examinations[4] began. Gui Xiao’s school, as one of the examination centres, gave all the middle and high school students these days off from class.

Gui Xiao was bored at home when Meng Xiaoshan called her out to the biggest billiards hall in town.

The billiards hall was across from the town’s only mall, a small, three-level building. Across from it was a beef-noodle shop, while to the right of its door, there was always an older woman selling grilled lamb skewers. The lamb skewers cost one mao[5][RMB 0.1] each, and honest treatment was given to all customers, young and old alike.

Gui Xiao parked her little bicycle with its 22-inch tires in front of the door. Several boys squatting outside the doorway and having smokes turned to look in her direction. One of them was Gui Xiao’s deskmate, Hai Jianfeng, a student who was repeating the grade. He greeted her, “Xiao Jie[6] [Big Sister Xiao], you’re here?”

He was two years older than Gui Xiao and furthermore was repeating the grade, but every time, he still had to rely on Gui Xiao in order to be able to complete and hand in his homework. Thus, he voluntarily addressed her as jie [big sister] and did not so much as blush when he did so. And plus, Hai Jianfeng’s older tang-brother[7], Hai Dong, was the boyfriend of Gui Xiao’s best friend, Meng Xiaoshan, so even more so he needed to align with that pecking order and give Gui Xiao face.

Gui Xiao shielded the sun with her hand. Not very accustomed to getting stared at by a bunch of little ruffians, she strode inside with hastened steps.

<>Your support by reading this story only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting, would be greatly and sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

Inside the hall, the fans were blowing continuously. There were people beside each of the few pool tables.

At the very back, after making a right turn, there was a small room.

Each time, that room would be set aside for Meng Xiaoshan’s boyfriend, Hai Dong.

When Gui Xiao stepped inside, there were two pool tables set up in the little room. Hai Dong and a man were playing on one, and only the white cue ball, the black ball, and the red ball still remained. From the looks of things, the game was ending soon.

Hai Dong gave her a tap on her head with his pool cue. “What do you think? Think I can take this game or not?”

With a twitch of her lip, Gui Xiao let out a laugh. “I think your chances of that are at risk.”

Gui Xiao eyes surveyed around. There were a few other guys and girls whom she did not know, and they were also eyeing her over. The person sitting on the stool by the window in the furthest corner drew Gui Xiao’s attention.

It was Lu Chen.

He was not wearing his school uniform. On this dog day of summer, he was surprisingly wearing a black, long-sleeved sweatshirt, so ordinary it could not get any more so, with not even a pattern or design on it, as well as shorts and sneakers. His back was against the wall and his arm was resting on the windowsill as he leaned there and smoked a cigarette.

“Chen Ge [Big Brother Chen],” Hai Dong addressed him. “My wifey’s little sis, so my little sis-in-law, Gui Xiao.”

As if he had never met her before, Lu Chen slid a glance at her from the corner of his eye and nodded his head, not speaking.

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

Right at this moment, someone teased Gui Xiao, “Little sis, you seem like you should know how to play quite well, hmm?”

This person truly had gotten it right.

At Meng Xiaoshan’s home, there was a separate little building that specifically housed a pool table. When there was nothing to do, Meng Xiaoshan would teach Gui Xiao how to play. Gui Xiao was also a very smart and quick learner, such that even when she occasionally played against Hai Dong, if her luck was good, she could pocket four balls in a row after the break.

Taking in her eager-to-try look, Meng Xiaoshan, worried that this group of miscreants would be a bad influence on her, munched on melon seeds and told her, “You’re not even as tall as the cue. Be good and just watch.”

Hai Dong grinned, not exposing the truth, and set his cue down on the pool table. “Let her play. We’ve got this place booked for the whole afternoon anyway.”

Meng Xiaoshan shot a glower at Hai Dong. From the start, she had already told Hai Dong that Gui Xiao was still young, and if for whatever reason this bunch of dropouts led her astray or she was somehow taken advantage of, Meng Xiaoshan would definitely have a fall out with him.

<>Please support this translation by only reading it at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, its actual site of posting. This would be greatly appreciated by the translator.

“I’ll play a round with you.”

Lu Chen shifted his chair away and stood. Pulling the ashtray on the windowsill closer, he stubbed out his smoke in a pile of cigarette butts.

This was too sudden. Even Meng Xiaoshan was stunned.

This whole afternoon Lu Chen had sat on that stool, smoking cigarettes without taking so much as a break. No one had been able to get close to him. Everyone knew he was in a bad mood and had dared not strike up any conversation with him…

“I can’t beat you.” Gui Xiao was a little self-conscious, afraid of being found out.

“I’ll play with one hand.” From the rack on the east wall, he selected a pool cue that felt good in the hand.

Gui Xiao was intimidated by him.

He handed the cue to her. “One hand. My left hand.”

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

[1] From Richie Jen’s song,《兄弟》 “Brothers.”

[2] 表哥 “biao ge.” Lu Chen is Huang Ting’s biao ge, which means he is her older, male cousin. Ge means “older brother” and so biao ge could be also thought of as biao-older brother. Hence, though he is her cousin, at times, Huang Ting will refer to Lu Chen as “big brother.”

[3] In most Chinese schools, students in high school or earlier grades are prohibited from dating.

[4] 高考 “gao kao.” The National College Entrance Examinations, or gaokao, are annually held, unified national examinations on various subjects, usually for students in their final year of high school and are a prerequisite for any post-secondary education at the undergraduate level.

[5] The official currency of China is the renminbi, abbreviated RMB. Its base unit is the 元yuan. 1 yuan consists of 10 角 jiao. The yuan is colloquially known as 块 kuai, while a jiao is colloquially known as 毛 mao (similar to how the dollar is colloquially referred to as “buck”).

[6] 姐 “jie.” The most literal translation of this would be “big sister.” It is also a way to address a girl either older or more senior but generally still in the same generation as you.

[7] 堂哥 “tang ge.” Older, male, patrilineal cousin. Hai Dong and Hai Jianfeng’s fathers are brothers. In Chinese culture, cousins who share the same surname (i.e. their fathers are brothers) are closer in blood than others and are called 堂 “tang” siblings. They address each other not as “cousin” but as brother or sister. I will refer to this relationship as a tang-sibling relationship.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting 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:

Shout out to Xixi (Ji Yi)! And also Nuannuan and Zhao Xiaoying. Hehe. Did that catch anyone by surprise? Gui Xiao was their classmate in primary school, so that means Gui Xiao is 1-2 years older than Xixi. Remember that Xixi started school early, at 4.5 years old, while everyone else would have been 6. Gui Xiao should be about the same age as Nuannuan.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to read The Healing Sunshine. 😉

 

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
4 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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26 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 4

  1. Omg I have to read it again to see the girls love the helping sunshine I even got me a copy on chinese went you stated translating lol I don’t know any chinese and the mtl on kindle give me a headache so I did wait for you to finish it thank you for translating this and all the wonderful books you have done !! I’ll wait patiently for the next update

  2. Thanks for the chapter, so eager to see what the couple have in store

  3. She is still the same stubborn girl…
    Even if Chen-ge forgives her I won’t forgive her… NEVER!.
    Honestly it is the first time that I don’t like a character at first sight 😂. To me, the male leads are everything and Chen-ge gets my heart every time more and more. And while I more read I more miss my Xixi (and obviously outstanding Ji Chengyang, MY man). Apparently Lu Chen is still angry at her and I have taken his side so Gui Xiao, I am side-eying you!!! Honestly I hope that GX can melt our hearts, Chen-ge’s and mine). On the other hand I am re-reading The Healing Sunshine again… and again. A live action of The Healing Sunshine would be a beautiful gift for this oldie (aka me 🤣).

    • I… don’t have anything to say. 😳 Lol. That’s pretty amazing since I usually have something to say.

      My personal opinion is that you should wait. Gui Xiao may or may not change your mind about her by the end of the story, but we don’t know enough yet to draw any conclusions. 🙂

      I always try to go in with an open mind to any TV adaptation, but In all honesty, there haven’t been many that I feel captured the novel well (there are exceptions, of course). Most, I feel, have done a disservice to the story, but I understand that the increased exposure often helps the author gain more readers. Now, any time I go hear of an adaptation of one of my favorites, I always get a little nervous.

  4. Oh my I was surprised when I caught Ji Yi’s name hehe they’re classmates 😊 , thank you for the update Hoju

  5. Wow wht a surprise! The girls were classmates😱
    Lol love at first sight for Gui Xiao… poor girl..hope they can resolve their misunderstandings soon.

    • Hehe. 😉 Nice little link.
      In the grand scheme of things, the resolution happens pretty quickly. When you are following the updates, it might seem long. LOL.

  6. Their meeting again and again is not going smoothly. Nice to see that the author makes small mentions of characters between the books in the series. Looking forward to know what happened between them.

    Thanks for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

    • It’s actually understandable. Wrong timing.

      Haha, I like it, too. Like how Teacher Gu was mentioned in Healing Sunshine. But I also like that they’re only mentioned and don’t steal spotlight.

      Thanks for reading!

  7. Thanks Hoju…
    Ji Yi and Nuannuan..😍

  8. Thanks so much! Funnily enough, I was just thinking about rereading The Healing Sunshine.

  9. Ahhh, I loved The Healing Sunshine! I was so happy to see a link with the book, however small and trivial. Thanks Hoju

  10. Hoju~~~ In my last comment I perhaps was a bit “harsh” to Gui Xiao. Yeah. We don’t know all their background yet so maybe I am being “a bit” biased (a bit?!!!!)… I tend to invest my heart in the male leads 🤣. Anyway I wonder if we will get in the future a little glimpse about Chenyang and Xixi relationships?! 🙏

    • Haha, I will echo your “A bit?!!!”
      🙂 🙂 🙂
      Hehe, go re-read The Healing Sunshine. You can get your Xixi/Ji Chengyang fix. I think I’m going to go find Teacher Gu.

  11. my heart hurt for gui xiao when i read the first part. but i can’t blame neither lu chen nor gui xiao for their bad meeting.
    and my baby Xixi!!! i never knew she’s mentioned in this novel. the bad side of mtl-ed is that you will missing this kind of thing because how messy the translation is. i wonder what will happen if there is a crossover where we get lu chen and ji yi together.

    • It was hard for Gui Xiao, but it isn’t easy for anyone, really.

      LOL. That means you need to keep coming back and see if you missed anything else. Mtl gives a good gist, but honestly, Mr. Google (or Bing or whomever you use) does miss out on a lot. Haha, is this shameless promotion?

  12. hehe reading those familiar names made me shouted I know that story XD
    thank you

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