Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 7

16 Comments

There is progress. 🙂

Chapter 7 — A Person in Aimless Drifting (4)

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.

 

These words took Gui Xiao aback for a moment.

He leaned against the vehicle door, face to face with her, the snow staining his shoulders. His eyes carried no emotion as they looked at her, but when he opened his mouth to speak again, his manner was even more suppliant. “Please help with this favour.” It was like he had been switched out for another person and had forgotten how, less than twenty minutes ago in that little restaurant, he had acidly thrown out words to scorn her and even his apology afterwards had been perfunctory and gruff.

More than ten years had passed already. She could not keep behaving more and more immaturely the longer she lived and be like she had been in the past, getting sulky and indignant at him.

And plus… it was not like they had a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. He had apologized already, so she should just leave it at that.

“I’m going back to Beijing the day after tomorrow.” Gripping the steering wheel tightly, she purposely slowed her voice and relaxed its tone. “This task is not as simple as you think and needs to be discussed in detail. Bring the child to Beijing as soon as possible. While it’s the winter break, get all the procedures and formalities done. Don’t delay him from going to class.”

“Let’s discuss it now.” He was not shy about taking her up on her help.

She was astounded. “Now?”

Qin Mingyu seized this opportunity to jump in and add his words. “Just look at you guys doing this huge favour. It should be me, as the dad, thanking you. It’s better if you come on in and have a drink. Commander Lu isn’t drinking tonight. He’ll take you guys back!”

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

So eventually, Gui Xiao, by everyone’s joint urgings and persuasion, went back inside.

It was still that same small table. Qin Mingyu rolled up that curtain that hung to the floor, tied a knot in it, and stuffed it into the gap between the radiator heater and the wall. With that, the space was considered tidied up somewhat. Lu Yanchen’s attitude had completely shifted from earlier, and he personally pulled a chair over for Gui Xiao.

He gave a succinct explanation of the entire situation.

As Qin Mingyu still had some time until his discharge from the armed forces and Qin Xiaonan was alone in Erenhont, attending school here as an out-of-region student and in quite a piteous state with no one to take care of him, he wanted the child to go back to Beijing and study there for a few years.

“I did this one time for Xiao Cai, just last year,” Gui Xiao explained, “but your situation is different from hers. You don’t have any proof of relocation of permanent residence for the guardian or proof of a job transfer for the guardian. In fact, you’re not even the guardian. Give me some time. You’re going to need to get a home address for him first.”

“So what that means is, I have to buy a home first?”

It was not that easy to buy a place in Beijing!

Gui Xiao was surprised. “Buy a home? Your hukou[1] [registered permanent residence] still hasn’t been transferred back to Beijing yet, right? I can help you rent a place.”

He flicked a glance at Gui Xiao. “I’ll take care of it.”

He would take care of it himself? He had not been back there for eleven years. It would likely take him quite a bit of time just to resolve his own issues.

But these things seemed to have nothing to do with her—or at least Lu Yanchen’s stance on that was very clear.

They were nearly finished with the discussion. There was only one thing that could not be settled upon, which was the timing of bringing the child to Beijing. Gui Xiao’s opinion was that, with the Lunar New Year period fast approaching, they absolutely needed to hurry and bring him there before the New Year so he could meet the principal of the school.

The procedures and formalities would be taken care of after the Lunar New Year period.

However, Lu Yanchen still had some important matters here that needed to be attended to, while Qin Mingyu still was not discharged so even more so could not simply travel whenever he pleased.

“Let me think about it.” Lu Yanchen did not give any firm commitments. “I’ll tell you in a couple of days.”

<>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.

When she was back in the hotel, Gui Xiao still had not processed all that had happened. Leaning back against the headboard of the bed, she was lost in thought.

Back then, the timing of when they first started dating had been very inopportune. She had been faced with high school entrance exams and he had been preparing for his college entrance exams. Shortly afterwards, she had gone to study at a district key high school, and he had moved far away to another province to attend university.

Their relationship was considered only just begun before it became a long distance one. Unable to see one another, they had only been able to rely on telephone calls. There were times when she had truly felt frustrated, that things were unfair. After finally managing to suffer through until winter break arrived, she had made up countless excuses before she was at last able to return to that little town where she had attended middle school. That night, wanting to give him a nice surprise, she had not told him ahead of time, and right after arriving at the military compound, she rode her bicycle in the middle of the night to the automobile repair shop to find him. When she got there, she even asked the security guard at the door to tell him to come out.

Before long, she saw a tall, slender silhouette walk out, his hand holding a silver wrench. The frigid wind was whipping, but he wore only a button-up shirt.

She ran over. “So cold. I’m going to freeze to death.”

Looking at her little face that was hot and ruddied from exertion after riding hard the entire way, he told her, “Come in if you’re cold.”

She was a little embarrassed. “I’ll say, you’re going to freeze to death! You’re wearing so little.”

As she followed him inside, anyone they ran into would grin and ask the question, “Your little girlfriend?” He would give his silent admission.

She even happily murmured, “In the future, I’m going to be marrying an unsophisticated little boss…”

Those few days, she only went back to Gugu’s house at night to sleep. Her daytimes were spent nesting herself in that chilly room of his in the auto repair shop or squatting beside a car that had been raised up, watching as he lay underneath and repaired it, and handing tools to him. Often his hands and arms would be covered in pitch-black grease and engine oil, and when he slid back out from beneath the car, he would also be bare from waist up…

Luckily, he had a gorgeous face, so no matter what he put himself through, he still was pleasing to the eye.

She was quite optimistic and thought, at least they had the winter and summer breaks every year. It was just three years of high school, right? Once she was in university, things would be better.

But shortly after winter break ended, Lu Yanchen enlisted into the military.

From that day onwards, they were far, far apart, and even a telephone call was like a holiday. Even when she was met with the greatest of pains and sorrows, he had not had the time to even listen to her cry. But when she complained more, he would also become impatient. They were in their teenage years then, that age when you tend to care least about others and what they think, and are most reckless; who didn’t have a temper? Their opportunities to talk on the phone had been few to begin with, and when they got the seldom chance to actually say a few words to each other, they had always quarrelled. Now that she thought about it, that period really could not be considered as anything wonderful.

<>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 middle of the night as she slept, Gui Xiao constantly seemed to hear the sound of the wind. She was unable to discern, though, whether it was in her dreams or outside the window.

Groggily, she crawled out of bed and fumbled her way over to the window. A blizzard truly was blowing. The streetlamps were completely extinguished, and there was only the rocking and swaying of the tree branches beyond her window. After gazing out like this for a while, she was unable to fall asleep.

The entire way as she walked through the room, Gui Xiao felt for light switches and continually pressed them. Light extended unbrokenly from the bedroom to the bathroom. In the end, with every part of her feeling exhausted, she leaned forward over the sink and twisted on the faucet. There was no hot water, just a stream of cold.

She stared at the water for a lengthy time as it coursed out, her mind filled with the matter he had requested her to help with. No matter how she worked it out, the timing was just too tight.

She pondered more on it, but still she felt it did not work. She dialed his number.

In that instant when the call connected, the background noise in the phone, which sounded like the howling of wolves, seemed to pull her back several hours in time into that space where he and she had sat facing one another. When she closed her eyes, she could even visualize what he had looked like and those deep black eyes that seemed as if they had been submerged in ice-cold waters.

The ringing tone disappeared and the call was answered… But it was as if something was obstructing her mouth, and she did not know how to start the conversation.

There was an endless, blank silence. Neither of them spoke.

Eventually, he was the one who first said something. “Still haven’t gone to bed yet?”

“Mm.” She rubbed her eyes. “Go pack up some things for Qin Xiaonan. I’ll bring him back with me first. It’s the 4:20, afternoon flight the day after tomorrow. I’ll buy another ticket for him in just a bit. You must remember to bring him over by 3:00. Don’t miss the flight—”

“Gui Xiao.”

“Hmm?”

Only the sound of running water remained in her ears.

She remembered talking on the phone with him in those days of her youth. Holding on to their phone receivers, they had been very easily able to hear the magnified sounds of each other’s breathing. As mobile phone technology matured more and more, that kind of fuzzy breathing sound that would occasionally arise actually ended up disappearing.

“It’s the middle of the night.” Lu Yanchen’s words as he bit down on a cigarette were articulated somewhat unclearly. “You’re not scared you’ll catch a cold from taking a shower?”

“I’m not taking a shower,” Gui Xiao replied perplexedly, turning off the faucet.

She plainly was wearing pajamas. It was a thin layer of material, and a chill seeped in at her neckline and even her lower waist and the tops of her feet. However, she could not bear to make herself slip back under the comforter in the bedroom, for fear that if she shifted even half a step, the call would cut off because of poor reception.

There was another endless silence.

“Hanging up now.” Lu Yanchen tossed out this one statement, then ended the call.

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

Across more than half the city of Erenhot, in that same little restaurant.

He opened the back door, pulled over a chair, tossed it into the corner, and sat in that whistling draft that was blowing through.

In the past, when he was recruiting people into the squadron, he would often sit with his legs crossed and resting on the edge of the table as he flipped through the mountain of resumes. What he had been most interested in was each person’s weaknesses. No one is invincible, and that included him.

Sitting straddled on the chair, he leaned his back into the narrow corner where the wall met the glass door, and wordlessly he smoked cigarette after cigarette.

By the time it was past five in the morning, the blizzard was even heavier. The people inside had all settled down and either were gathered in little groups and, somewhat drained of strength, continuing to converse quietly, or had blearily sprawled themselves somewhere and fallen into deep sleep. He was still in that faraway spot, leaning backwards and, in the strong wind, trying to blow out faint, little smoke rings.

Hearing footsteps, he cast a sideways glance and stated, “Go pack some things for your son. The day after tomorrow, Gui Xiao’s going to bring him to Beijing first. She’s probably worried it’ll be too late by the time we send him there.”

That truly was going all out to help someone.

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

“Commander Lu, this first love of yours is really just too kind!” Qin Mingyu plopped his rear end onto the steps, sitting right by Lu Yanchen’s feet, and said, “I’ve asked for you. Gui Xiao isn’t married. Just judging from how she’s helping you so much, she definitely still has a thing for you. Just pounce, then, and make her your own.”

The blowing wind made his eyes sting, probably because he had also had cigarette smoke fuming around him for an entire night.

In a self-deprecatory tone, Lu Yanchen retorted, “It’s not like I’m a spring chicken in my teens. I make her my own, and then what can I give her? I take off my military uniform, and I have no money, no house, and no car. I’ve left Beijing for more than ten years now and don’t even have that many friends to speak of. And then there’s all that crap going on in my family. What, should I drag her into the fiery pit with me?”

Eyes narrowed, Lu Yanchen calculated how long he needed to wait before he could wake those several guys up and send them off. At the same time, he pulled up the memory of that day.

She had been wearing a white blouse with no patterns or designs on it, burgundy shorts, and cream-coloured canvas shoes. Her face was slender and narrowed into her petite chin, and her temples had been dampened by perspiration. When she walked in, the entire room of boys had turned their gazes onto her. This made him remember, when he was a kid, barefoot by the river and catching fish with his hands, those little, translucent shells that only on rare occasions he would find in the stream’s water beneath the blazing sun. Clean and pretty, washed spotless by the water…

Especially in that instant when she spotted him. Her teeth had nibbled the edge of her lower lip and the corners of her mouth had curved upwards. So beautiful.

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

Two days later, Xiao Cai and the others went to Ulaanbaatar.

Gui Xiao took a taxicab by herself to the airport and waited for them at the check-in location. At exactly three o’clock, Lu Yanchen appeared, carrying a black duffel bag. His looks, in the first place, naturally exuded deviance and ostentatiousness and he also had the advantage of height. Now, after eleven years of military life, he seemed even more erect and towering and merely a few casual strides were able to leave ordinary passersby far behind him. Even if he did not want to be noticed, it would be hard not to.

When he came to a standstill, Lu Yanchen set down the travel duffel and dragged Qin Xiaonan, who had been behind him, forward. “Passport.”

Qin Xiaonan instantly grasped what Lu Yanchen meant. With both hands, he presented the passport to Gui Xiao.

As she flipped it open and checked through it, Gui Xiao discovered that Qin Xiaonan had only just turned seven years old. A precocious child indeed.

This was her first time bringing a child with her onto a plane, and worried that she would lose him, the first thing she did was take the boy’s hand into her own. Feeling awkward with this, Qin Xiaonan constantly cast glances at Lu Yanchen. Lu Yanchen, though, could not be bothered to respond to this kid’s “shyness.” When Gui Xiao had finished with the check-in process, he walked them to the entrance of the security checkpoint and finally said, “I’ll be going back to Beijing after the Lunar New Year.”

Gui Xiao nodded.

Afterwards, the two did not really exchange any other words. Once they finished clearing security, she took advantage of that moment when she was repacking her laptop bag, to sneak a look at him.

His hands still in his pants pocket, Lu Yanchen stood to the side of the security checkpoint entrance. Countless travellers who needed to check in were coursing in this direction, and only he remained there, unmoving. She suddenly had a bad notion; she was afraid he would do as he had said when they first saw each other again and forever stay in Erenhot…

<>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.

Fortunately, the child who was voluntarily holding her hand was using the warmth of his body to remind her that there was still a living, breathing person with her.

He would surely be back.

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

[1] Refer to footnote [1] in chapter 2. Lu Yanchen has been in Inner Mongolia for the last 11 years, so though he once had a Beijing hukou, it would have been transferred out from there with his service in the military. Purchasing a property in Beijing is quite restricted and much more difficult for those who do not have a Beijing hukou. Typically, in order to purchase a home, anyone without a Beijing hukou has to provide proof of having paid municipal taxes for five years.

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.

 

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

≪ Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter ≫

16 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 7

  1. Wow, I really can’t wait for Lu Yanchen to go back to Beijing. I want to learn more about their break-up….

    Thank you Hoju for the translation (plus other ones as well). I’ve been reading almost all the translations in this website but haven’t got The chance to leave a comment. I really love all of them, and it got me hooked on chinese novel + drama.

    • All will be revealed, eventually. 😉

      Thank you for leaving a comment now. Glad you have been enjoying some reading on our site. Hope to see you around often.

  2. Thank you hoju I can’t wait for the next chapter I can see he still got feeling for her but thinks he can offer her anything yet

  3. I’m intrigued!! I love this.

    Thank you, Hoju!!

  4. Oh no, noble idiocy is lame. Don’t go that route please

  5. Loved his description of seeing her at the pool hall. Melted my heart. Thanks hoju!

  6. Yes, definitely a progress. Liked how Gui Xiao has outgrown her stubborn and sulky behavior and understands why they broke up. And last few sentences were so good. Waiting for Beijing days.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

    • She has long understood. I don’t actually think she was sulky; Lu Yanchen was the one who had started out pretty surly. TBH, he was downright rude in the restaurant and it’s reasonable that Gui Xiao is mad. The reason why she is choosing to step back and just let it be is, well, sadly because they have no true connection anymore.
      Tehe, but that’s for now. 😉

      Thanks for reading!

  7. Thank you Hoju , bon week-end 😊

  8. haha everyone’s advises are just pounce first
    thank you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s