Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 11

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So often, we only see the surface about a person. There is almost always more to his/her story.

“Since he could not drag her into the fiery pit with him, then he had to climb out of it with all his might.”

Chapter 11 — Dawn’s Light Illuminates the Road Home (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.

 

On the drive back, there were several times when Meng Xiaoshan wanted to speak but then held her tongue. She had originally thought that Gui Xiao was merely for the moment unable to hold back her aggravation since, after all, Zhao Minshan would be considered her old schoolmate of the same year as her. However, midway into the drive, she realized that Gui Xiao was genuinely heartbroken.

“Gui Xiao, you honestly still miss him? Truly, sincerely?”

Frowning, Gui Xiao shook her head.

“If there were no Zhao Minshan, if she didn’t exist, what would you do?”

Gui Xiao shook her head again. She didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to discuss this question anymore.

Wordlessly, Gui Xiao leaned against the car window, her face without any superfluous expression on it. Reflected in her black eyes was the scenery of this little town that seemed familiar, yet was also extremely unfamiliar to her.

<>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.

Meng Xiaoshan’s restaurant was in the centre of town, in a location bounded by two military compounds.

It was an individual, three-storey building and was very grand and impressive.

Centered right at the doorway was a bronze lion the height of two people. Words engraved on a bronze sign described in detail the restaurant’s long history… Meng Xiaoshan was especially good at doing business and ran this restaurant such that it had a great reputation. In the early years when the restaurant first opened, Gui Xiao had still been in university. To spread the word about Meng Xiaoshan’s restaurant, she had specially written up a travelogue on each of the natural scenic sites near the town, and in each write-up she would somehow bring in mention of this restaurant. After graduating and starting work later on, she began to come into contact with people who did public relations and communications, so she had also introduced them to Meng Xiaoshan.

However, it still boiled down to the fact that this restaurant of hers had good food and was also classy. Thus, it became the number one restaurant in town and was deserving of that reputation.

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

The boss’s friend naturally got to be in the largest private room.

Gui Xiao specifically ordered the lamb spine hot pot. When the pot was brought out, its piping hot, white steam rose up and spread in front of her eyes. Picking up her chopsticks, Gui Xiao used them to poke and nudge the bones inside the pot, then stared vacantly for a while, then flipped the bones inside again a couple of times, then let her mind wander again for another long while, then stabbed at the lamb meat inside, which had long since been boiled to mush…

This dish, 羊蝎子 yang xiezi, literally means “lamb scorpion,” and is a hot pot that consists mainly of the meaty bones from the lamb’s spine. It’s Chinese name comes from the way the bones look like a scorpion with its many legs. (image credit: Baidu)

“Are you eating or do you just want to play? If you want to play, I’ll shut off the flame for you and you can just stir it slowly.”

“It was like I was under a spell.” Gui Xiao recounted in a quiet voice, “In Erenhot, my friend’s car was stolen, and I asked him to help. Later on, the gang of car thieves wanted to get revenge, but he taught them another lesson…”

Xiao Cai did not know about her and Lu Yanchen’s history, so at most she had made suggestive speculations and then merely thrown in a couple words of jest.

Hence, Gui Xiao was actually much calmer and open in front of Meng Xiaoshan. After all, the person before her was most clear on how, back then, she and he had started dating and how they had broken up. She had thought—she had guessed—that Qin Xiaonan’s matter had been Lu Yanchen’s way of backing down, wanting to give the two of them a chance to start over again. And so, she had been filled with hope and anticipation. And so, she had imagined reciprocated feelings. And so, she had brought about everything, brought about the entire situation of today.

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

“I didn’t expect that there were also all those things that happened in Inner Mongolia. I had thought you two really hadn’t seen each other for more than ten years, and that after suddenly hearing that he was getting married to someone you’re acquainted with, you just couldn’t take it.” Pushing back her chair, Meng Xiaoshan stood, opened the door, and called to the server outside to bring in some baijiu[1] [traditional Chinese alcoholic drink]. After giving these instructions, she also quietly asked that person, “Is my hubby still here?”

“Yup, he is. Hasn’t ended yet.”

“Tell him to come over here when he’s done eating.”

Meng Xiaoshan seemed as if she wanted to exhort her about something, but was also vacillating. The private dining room returned to quiet.

This carried on until the door was pushed open and Qin Feng, who carried himself with a rather unfettered, confident, almost bandit-like air, came in with large strides. Seeing Gui Xiao, he greeted with a smile, “You’re here?”

Gui Xiao nodded, smiling.

“My car is still by the canal. When we’re done eating, help me drive it back.” Meng Xiaoshan remembered her vehicle that had been left by the canal bank.

“Why did you leave the car by the canal?” Qin Feng took a seat. “You keep her company and drink a bit. I can’t drink.”

“Gui Xiao was feeling a little unwell, so I helped drive her car over here first.”

<>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 thought Meng Xiaoshan was finding someone to come drink with her and that was why she had called her husband, Qin Feng, over.

At the time, after Meng Xiaoshan broke things off with Hai Dong, she had basically cut off contact with those friends on Hai Dong’s side. Therefore, if one really were to tally up the people who would know both Gui Xiao and Lu Chen, there would only be Qin Feng. Qin Feng was more than ten years older than Meng Xiaoshan. He was the one who had owned the billiards hall and arcade, which years ago had been the most lucrative businesses in town.

Back in the day, more than half of the things that Gui Xiao and Lu Chen, Meng Xiaoshan and Hai Dong had done to have fun when they hung out together had taken place right under his nose. The auto repair shop, the billiards hall, and the arcade; that summer break when they were first together, they had basically hung out only in these few places. Gui Xiao blew lightly on her own bangs and flashed Qin Feng a perfunctory smile.

Detecting that something was not right with Gui Xiao, Qin Feng asked, “What’s the matter? Who has been picking on your little sis?”

“Lu Chen.”

Gui Xiao glared at Meng Xiaoshan and shook her head, indicating that she should not say anything.

“Lu Chen? Wasn’t the thing between them back when they were teenagers?” Qin Feng laughed. Young people, indeed. They sure knew how to make troubles for themselves.

“The feelings ran deep, I guess.” Meng Xiaoshan’s smile was insipid. “I picked her up from beside the canal just earlier and spent so long comforting and coaxing her. I was thinking that she merely had suddenly heard that her first love was going to marry an old schoolmate and acquaintance and couldn’t handle it for that moment. I hadn’t expected that they had actually seen one another in Inner Mongolia, too. It’s all more complicated than I thought, so I’m not sure what I should do.”

“What are you unsure about? Just say what needs to be said.” Qin Feng, in contrast, was decisive and direct. “Gui Xiao’s going to be thirty soon, too. In the past, she’d be considered to have lived the first half of her life already. She’s far into adulthood but you’re still treating her like a child?”

“Fine, then.” After getting lectured by her man, Meng Xiaoshan also felt that she had assumed too much of a parental mindset. And so, shoving aside her chair, she walked up behind Gui Xiao, bent down, and hugged Gui Xiao’s shoulders. “I didn’t tell you just now because I didn’t want you to get involved in all those stupid matters.”

Meng Xiaoshan was quiet for a moment, and then she sighed, “A few days ago, Hai Dong borrowed RMB 400,000 from me. Do you know for whom he did it?”

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

The words that followed were ones Gui Xiao had not expected at all.

About two or more years ago, business at Lu Yanchen’s father’s automobile repair shop had been dismal. There had been very few customers and the shop had frequently had to shut down. Later, it had only been because Lu Yanchen’s father had borrowed RMB 500,000 from Zhao Minshan’s family to grease some relationship wheels and had also partnered with a nearby car dealership and insurance company that the business was considered to have turned around. However, when Zhao Minshan’s family put forth the request to buy into the business and get dividends, Lu Yanchen’s father became hostile and broke off their previously friendly relations.

Consequently, Zhao Minshan’s family had pulled out the proof of loan and demanded that Lu Yanchen’s father pay back the money. A mediator had gotten involved, trying to play the role of peacemaker, but the matter had still remained deadlocked. Just recently, Zhao Minshan’s parents suddenly came up with this idea: The two families could just come together by marriage and then the rest could be forgotten. As long as Lu Yanchen’s father was willing to do this, he would not need to pay back the money and the bride price needed only to be a token amount. When Zhao Minshan heard that the marriage would be with Lu Yanchen, she had immediately said yes to it.

Everyone instantly hit it off on this idea. And so, just like that, the two families agreed to the marriage engagement.

“His dad is a lowlife. He borrows money and won’t pay it back, refuses to pay out dividends, and even outright treats his own oldest son like a thing that he can give to people to pay back his debt,” Meng Xiaoshan summarized.

Lu Yanchen had been completely kept in the dark through this whole thing. When he heard about it, the first things he did after rushing back were to borrow money, pay back the money, and find people to pull connections and put in all the good words they could, wanting to break off the engagement.

“Lu Yanchen came to find me right after he got back. Because I had a really good relationship with Zhao Minshan’s family some years back, we’ve partnered together on quite a few business ideas.” Qin Feng explained, “I went around Lu Yanchen’s family members and spoke to Zhao Minshan’s parents directly. The other party laid the conditions down on the table: yes, the engagement can be broken off, but one, the sum of one million needs to be paid back, and two, Lu Yanchen needs to find a reason that the Zhao family can go along with that allows them to gracefully back out of the mess. Lu Yanchen did not bargain back at all and even said that he did not need the bride price returned to him. On top of all that, he would compensate the Zhao family with another hundred thousand. This whole thing was discussed at the time with Lu Yanchen, me, and Zhao Minshan’s dad and mom all sitting down together. We went around Lu Yanchen’s parents and Zhao Minshan to do it.”

Meng Xiaoshan gave a light “humph,” remarking, “If Zhao Minshan knew about it, things wouldn’t be so peaceful.”

“Can’t say for sure.” Qin Feng laughed. “The bias you have against her sure is bad.”

<>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, my relationship with Lu Chen was pretty good in the past, but if I had to choose, I’d definitely choose to stand on your side.” Circling around the table, Meng Xiaoshan walked back over to her husband. “He’s a soldier who has only saved a few hundred thou over these years, and now he’s borrowed another few hundred thou to pay back debts and break off an engagement. He not only is poor and has nothing, but he’s also carrying debt. Based on what I heard from you about what he did in Inner Mongolia, I can tell he still has feelings for you. But this time, the control’s in your hands. Don’t be impetuous; think things through carefully.”

Qin Feng was not very happy when he heard this. “You child, you…”

“Just whom are you talking about?” Meng Xiaoshan was displeased as well.

“Fine, fine. You woman, you.” He shook his head. “Lu Yanchen is quite a good person. Over these years, so many children have been raised up in this town and gone out from it, but he is the only one I think highly of. How high a person can reach depends on chance and luck, but how far he can go depends on his character.”

“Don’t you go pushing Gui Xiao into the fiery pit. His family has all that crap that I can’t even be bothered to mention going on in it…”

Qin Feng cleared his throat.

Meng Xiaoshan huffed, “I’ll be fair with what I say. Gui Xiao has or can have whatever she wants. What type of pot you are determines what type of lid you’re matched with. What does Lu Chen have that makes him worthy of her?”

Qin Feng countered, “The guy put his head on the line and shed his blood for the country. His best ten years were spent protecting our homes and defending our nation. You tell me, what makes him worthy?”

“His head’s still with him, and he didn’t shed all that much blood.”

“Meng Xiaoshan.” Qin Feng’s face darkened.

Meng Xiaoshan ceased her fire. “I’ll stop talking. But you can’t keep speaking well of him either. We’ll both be fair.”

With a laugh, Qin Feng shook his head. “For me to not say anything would truly be unfair to him.”

<>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 pot, the sliced potatoes that had been tossed in early on were now boiled until their texture was like pulp.

She took one between her chopsticks. The potato slice broke into countless little pieces and fell back into the boiling meat broth.

Roiling inside the liquid were all different sorts of things that could fill the belly. Roiling in Gui Xiao’s mind was everything that had happened after they encountered one another again. Had it been that day at the gas station? Or when they had dinner? Or was it later on that night? Perhaps some time during that period, he had learned that a marriage engagement had been arranged for him.

“Gui Xiao?” Meng Xiaoshan called to her.

Gui Xiao gave a shake of her head. “I’m fine. I was just thinking about those days back in university when my stomach was always empty and hungry and I would get through the day with just two steamed buns.”

The husband-and-wife couple did not even know how they could respond to this conversation topic.

Gui Xiao was genuinely hungry. She slipped on a pair of plastic gloves, then picked up the piece of lamb spine that had just been pulled out and cooled, lowered her head, and began to eat. After eating for quite a while, she spoke again softly. “Besides him, all these years, I’ve never liked anyone—not even one person. It might be that if I miss this chance with him, I’ll just end up not bothering to get married.”

The husband-and-wife couple grasped the meaning of these words.

“Life should continue to be lived; marriage is not a necessity.” This had always been Gui Xiao’s mentality over these years.

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

After lunch, Qin Feng went to pick up the car for Meng Xiaoshan.

With nothing to do, Gui Xiao idled the time away by hanging out in Meng Xiaoshan’s office, one moment sitting beside the window, another moment going over to rifle through her cabinet, which covered an entire wall. Meng Xiaoshan was feeling agitated and irritable as well due to Gui Xiao’s matters. “Let’s go to my place. You’ve made me feel so vexed I could die.”

And so, the two arrived at that little lane behind their middle school. There, she saw that the courtyard home of Meng Xiaoshan’s family had been renovated.

The originally single-level courtyard home had now become a three-level house. However, despite the passage of so many years, that pool-table house had still been kept. Gui Xiao pushed open the white, glass door. Inside, four connected sets of heating units made the room cozily warm. There was a full afternoon sun as well, and its light spilled in through the almost full-length wall of glass—this was the feeling of being bathed in sunlight.

As Gui Xiao ran her hand over the pool table with its green felt surface, she thought of how, when she was fourteen years old, she had learned to play pool here, with Hai Dong teaching her and Meng Xiaoshan giving instructions.

<>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’m going to pour some water. You go rack up first.” Tossing her coat onto a wicker chair in the corner, Meng Xiaoshan walked out the door.

Before long, she was back, but she was not holding a glass of water.

“Lu Chen’s here. Do you want to see him?”

Gui Xiao was still bent over, fishing balls out of the pockets. When she heard this question, she looked up and stared dazedly at Meng Xiaoshan.

Seeing this look of hers, Meng Xiaoshan knew that everything she had said this afternoon had basically been useless. Gui Xiao was the still the same Gui Xiao of the very beginning. Feelings and relationships were feelings and relationships; life was life. For her, the line was too clearly drawn between the two. She simply could not see past that perspective and likely in this lifetime would never be able to see past it, and she would end up falling and suffering because of relationships.

Meng Xiaoshan grabbed her wrist. “Where there are people, there will be eyes watching. Once the whole breaking off of the engagement thing blows up and news spreads, things will definitely be really troublesome. If you two want to talk, do it here in my home. I’ll tell him to come in first.”

The highs and lows of Gui Xiao’s emotions had been too extreme today, and now she actually grew panicked. “… What should I say? I’m still not prepared…”

“What should you say?” Meng Xiaoshan was amused. “I’m telling you, Gui Xiao, I wasn’t the one who informed him. He was smart enough that when he saw an empty car parked at that little junction by the canal, he asked Hai Dong who the owner of the license plate is, and then was able to guess that you’re here at my place. So, you don’t have to say anything whatsoever; see what he has to say.”

Giving her a pat on her back, Meng Xiaoshan told her to wait in the room, and then she went out to bring Lu Yanchen inside.

Gui Xiao leaned against the pool table, watching as he stepped over from the other side of the two large, deep-green metal doors. Although the large wolfdog was tethered, when it saw a strange man, it still barked furiously. Turning his head, Lu Yanchen recognized the dog’s four snow-white paws, and in a low voice he uttered the dog’s name.

After another couple of barks, the wolfdog gave a little howl and then lay down on its belly. Back when Lu Yanchen saw it, the dog had only been a few months old. It was remarkable that it was still able to recognize him now.

<>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 hands were behind her back, fingers gripping the rail of the pool table.

Striding up two stairsteps and into the house, Lu Yanchen gazed at her as she stood there swathed in sunlight. This girl’s life was going well now—actually it should be said, her life was going exceptionally well—and he was afraid she would be troubled by matters that should not have belonged to her in the first place. His heart could not bear to let that happen. Watching her hold back her tears this morning as she left the auto repair shop had hurt more than when he had broken his arm while executing a high-altitude parachute jump under circumstances of having nothing to guide him; it had left him more flustered, to the point that his hands had felt numb, than the first time he disarmed a time bomb.

Since he could not drag her into the fiery pit with him, then he had to climb out of it with all his might.

Truly, in his whole life, he had only ever loved this one girl. He could not bear to let her go.

“The thing between me and Zhao Minshan is really complicated, but it’s not what you think.” He was trying to use the most concise words to finish describing the situation as fast as possible.

To his surprise, he had only just begun speaking before Gui Xiao quietly interrupted him. “I know.”

She did not want him to have to recount again those difficulties from the realities of life—his savings drained, the weight of debt bearing down on him. That was just too wounding to a person’s pride.

<>The translator sincerely asks that you read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, its actual site of posting. Thank you.

Slowly, Lu Yanchen nodded. From the looks of things, Qin Feng had already told her everything, what should be said and also what should not be said.

He did not waste any more words, then. “Give me some time, Gui Xiao.”

Leaning against the pool table, Gui Xiao gave a slight nod.

“It’ll be very soon.” As soon as he finished saying this, he, with absolute resolution, repeated quietly, “Very soon.”

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

[1] 白酒 “bai jiu.” Baijiu literally means “white alcohol.” This traditional Chinese alcoholic beverage is technically classified as a spirit and is made from sorghum and other grains. Those who did not grow up exposed to baijiu will often, on their first taste of it, describe it with adjectives such as “strong,” “fiery,” “harsh,” “biting,” etc. It has a high alcohol by volume (ABV), typically in the range of 40-60%. (For comparison, a typical wine is ~9-15%, vodka is 40%.)

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:

“How high a person can reach depends on chance and luck, but how far he can go depends on his character.”  — Qin Feng from The Road Home

Very wise words. I cannot agree more.

 

Gui Xiao’s initial reaction upon hearing of his engagement was because she had had hope; she interpreted–correctly, I might say—that Lu Chen’s request regarding Qin Xiaonan was his way of giving them a chance. That is why she was devastated when she found out about him and Zhao Minshan. But she didn’t blame him; she only felt it was her own fault for reading too much into his actions. And then after she found out the whole reason behind the engagement, she had had to process the information, but she felt heart break for him. “She did not want him to have to recount again those difficulties from the realities of life—his savings drained, the weight of debt bearing down on him. That was just too wounding to a person’s pride.”

 

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

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37 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 11

  1. Thanks Hoju..

  2. Finally I can breathe easily

  3. Wow what a relief he’s been dealing with a lot but he’s still love her 🥰

    • Thank you hoju hope you had a wonderful Christmas see you next Tuesday ❤️

      • It’s been a great Christmas season, just crazily busy. Hope your Christmas is wonderful as well!

        Yup, neither of them has ever forgotten the other person. Don’t worry; Squadron Commander Lu has never been indecisive. 😉

  4. *tears* So there was good reason for the whole engagement situation. His dad is such trash! Fingers crossed that the engagement breakup doesn’t get too messy for them. His description of his heart breaking when she held back tears was so raw. Thanks Hoju!

    • There is no way you can justify his dad’s actions, even if we haven’t heard his side of the story. (And you will; it will not change your opinion.)

      Just watch and see how Squadron Commander Lu deals with things. 😉

  5. “Give me some time, Gui Xiao.”
    Wht a relief😊

  6. I’m loving this novel so far 😍.
    Thank you Hoju for translating it 😄

  7. Thank you Hoju!

    How soon tho? 😦
    I feel bad for Gui Xiao if she has to suffer along with his family’s drama…

  8. Snif snif thanks Hoju, it’s very emotional 😣
    Joyeux Noél

  9. glad that their love for each other is still going strong
    thank you

  10. Tears for this chapter. Very moving. Thank you.

    • ❤ In many aspects, be it Meng Xiaoshan’s protection of her friend, Qin Feng’s wise assessment of Lu Yanchen, Gui Xiao’s genuine heartbreak for Lu Chen and her understanding, or Lu Yanchen’s resolution to climb out of the fiery pit for the only girl he had ever loved.

      Thanks for reading!

  11. I feel like Meng X is rather rude with her assessment of Lu Chen but yet I understand she’s just protective of her good friend

    • Meng Xiaoshan certainly is biased and she is deliberately pointing out all the worst things about his situation. No pros and cons here! Of course she knows there are good things about Lu Yanchen, and as she said, she certainly would consider herself to have had a good relationship with him, but she is trying to watch Gui Xiao’s back and is laying out the worst for her so GX knows what could possibly come.

      That is also why you need Qin Feng. He knows both Lu Chen and Gui Xiao and is not all that more invested in one over the other. It’s not completely unbiased, since he had high opinions of Lu Chen, but it is more fair than Meng Xiaoshan’s assessment. He is also explaining the facts of what he knows and then letting Gui Xiao make a choice. (I really like calm, mature uncle Qin Feng.)

  12. Thank you for the chapter.

  13. What a great relief! I definitely know there’s a story behind the engagement coz the Lu Chen I know cannot be pushed around.

    Thanks Hoju… keep up the good work

  14. Thanks Hoju, at least this chapter eases the pain of the last one. Aww i love them both so much, fighting LZ!

  15. Bittersweet chapter.😢 Hope they get back together soon. Thank you hoju! Happy holidays!❤

  16. Truly, in his whole life, he had only ever loved this one girl. He could not bear to let her go.

    find me a man like Lu Yanchen !

  17. Yay! So glad there isn’t any long drawn misundersta nding! And I am glad they are both showing that they still care for each other..

  18. I dont know why, but this made me cry T.T

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