Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 41

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So… we finally read about that moment. 😦  But on a happier note, yay for the new parents!

Chapter 41 — Which Way does the Road Home Lead? (5)

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 day of their breakup, Gui Xiao made the phone call in the main lobby of the telecommunications office across from the main gate of her school.

Six public telephones, the type for which payment was given by insertion of an IC card, were lined up in a row against the floor-to-ceiling windows on one side of the telecommunications office lobby. All of them were occupied. Gui Xiao stood in line, waiting all the way until nighttime self-study class was about to start and a spot finally opened up when an older woman left.

She sat down on the black leather seat, inserted the IC card into the slot, and dialed that number that she had memorized by heart.

It had been four months already.

Every time she called him, he was either in his unit or it was an inconvenient time for him to answer the phone. When they did have a rare chance to actually talk, she would complain aggrievedly, and then he would fall silent… It was to the point now that she was scared to even call him. Many times after she hung up, she would regret it. Why was her temper like this these last few months, so unreasonable, every word she spoke containing thorns?

She wanted to say, “Lu Chen, bad things have happened in my family…”

She wanted to say, “Every day at home, I see my mom and dad fighting and wanting a divorce. And I see that woman. I used to idolize my dad so much, but now I really, especially hate him. And I pity my mom. I can’t sleep at night and I don’t understand what I hear in class. The teachers in every one of my classes have called me in for a talk…”

Tonight, even more so, she wanted to say, “I said I was going to report my dad. He threw my things out of the house.”

She had many things repressed in her heart that she wanted to say. But it was not as if he could come back.

After waiting for a long time, on the other end of the line, he finally spoke. “Gui Xiao? Is there something urgent?”

As she listened to his slightly heavy breathing, her tears suddenly spilled over and would not stop. “Is it not good that I’m calling you so late? You’re busy?”

He did not deny this. “It’s not too bad. Speak quickly. It’ll be fine.”

She had waited in line for more than forty minutes. It was going to be nighttime self-study class very shortly. She did not even have time to go buy dinner from the cafeteria…

“Gui Xiao?” Lu Chen softly called her name.

“I want to hear you talk. Can you just say a bit more?” Gui Xiao uttered in a quiet voice, sniffling slightly. She rummaged through the skirt of her school uniform, searching for a tissue but unable to find one… With no other choice, she could only swipe at her tears with the back of her hand, looking so very wretched. “… I miss you, Lu Chen.”

“You’re sick? A summer cold?”

“A little bit.”

“Go buy some medication, okay?”

“Mm-hmm…”

The person at the payphone behind her, noticing that Gui Xiao was curled up with her head against the plastic panel beside the phone, crying but, no matter what, unwilling to let her sobs become audible, poked his head out and looked over in her direction, wanting to watch the entertainment.

“Why aren’t you saying anything?” He paused for a moment, then said, “If there’s nothing important, I’m going to hang up first. Remember to go buy some medication.”

“… Could you not hang up, please?”

“When I’m done the training, I’ll come see you. Just wait another three months.”

“Lu Chen, don’t hang up, please? I haven’t really talked to you for almost four months…”

“……”

She could not hold it in anymore. Her sobs slipped free from her lips.

In these four months, he had heard her cry too many times. But one of them was in Beijing and the other out in the border area; he was completely powerless. He did not understand, nor did he know how or what he could say to console her. As he listened to her crying uncontrollably in the telephone, her sobs choking up her throat, he genuinely could not understand why she could not simply use words to speak about it, why she had to solve things by crying…

“Gui Xiao, can you not be a little more mature and considerate?”

“… No, I can’t. What gives everyone the right to tell me to be mature and considerate?”

Inside the telephone booth, his hand was clenched into a fist and pressed against the frosted glass. His entire forearm and hand were quivering slightly. All of him was like a cord that was being pressed down upon and stretched, being infinitely weighed down… Amid the sound of her weeping, he forced himself to calm down and then calm down some more. “I’m hanging up now. When training is over—”

“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…”

Afterwards, whenever he called up this scene in his memory, the telephone’s hang-up sound would still echo clearly beside his ear.

But he actually could not say for sure whether he had been the one to hang up the call or Gui Xiao had thrown the receiver down in a moment of anger.

This cut off of connection lasted almost nine years.

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

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

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

Xu Yao and Gui Xiao’s father departed together for Beijing that day.

Prior to leaving, the father-in-law went by himself, without Gui Xiao, to see Lu Yanchen in the hospital room. Following in after him were two of the leadership team from the military base. When Gui Yuanshan spoke, he still carried the tone of a superior, unwilling to demonstrate in front of outsiders that he, as a father-in-law, was giving his son-in-law any preferential treatment. Lu Yanchen had always had a “business is business” attitude as well, and so he merely waited for his two superiors and father-in-law to conclude their expressions of concern and care.

Gui Yuanshan took his hand into a handshake. “You worked hard. Good work.”

Their eyes met. Gui Yuanshan then also gave a light pat to the back of Lu Yanchen’s hand.

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

That night, Gui Xiao brought their daughter to see her daddy.

As the baby was still too small, a little frame that could be cupped in two hands, Gui Xiao did not dare hold her herself and asked a nurse to help push that small wheeled bassinet to Lu Yanchen to let him see her.

The expression that Lu Yanchen wore as he learned, under the nurse’s directions, how to hold an infant was even more careful than when he was disarming a bomb. He did not hold her for long, though, before he was worried that he still could not sit steady enough and might accidentally drop his daughter, and he carefully handed her back over to Gui Xiao.

This was his first time being a dad. Although his posture as he held his daughter was not lovely to look at in the least, he still could be considered to have actually, truly held her in his arms.

Lu Yanchen’s general physical condition was strong, and before long he was able to leave his hospital bed.

His serious wound was on his back, but there were also quite a few injuries, large and small, in various places on his body and his leg was broken as well. Hence, he had no choice but to ask a nurse to bring him over to give his wife a surprise. The nurse was a thoughtful person, and after bringing him into the hospital room, she told him that she would be back for him in an hour, and then left to give this young couple some space and privacy.

Inside the door, the cloth curtain by the bed only half-concealed what was behind it. He could see Gui Xiao’s foot hooked around the leg of the bassinet, pushing it back and forth, while her lips murmured something. He surmised that she wanted to sing a lullaby, yet did not know any so was just putting on the appearance that she did.

Rolling his wheelchair over and lifting up the curtain, he saw her in the midst of biting down on a wide straw and drinking milk tea.

That tuneless lullaby for which she could not even remember all the lyrics abruptly cut off. Surprised, she exclaimed, “You’re allowed off the bed?”

“Are you allowed to drink milk tea during the postpartum confinement period?” This was what he was concerned about.

“Yup. You have lots of breast milk when you drink this.”

She set her paper cup of milk tea onto the bedside dresser and moved the little baby bassinet so that it was in front of him.

Their little girl’s eyes were open, and with great solemnity, she was kicking her legs in an especially rhythmic way.

“Yesterday I was still finding it strange that she doesn’t smile. I was even thinking, oh no, if her temperament’s like yours, I won’t be able to take it.” Gui Xiao was sitting on the bed, and she placed her elbows lightly on the rim of the bassinet. “But then the doctor said she needs to be at least a month old before she’ll know how to smile.”

Extending his right hand to his daughter’s face, he ran the pads of his fingers lightly over her little cheek.

His little girl stopped kicking her legs. Then, without any warning, she let out a wail of “Waaah!”

<>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.

“… She’s hungry,” Gui Xiao comforted Lu Yanchen, basing this on her few days’ experience as a mother.

With well-practiced motions, she picked up their daughter. However, right as she was about to begin nursing, she realized that something was not right.

Lu Yanchen was wholly wearing a manner of “Not bad. Finally get to see how breastfeeding is done,” and unruffled, he settled back into his wheelchair, waiting to watch her.

“What’s there to watch? … Turn around, turn around.”

She had already felt terribly embarrassed when the doctor was teaching her how to breastfeed. Now, to have to suddenly do it in front of Lu Yanchen—she was even less able to do it.

Lu Yanchen gave a slight lift of his brow, not moving.

As a young mom who had newly taken on this role, Gui Xiao decisively chose to draw the curtains shut and, while she was at it, turn her back to hide from him.

On the other side of the curtain, the sound of crying stopped.

It was very quiet inside that hospital room. A large clock on the wall dutifully counted the minutes and seconds for them. Lu Yanchen thought, in another two or three days, when Gui Xiao’s shyness as a new mother had faded, he could get a good look then. And so, without anything to do, he boredly sat in the wheelchair, listening to the noise of the second hand as it made its rounds and imagining the picture behind that curtain…

“That Xu Yao,” he unexpectedly asked, “how did you two meet?”

Who and what type of people Gui Xiao had befriended over these many years, in those days from her high school era to when she was working, he truly did not know. Other than that girlfriend of Qin Mingyu’s who had seemed to suddenly drop in from the sky, he had not had the opportunity to understand Gui Xiao’s social circle. In particular, there was this Xu Yao; the relationship between the two of them seemed a little too special.

“He’s a high school schoolmate,” Gui Xiao replied on the other side of the curtain.

One second, two seconds, three seconds…

From behind the curtain, a pair of large, glistening black eyes appeared. She asked in a small voice, “Are you jealous? He has a wife already. Didn’t I already tell you that?”

As if he did not understand what she was saying, Lu Yanchen remarked, “I thought he and you are relatives.”

Gui Xiao fixed a suspicious look on him. A frown creasing his forehead because of her stare, Lu Yanchen stiffly tossed out the sentence, “Hurry up and nurse.”

… He was jealous, random, groundless jealousy or not.

Her heart feeling sweetened, as if she had eaten a mouthful of honey, Gui Xiao disappeared behind the curtain once more. “My mom got sick when I was in high school, right? He helped me then; he had his dad perform the operation on my mom. His dad was the top doctor and recognized authority in that field at the time.” A drop of water in need, returned with a spring indeed[1]. Hence, even though they had not maintained frequent, close contact over these years, if Xu Yao asked to borrow money, she would absolutely help him with all that she could.

Gui Xiao did not really like talking about those few years.

Behind the curtain, holding the baby, she groped for her mobile phone and then handed it out through the curtain to Lu Yanchen, saying, “My mom called this morning. She said, she’s the elder and it wouldn’t be right if she were the one to initiate the call the first time. She wants you to call her back. Have a look; she’s the first number in the call history log. My mom’s a very serious and proper person, much more serious than my dad. I’m giving you a heads-up first…”

Whenever she talked about her parents, she actually did not have much to say. She was closer to her mother. It was when they were still young that he had heard her mention that her mother worked in foreign affairs and was a very stern, serious person. When Gui Xiao was a child, her mother, due to work reasons, had often brought her along and flown around everywhere with her, which ended up causing Gui Xiao to, for the longest time, have motion sickness on airplanes and a fear of flying. Gui Xiao’s parents had met through arranged matchmaking, and they had chosen to form a family together because they had similar dreams and ideals when it came to the revolutionary cause. Their values were similar, but alas, despite trying for many years to develop and nurture feelings between them, there was no obvious effect. Owing to this, at a very young age Gui Xiao had already come to a conclusion: the freedom to choose one’s love and spouse is greater than anything.

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

As Lu Yanchen pulled up the call history log, he actually felt a tiny bit of unease over the fact that his mother-in-law was about to do a “troop review” on him.

After considering briefly, he decided to step out of the hospital room.

This hospital room that Gui Xiao was in was at the end of the corridor, facing a window.

Out of proper manners, he used his own phone to make the call. Following what seemed like an endless ringing tone, the other party picked up. “Hello?”

Should he address her as “Auntie”? He felt that that would not be really appropriate.

In a proper, rigid† tone, Lu Yanchen addressed her, “Mom.” His throat tightened for a moment, and then he continued, “This is Lu Yanchen. Hello. My apologies that it has taken me so long to call you.”

For this elder on the other end of the line, this truly was her first time being called “Mom” by a young man. Taken aback for a moment, she paused, then smiled.

What Lu Yanchen had not expected was that the first thing Gui Xiao’s mother brought up would be that non-combatant evacuation operation, saying that she had heard from some other people that were it not for the cover that Lu Yanchen and his colleague had provided, the likelihood would have been very high that those two young girls would have died.

“A sincere thank you to you, Xiao Lu [Little Lu]. Thank you.” Her successive expressions of thanks left Lu Yanchen with no words in answer. The only thing missing from this dialogue was a response from him of “I am here to serve the people!”

The other party turned the conversation back to the real point. “From the very beginning, Xiao-Xiao’s father and I have had different standpoints. With regard to the relationship between the two of you, I have never expressed any opposition. Back then, Xiao-Xiao brought a lot of your high school test papers back for me to see. She said that you are especially good in language arts and that your essays were frequently used in class as model examples of good writing. I knew that she wanted me to praise you, so I did read through them all carefully. They were very good. And I could tell that you, child, have great pride and high aspirations. Later when Xiao-Xiao told me that you and her separated, I thought it was a great pity.”

These were yet again more unexpected words.

Since young, he had liked reading all sorts of books to pass the time, and his grades in language arts had indeed been relatively good. Even when he had neglected his studies in middle school and first-year high school, his grades had not fallen in that particular subject. Back then, after he finished his college entrance exams, Gui Xiao had given the justification that it was “for learning purposes” and collected all of his language arts test papers from him, taking them away. He had thought this was just one of those little notions of young girls, that she merely wanted to keep them as little mementos. He had never imagined that Gui Xiao would bring them, like they were treasures, to her mom for her to see.

Now, at past the age of thirty, receiving such praise from the mouth of an elder whom he had never met before gave him an indescribable sort feeling—it was kind of weird…

<>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.

The duration of this call was impressively long. When he returned to the hospital room, Gui Xiao was already done nursing the baby and had just finished drinking the bubble tea that had been left over prior to nursing, less than half a cup. Spotting Lu Yanchen, she hurriedly asked, “How did you and my mom have so much to say? What did you guys talk about?”

Lu Yanchen roughly recounted the conversation to her. When Gui Xiao heard the word “essays,” she hugged her pillow and laughed. “Don’t look at me like that. I really did think that what you wrote was really good.” Reaching back in her memory, she told him, “One of the sentences that you wrote in your third mock exam, I used in my college entrance exam.”

Alas, when they were together, she had not comprehended the meaning within those words, and it was only later that she understood the significance behind that sentence.

This was the sentence: “The journey of life is shadowy and hard to tread, but press on and be honed with each step down its path.”

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

[1] See footnote [4] in chapter 2.

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
41 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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19 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 41

  1. This was a sweet chapter, but i’m so sad that only 3 translations are left. Already missing Gui Xiao & Lu Chen.

    • Good things eventually will come to an end. It just means you can go back and re-read the story. 🙂
      I’m so glad you like it, though. Thank you for reading!

  2. Love this , thank you Hoju have a nice week-end

  3. Thanks Hoju
    I think they did not give a name to their daughter yet?😅

  4. I caught up to the latest chapter. It is 4am now at my time zone.
    I just couldn’t bear to stop and without knowing I reach the latest chapter.

    So happy to see them able to be together as a family.

    Thanks for the update Hoju.
    Hope you and your family are well at these times. Stay safe. ♥️

    • I hope you got to sleep in the next day. 🙂 I’m so glad you like the story so much that you would give up on your sleep for it. 🙂

      Thank you! We are doing well. I hope you are well as well. Please take care, stay safe, stay healthy. ❤

  5. So sweet! Love these two!
    Finally found out about the break up too.. I think those years apart were somewhere needed for them both to grow to become the best versions of themselves who can now firmly walk their path together.
    Thank you so much! Wishing you and your family good health! ♥️

    • I think the breakup was inevitable, given their maturity levels and the situation their relationship was in. Older, more mature people might have been able to pull through the situation of long-distance and family upheaval, but not a teenager and a man who just passed the age of majority. They are able to come back together again and still be who they are, because they have matured.

      Wishing you safety and health as well. Take care.

  6. yesterday I started reading this novel and I am completely in love. I love the characters and the way everything is written, thank you very much!

    • You caught up in a day! Welcome to the novel. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it thus far. We are close to the ending, so remember to come back. 🙂
      Thanks for reading and saying hi.

  7. Finally the reveal of the breakup but a sweet chapter nonetheless. Both GX n LC have such strong character however they are putty in each other hands. I’m a fan of bubble milk tea too GX!

    Thanks again hoju! Much love, stay safe and do take care ualls 🙂

    • Yup, the actual moment of breakup. It’s very… normal, isn’t it? It was a bad situation, lack of communication (on both sides), and somehow the moment deteriorated so that that happened… and it was bound to happen with the circumstances and the way they were both avoiding truly talking.

      Yes! I think Gui Xiao is a strong female character, not inferior to Lu Yanchen at all, just different. She psychologically could not handle his line of work, but neither is he suited for all the interpersonal relationships that Gui Xiao’s work requires (and we can infer, through her interaction with Xiao Cai, Xu Yao, and her boss’s trust in her, etc. that she is excellent in this aspect).

      I love bubble milk tea. Don’t need anything fancy. Just original bubble milk tea. Yum.

      Please stay safe as well!

  8. GX has already assisted with LYC meeting his mother in-law
    thank you

  9. ty for the chapter! stay safe!

  10. I am wondering what anime the picture is from?

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