Chapter 20: Returning Home (5)
I want my wife!
I woke up really early on New Year’s Eve. This town did not ban fireworks like Beijing did. The sounds of the children’s laughter as they played with the fireworks came in from outside the window. When I was young, I loved the coming of the new year. There were new clothes to wear, big red packets to take, and I was carefree with no fear- even now I still loved the new year- because I didn’t need to go to school…… Actually even up to now I hadn’t run into many problems. I was just worried about my work and exams. Thinking about this, it really didn’t count as a major setback or frustration. I was a little envious of the females on TV who acted in those shows where they would brave through the winds and storms to reach clear skies. At least as it neared a new year, one could take a look at life as it kept changing, peering into the past.
After eating lunch, I planned to self discipline myself. At that time, my mother had not yet become an stock investor and my home had no computer. I braved the cold wind to go to an internet cafe, as I prepared to send an email to Xiao Xi.
When I opened my mailbox, the computer cursor flashed and the computer screen was completely white. Because I did not know whether I wanted it to be a love letter or a simple narrative. I wrote some and deleted some, deleted some more and continued writing. I finally wrote: Xiao Xi, my family has begun to wrap some dumplings. Although this kind of a tradition isn’t upheld in this region, my mum says eating dumplings represents reunion. I hope that, next New Year’s Eve, you and I will be sitting around the reunion table eating dumplings. Oh and I never understood, although your dream was to enter Peking University’s medical school, why did you end up going to the Economics Department?
I silently read this email two times. I felt this message seemed like a love letter and also like a narrative. I had even brought up some nutritional issues within the email. It seemed that I really couldn’t stop myself from modelling the email after the standard love letter. Only then did I carefully and solemnly hit “Send”.
In the ancient times, did the girl who sent the swan goose out to send a letter look up at the sky everyday, waiting for her carrier pigeon to return? But why would she even allow the bird to poop on her face so easily like that, especially with the quality of the air, in the era of rampant birds and beasts. The pretty daughter in a humble family that I imagined wiped her face while thinking foolishly: Science and technology have developed tons. I don’t need to really “raise my hand and look around”, expecting a reply. As long as I quietly wait, it will be okay.
On the way back home from the internet cafe, I received a call from Yao Zi.
Yao Zi shouted into the phone: “Lin Lin, let’s go release some fireworks tonight.”
I calmly asked: “Say it, who else do you want to invite.”
Yao Zi was cheerful at the other end: “How did you know I wanted to invite some other people?”
“Rubbish. Being with you for twenty years, I haven’t even seen you invite me out to play with a kite. This time, you’ve made it sound so romantic. What kind of a crafty idea do you have in mind?”
“Hehe, you’re still the one who understands me. Gimme a kiss~~ I have also invited Shan Shan, and I will let Shan Shan invite Fang Yuke. The four of us can go release some fireworks. Tonight at 10:00, let’s meet by the road of Jiang Huai. Shan Shan will drive over.”
“When will that rascal Shan Shan get a driver’s license? The driver’s license he got abroad doesn’t count domestically.”
“Ugh, when did you become such a grandmother (TLN: alludes to women who love to be nosy and scold other ppl). Shan Shan has driven his car so many years abroad, so he can’t be stopped by a mere driver’s license after he returns. See you later!”
In fact, I really didn’t want Fang Yuke and Yao Zi to go out together. Fang Yuke’s heart already had someone he liked. Yesterday afternoon, the expression that appeared when he mentioned her, I also saw on Xiao Xi’s face when he looked at Yi Lian. Liking someone whose heart had someone else was very painful. I feared that Yao Zi would become fatally attracted to him with unrequited longing just like me, even though the longest Yao Zi stayed with her boyfriends was 3 months at the max……
At night, we ate dumplings and watched CCTV New Year’s Gala with our grandparents. Our parents began to attend to the guests and play mahjong. As I watched the clock turn to 9:00, I decided that I would go for a stroll while heading to Jianghuan Road.
It was really sad that all the businesses had closed on the last day of the lunar year. As I looked at the fireworks by myself, I seemed very lonely, especially when as I walked on the Jiangdong Big Bridge. Many lovers turned back to look at me. I think they must have been afraid I would commit suicide and jump.
If I had known this earlier, I would have set out at 10:00 pm instead. But now, I didn’t know how long it would take me to return. Continuing on and returning were just about the same, just like my love. I had persevered with my pain and had unfortunately let go of it. Those indiscernible thoughts and longings nagged at me. I shouted, as I continued to fight for my love. But these longings arose from pain, incessantly reminding me, just as they made me halt and turn my head.
On this lively, auspicious and peaceful evening, it was the first time I began to solemnly consider these issues concerning feelings, so much so that I began to examine yesterday’s question: What was the definition of love? In front of the Love God, was I really a pious believer? Why would I be indecisive? I shrunk my neck and pulled the down-filled clothing around me a little tighter, as I lay over the railing, watching the river warmly flow under the bridge and flow under my body. I felt a little emotional, almost like I wanted to cry. The fireworks from a distance became more and more beautiful, and I felt more and more distressed. This was not really like me. I remembered when I accompanied my mother and watched “Autumn in my Heart” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn_in_My_Heart). When Song Hye Kyo lay on her oppa’s body and died, my mom cried like her own son had died. I hadn’t shed a single tear. But now, my heart had been indescribably drawn out upon seeing fireworks.
Behind me, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I didn’t turn around. If a nosy auntie arrived behind me, advised me not to jump into the river, it would wreck my mournful mood and cut short my beautiful atmosphere.
The person behind me patted my shoulder again. I angrily turned around, just about to yell: “Don’t meddle in other people’s business”, when I found that Fang Yuke stood in front of me, suspiciously watching me. He asked: “ Enjoying the breezy wind on a hot day?”
I nodded: “ standing on the bridge looking at the scenery, looking at the people in the scenery watching me from upstairs. I’m pursuing an artistic mood.”
Fang Yuke walked forwards a few steps and put his fingers onto the railing, laughing as he said, “You’ve mastered reciting poems. You’ve improved.”
I disdainfully said, “I’ve already composed some poems back at KTV. Reciting poems is child’s play as far as I’m concerned.”
Fang Yuke didn’t jeer at me like he used to. Instead, he merely laughed, looking at the running water underneath the bridge. I faced the horizon. As it approached midnight, the fireworks began to intensify, as they became more and more gorgeous. The river water was reflected with so many [fireworks] that it became every color under the sun. It was extremely pleasant. I asked Fang Yuke: “Fang Yuke, why do you like your first love?”
Fang Yuke warmly looked at the surface of the river: “I like everything about her, including her bad temper, and foolish brains. If she were any dumber, I would really go with her to a second or third rate university. I don’t know if she would be happier there, than now.”
It turned out that that person was at Peking University. It was only that I really couldn’t tell if he wanted a beautiful woman master without a country/power. I continued to ask the question that perplexed me the most: “If your first love doesn’t like you, will you give up?”
Fang Yuke silently looked at the river water under his feat.
I anxiously said, “I’m only saying if, so it’s only a hypothesis.”
Fang Yuke lifted his head to look at me. The fireworks sprinkled brightly colored shadows upon his face. He steadily looked into my eyes, almost as if he was making a serious and solemn commitment: “No. I will always be close to her. I will always be by her side, until she is inseparable from me.”
I surprisedly spoke: “Could it be that your first love is Ru Ting? No wonder you’re inseparable from her. Her temper is indeed not good. Last time when we were at your house, it was almost as if she was having convulsions. I have no idea why you would compare her to a boy so thus, I have no choice to but to conclude that a lover’s point of view often takes on a whole attitude of its own. But, her head is definitely not dumb, even though in your eyes, everyone is dumb. Plus, the whole world knows that she likes you. You can pretend to be worried over yonder, aloof, while not confessing your feelings. Are you guys just missing something to pierce through that one layer of thin paper? Do you need me to help?” I hadn’t waited for him to answer before I exclaimed: “Yesterday I even thought that you were like me, with unrequited longing. Alas, in one night I have lost another friend to go through difficulties with.”
Fang Yuke did not pacify my wounded spirit. Instead, he looked at the faraway fireworks and said, “I am thinking of how powerful the inertia of a person’s line of thought can be. Others must explain something for them clearly from beginning to end before they can admit to their mistake, and before they can ponder over other new possibilities. For living things, they make an indirect approach towards making inquiries, especially towards some sluggish lines of thought. Hinting is just like fireworks. After she finishes looking at it, the matter is over. After she finishes listening to it, the matter closes, but she doesn’t think about why the fireworks blossom into different shapes. Sometimes I can’t help myself and I want to tell her, that the blossoming-star shapes in the sky signify how I love her so much I go dizzy, .When they blossom into umbrella shapes, it signifies how much I want to protect her. When it blossoms into rocket cannons, it signifies how I get so mad but I can’t change her at all. But, I am afraid I still don’t have time to tell her about the implied meaning in my words because she will be scared away by me before I finish. Because she just pretends to be a very valiant paper tiger, but escapes when she meets problems- or she is an ostrich who takes her head and buries it into the ground , believing that since she can’t see anything she doesn’t need to worry about it.
I more I listened, the more confused I became. Although these foreign words had a context as we conversed about it, I still thought that his method of thinking was strange, I couldn’t understand his thought process, I didn’t know what kind of irregularity had come upon this guy who had begun to contemplate the existence of fireworks. It is possible that the saying that as love stands in front of a person, he will turn into a fool or an idiot, is true. Ru Ting even made me take care of Fang Yuke without letting him out of my sight without knowing that the other people had already gone crazy from love to an unknown degree. Others wanted to deliberately dig into a corner of the wall while Fang Yuke’s heart was obviously an iron wall, wrapping around her like a prison. Poor Yao Zi.
When I arrived at Jianghu Road, I saw a lump in the distance that was Shan Shan. It made Yao Zi who was beside him seem especially delicate. This small town was truly tiny. We hadn’t even driven the car for 20 minutes before we reached the outskirts of the town. I asked Yao Zi at the side: “Why on earth are we going to the outskirts to release fireworks? What if we meet misfortune and are robbed in the pitch darkness?”
Yao Zi impatiently said, “Releasing fireworks is only meaningful when you release them here. All the fireworks above your head are from yourself. How is it like the city center, where you don’t know which fireworks are yours when you raise your head? Plus, if they want to rob anyone, they’ll rob Shan Shan. If they want to rape anyone, then they’ll only rape me. You don’t need to worry.
Fang Yuke and Shan Shan laughed beside me.
After a while, Shan Shan took out a pile of barbecue racks over, and enthusiastically said, “The moonless wind in the night, kills and burns the sky. Since we’ve come, let’s release some fireworks.”
I felt that Chinese New Year’s Eve was really tormenting enough. In the middle of the night, a few people were barbecuing under the car lights. People who didn’t know anything would think that they were refugees.
Yao Zi put four firework tubes in all four corners of the small plaza and arranged them. In ten minutes, it would be Chinese New Year. Fang Yuke and I helped Shan light the fire and dress the chicken wings. We were really busy.
In the last minute, Yao Zi gave all of us lighters, letting us ignite the fireworks together. My hand shook as I ignited the fuse, immediately after which the fuse issued a “ci la” sound. I immediately ran very far away, watching the other three people unhurriedly still igniting the fire. In this way, the sky was first brightened with my firework. First, there was purple rays of small circles, which then changed into a huge parachute, immediately following which seemed like yellow chrysanthemum. At this time, gorgeous firework patterns began to appear in the other corners of the sky. When a few patterns intersected and folded over together, it seemed as if we were at the plaza during the daytime.
Yao Zi loudly said in the midst of the fireworks sound: “Lin Lin, if you have any wishes say them now. God has been woken up by us, so he has no choice but to listen to us speak~~”
I mischievously laughed, and used my hand to draw up my mouth, as I yelled to the sky: “I want my husband!”
Yao Zi became happy, and said to me: “You really are gullible. You would even do such a humiliating thing.”
I had been played again by her. I angrily patted her. Shan Shan clapped his hands at the side: “Oh, finally she has opened her eyes. When I was little, I was bullied so miserably by you, but at long last, someone can bully you now. Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Fang Yuke was about to open his mouth, when I glared at him: “Say something more pleasant to the ears. Otherwise, don’t talk. Otherwise, I will record any of their mean words on your body.”
He warmly laughed, and put his hand around his mouth just like I did and yelled to the almost extinguished fireworks: “I want my wife!”
Everyone’s mind became blank. I was the first to react, as I rushed towards him and blurted: “I just knew you were the most sinister. How could you still mock me at a moment like this? Are you trying to fight me for my position with God? People who are blessed truly don’t know what it means to suffer. Isn’t your wife already by your side?”
Fang Yuke laughed happily, and nodded his head to express his consent.
I didn’t get mad. Fang Yuke laughed really attractively. Before, he said he didn’t take off his glasses because he was afraid he was too handsome, and that was really true. If he usually laughed like how he was now, I was afraid that Ru Ting’s competitors would increase by many times.
I said, “Fang Yuke, you must be devoted, just like in the past, wholeheartedly loving your wife. Make me believe in love, and make me deathly jealous.”
Fang Yuke nodded his head solemnly.