Chapter 106: An accidental matchmaking session (1)
On the first day of the lunar new year, however busy the people who had toiled painstakingly for the earlier year were, Xu Tingsheng’s hometown had a rule that nothing was to be done other than the women cooking the meals. The nut shells and the melon seeds that were scattered all over the floor could only be swept clean the next day; the dirty clothes that had been worn the previous day could not be washed as well. Otherwise, it would mean difficult, busy times for the upcoming entire year.
As compared to the warm fire pits and wine over in the wintry north, people actually seldom had the chance to be as leisurely as this over in villages of the south.
The older folk would surround the brazier, cracking melon seeds and conversing casually as they watched the parts of the annual New Year Gala programme that they had missed the previous night. 2004 being the year of the Monkey, six young children performed <Golden Monkey Ushers Happiness>, celebrating the coming of the new year.
This year, Zhao Benshan’s performance was <Water Worker>. The older folk loved watching Zhao Benshan, treating him as a main highlight of the New Year Gala. As the programme was broadcasted, a few of them kept wondering aloud: Why hasn’t Zhao Benshan come out yet?
Xu Tingsheng remembered that in the internet forum discussions he had seen in his previous life, some people had actually categorised the New Year Gala into ‘Zhao Benshan era’ and ‘post-Zhao Benshan era’.
This was a very interesting and also a very subjective viewpoint, but there were many who had agreed with it. Also, as the years flowed by, with each year’s New Year Gala being more boring and flavourless than the last, the number of supporters of this claim had risen more and more.
People missed Zhao Benshan, just as they reminisced on the warm braziers and bustling gatherings of the past. When the day came when what remained were only the red packets and well-wishing group messages on one’s phone, that would actually be a very tragic thing.
Old Zhao was the shared memory of countless Chinese nationals. However much criticism or controversy there was regarding him, his rather unattractive shoehorn face had still once been looked eagerly forward to by many on the night of New Year’s Eve every year.
With the youngsters who had been standing by time catching up on their sleep, Xu Tingsheng also lay down and slept for a while. Still, after a few tables of Mahjong as well as poker had been established and they were found to be lacking a person, he was forcibly dragged over to fill up the numbers.
Xu Tingsheng’s mahjong proficiency was basically like this. He only knew two ways of winning. One was forming four combos of three along with a pair, while the other was gathering 7 pairs.
Having received their first hand of tiles, his aunt sitting opposite the door sighed, “Sigh, I don’t even have a single ‘God of Fortune’.
Xu Tingsheng flipped three tiles over, saying, “I have three.”
After their shock, Xu Tingsheng’s aunts at the table all said that Xu Tingsheng having revealed his tiles, this round was not to be counted. Fine, so it wouldn’t be counted then.
But after their second hand of tiles had been distributed and seen, Xu Tingsheng covered his mouth and remained silent, to which a curious aunt asked, “You wouldn’t have three ‘God of Fortunes’ again, right?”
Xu Tingsheng nodded in earnest trepidation, flipping three tiles over once more.
Coincidentally, a neighbour just happened to visit the house now. Therefore, Xu Tingsheng’s aunts welcomed the ‘newcomer’ with open arms, shooing Xu Tingsheng away from the table due to ‘not knowing how to play’.
Afterwards, Xu Tingsheng remained by his computer, continually refreshing the information on his education platform. With there being few people who would register on New Year’s Day itself, there was no need for him to help in performing checks on them at all. What he was waiting for was just the appearance of a particular registration notification.
Refreshing the website all the way till noon, Xu Tingsheng had still yet to see the registration notification that was related to Little Xiang Ning.
Actually, this was only to be expected. At this moment, she should probably be out for new year greetings with her parents. He wondered if she would be feeling despondent over repeatedly being asked how she had performed in her examinations, just like how he had felt despondent over a certain period of time in his previous life when he had repeatedly been asked whether he ‘had someone in mind’ yet.
Countless people of the older generation who themselves had failed all their past examinations when young were always this way in asking about the results of the kids of other families. Countless aunts who had just randomly gotten themselves married off also sounded greatly learned and knowledgeable as they lectured happily away on how to find a target or a job.
Around 1pm, Xu Tingsheng was called away from his computer by his mother.
“Since you’re free today, accompany Mum to thank that friend of mine who lent us money last time. We’ve arranged to drink tea together,” Mrs Xu said.
This matter having already been on Xu Tingsheng’s mind originally, he accepted Mrs Xu’s request as he asked for the car from his father before driving her over to the county. Standing in front of the teahouse, Mrs Xu’s expression suddenly turned a little strange.
“Mum, let’s go. What’s wrong?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“About that, Mum needs to tell you something,” Mrs Xu said this rather awkwardly, though a bright, irrepressible smile could be seen on her face.
Xu Tingsheng looked at her rather uncomprehendingly.
Mrs Xu hesitated for a moment before continuing, “Actually, having brought you here today, there’s also something other than expressing our gratitude. I intend to, intend to let you get to know the daughter of this friend of mine.”
Xu Tingsheng understood, understood that this had all been a scheme. It was no wonder that Mrs Xu had smiled so mysteriously in the kitchen the night before. She had already decided long before this to get Xu Tingsheng out for this ‘matchmaking session’.
There was no escape from this ‘matchmaking session’. His grandmother, this was a ‘matchmaking session’! Having escaped his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had still not managed to escape from such a thing in this current life.
Feeling a headache coming on, Xu Tingsheng complained gloomily, “Mum, I’m just twenty this year.”
“Twenty’s not young! I already had you when I was twenty.”
“But I’m still in university. And I’ve only just started.”
“It’s not like I’m asking you to get married immediately. Just get to know each other first.”
“Really…just getting to know each other?”
“About that, I’ve discussed with her mother. If the two of you hit it off well, we can also consider getting you engaged first.”
Xu Tingsheng turned and ran, Mrs Xu not chasing after him as she just clutched her forehead, yelling, “Oh no, why I am I feeling so dizzy? Oh oh no, I can’t stand. Someone help me!”
Unable to win against his shameless mother, Xu Tingsheng could only return.
Mrs Xu grabbed onto Xu Tingsheng’s sleeve, afraid that he would run away again.
“Stinky brat, happiness is right before you but you don’t know it,” Mrs Xu said, “I’ve seen the girl twice, and can’t find a single fault with her.”
“She looks especially good for breeding?” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Tsk!” Mrs Xu said, “Good-looking, cultured, great personality…also, her face is good. It’ll bring fortune to her future husband…”
Mrs Xu began praising that girl endlessly such that Xu Tingsheng wondered what kind of divinity’s offspring she must be. He thought, “Her face might be good, but can it be any better than my Little Xiang Ning’s? My Little Xiang Ning’s got the highest grade Fuxi bones under the heavens.”
Regarding Fuxi bones, the Records of Diverse Matters said: On the golden dragon’s head sits an object in the shape of a mountain. The crystallisation of its soul is completely condensed therein. With this spiritual object, it can blow the wind and form the clouds, soaring straight into the nine heavens up above. It is historically ranked first amongst the greatest objects of fortune.”
Xu Tingsheng remembered her beautiful forehead which his lips had once touched innumerable times in his previous life. Thinking about that adorable look of hers as she always responded with those shameless words of self-praise, he smiled.
And so Mrs Xu said, “See, you like her, right? I’ve told you, that girl clearly has a face that brings fortune to her husband and her family. She’s definitely a person of fortune; I’m instead worried that you might not catch her eye.”
Xu Tingsheng laughed, “That awesome? Is she called Wang Wang (Brings fortune x2) then?”
“I’m not called Wang Wang…Xu Tingsheng.”
The voice which resounded from behind Xu Tingsheng was a little familiar. Mrs Xu happily went over to its source. Xu Tingsheng did not dare to turn around. He was guessing. This voice seemed familiar, even having called out his name in a manner that was not distant at all.
It couldn’t be a former classmate, right? …Like meeting your first love when calling for a ‘princess’ in a club, things like ‘meeting your former classmate on a matchmaking session’ always just came off as rather awkward.
If this really happened today, Xu Tingsheng wouldn’t dare to let Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng learn about it even at cost of death. Otherwise, he would be repeatedly laughed at by them over this matter for the better part of a year.
Xu Tingsheng wanted to flee but did not, the girl now coming before him and saying, “Xu Tingsheng, long time no see.”
“Oh, long time no see,” Clearly seeing who the person before him was, Xu Tingsheng asked astonishedly, “It’s you?”
“Yeah, it’s me,” The other party said.