Chapter 108: From the 1st to the 15th
From the 1st to the 15th of the Lunar New Year, Mr Xu became very busy once more. Instead, it was Xu Tingsheng who was very carefree. Having been given the cold shoulder by his mother for quite a few days ever since that unsuccessful matchmaking session, he had begun a leisurely life of sticking to his computer all day long.
The number of registered parents on Hucheng Education Service Platform was rising rapidly by the day. While helping to check on their information, Xu Tingsheng was also awaiting the appearance of a particular registration notification.
As the sole 5-Star home tutor on the platform, Xu Tingsheng’s registered account was filled with rows after rows of inclination applications day after day. He would delete them time and time again with the lofty arrogance of a 5-Star home tutor, until…going online one day, Xu Tingsheng discovered that his account had been sealed.
He called Old Wai. The latter admitted his dislike of that account, yet adamantly refused to admit that he was the one who had sealed it.
“Anyway, if that account is sealed again next time, I’m gonna go at it with you guys for real,” Xu TIngsheng threatened Old Wai after unsealing the account with his administrative privileges.
Xu Tingsheng’s ‘insanity’ ever since the day he had registered that 5-Star home tutor account had left everyone feeling completely stumped. Old Wai and Li Linlin had discussed this in private countless times, but had still yet to get a handle on it, still feeling totally confused.
Over this period of time, Huang Yaming was finally unable to hold himself back as he went to look for Tan Qingling one day after lessons for Libei Senior High’s twelfth graders had resumed. He stood quietly at the school gates, just watching silently on as she got off someone else’s car, smiling like a flower.
Xu Tingsheng thought that he would dash over and question Tan Qinglin, perhaps even get into a brawl with the guy in the car.
Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng had already readied themselves for a fight, rolling up their sleeves and flexing their elbows. Yet, Huang Yaming didn’t do anything at all, just watching silently on. After it was over, he similarly walked quietly away.
Such a Huang Yaming was truly a rare sight. He had always been the most unbridled of the trio, acting rashly and recklessly without fear of the consequences.
That night, Huang Yaming told Xu Tingsheng once more about the miraculous enlightenment that had descended upon him back then, “The heavens told me to live a life of debauchery.”
This world seemed always only to be discussing how bad men hurt women, in the meantime always failing to mention those unfaithful women! How many ‘pure, devoted youths’ had they turned to a path of debauchery?
Actually, no one was a womanizer by birth. Which unfaithful, cold-hearted man had not once thought of staying by just that single person, treating just her well for the rest of his life?
Afterwards? What came afterwards might only be mentioned in a drunken, weeping state.
Be it Xu Tingsheng or Fu Cheng, neither of them had any way to rebut Huang Yaming. Finally, Huang Yaming abided by his ‘divine order’ in Libei as well, gaining a small entourage of young, ignorant girls whom he brought along in gallivanting about the entire county all day long.
During these fifteen days, Fu Cheng still didn’t get to receive the woolen sweater that Fang Yunyao had knit for him. Over this period of time wherein Fang Yunyao also returned to her hometown for the New Year festivities for a while, the two of them met twice.
The first time, after much effort as well as concealment, the two had ‘met by accident while ascending a hill’. Fu Cheng had hid in the bushes and tried on the sweater. It had been too big. Fang Yunyao had said that she would alter it back at her hometown. In the end, she had indeed done so, bringing it back with her upon her return.
Yet, Fang Yunyao had then said that the two of them were not to meet alone in Libei again.
After asking for a few days, Fu Cheng finally learnt that despite their extreme vigilance the last time they had met, they had still been spotted by one of Fang Yunyao’s students in the end.
“This is the burdensome side of living in a small town-any random person you see on the street is most likely a familiar face or an acquaintance or an acquaintance. After graduation, I definitely can’t return to Libei to work. Otherwise, a spot of cheating would be such an inconvenient thing.”
It was Huang Yaming who had said this, his realisation stemming from that bunch of young girls who’d been following him around. After gallivanting about with them for a few days, he had actually discovered that two of them were, in some convoluted way or other, his blood relatives. Shockingly, one of them, a sixteen-year-old girl, was actually even his aunt in terms of seniority.
Somehow having ended up trying to hit on his own aunt, an aunt who was actually a smoker and a drinker who was tattooed and had dyed hair, Huang Yaming’s entire worldview collapsed.
The second time Fu Cheng and Fang Yunyao met was over dinner at the Xu Family home. Also having been invited were the likes of Vice-Principal Lou, Old Zhou and many others. Therefore, the two didn’t even get to speak to each other the entire time.
It seemed like the woolen sweater could only be sent over by Fang Yunyao via mail once Fu Cheng had returned to Yanzhou University. Yet, Jianhai Province was located in the south. With the coming of the new year, the weather would soon be turning warm. At that time, it might be rather outlandish of Fu Cheng to wear a woolen sweater at a temperature of more than 20°C.
Fu Cheng began to believe what Xu Tingsheng had previously said: If the day really comes that Ms Fang accepts you, she’ll definitely have to leave Libei Senior High, going to another city, another school.
Therefore, Fu Cheng began feeling conflicted on what exactly he could give Fang Yunyao. Perhaps he could only place her in a difficult spot time and time again, repeatedly forcing her into making sacrifices.
On the 15th day of the lunar month, along with the coming of the Spring Lantern Festival, Apple’s duet music video that was intended to test the waters was officially released. Xu Tingsheng had to wait several tens of minutes on his computer with a broadband connection before he finally got to see that familiar stranger again.
Apple had grown even more beautiful to the point that Xu Tingsheng was even a little unable to recognise her anymore. In the music video, she was wearing a white muslin skirt with a gentle and delicate image as she sung passionately together with the male singer.
The music video received rather good reviews, but Xu Tingsheng didn’t see it that way. He felt that the male singer looked a little base, felt that the plot of the music video was a little base, felt that Apple should not feign that gentle look, with her true personality being much more lovable…
Anyway, it just wasn’t good no matter how he looked at it.
Yet, with the piled-up accumulated anticipation as well as the contrast of Apple’s beautiful image with the brand of the rumoured ‘ugly band’, the song still went viral overnight.
Apple had gotten crazy popular.
Song Ni called Xu Tingsheng, asking him, “Xu Tingsheng, have you seen Apple’s music video?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Oops, I forgot. I haven’t seen it yet…I’ll do it later.”
Song Ni said, “Continue pretending! You deserve it.”
Apple had called Song Ni, had even called Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng in chatting about her current tiring yet fulfilling life. However, she had not called Xu Tingsheng even once.
Xu Tingsheng had no idea what Apple was thinking.
What about him then? He was filled with anticipation yet also dread. He didn’t know what he should say if the call came in, what the two could chat about. Sometimes, when only foreign-sounding greetings and pleasantries can be exchanged between two people who were once close, the best thing is perhaps not to contact the other person at all.
Fu Cheng posted a new public announcement on Rebirth’s small webpage: Our gratitude to everyone for supporting Rebirth’s Apple. Also, who the heck still dares to call us ugly?
The instant reply: If you’re not ugly, why don’t you come out yourself then?
Fu Cheng said: Scram.
Xu Tingsheng’s negative emotions did not persist for too long, because on the very night of the Spring Lantern Festival, he finally received that registration notification which he had long been waiting for.
Name of student: Xiang Ning
School and class: Xinyan Junior High, eighth grade Class 4
Requested subjects: All subjects, especially English, Mathematics and Language Composition
Inclination application once, then again. Xu Tingsheng used his anonymous 5-Star home tutor account to apply time and time again, describing his university entrance examination results as well as forged evaluation history in great, painstaking detail.
Many people noticed how the sole 5-Star home tutor on Hucheng Education Service Platform who had earlier deleted an innumerable amount of applications had finally sent out an application of his own. Amongst them, many parents who had originally applied to him were feeling envious and despondent.
Yet, more than ten minutes later, the 5-Star home tutor Xu Tingsheng discovered that those great many applications of his had, in the first wave of selection, all been deleted, deleted….deleted.
“Hi, could you have mis-deleted? I am the sole 5-Star home tutor on this entire platform. Also, take a look at my university entrance examination score. Mine is the highest out of everyone here,” Xu Tingsheng sent out yet another application.
Not long afterwards, he was deleted again, though a reason for rejection was indeed given: Sorry, but because it is our daughter, as parents, we wish to find a female home tutor for her.
His accumulated anticipation of so long had fallen short. All those tricks of his had not come to fruition. However great Xu Tingsheng’s university entrance examination results were, it was ultimately still useless. His status as the boss of Hucheng-that meant not a thing.
This reason for rejection possessed unrivalled destructive power. Gender discrimination, this was…completely unable to transcend, unless…Xu Tingsheng felt a nasty chill as he thought of Jin Yong’s Sunflower Manual.
Finally, an application was sent from Xiang Ning’s account to the application list of a 1-Star home tutor.
With no hesitation whatsoever, Xu Tingsheng sealed this account that belonged to a good friend of Li Linlin’s.
A few minutes later, the account was unsealed.
Xu Tingsheng sealed it again.
The other party unsealed it again.
Xu Tingsheng dialled Old Wai’s number, “Old Wai, this bro begs you, stop sealing that account! I’ve really got something exceptionally important going on this time.”
“What? It wasn’t me! I’m not in front of my computer right now,” Old Wai said, “Still, Bro Xu, randomly sealing someone’s account for no rhyme or reason like this, have you gone mad?”
Xu Tingsheng didn’t dare explain himself as he hurriedly hung up, continuing with the sealing.
Another call came in, “Xu Tingsheng, randomly sealing a home tutor’s account like this, have you gone bonkers?”