Chapter 28: University entrance examinations once more
2003 was the first time the university entrance examinations were moved forward to June from July. In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, by this time, his mother had already brought her two kids along with her in entering the city to work as she struggled to make ends meet. Every night, Mrs Xu would silently cook supper for Xu Tingsheng, diligently studying throughout the night, while forcibly holding in her pain and agony. This continued all the way till the university entrance examinations.
This time, Xu Tingsheng stayed in the school dormitory. He called his parents at night, telling them that they did not have to wait at the school gates like the other parents, and that there was no need for them to send food over as well.
On the 7th of June, Xu Tingsheng woke up early in the morning. When Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng arrived at the school gates, he had already long since been waiting there.
When Xu Tingsheng pulled out 3 popsicles, Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng were rendered somewhat speechless.
“Eating this sort of thing so early in the morning, and also right before the university entrance examinations-you must really be quite sick today, Xu Tingsheng,” they said.
“Who said anything about eating; have you forgotten about the temperature taking later?”
“What about it?”
“Didn’t you hear Old Zhou say? If your temperature is on the high side, you will be arranged to take the examinations solitarily…with two teachers staring at you and you alone, do you think you would be able to perform up to standard?”
Enlightenment immediately dawned upon the two.
“Stuff the popsicle into your pockets. When taking your temperatures later, take a look at the thermometer yourself first. If it is on the high side, secretly place its tip on the popsicle for a bit.”
With so many examinees present, the medical personnel naturally couldn’t keep an eye on all of them. Several tens of thermometers were distributed at a time, to be checked after their temperatures had been taken. Xu Tingsheng’s trio huddled up close together.
“Mine is normal, what about you guys?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Mine is also normal,” Huang Yaming replied.
The two directed their gazes at Fu Cheng. Xu Tingsheng had no way to know if Fu Cheng’s temperature would still be on the high side as it had been in his previous life. Therefore, he had prepared the popsicle in preparation for the worst, to be better safe than sorry.
“It seems a little on the high side,” Fu Cheng said.
Huang Yaming and Xu Tingsheng hurriedly went forward, shielding Fu Cheng from view in between them. Fu Cheng stuffed the thermometer into his pocket that contained the popsicle.
“So how was it? Did any amongst this batch of students have a fever?” The nurse-in-charge asked.
“No, but there was one whose temperature was a little on the low side…how about that?” A nurse replied.
“Is it extremely low?”
“It’s still fine.”
“It’s okay then.”
The trio felt as though a great weight had been lifted off their shoulders. As they walked towards the examination grounds together, Huang Yaming and Xu Tingsheng scolded Fu Cheng repeatedly for being a retard. If not for a timely prevention, this fella might really have gotten a 0 degree Celsius on the thermometer. Fu Cheng rebutted them, saying that the temperature on the thermometer had not been iced down at all. Doing so would have been totally useless. Instead, he had secretly used his hand to bring it down afterwards. Xu Tingsheng was stunned for a moment. Indeed, vastly knowledgeable yet totally useless-that was a Humanities student.
Huang Yaming had been allocated to an examination hall on the second floor, while Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng had been allocated to one on the third floor. They first arrived at Huang Yaming’s destination.
“I’m going in first then,” Huang Yaming said.
Able to tell that he actually still had something he wanted to say, Xu Tingsheng waited patiently.
Huang Yaming hesitated for a while before saying, “Frankly speaking, this is only a matter between the two of you. I thought about it a few times yesterday, but didn’t know how to broach the subject. Anyway, let me say my piece. Whatever you decide, it will ultimately be up to you…”
Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng both looked at Huang Yaming, his face carrying a rare solemness.
Huang Yaming said, “What I want to say is…since the heavens have been as good as to arrange the two of you to be seated together, when it is safe to do so, Tingsheng should ‘take care’ of Fu Cheng a little. Fu Cheng, you should also not feel embarrassed, and take a bit of a look when you can…it’s just this, what do you think?”
Huang Yaming appeared rather uneasy as he awaited the reactions of the two. After all, as he saw it, none of them had openly brought up this matter. Afraid that they had all been unable to easily broach the subject due to awkwardness, he had felt that it would be most appropriate for him, as the one least involved in the matter, to bring it up.
Exchanging glances, Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng then laughed in unison, “Need this even be said?”
Huang Yaming was taken momentarily taken aback before he understood. The two of them must already have agreed on it beforehand, just not having told him about it as they felt sorry for him as the pitiful, ‘unlucky’ guy left out of their group.
“Huh, it seems that I was just thinking too much,” Huang Yaming said, “I’ll enter first then. Good luck.”
Xu Tingsheng grabbed hold of him, saying, “I have something to say as well…yesterday, I had a dream. I dreamt that I filled in the multiple choice questions in the wrong order. So, I’ve gotta say that we definitely have to check on all the answers carefully one by one, even if we have to spend some extra time on it as a result.”
Xu Tingsheng didn’t dare to say that the one in the dream who had filled in the answers wrongly was Huang Yaming. Otherwise, it might really turn out to be too much of a coincidence. While making himself the subject of the dream and reminding the other two to be careful, his eyes remained fixated on Huang Yaming in doing so.
“Especially you, you’re so careless,” Xu Tingsheng warned him.
Huang Yaming nodded earnestly, “There aren’t many multiple choice questions for Language anyway; I’ll just check them all one by one a few times.”
Having finished these two things, Xu Tingsheng felt completely relaxed. University entrance examinations-not only had he sat for them once, he had even invigilated them twice before. As he saw it, the pressure on the invigilators was much greater than that on the examinees. Whatever errors or oversights there were, it would also be the fault of the teachers.
Two invigilators entered the examination hall. One was a non-twelfth grade teacher of their school, while the other was an external teacher.
They read out the examination rules, checked the entry proofs, distributed the question papers and answer sheets and reiterated on how to fill in the answers to the questions, everything proceeding in an orderly fashion in prescribed order.
After the Language papers in the morning, most of the students were still in a pretty good mood. Language was such a subject. Most would often feel that they did okay in it, but it was very hard to truly attain high grades in this area.
Before the university entrance examinations, the various form teachers had already reiterated time and time again that the students were not to compare answers with their peers after each paper unlike usual examinations, because this could very well lead to problems with one’s mental state. Having gotten a few more wrong answers in some paper, their mentalities might collapse, leaving them unable to perform to standard in the following papers.
Therefore, the examinees generally congregated in groups of twos and threes, speaking about non-examination related subjects as much as possible, while some even just stoned about somewhere on their own.
Xu Tingsheng knew one additional thing. In the afternoon, after the Mathematics papers, the entire school would be full of weeping, with even some students wiping their tears even as they answered the questions in the examination halls. This time’s university entrance examination Mathematics papers would later be appraised as hardest within the past ten years.
Xu Tingsheng didn’t really know how to bring up this point, especially with Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng both carrying great confidence and hope in Mathematics. Xu Tingsheng was afraid that meeting a setback in answering the questions, their performance in the examination might be affected.
As Xu Tingsheng worried over this, Huang Yaming arrived.
As soon as he arrived, Huang Yaming came up and hugged Xu Tingsheng, howling emotionally, “Oh my saviour, my eternal gratitude.”
Upon hearing his words, Xu Tingsheng immediately knew what had happened.
Just like in his previous life, Huang Yaming had filled in the multiple choice questions for the Language Paper in the wrong order. Luckily, with only a few minutes remaining, he had suddenly remembered Xu Tingsheng’s words, and perused the questions once…
“Great heavens, I nearly fell into a ditch,” Huang Yaming said.
Xu Tingsheng could only pretend to share in his joy, the three rejoicing wildly for a bit before Xu Tingsheng switched topics to that of Mathematics, saying to Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng, “Since it was like this for Language, I instead hope the Mathematics papers in the afternoon will be harder.”
“If it is hard to a certain extent, everyone’s grades wouldn’t be too high. Comparatively speaking, my grades would then be pulled closer to that of everyone else’s. Also, if that really were to happen, many people who are good in Mathematics should find it more difficult to accept than me who is weak in it. Like the two of you, if you already couldn’t answer the first question, do you think you would be able to stay calm? Your minds would probably break down, right, even losing the ability to obtain the marks that you should have been able to obtain. With so many good in Mathematics breaking down this way, wouldn’t that instead be like a blessing for me?”
Xu Tingsheng had already said too much. If not for him really being too close with Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng, he definitely wouldn’t have taken the risk of saying all this. Having already given a hint to this extent, however much they understood it, it would all have to depend on they themselves.
Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng grabbed Xu Tingsheng by the shoulders and hauled him off to the cafeteria, saying disparagingly, “This guy’s heart is really too evil.”
Xu Tingsheng chuckled, secretly thinking, “This bro can only help you up to here.”
After having eaten lunch, Xu Tingsheng returned to his room and slept for a while. To him, Mathematics in the afternoon instead held the least pressure. This was like a beggar escaping from a famine together with a landlord. The beggar would surely be able to accept it much more easily than the landlord, also being able to adapt to the situation rather more easily.
After the Mathematics examination, the scenes within Libei Senior High were no different from how it had been in Xu Tingsheng’s previous life.
The corridors, the garden-every single place in the school was filled with weeping examinees as well as their teachers and parents, trying hard to comfort them.
“Your crow’s mouth!” Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng made as if to pummel Xu Tingsheng.
“Hehe, you two didn’t break down, right?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“At least we got what marks we could; as for everything else, there is only letting it be.”