Chapter 311: It’s always you reminding me
It wasn’t easy to stop reminiscing on old times in a city like Nice.
The two chatted about their university lives for a while, including how Ye Yingjing had come to Nice. Unbeknownst to Xu Tingsheng, she had already lived within this city for several months.
Mrs Xu who had constantly been nagging him about Ye Yingjing had never mentioned this too.
Also, Ye Yingjing had still not entered a relationship with anybody. Of course, this did not stop her from living an exciting, fulfilling life. She was just this sort of girl with a sufficiently bountiful heart that kept her warm and stable, not necessarily having to rely on anyone else being there.
“How do you like Nice?” Ye Yingjing asked Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng said, “The beaches are a scam. The sky and the sea make it not a wasted trip. And the food. And, the streets are beautiful too. I think that the economic planning of this city isn’t bad. I found that virtually all the households here grow plants on their balconies, having displayed them too. Is that the government’s idea? It’s indeed very good at attracting tourists. The residents are very cooperative with the scheme too.”
Ye Yingjing frowned, asking slightly vexedly, “You’re doing this on purpose, right?”
Xu Tingsheng asked, “Huh?”
Ye Yingjing asked, “Why must this be from economic planning? I believe that this comes spontaneously. It’s habitual, the city’s personality. The people here love and enjoy their lives. People in Nice are very proud. They believe that they have the most beautiful city and the best lives. They love this city with a passion.”
Xu Tingsheng smiled but said nothing, still not believing it. The personality and mood of tourist cities would not go into opposition with money at the end of the day.
Ye Yingjing asked, “Do you know? All the Mcdonalds in the world have yellow ‘M’s. But in Nice, it is white. The people of Nice believe that yellow clashes with the city’s style. They collectively requested for it to be changed to white or move away. Government persuasion didn’t work too. Mcdonalds could only helplessly give in in the end.”
An actual case study was given.
Having lost to fact, Xu Tingsheng said rather awkwardly, “My bad. Look at me, a businessman now and stinking completely of copper. You already almost can’t recognise me anymore, right?”
Ye Yingjing said calmly yet earnestly, “Actually, I’ve been paying attention to some news about you all along. My Mum also often mentions you. You’re very successful. Everyone feels happy for you, and pleasantly surprised too. But sometimes, I think that you may have missed out on many things. Do you have time to go to the library in your university life? Or have you ever lain on the grass in your campus before?”
Xu Tingsheng actually wished to rebut her. What she had said-he had experienced all that in the past before. And yet, his previous life had ultimately concluded so tragically. Now that he had a second chance, Xu Tingsheng did not want to relive such tragedy.
“There are some things that even I myself may already be unable to do anything about,” He defended himself.
Ye Yingjing nodded, “Perhaps. Actually, I just feel that a society which has multiple conceptions of what is most important is the healthiest and most complete. It should have many variations of the definition of success. A pity…you don’t have such an environment now.”
After a while, she added, “Sorry.”
Xu Tingsheng shook his head, “Why apologise? Actually, I should be the one thanking you, because…it’s always you reminding me. Thank you.”
Xu Tingsheng who was walking further and further away, Ye Yingjing whom he rarely got to meet. It was always…her reminding him.
Not much time remained.
“Right, why did you come to Nice? By yourself…” Ye Yingjing only thought to ask about this now.
“For fun. On tour,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Back in senior high, he had once said: This world is so vast, I wish to experience it. Therefore, it seemed that an answer like this was very reasonable. He couldn’t exactly say that he was really running away from something.
Ye Yingjing shook her head, “No, doesn’t look like it.”
Xu Tingsheng asked, “Why?”
Ye Yingjing said, “You didn’t bring a camera.”
“Even this can be considered a reason?”
“Yep. Ha, I brought one, actually. Because I’ll only be in Nice for a year, I bring a camera around with me everyday,” Ye Yingjing did not press him on this matter as she just pulled out a Polaroid camera from her bag.
“Using a Polaroid must be very wasteful, right?” Xu Tingsheng asked, aware that these cameras were very expensive as they were not for frequent usage.
Ye Yingjing lowered her head in adjusting the camera, “Although I bring it around with me all the time, I don’t frequently take photos, so it’s still fine. I use a Polaroid because it’s convenient this way for me to write down my thoughts and feelings by the side or at the back of the photograph right there and then…”
“There’s always something that spurs you to take a particular photograph. Your mood at the time, that thought, some emotions, are actually really easy to be forgotten, to change as time goes by. Perhaps that is a mood in itself. I want to record all that down.”
Xu Tingsheng felt that he could not simply classify Ye Yingjing as a simple artistic youth. While she indeed seem to possess such an side, her depth and breadth of thought made her different.
Ye Yingjing stood up, raising her head, “Let’s go outside. I feel like taking one for you right now.”
Xu Tingsheng who did not like taking photographs did not refuse her, because she had just said that there is always something that spurs one to take a particular photograph. Also, one’s mood at the time is hard to come by, and prone to change too.
The two found an old wall that was filled with green vines by the side of the cafe. The foot of the wall was covered entirely with fallen leaves and branches whereas the wall itself was still lush beyond compare.
Carrying his backpack, Xu Tingsheng casually leaned against the wall just like that.
He unconsciously brought his arms up before his chest.
Ye Yingjing said, “Open up your arms.”
She also said, “Smile!”
Xu Tingsheng smiled. It was that kind of bashful, awkward smile from his senior high days. He had constantly smiled this way back then, and had slowly seemed to pay less and less attention to this afterwards.
There was the sound of the shutter clicking. The photograph slowly came out from the camera.
Ye Yingjing held it, lightly flicked it and raised it against the sunlight. Then, she took out a pen and wrote something on it, on the white part. After having done so, she did not show it to Xu Tingsheng.
“Now, you take one for me too.”
Ye Yingjing passed the camera to Xu Tingsheng before casually going to the wall to stand.
Xu Tingsheng pressed the button.
He had not even looked properly at it when the photograph was already back in Ye Yingjing’s hand. She said ‘scared it’s ugly’ before writing a row of words on the top border, similarly not letting Xu Tingsheng look at it.
The third photograph was of them both. Ye Yingjing found some old Frenchman in the park opposite who was playing throw with a metallic ball and requested him to help them take it.
Xu Tingsheng leaned against the wall, looking at the spire of the church off in the distance.
Ye Yingjing stood beside him, her face tilted as she looked up at the side of his face, smiling.
Xu Tingsheng had not even glanced at the photograph when Ye Yingjing had already written words on it and kept it.
The two of them played two rounds of throwing the ball with four old Frenchmen in that park.
There was finally no more time that could be delayed.
Outside the departure hall, Ye Yingjing handed Xu Tingsheng a folded white paper envelope, telling him, “This is your present.”
Then, she smiled and waved goodbye, hence concluding yet another hasty meeting of theirs.
Tens of thousands of kilometres in the air on his flight from Nice to Shenghai, Xu Tingsheng opened the envelope. Inside it were two of the three photographs which had just been taken.
The first was of Ye Yingjing alone. She had written on the top border: This girl once liked you.
The second was of Xu Tingsheng alone. Ye Yingjing had written on the back: Back in eleventh grade, you had a sea-blue collared shirt. So long as you never forget how you were at the start.
She had kept the third photograph, the one of the two of them. As for the words she had written on that photograph and her mood then…Xu Tingsheng might never ever come to learn of them.