Chapter 40: He is a legend
The news quickly spread into the vast yonder, for Xu Tingsheng’s name was known by all. Even if there were those rare few who were unable to recall him, the people around would quickly remind them that it was the guy who had gone on stage before for self-reflection.
Still don’t remember him?
How about, ‘This world is so vast, I wish to experience it?’, ‘We are all good kids?’, ‘Raging forth to the rescue of a distressed damsel’, or ‘Slamming down the suspected SARS patient with a single brick?’… In the short span of 3 months, there had been too many tales, too many twists and turns, not to mention that final, ultimate reversal unprecedented in history.
He was a legend.
In the classes of tenth and eleventh grade where lessons were ongoing, the teachers all shared the latest exploit of this legend. When Wu Yuewei’s form teacher shared this news with the class, she inadvertently sent a glance over at Wu Yuewei. Wu Yuewei stuck out her chest in pride and smiled.
Her tablemate tugged at her sleeve under the table, shooting her a knowing smile.
She said, “If only you were one year ahead, you two could’ve been the top scholars for Science and Humanities together. A top scholar couple…haha.”
Wu Yuewei cheekily replied, “The top scholar for this year’s Science stream is also a guy; they certainly can’t form a pair.”
In comparison, the teachers of the normal classes took greater pleasure in narrating this tale to their students. Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming and even Fu Cheng were brought up. Some teachers even shared the trio’s grades from over their senior high years.
“See this? … So what if you’re in a normal class? As long as you work hard, you can create miracles too. Keep it up, guys. Let’s have our very own miracles,” They said.
“Teacher, invite the senior to come to our class and talk to us,” the students clamoured.
The teacher thought about it and felt it to be okay, so she replied, “I’ll ask about it.”
After class, this new twelfth grade Humanities teacher of a normal class went to find Old Zhou in the Humanities office. However, he was unable to find him there. At this moment, Old Zhou had just left the Principal’s office, having now bumped into Vice Principal Lou as well as some people from the student affairs office.
Vice Principal Lou handed Old Zhou a cigarette as he enquired, “Old Zhou, how did that Xu Tingsheng from your class do?”
Old Zhou wedged the cigarette between two fingers, waving it as he said, “Ho ho, top scholar for Humanities and first in the entire province for Combined Humanities.”
Vice Principal Lou slapped his thigh and exclaimed, “See, didn’t I say long ago that this chap is not ordinary? Damn, my all-seeing powers…looks like I should suggest to the principal to place me in charge of teaching instead.”
Vice Principal Lou retrieved his lighter and lit Old Zhou’s cigarette, placing a hand over his shoulder and puffing out smoke clouds along with him as he said, “Old Zhou, you really did it this time. A meritorious general, a great meritorious general!”
The door to the principal’s office swung open, the Principal, Xu Bo, appearing as he said, “Would I still need you to remind me on that? I recorded these achievements of Old Zhou long ago. By the way, I was just about to look for you for something. Has that kid’s punishment been revoked? We certainly don’t want a blemish on his record that might hold him back.”
Vice Principal Lou hastily turned to the two chairmen behind him, impatiently asking them, “Have you taken care of what I told you to back then?”
The two chairmen did not utter a sound.
The answer was obvious.
“You two…better get it settled quick! Not only must you revoke his punishment, you must also record down that affair of him taking down the suspected SARS patient. Best give him a commendation!” Vice Principal Lou spluttered.
Principal Xu nodded, substantiating, “Also, one of you go and inform the office to quickly produce the banner. I just obtained Xu Tingsheng’s overall ranking in the city by phone. He was third in the entire city for Humanities; this is truly hard to come by for Libei Senior High. Thoroughly publicize this news, to influence parents not to send their children away to study in other cities.”
“Right, right. This can be a key selling point for our next recruitment of students,” Vice Principal Lou said.
After the two principals had finished accounting for everything, Principal Xu said to Old Zhou, “Old Zhou, let’s have dinner together this evening. Grab along all the subject teachers of your class. You can tell them that is a banquet specially organised by us principals to express our gratitude… Don’t forget to have a few more drinks when the time comes.”
On his way back to the office, Old Zhou strided forth in great steps. Sadly, his soft leather shoes would not produce any loud thumps.
Old Zhou vowed to switch to a pair of shiny leather shoes when he got home.
Old Zhou called Xu Tingsheng to check with him about the invitation from the new batch of twelfth graders. Xu Tingsheng regretfully declined. He had already stood out too much, and would soon be very busy with matters of the mall. He didn’t intend to give any more talks or anything like that.
Back at home, Mr Xu had called for the butcher to slaughter a pig.
Xu Tingsheng remarked, “Dad, does it really have to be so grand? That pig is still young.”
Mr Xu retorted, “What are you thinking about? I’m only doing this because I won’t have time to raise it anymore after this. Still, we might as well use it for a celebration. Why don’t you call your teachers and classmates over?”
Xu Tingsheng spent the day answering all kinds of phone calls.
“Ooh, it’s a call from Ms Fang,” Xu Tingsheng said as he glanced at Fu Cheng,
Fu Cheng coughed in response.
“Oooohhh~” Huang Yaming gave a dirty reaction.
The usual congratulations, thanks and the like were all brought up over the phone. Only at the end did Xu Tingsheng bring up the main point.
He said, “If Ms Fang doesn’t mind that my place is a rural village, may I invite you to come over for dinner? It’ll just be a few of us; I’ll invite the other teachers next time…Right, just like the last time, minus a few people. Huang Yaming, Tan Qingling, Song Ni, and Fu Cheng will be here as well.”
As he said the last phrase, Xu Tingsheng suffered a kick from Fu Cheng.
“Wow, this guy’s really too brash, daring to hit even the top scholar,” Huang Yaming said, “Isn’t Tingsheng doing this just for your happiness?”
Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming got into a scuffle.
Next, Xu Tingsheng received a call from Yao Jing, and Wu Yuewei called from her dormitory room as well. He thought about how nice it would be if he could give Xiang Ning a call to show off to her. Uncle here is a top scholar-let’s see how you still call me a big liar!
Boys were often fond of showing off in front of the girls, from showing off their latest styles of erasers and collages when they were young to showing off their muscles and hairstyles when they grew up. Even older still and they would perhaps show off their ability and money. Actually, this was understandable. Whatever it was that society chose to revere would naturally possess justification.
No matter how low he had fallen in his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had never resented this.
Xu Tingsheng unexpectedly received a call from Ye Yingjing.
“Congratulations! Also, it really was 246 people,” Ye Yingjing said over the phone.
“Thank you. I still need to thank you for helping to get me out of that fix back then,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Where do you intend to apply to? I got 591 marks, and am wondering if I should apply to Jianhai University,” Ye Yingjing asked.
Xu Tingsheng had a pretty decent impression of Ye Yingjing, feeling that she was a very magnanimous and genuine girl.
He thought for a moment before saying, “I still haven’t decided yet. If you do apply to Jianhai University, don’t forget to apply for specialisation flexibility.”
Due to his previous experience guiding students with their university applications, Xu Tingsheng had a pretty good idea of the minimum requirements over the years for each university. Of course, he had never studied the minimum requirements for Qingbei University for students from Jianhai Province, for there had never been a need to. As for Jianhai University’s minimum requirements in 2003, Xu Tingsheng only had a vague impression of it. As Ye Yingjing’s score seemed to be right on the borderline, that was what he conveyed to her.
“Right. Okay, thanks,” Ye Yingjing said, “See you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow.”
Ye Yingjing’s appearance had actually been rather abrupt, or at least, that was how it felt like to Xu Tingsheng. In his previous life, she had been that kind of study queen whom he had looked up to whilst never having spoken a single word to. However, in this life, following that moment of tacit understanding in the interaction class, they would occasionally nod in greeting when seeing each other.
Everything else was fine. it was just the “see you tomorrow” that had been a little strange.
Xu Tingsheng’s household had already begun attending to the guests arriving for dinner. Fu Cheng began feeling flustered, Ms Fang having informed them that she already was on her way over.
At this, Xu Tingsheng proposed, “Fu Cheng, you wait at the road for Ms Fang. I’m worried that she might not be able to find our place.”
Fu Cheng was trying to push it away when Huang Yaming said, “I need to fetch Tan Qingling. Song Ni is a girl, and Xu Tingsheng is very busy.”
Fu Cheng could only wheel out his bicycle.
As Ye Yingjing was talking about dinner, creeped out by Mrs Ye’s continuous staring, she said in a spoiled tone, “Mom, hurry up and cook dinner. I’m hungry.”
Mrs Ye gave a sly grin and said, “Right, see you tomorrow.”
Ye Yingjing puffed up her cheeks, “Mom…”
Ye Yingjing was an aboveboard person. Therefore, even when expressing her feelings, she would be straightforward in that regard, cutting straight to the chase rather than getting her thoughts and actions in a mess over things.
Another person might have thought: He’s now become the top scholar and opened a mall. Like this, won’t I be misunderstood? However, Ye Yingjing wouldn’t think this way. Because of her aboveboard mind which was free of such thoughts, she had never been, and would therefore not be troubled over such matters. Actually, she’d never even thought about them before.
For her, this was solely because of her favourable opinion of him that had sprouted in her during that interaction class…this feeling had gradually grown over time, and now, they had graduated.
Mrs Ye stood up and walked towards the kitchen, saying as she did so, “Anyway, I like this kid just because he helped me to vent this bit of anger. Also, he even excels in all areas of consideration.
It would be even better if you two ended up in the same university…Good luck, girl.”
Mr Ye gently laughed and said, “It’s a little early, but there’s no problem with getting to know each other. Even if it doesn’t work out, you two can always be friends. There are no disadvantages in being friends with such people.”
Father and daughter were equally magnanimous.
Ye Yingjing furrowed her brows, “However it seems like many people are fighting over him.”