FM Chapter 45

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Military Training (2)

Ah Tao comforted me: “Don’t worry, all the males will be grateful to you. You let all the females let go of the desire to struggle for it, how big of a contribution this is. However, I’ve heard that there are some males who like Wen Tao, who asked him to dress himself in such a charming way? Sigh, living on this earth is not easy, you have to fight with both homosexuals and heterosexuals.”

I was exasperated: “Ridicule me all you want. I would rather not have this kind of destiny. I’m someone who hates complicated situations. If I could go back into the past, I would definitely be someone who would marry just to give birth. Waiting steadily until the age of 16, once I reached that age I would go to a matchmaker and get married. After one year, I would hold a tiger baby in my arms and wait for my husband to bring home the bacon. How nice, no worries at all. No need to take exams, no need to study. Just staying at home with the mind blank, no need to do anything. After the age of 40, get buried in the soil. Have my sons and grandsons kowtow at my tombstone while I become some kind of immortal.”

Julie blurted: “What is called false poverty, you are the epitome of false poverty! You’re showing off. Be careful of being struck by lightning when you go out. If you really went back into the past, you would complain about having no internet, no phone, no KFC, no Pepsi to drink. You would cry and wail to come back to us to think about handsome guys and Conan.”

I complained: “But Wen Tao is right, the emotions in my heart towards Fang Yuke are really like a paper tiger. Don’t look at how we are a couple, aside from that day where we confessed, he still treats me in the exact same way. He even gangs up with others from time to time to bully me. It’s not like I’m asking us to pledge our undying love, but I really don’t have any confidence.”

Wen Jie laughed, “When you first start dating it’s normal to think about your personal gains and losses. It’s more important to think about how you can get along. Your priority now is to straighten out your relationship with Wen Tao. For a rookie like you, don’t be like others who hold a hand on each side. When the time comes, you’ll suffer a double loss.”

I cried out, “You guys also heard me speak so clearly over the phone. What else should I say in order to cut off the relationship? From the very beginning, I had already made myself very clear to Wen Tao. For someone as dazzling as him, he’s really not in my fate. When I’d first gotten to know him, I thought that this pampered son was just amusing himself. Just now when I was listening to him speak, my heart was so fuzzy.”

Ah Tao said, “This is fate. Who asked you to invite the groom by looking at the BBS forum? You called the guy over, of course he wouldn’t be happy. However, saying this, I think Fang Yuke likes you quite a lot. That time when you were drunk and he carried you home, he was like one of the sons from the classic Confucian text on filial piety. He let you beat and scold him and even helped you washed your face and covered you with a blanket. If it was me, I’d just give you one piece of dumpling to soothe you because you wouldn’t remember either way.”

My face was completely black. I realised that each of my roommates were more valiant than the other.

Julie said, “Don’t think about how Fang Yuke treats you for now. If you just clarify and understand your own feelings, wouldn’t this be able to clear up the entire situation? Sigh, it’s hard to match up to your male lead, red rose or white rose, what did Zhang Ai Ling say back then? If one married the red rose, in time to come, the red would also become like the mosquito blood on the wall, while the white would remain as the moonlight shining in from the window. In the future, it would have more charm than if it had been obtained. Linlin, we are unable to help you figure out things like feelings. I guess that this time, when you were at home, you wanted us to help you come up with some sort of scheme on how to make Fang Yuke fall irrevocably in love with you. If Wen Tao did not exist, I would definitely help you. However, this battle that decides where your feelings should belong is a mystical one. It’s alright if we cannot see it clearly, but you yourself have to understand it. If we help you get the other person infatuated with you, to the point where he would see only you, this one girl, in the entire world, treating the other three billion girls as dead; but then you run off with Wen Tao, you might as well let Fang Yuke be like Vincent Van Gogh and cut off his ear.”

“How did you know I would want your help in making Fang Yuke become infatuated with me?”

“Because you always look at Fang Yuke like a hungry wolf that is unable to satisfy its hunger.”

“I think you and Wen Tao should go to a fortune telling stall in Beijing together. You look quite good together.”

“You better not give me another chance to exploit this opportunity. In the past, you wholeheartedly gave Fang Yuke and I opportunities to spend time together, but now the two of you are running together. What if you, this failure of a matchmaker, made another mistake and reel in Wen Tao. At that time, I think my heart won’t be strong enough. They say that no matter how ugly you are, you will be able to getting married while the attractive end up single. This saying is too accurate. It really is a way of the world.”

Julie and Fang Yuke were the same; they both had this compulsive desire to mock other people. If there came a day where they would speak gently and kindly, the sun would have risen from the West.

I adored soldiers, I adored the submachine gun, but that didn’t mean that I adored the military. I hated everything that deemed to test my willpower. When military practice had just begin, I happened to fracture my calf, saving me from trouble. I was at home enjoying the air-conditioning  and eating an ice lolly in order to pretend that it was snowing. I even specially calculated to call Yao Zi during the afternoon rest time to let her listen to the emotional sounds of me eating the ice lolly. When one rises up, he must fall down. A gentleman can wait 10 years to exact his revenge. Yao Zi was a girl whose mouth was sweet but heart was malicious. She had specially called, speaking as if she was an announcer to congratulate me super warmly on my enlistment into the military.

I was practically alighting from the bus by imitating Elder Sister Liu Hulan’s aura and entering the base of Huai Rou army. The steel door behind me was firmly shut and I immediately straightened my clothes before entering.

TLN: Liu Hulan is a female revolutionary back in the Mao Zedong days.

As a mature and rational adult, no fresh feelings arose from this unfamiliar circumstance. From the first moment I entered, I had begun to reminisce on the world of teeming pleasures outside the fence. I reminisced on Ximen chicken wings, stuffed steamed buns, but I reminisced on my two foot long bed in my dorm the most. I silently changed my phone boot up greeting to “There are still X days until military training is over. Every night I made changing this number into a divine ceremony, so that I could tell myself that time had not really stopped.

Our dorm was a big room that could hold ten plank beds up and down. Near the toilet, air pollution, rumbling noises and contamination was extremely critical. In the dead of night, one could basically hear any solid objects undergo endless waiting and torture for the next day. A ‘putong’ sound rang followed by a strong concentrated stream of air of hydrogen sulfide that could not be waved away that tested our vital capacity. Not only that, life was forever more melodramatic than I thought it was. Because there were less people in the German and Spanish classes, we were combined into one class. Unexpectedly, Ru Ting and I had neighboring beds and had become close roommates. Ru Ting evidently felt it was more unexpected than I did, but her adjusting speed was faster than mine and she immediately expressionlessly carried some of her high quality health products away. Because of Ru Ting, when Fang Yuke and I texted each other, I always felt as if a scorching gaze of murder was shot towards my back. I nervously looked back to confirm many times. In the end, I started to lose interest and I began to send fewer texts. Simply, I did not send him texts myself or I gave him just a word or two that counted more as tokens.

Our instructor was younger than us, and regarding the standing military stance, he had some prejudiced thoughts. Often, he would repeat N times his order to stand at attention, not without changing it up abit. We wondered if he was yelling like that to make his throat hoarse and gain our sympathy and favorable impressions. Or maybe he purely wanted to joke around with us because we often tried to guess when we would have to “Stand at ease”.

Of course, I was someone who could find joy in sorrows, otherwise I couldn’t be so hard to defeat as I struggled on while at death’s door until now.

For example, when we were practicing our military standing stance, I would get closer to Julie and speak to her through ventriloquism as I told her where the hot guys were. Then, Julie would use ventriloquism to scold me, a girl who ate what was in the bowl while eyeing the things in the pot.Ihad always suspected whether we had grasped a type of martial arts secret know-hows ……

When the sun was overhead, the floor surged with heat. It was about to swallow people up. My brain emptied, and my two eyes became sluggish as we practiced the military stance. Then, I discovered that not too far away Fang Yuke’s troops were currently practicing lying down. I immediately trembled with excitement and narrowed my eyes to search for Fang Yuke’s shadow within the troops. This was the so-called little victory of a newly-wed. I gently evaporated in the high temperatures for one strand of longing. As I got lost in multiple Fang Yukes:

“Zhou Linlin step forward!” I suddenly heard the instructor’s fierce voice.

I was a little distracted, so I was still confirming whether it was real or in my imagination.

The whole class looked at me.

“Zhou Linlin step forward!” It was the instructor’s coarse voice and command.

I hadn’t eaten pork before, but I had seen pigs run. From childhood to now, all the knowledge I had on red revolutionaries was all in movies and television. I knew “step forward” was a free and easy movement. According to the procedure that the military instructor had taught us it could be constituted of many motions. I covered my neck, my left leg and right leg jumped forward, stuck together.

Behind me was the troops that included Fang Yuke. In front of me was Ru Ting and my close friend that made up a squad. Who said life was a play? It was really too accurate.  Look at all these people watching my one man show……

The instructor had to let all the women envy my willowy slender waist.When the military training commenced, there was a lot of manliness: “Yesterday I told you guys that one of the objectives for coming her for military training is to cultivate a sense of discipline. The appropriate stance requires that your eyes be at the front, but where have your eyes gone? Are you thinking about lying down with them??”

This soldier, you are gauging the heart of a gentleman with your own mean measure. If I could sit, I will definitely not stand. If I could lie down, I would definitely not sit. But I don’t want to lie on a cooking board. The temperature on that ground is definitely so hot that I could boil an egg on it.

I lowered my head and did not speak. I began to make myself look tiny. My innumerable scoldings had told me that lowering your head could provoke a motherly nature and brilliance. Decreasing every inch of yourself was the most effective method.

“The most important part of an army is discipline and a feeling of collective honor. Today, you did something wrong. Everyone’s stance training will be increased by fifteen minutes.”

My mouth formed an O. This was great. I died without a burial. Everyone’s eyes were filled with an ominous glint of wanting to lacerate my flesh and make me into a corpse.

“Zhou Linlin’s time will be increased by half an hour.” The instructor calmly added.

Half an hour? Then wouldn’t I evaporate into air……

Don’t think that fifteen minutes or thirty minutes is short. Usually this time would be enough for me to eat some fruit, stroll around, or take some naps in class. In elementary school, I had more experiences with standing as punishment, but the foundation was enough. After I got tired of standing, I would dig out my eye wax, and clean out the filth from my fingernails. Then, I would take it as I stopped for thirty minutes while I walked. The time passed in a flash. But standing under the sun and getting scorched intermittently for half an hour was not easy.

The geothermal waves already penetrated the thin and stiff shoes which then traveled to my whole body. The sun was like a barbecue, penetrating me all 360 degrees. The sticky sweat followed my hairline and trickled downwards. I licked my chapped lips. My heart shouted many times, Who can kick out this fellow who’s drinking iced pickled plum juice in front of me?

We already disbanded to rest after fifteen minutes had completely passed. One, it was one the basis of our bodies that were too weak to stand up to the wind. As the wind urged us to fall, the fierce tigers in the other girls manifested as hungry wolves that charged down the mountain and to the little snack counters. They left me all alone overlooking the wind like a jade tree as I stood alone on the yellow earth.

Julie stood ten centimeters in front of me. She opened some pickled plum juice that was unceasingly seeping out cool air. I looked up, and the waves of water rushed down her throat smoothly like down a toilet. It even released a sweet sounding splash sound. Julie wiped at the juice at the corner of her mouth. She looked back and smiled to me. Almost as if she was filming a drama she said, “The coolness penetrates me completely, as I become iced for a whole summer.”

I gnashed my teeth, but I was helpless as the instructor stood three metres away from me. I dared to get angry but I didn’t dare speak.

Julie laughed, “There is a knife (刀) above the character for lust  (色) [1]. You’ve seen a source of calamity within all the hot guys right?”

I thought to myself, how could I have found such a bad friend? She tried to unmask my rotting scar, very specialized, like she had nothing to do

Julie added, “Actually, I came over to talk to you honestly. Your guy and Ru Ting have been talking in your 3:00 position. It is unclear what they are talking about and their expressions are vague. I have finished my report.” When she finished, Julie escaped like the whoosh of a robot.

This time, Julie didn’t only unmask my bad parts. She even scattered salt all over it. It was extremely painful.

Considering the bloody training, even if I had to die, I didn’t dare turn around again. What if I was admonished by the instructor and made to stand as punishment for a few hours again? Then my knee joints would be written off. I slit my eyes and used my peripheral vision to probe the vicinity for traces of adultery. I almost had to turn my head fully before I found a handsome boy and pretty girl in the midst of the concentrated green military uniforms. No, they were an adulterous couple. They were currently talking to each other extremely happily. Moreover, from my point of view, Fang Yuke and Ru Ting stood collinearly, offering my abundant imagination some leeway. This was like trying to look at the molars in the back of your mouth in front of the mirror, as if I had seen something, yet I could not see it. I felt so unwell that I tensed up. Fang Yuke, for you I stood as punishment under thousands of staring eyes. My face had been thrown away to the greatest extent. But you’re well off. Playing around with prostitutes . Where did the military discipline go? Where did the instructor go? How does the military training base look at a place where people are whispering sweet nothings to each other?! Instructor, make Fang Yuke stand too! Make him stand beside me……

Every second of the last fifteen minutes were as long as one year. I felt as if the dirt underneath me was almost about to dissolve as my whole body followed and thoroughly heated up like a sauna. My eyesight began to blur, when out of the corner of my eye, Yuke was currently walking towards me. As for Ru Ting, she blindly followed behind him. My heart was full of grievances that had to be vented. But my anger was stifled in my throat. I was about to burn a hole in my throat, but I was still incapable of finding an exit. My legs softened, my eyes blacked out, as my body fell to the ground unable to be controlled. My heart thought, Darn! If I fell down like this, a hole would be created in my head when I bumped into things.

The pain that I imagined did not come. Instead I fell into a sturdy hug. I could seemingly smell a familiar scent. Someone firmly shook my body, using an eager voice that he had not used for awhile to say, “Linlin, wake up! Wake up……” F**K, who let you imitate Ma Jingtao? You’ve shaken me until all my gastric fluids have surged. I don’t even have the strength to speak. My consciousness was like a pitch-black network. The noise in the outer universe was like the little whispers by the bugs that was blocking me outside. My paralysis from head to toe made my eyelids stay firmly shut. I comfortably lost consciousness and died.

TLN: Ma Jingtao is a Taiwanese actor best known for acting in many Taiwanese, mainland Chinese and Singaporean television series since the early 1990s. She’s probably referring to one of the lines he had in one of his TV shows or just the way he approaches these types of situations.

[1] lit. There is a knife (刀) above the character for lust  (色) / fig. lascivious activities can lead to bitter consequences

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