Chapter 174: Amidst memories
After having sent Vice-Principal Lou home, it was already close to 10pm when Xu Tingsheng reached his own home. Having told them about his return earlier, Mr and Mrs Xu as well as his little sister Xu Qiuyi were still awake and up waiting for him.
Xu Tingsheng did not see Zhong Wusheng and Tao Jiaxiu. They had probably gone to sleep a little earlier due to Sis Jia’s pregnancy.
There wasn’t much that couldn’t be mentioned before one’s own family members. Xu Tingsheng directly asked Mr Xu about that hundred thousand yuan. Mr Xu smiled rather slyly, saying, “Take it as the bride price paid in advance.”
A pained Xu Tingsheng exclaimed, “Dad, not you too!”
Mr Xu said, “That’s what your Uncle Lou said. More important, that’s also what your sister says.”
In the midst of tiptoeing back to her room, Xu Qiuyi was caught by Xu Tingsheng’s ‘ferocious’ glare. She snorted, launching a preemptive strike, “What, Xu Tingsheng? I’d like to see you be fierce to me.”
A guilty Xu Tingsheng said, “No, that’s not it…let’s set this aside for now. I wanted to ask you-have you decided to study Sciences or Humanities?”
“Sciences, of course.”
Xu Tingsheng very much wanted to tell her ‘I, your brother, know so many Humanities university entrance examination questions!’ yet could only ask unresignedly in the end, “Are you sure?”
It wasn’t just Xu Qiuyi who felt puzzled now as even Mr and Mrs Xu directed questioning gazes towards Xu Tingsheng.
“I should just let things run their natural course,” Xu Tingsheng thought for a moment before saying, “It’s nothing. You study the Sciences then.”
Mrs Xu and Xu Qiuqi didn’t sit for too long, soon going to bed.
Just like before, Xu Tingsheng and Mr Xu whipped up a few dishes before talking over wine. Mr Xu brought up Wu Yuewei’s anonymous reward money on his own accord, explaining, “Actually, since our roots are in Libei, it is only natural that we provide some ‘contributions’ to the place.”
Mr Xu had emphasised rather heavily on the word ‘contributions’. With that, Xu Tingsheng understood what he meant. Generally speaking, it was only natural for local entrepreneurs to ‘donate’ to their hometowns, be it out of true altruistic sentiment or due to other considerations. Moreover, Mr Xu was currently even a member of Libei’s bureaucracy.
“Therefore, do you think I should donate cars and gift presents to those agencies or do things like this?” Mr Xu continued, “Actually, it’s not just this young lady Wu Yuewei. Our Happy Shoppers will also be donating a batch of tables, chairs and whiteboards to some village schools in Libei, creating a scholarship as well.”
“That would naturally be best.”
Xu Tingsheng approved greatly of Mr Xu’s decision. After all, he had also been a student with a poor familial background in his previous life, knowing the difficulties therein. When in university, he had even seen a female classmate who had virtually been bearing the weight of her entire family on her own shoulders. Apart from working and scrimping, she had even helped her roommates and schoolmates to wash their clothes to earn some more living expenses.
“Therefore, it’s just this young lady Wu Yuewei who’s a little special. Because you and your sister are both friends with her, I considered that we shouldn’t let her know that the money’s from our family lest it instead estranges the relationship between you.”
“If it weren’t for this, it actually couldn’t be any more reasonable a thing. It’s the best ever results in Libei’s history! Today, our Libei’s television station even broadcast an interview with her. The young lady’s really quite good.”
Mr Xu now looked at Xu Tingsheng, asking him, “There’s really nothing going on between you?”
“There’s really nothing.”
“Why have you returned then?”
“You’re already in university now. This can actually already be discussed.”
Xu Tingsheng counted on his fingers, “Not just yet.”
Next, father and son discussed business related matters for some time, exchanging information on how Happy Shoppers and Hucheng were doing. The Xu Family that was walking together on two fronts with both father and son on the frontlines was really breaking the waves and travelling a thousand miles with every single passing day somewhat.
Mr Xu’s current thoughts were actually very simple. Where he lacked knowledge, he would just attract talent from somewhere, letting them do it and at the same time also learning from them.
Some time after midnight, a slightly tipsy Xu Tingsheng returned to his room whereupon he dumped things out of his drawers, getting out all his old photographs, diaries and yearbooks.
Then, he lit a cigarette and sat before the table in front of the window, slowly and quietly going through all of them.
In truth, if one looks back on life with the mentality of a thirty-year-old, their memories will slowly have begun drifting toward yearning. You will inadvertently be overwhelmed by a strange emotion, next feeling calm yet also somewhat lost as you flip through those things of your past.
Those photographs contain your youthful features, your bright eyes.
Those words contain your childish sorrows, your purest ever happiness.
Also, seeing a message left behind on your yearbook, you will think of that person who was once so important in your life. Now, however, it has been so many years since you last met.
You will have to search for a very long time within the group photos of your class to find that boy or girl you once had a crush on, or who once had a crush on you for a long time. Then, thinking of those silly things once done for him(her) in the past, you will smile with some embarrassment, smile very warmly.
It was different for Xu Tingsheng in that he was living amidst his memories, also currently being in the process of changing them.
Xu Tingsheng looked at his red bicycle, reminisced on a friend who had gone who knew where. His first football jersey had been an Inter Milan one. His first crush-he had heard that she had long since stopped studying, having long since married and given birth early on.
Then, when he took out an old photograph from his junior high graduation yearbook, the paper crane that Wu Yuewei had folded fell out from between the pages. Because layers of paper and plastic bags had guarded it, the paper crane was preserved very well, not even having yellowed.
It could be seen how greatly Xu Tingsheng had treasured it that year.
Unfolding the paper crane, Xu Tingsheng saw those words that Wu Yuewei had spoken of. Her handwriting was very nice. She had written their story from the very beginning to the very end.
From the first time she had seen that hateful fella who had refused to do his eye calisthenics properly, shamelessly staring at her instead, to the first time that he had spoken to her, to when he had just continually proposed checking his eye calisthenics again for no rhyme or reason.
There were also many things that Xu Tingsheng had said afterwards, many things he had done.
At the end of it, she had written:
‘Senior, only afterwards did I realise that apparently, somehow or other, I had already grown to like being in your eyes, like being the focus of your gaze. I think that I will only be in a single relationship in my life, so it can’t be too early, I suppose? So, I’ve let you be pitiful for a year. Junior high is still too young. I think that maybe, in senior high…we’ll have grown up then.’
This was what this girl had written during her junior high times. Whilst childish, it was also adorable.
What about now? Perhaps senior high had been too young? Was university still too young? …Xu Tingsheng remembered her saying, “What if I can’t like someone else? What then?” …After having finished studying in Qingbei, attained her masters and her doctorate, going overseas to study if all else failed? She should be able to meet such a person, right?
Early the next morning, Xu Tingsheng saw Zhong Wusheng and Tao Jiaxiu. They had already adapted to life here, also feeling happy. In Sis Jia’s words, they finally felt that they had a home.
Xu Tingsheng stared rather impolitely at Sis Jia’s stomach, asking, “So big, could it be twins?”
“It really is,” Zhong Wusheng said happily.
On his return journey, Xu Tingsheng received a call from Chen Jianxing of Yanzhou Nightly.
“Our paper wants to interview you. It’s a real interview this time, one truly requested by the higher-ups…they value that Hucheng Education of yours pretty highly,” Chen Jianxing said.
“I still have quite a few end-of-semester examinations,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“I’ll wait for you to finish your exams! This time…it’s my turn to ask you for help. Please.”
“I’ll contact you later then.”
“Alright, don’t forget! Thanks.”