A Book Dedicated to Our Youth: Chapter 2.1

Chapter 2: Confused Feelings

Goodbye darkness, hello sunshine! Luo Qi Qi is finally opening herself up and living the happy, carefree life that children her age should be living.

Sometimes, when you feel like you’ve become isolated and have sunken into darkness, your friends will be there pulling you out. It’s at these points when you realize how much they impact you and how important friends really are.

**I’ll be on semi hiatus until the end of November so this might be the last post until then!

1. Fate Is Reversed

Within time, you, me, perhaps our appearances will have long changed. Each of us within the limits of the sky, the corners of the sea.
Beyond time, you, me, our prospects still remain glittering, as we sit side by side on the peach blossom covered classroom steps. 

Chen Jin and I were originally two parallel lines with no chance of intersecting, but because he chose me as a seating partner, our fates crossed.

Although our reasons were different, we both didn’t listen in class. However, he was a good student and could only stare off into space expressionlessly whereas I, the bad student, could choose between staring off into space, sleep and read novels.  At the time, I was currently lost without hope in the worlds inside books. Chen Jin would occasionally glance over with the corner of his eye, probably bewildered by my concentration and diligence.  Afterwards, when we became a bit closer, he would ask me what exactly I was reading. When he heard the titles ‘Xue Rengui’s Campaign to the East’, ‘Xue Ding Shan’s Campaign to the West’, ‘Folk Literature’…etc., he looked like he was going to collapse because he had never heard of them before, it really had a bad impact on his ‘child prodigy’ name. When he heard ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, his expression turned slightly back to normal before returning to a face of awe to say ” ‘the young don’t watch Red Chamber, the old don’t read Three Kingdoms’, your dad allows you to watch ‘Dreams of the Red Chamber’?”

It was my first time hearing such a saying so I dazedly said “I don’t know, my dad doesn’t care about me reading, basically as long as the book is on the book shelf, I’ll read it.”

He thought for a moment before discussing with me “lend me your copy of ‘Dreams of the Red Chamber’ and I’ll lend a set of books to you.”

I brought ‘Dreams of the Red Chamber’ to him, the 1979 version with a set of four books. He gave me ‘Classic of Poetry’ [also known as Book of Songs/Odes, the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry]. He finished ‘Dreams of the Red Chamber’ really quickly and returned it to me with a soso expression. He then flipped through ‘Xue Ren Gui’s Campaign to the East’ and gave it back to me without finishing it. Thereafter, it was always me borrowing his books, he had completely no interest in my books.

The ‘Classic of Poetry’ he lent me had no vernacular* or explanatory notes so it was very laborious reading. There were many parts that I didn’t understand but he would never explain. only telling me that poetry didn’t need explanations for every word, you only needed to remember it and one day, one moment, under a certain situation, it will naturally come to you. I didn’t know if his father told him this or if it was his excuse for not wanting to bother explaining.

Because reading it was very hard work and boring, I didn’t want to read it. But Chen Jin, in his boring prodigy life, found a new hobby which was to test me. He would often randomly say a line and wanted me to say the next line; or he would recite one half and I would say the next half. If I got it correct, he would have an uncaring, taken for granted expression. However, if I couldn’t say it, he would shake his head disdainfully at me. Children all have ambitions, especially to beat prodigies so under the incentive of this game, I gradually memorized the entire of ‘Classic of Poetry’.

At the start, I was only an amusement for when he was bored but gradually, he realized that I wasn’t like the other students and teachers, who admired child prodigies. Thus, we began competing with or without a purpose.

People who’ve had morning reading sessions should all have the experience of having a piece of writing that you have to memorize. The teacher would give us twenty or thirty minutes to memorize it all then check afterwards. Within the given time, whoever memorized it first can raise their hand and recite it for the whole class, the shorter the time, the higher the time, the more the glory.

Chen Jin never bothered joining in these because his memory was astounding, he could recite all the texts in our Chinese book. Once, he half jokingly flaunted to me, “Bring over the middle school Chinese book, I can recite it for you.” So when the teacher wanted us to memorize the texts, he was very bored.

However, having me who didn’t listen to the teacher as a desk mate, he quickly shook off his boredom. He gave me a photocopied article from some unknown book and wanted to compete with me to see who could memorize this text in the shortest time.

The articles he gave me were much more interesting than our Chinese book, I was probably greedy and also probably competitive so I agreed. Henceforward, in morning reading sessions, the two of us were busy. The result of the competitions were always certain. Often, after I worked hard looking at a few parts, he would already tell me that he was able to recite it. I wasn’t able to understand how he could finish reading a text so fast so I asked.

Chen Jin didn’t answer me directly but instead explained a proverb: ten steps at a glance.
“My dad said that there are only two physical things in the world that boundless, one is a person’s brain, the second is the universe. Only if you believe..” he pointed at my head “use heart to train it, it will be able to do it.”

I secretly remembered his words. When I read novels, I started to force myself to look over two lines at once, then two to three lines, then three to four lines… This process was very painful but through ambition, no matter how painful, I still forced my brain to function to the limits.

Unconsciously, my reading and memorizing abilities improved at a rapid pace. I went from always losing to occasionally winning the competitions with Chen Jin. Every time I made things difficult for Chen Jin, he would pretend to be calm and indifferent but secretly he would frown and look at me.

The first term of Year 5 was quickly drawing to a close, one day at self study, Chen Jin suddenly said to me: “I’m not coming to class tomorrow.”

I thought that he was sick or something, Teacher Zhang was sitting up on the podium marking work so I could only quietly make a sound.  He pulled my homework book over and motioned for me to move my head closer. He held a pen and carefreely wrote on the exercise paper, as if helping me with a question: “my mum decided early on for me to skip a grade. My dad didn’t agree. A few days ago, my mum finally persuaded my dad to let me skip grades. Last week, I went to Yi Zhong* to do middle school test papers. I got full marks on the middle school second year maths paper but I didn’t do well on English, I only got 80 percent. After my dad discussed it with the principal, it was agreed for me to start Year 1 of Middle School next term. My mum wants me to quit school and use this period of time to read over the course material for the other subjects.” [*Yi Zhong (No.1) is considered as the best high school in many cities, I’m assuming that in this case he is talking about the best middle school. There are 3 years of middle school.]

“You’re saying that you won’t come to class anymore?”
“Yeah, I’m just giving you a heads up. Teacher Zhang doesn’t know yet, my mom is coming to school tomorrow to talk directly with the principal.”

Everyone envied skipping grades but Chen Jin’s tone of voice seemed unhappy. Afterall, he started school early and now as he was skipping two grades, he was going to be four years smaller than everyone else. The difference of four years is very big to a child. 34 year old people perhaps wouldn’t think that people that are 30 are very different to them but a 14 year old middle school student will definitely think that a 10 year old primary year 3 student is not from the same world as them.

After school, he carried his bad and stood on the podium for a while, silently looking at the classmates in the class mucking around. He didn’t have any arrogance on his face, only the reservedness of a person skipping grades. When it was time to leave, he said goodbye to me, I casually waved my hand. I laid by the window watching him hesitantly walking past the school ground. As he walked, he looked around as if he was reluctant to leave. I lifted up my bag and at rapid speed ran down the stairs chasing after him, “I…I’m also going home, let’s go together.”

His eyes lighted up but his face still had an expression of nonchalance, as if this sort of thing was common. I accompanied him slowly out of the school, right until we were at the street where we had to part. He waved his hand at me, “goodbye.” Then he ran off. I waved at his back and continued walking. Every one of us are like a planet. Our starting point in birth and our finishing point is death, this is what the heavens have planned for us long ago. However, our orbit between birth and death depends on many factors. As we move in the vast universe, the first two planets we bump into are parents, then, there are teachers, friends, lovers, superiors…

Meeting and colliding with other planets will inevitably impact the functioning of our orbit. Some impacts are positive, some impacts are negative. Loving someone unworthy of your love, having a bad teacher, meeting a harsh boss, these probably all count as typical negative meetings. Whereas having a good teacher, meeting an appreciative boss, having friends who are willing to give a hand, fengshui study often call these types people of high rank. Actually these highly ranked people are counted as typical positive encounters.

Chen Jin was the first person to create a significantly positive impact on my path in life. In this period of being desk mates, he had brought me into a world that I had not know about in the past. Although I was only standing at the door, but due to his pointers, I had unintentionally embarked on this path.

However, the me at the time didn’t know about these. The study methods he taught me, the stories he told me during class, the poetry he tested me on, the songs he recommended me, the remarkable people he admired, all of these things were only little children’s games to the me back then, things that weren’t any more interesting that skipping and throwing sand bags. But in reality, the things he brought me subtly influenced my life’s orbit.

Chen Jin’s sudden departure created a wild effect in our class. For that period of time, many girls would often lean on their desks crying, it was honestly a group breakup.

Afterwards, some persistent girl found out Chen Jin’s address. All the girls in the class were all very happy. They started to save money and planned for every person to give $5[yuan] to add together to buy a memento to gift for Chen Jin. I didn’t join. My family wasn’t rich and my pocket money was limited. It had more important uses such as buying juice.

But the problem was even though my family wasn’t rich, we definitely weren’t poor either. Many girls who came from bad backgrounds all used all their efforts to give all that they had. In the eyes of the girls, my actions were unforgivable. Due to this, I once again became our class’s special case, the whole class knew that I didn’t like Chen Jin. Inside the hearts of the girls in our class, the most accurate way of expressing this sentence was: you, actually dare to not like Chen Jin?! Because of Chen Jin, I suffered from a never before experienced loneliness. The girls in the class all seemed to see me as an enemy.

The me at the time thought that they were really annoying but now when I think about it, I feel that these feelings are so pure and simple, without the slightest bit of desire, to the extent that everyone can become even more close due to liking the same one. But this type of like can only be experienced in the primary years.

Not long after Chen Jin left, the first term of Year 5 ended. I wasn’t clear on what exactly the girls were going to buy as a present to Chen Jin as in their eyes, I had no right to like Chen Jin with them. I only know that they were going to bring the present to Chen Jin’s house during winter vacation so for a very long time after term 2 started, their conversations were always on Chen Jin. How beautiful Chen Jin’s mother was, how wise his father was, how noble their family was, how outstanding Chen Jin was.

After Term 2 started, I, this little planet, encountered another planet which created an enormous impact to me.

Due to health reasons, Teacher Zhang wasn’t able to lead the class this term. We had a new teacher who had just graduated from Teacher’s Technical School, Teacher Gao. Perhaps due to just graduating, she had an unlimited enthusiasm towards work. During class, she would crack jokes at as and sing songs. If someone was distracted, she would even pretend to be pitiful as say to us, “I know maths is really dull and uninteresting, but I’m really trying hard to make it seem interesting. You guys can give me suggestions but you can’t not listen.”

Teacher Gao really liked to smile, she never scolded any student and never treated the good students differently from the bad students. I even felt that she was more biased towards the bad students, when she talked to us, she would always be warmer and more patient as if she was afraid that she would hurt us.

Because of Teacher Gao, I stopped being conflicted about doing my homework but my basics were too bad so even if I did the homework, it was too tragic to look at. However, I noticed that Teacher Gao would carefully mark every question and write a detailed explanation of how to tackle the question on the side. There were many questions that I did wrong where she would write praises, commending me on my unique thought process. It was my first time encountering a teacher praising a student even though their answers were wrong.

Every lesson, she would ask me a question. If I answered correctly, she would praise me enthusiastically. If I wasn’t able to answer, she would smile and say “think about it carefully, this question is within your capability of answering” and then let me sit down.

In the eyes of adults, children seemed to to be immature, but our hearts are more sensitive than thought. I’ve already felt all Teacher Gao’s small acts of kindness. I am like a sunflower that has been in the dark for too long. I have yearned for the light for too long but just as I started believing that this world is filled with darkness, that in the the eyes of the adults, I was someone without one single attribute, that it wasn’t possible for any adults to bestow me a little warmth and care, Teacher Gao appeared.

She looked at me with trust and expectations whereas I was hesitating, hesitating whether or not I should trust her good intentions. In my hesitations, I didn’t work hard on improving but rather, I turned even worse. During her classes, I intentionally read books, didn’t listen and wrote wrong answers to my homework. When she said west, I’d go towards the east; she said east. I’d go towards the west. I wanted to force out her ‘true face’.

Even to this day, I still don’t understand what the me at the time was thinking. I can only roughly guess that I was working hard to prove that there was no light in my world and let myself give up hope. There is no disappointment if there’s no hope. Perhaps, I was only using another way to protect myself.

However, Teacher Gao never had her ‘true face’ forced out. She used the heart of a parent embracing their children to tolerate my actions.

In midst of these, a situation occurred which completely removed any suspicions I had towards her. The school wanted Teacher Gao to understand our class better so during Teacher Zhang’s resting period after her surgery, the school specially arranged for them to meet, to let her explain every student’s conditions.

I was always the last to find out so when I heard about this, Teacher Zhang was already sitting in Teacher Gao’s office. My feelings at the time were like bucket of ice water was poured onto me, extinguishing the small flames in my heart. Teacher Gao’s office was on the first floor. I happened to be there also so I secretly sneaked under her window to listen. I was late so I didn’t hear what Teacher Zhang said exactly, only hearing Teacher Gao saying very politely to Teacher Zhang, “……Everyone make mistakes, mistakes aren’t things that can’t be forgiven. Luo Qi Qi and Zhang Jun are very smart students….”

I couldn’t hear the rest of her words, I could only feel my head spinning. From the day I started school, there hasn’t been anyone who called me smart. I was associated with dullness and stupidity. I must have heard wrong for sure! When my head was somewhat clear again and I eagerly wanted to listen again, I could only hear the sound of Teacher Gao sending Teacher Zhang out. Thus, I walked back to the classroom drunkenly, repeatedly telling myself “I must have heard wrong”.

I secretly told myself, maybe I didn’t hear wrong, that it was true, I wasn’t stupid. But my mind which had felt inferior for too long, refused to accept it and continued to repeatedly tell myself, I heard wrong, I definitely heard wrong.

However, no matter if I had heard wrong or not, I had decided to hold on to the light in Teacher Gao’s eyes. I was too scared to let her down, scared that after she was disappointed, she would shift her sights. Therefore, I stopped reading books in class and started to concentrate on the lesson. After class, I would seriously think and complete every question for homework. Even if I wasn’t able to do it, I would still write my thoughts in the corner. I wanted to let her feel my efforts and give me some time.

My maths marks rose rapidly. At the end of Year 5, my maths grades went from not passing to 80 and 90 percent. Zhang Jun was also like this. However, our Chinese marks were still very bad so our overall grades still weren’t good.

Even so, my parent’s were still delighted. After my father attended parent teacher interviews, he excitedly said to me, “After the parent teacher interview ended, Teacher Gao asked me to stay and told me ‘your daughter Luo Qi Qi is very smart.’ Oh yeah, Teacher Gao also wants to choose you to participate in the city’s primary school maths competition. You’ll have to go to school for lessons in the summer holidays.”

In that moment, I was finally sure that I didn’t hear wrong that time.

Participating alongside me was Zhang Jun.

That summer, I had the funnest days of my childhood. Everyday when I opened my eyes, my heart felt like it was filled with sunshine.

Every morning, I would go to school and listen to Teacher Zhang’s lessons with Zhang Jun. Although we didn’t chat much, we sat very close and I was able to see his smile in the corner of my eye.

Teacher Gao didn’t stand on the podium, she casually sat in front of us and wrote on scrap paper as she talked. When we were tired, the three of us would chat. Teacher Gao would share a few stories of when she was studying in Beijing as me and Zhang Jun listened attentively. Sometimes, Zhang Jun would share some of his knowledge from travelling all over the country. He was really good at talking and he made his trips come to life. He would talk about the fish feast he had in Wuhan, making me and Teacher Gao salivate. In Yantai, he had eaten raw seafood. When he put the live shrimp, soaked with alcohol, in his mouth, the shrimp still jumped around in his mouth. The flavor was inexpressible. Teacher Gao and I grimaced as we listened.

Teacher Zhang never acted appropriately like a student in front of the teacher. When he talked excitedly, he would jump onto the desk in high spirits whereas Teacher Gao and I would sit on the chairs and look towards him, listening to him.

The bright summer sunshine shone on him from the window, making his entire body sparkle. My heart was also brilliantly bright. It was my first time knowing that happiness could be so very simple, I only needed to sit there and quietly stare at him.

Other than answering questions, I stayed silent for most of the time. However, my quietness was brimming with happiness, I enjoyed listening to him speak.

After the lesson was over, I would walk home with Zhang Jun.

We lived on two sides between a river. We call it a river but it wasn’t actually a river. It’s said to be a man made irrigation canal that was already there in the Qing dynasty but we were used to calling it a river.

For the sake of being able to walk further with him, I said that I liked to look at the water. I would often go along the river with him to the bridge and part ways there.

I worked hard to find ways to be with him but when we were actually together, I wasn’t able to say a word and I could only stay silent. It was often just Zhang Jun who talked while I listened attentively. He had lots of fun stories that would make me laugh.

Sometimes, he would also not speak and we would be in silence. I was scared that he would find me boring and that he wouldn’t want to walk with me in the future so as soon as he became quiet, I would desperately start to thing of topics but I wasn’t able to think of anything to say, I could only ask, “do you think there’s a better way of solving that question from today?” or,”I found another way to solve yesterday’s question.” So the two of us who had a considerably bad reputation at school were like the good students who were passionate about studying, diligently discussing maths questions. I was only able to realize many years later, in the end, is being quiet more boring or discussing how many ways there are of solving a dull maths question?

However, there were exceptions. When the water in the river was shallow, we would go down to the river to play. The two of us would bend down and look around for pretty stones in the water.

When we were tired, we would sit side by side on a large rock, with our feet in the water, kicking around while resting. The water in the river was able to let people relax. Even though it was quiet, I would stop intentionally looking for words. We would often not speak a word and just bask in the sun, enjoying the breeze.

Time would fly by when we were together. I would often suddenly grasp his watch and realize that it was already lunchtime. I’d hurriedly put on my shoes and say, “I’m going home now, bye.”

He would lazily stand up and put on his shoes, “see you tomorrow.”

Thinking that we were able to meet again tomorrow, walk together and play together in the water made me feel infinitely happy. Even walking seemed like flying.

Every morning, I couldn’t wait to rush to school, couldn’t wait to see him, study with him, play with him.

Once, he lay on a rock and fell asleep. I sat by his side, playfully kicking the water. When I secretly looked at his watch, I found out that it was already lunchtime but he didn’t wake up. I hesitated for a moment and instead of waking him up, I held up my sunhat, helping to shade him from the sun, letting him sleep.

I held up the sunhat, sat by his side and watched the way he slept. When one hand grew tired, I would switch to the other hand. I felt my heart was as bright as the summer sunshine and as warm as the river water. As long as he was here, I was willing to watch over him.

He slept for a long time before waking, sitting up on one shoulder. I immediately put the sunhat back on my head, my eyes looking towards the distance.

He looked at me and smiled, “you missed out on lunchtime.”

I lowered my head and put on my sandals as I replied, “it’s okay.” It seemed like I was rushing to get home when actually, I was afraid to look at him.

I hurriedly started to leave, he asked me, “if you’re late home, will your parents scold you?”

I truthfully answered,” they’ll probably say a few words to me but I don’t care. They are sometimes a little afraid of me so they don’t dare to say anything harsh.”

My words seemed a little unimaginable but he seemed to understand and didn’t have a surprised expression, only smiled a little.

I was already walking away when I suddenly remembered, he didn’t seem to be rushed about getting home. I turned back and realized that he was still sitting on the rock. I couldn’t help but run back and stood on the bridge asking, “aren’t you going home?”

He raised his head, “there’s no one at home. It doesn’t matter if I go home or not.”

I was stunned. Didn’t he have four sisters and he was the son his parents finally gave birth to so he was the treasure of his entire family?
[Sons are usually more favored in China as they carry on the family line.]

“Don’t you have four sisters? Where are your parents?”

He explained laughing, “my dad is an engineer so he has to go wherever his work is; my mom stays in Chengdu for most of the year to help my older sis take care of her child; my second sis is working in Shenzhen; my third sis lives in the broadcasting station’s dorms and is busy dating; my fourth sis just got into university so she went to Shanghai to study, there’s only me left in the house.

“Who cooks for you?”

“There is a lady who came from our hometown who cooks for me, but she doesn’t care about me.”

I stood quietly on the bridge.

He looked up at me for a while and warmly said, “go home, your parents are probably worried.” After speaking, he stood up, ready to leave.

I asked, “where are you going?”

He climbed the railings of the bridge, “I’m going to look for friends to play with.”

I didn’t want him to leave and I really wanted to say, let’s play together but I wasn’t able to say it out, I could only walk home step by step.

During the holidays, when I wasn’t studying, I would go to Brother Li’s game house to read.  A race car friend had brought back a grape vine from XinJiang. Xiao Bo planted it by the wall and used iron wire and bamboo to create a frame for it. The frame had already become a mass of dark green. I liked sitting by it, reading.

Brother Li was busy with his new business and left the entire store to Xiao Bo and Wu Zei to manage. When there were people buying things, Xiao Bo would go and have a look; when there wasn’t anyone, he would play billiards while chatting to the me under grapevine.

Sometimes, people would come over to bet. Some were small bets and some were large. When there was large betting, Brother Li would clean the yard and lock the yard door. He would send people to stay in the game house and not let other people enter. Once when he was cleaning the yard, I was there and Xiao Bo didn’t make me leave. Brother Li and Wu Zei weren’t bother about me and let me leave and enter freely.

When the bidding was small, I would occasionally lay down a stake. Xiao Bo was very creditable, he never once let me lose money. Depending on him, I was able to borrow a few books from nearby book renting shops, using the meager pocket money I had left after buying orange juice. Having book renting shops meant that I could start reading entire sets of Gu Long’s works. My favorite was ‘The Happy Hero’. I read it again and again, only because there wasn’t any loneliness in it.

When I was tired from reading, if there wasn’t any people, Xiao Bo would teach me billiards. He would correct my posture step by step. My little brain wasn’t well developed and my PE results were always bad but I seemed to have a talent for this half intellectual sport and I was soon able to play correctly.

Sometimes, when Brother Li and Wu Zei were also present, the four of us would play cards underneath the grape vine. In the beginning, Brother Li and Wu Zei doubted me and refused to partner up with me. There was only the good Xiao Bo who didn’t care about winning or losing, who would be partners with me.

The losers had to stick a white strip of paper on their face. The two us often lost so much that there wasn’t enough space on our faces for the strips of paper.

When I became familiar with the rules, I played with the grace of a big general. Using Brother Li’s words, I was able to keep my composure; using Wu Zei’s words, I was ruthless. Xiao Bo was really good at playing and with my cooperation, we would often play until Wu Zei and Brother Li were speechless. They wanted to separate Xiao Bo and I but I refused. In the past, they looked down on me, today, I don’t want to be with you!

Brother Li and Wu Zei joked that I bore grudges and I fiercely replied, “people who don’t bear grudges won’t remember to repay favors.” I didn’t care how they ridiculed me, I would only be partners with Xiao Bo.

I changed from my quiet and well behaved past self and started to like laughing and making noise.  Wu Zei would often complain to Xiao Bo that he thought they were raising a cat, unexpectedly, it was actually a little leopard. Xiao Bo laughed, “who told you to enjoy provoking her?”

When we were playing cards, they would drink beer and give me the soft drink Jianlibao. At that time, there wasn’t any Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta or Wahaha. This bubbling orange flavored carbonated water is the best soft drink to me.

Afterwards, every time I think back to this holiday period, I would always be tempted to think of the words ‘Long Vacation’. I know that my vacation wasn’t the same as the Japanese drama ‘Long Vacation’ but whenever I think of this period, my eyes will always be filled with the bright sunshine, the sparkling river water, the dark green of the grape vines, the sounds of joyous laughter, the sweet aroma of oranges, my few best friends and, a boy I like.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cuuute!

Firstly, I love Tonghua’s analogies! You can tell that she’s put a lot of thought into her writing and she really connects with her characters and all their imperfections. I also really like the few sentences in the beginning of every part (that I’ve used italics for) because they’re also really interesting. Some of them are a bit confusing to translate because I’m not sure what they mean exactly, since some are pretty ambiguous which calls for your own interpretations.

Maybe I should start writing down my interpretations to them down here too! Hehe.

I’m glad Luo Qi Qi’s life is finally filled with sunshine and that she’s realized she’s not so alone in this world! It made me sad when she kept talking about how alone she was- Qi Qi! You have your three bros from the game house too!

Sure Wu Zei teases her a lot but he does it cheekily, like how a big brother might tease his little sister, hehe.

I don’t know why though but I keep thinking of Xiao Bo as a cute and chubby little boy. I can’t help it! His name sounds so cute! It means small (Xiao) waves (Bo) in Chinese. It isn’t pronounced bow but the bo in boring. BUT NO. HE ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE A CUTE LITTLE BOY. He’s most likely one of the main contenders for Luo Qi Qi’s heart!!! I mean, just look at how he is willing to partner up with the amateur her and not care about winning or losing. Reeeally?I remember the way he was playing table tennis when they first met, and how he was playing quite fiercely. Also Wu Zei had told Luo Qi Qi how good Xiao Bo was with a knife. We’re only seeing Luo Qi Qi’s version of Xiao Bo here, which is a nice, decent guy (to her and his friends) who is in a top school but from what I’ve seen (or heard), he’s a pretty badass ‘rebel’ too (kids shouldn’t be hanging out in game houses or drinking alcohol!).  On the other hand, Zhang Jun is a rich, carefree guy who is actually, as we learn in this part, pretty lonely, even though he has a big family.

Does this picture fit Xiao Bo or Zhang Jun more?

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20 thoughts on “A Book Dedicated to Our Youth: Chapter 2.1

  1. Fern

    I just discovered this… Your translations are making my heart feel warm ^^ Thank you for translating! Looking forward to the end of November hehe

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      Thank you! Your words make me super happy 😀
      I’ll try to post a few more parts between now and then but I won’t be completely back on the blog until after the 17th of Nov ):

      Reply
  2. Moonblossom

    I luuurrve this book so thank you for translating it! From a reader’s point of view, I thought the chapter was a bit too wordy. But because many details like the pebbles, grapevine, character insights…. all loop back in the future, I can only be thankful for your details.

    As for your question, I thought the boy reminded me more of Zhang Jun with his nonchalant airs, although Zhang Jun is only an awkward youth at this point in time. He (the cartoon guy) is definately too well-dressed to be Xiao Bo.

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      Thank you! 😀

      I was a bit conflicted at first over whether or not I should include all the details since Tonghua does ramble quite a bit sometimes, but since I’m reading the book as I go along, (it’s more exciting that way hehe) and I’m only a few parts ahead of my translations, I don’t know if the details will become important later on so I’ve been translating everything. I’m glad you told me they are all relevant later though 😀

      BTW, I loved your translations for Gentleman Free Floating Cloud, it was such a good read!!! I laughed so much through it and for quite a while afterwards, I’d keep saying endure..endure.. in my mind haha 😀

      Please continue to give me advice! Hehe, thank you!

      Reply
      1. Moonblossom

        Glad you enjoyed GFFC! I had fun and the timing was right, else I could never have finished the book so quickly.
        If you have not finish this book, I shall not spoil it for you. But it makes it harder for you to summarize because you will not know which part has a future relevance. The scene which you just translated – where she holds her hat over his face so that he has a comfortable nap – is definitely an important scene. There are several mentions to this later and you capture the mood so well… so all readers should be thankful to you for that. : )

      2. Tofubyu Post author

        Did he know she was shading him from the sun? I have this nagging feeling that he knew about it!!!

        You’re right about timing though. I’ll be on holiday near the end of November so hopefully I’ll have a lot more time to translate after then! Will you be translating any new projects anytime soon? 🙂

  3. Moonblossom

    Your radar is uncanny!! I never had the feeling that he knew but yes, he was awake and was testing her reaction if he freign to be asleep.
    Don’t worry too much about your blog while you are on holiday. We will miss you but will wait till December for our Christmas present. : ) I don’t have plans to translate more books as it is time consuming and I got myself embroiled in 2 major projects at work. Plus there are 2 overseas holidays and 1 chalet trip to plan. I told Melanie I would be writing something for Cloud Manor so I need to work on that.

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      I meant to say that I’ll be on holiday after November so I’ll have more time then haha

      It’s so hard to keep remembering that they’re still primary students when he does stuff like feigning sleep! It really feels like they’re highschoolers instead! I only remember myself being innocently (stupidly) oblivious when I was little 😀

      Reply
  4. Moonblossom

    Maybe they grow them differently in China? ha.ha. There stories of various children/teenagers in this book. Some came from really tough backgrounds so maybe some mature faster than others?
    Which is one reason why I thought your toon man looks like Zhang Jun in his TEENS. Zhang Jun was a grangy, unfashionable-looking kid in Primary school – there was a description of him in their class picture later on – and I’m so glad for Qi Qi that there is another misfit to accompany her Primary School years.

    Reply
  5. sutekii

    I really like this chapter, because I was happy to read about Qi Qi having sunshine and laughter in her life for once. All the mens (boys) who have came into her life has made such a big impact and changed her. I pitied Zhang Jun, that poor lonely fellow. Zhang Jun one of the reason she can be happy and smile freely. Chen Ji, the seating buddy that expand her knowledge. The boys from the gaming game.

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      I’m glad she’s able to see the world in a more positive light now and that she has made some great memories in primary that she can look back on especially for what’s going to happen next. Zhang Jun shines in this part but in the next part, it’s Xiao Bo’s time to shine!! Hehe, look forward to it on Sunday! I’ve been translating little by little in my spare time 😀

      Reply
      1. sutekii

        I shall look forward to it. I quite like the novel, but I read the novel has an open ending. Trying to search for discussion on the novel to get more insight on it lol

      2. Tofubyu Post author

        I saw that too ): I dislike novels with open endings because they’re so unsatisfactory! I want something conclusive! But I’m going to block it out in order to not let it ruin my reading experience and just charge on haha

  6. mango

    finally i can smile while reading it,,
    the love story and friendship here is so cute and deep,,,
    although i am still not sure who is the male lead, but the story must be still long, i will just enjoy everything for now…

    thank you for sharing and translating 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      Thank you for your comments!! They’re very supportive.
      I’m glad you’re also enjoying the story hehe 😀

      Reply

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