Chapter 4: Seemingly A Stormy Road
Sorry for the late post!!!
1. How the Highest Quality Is Learnt
We raise our chins and peer at the world with provoking stares, looking as if we’re strong and stubborn but hidden inside is fear and confusion.
Adults, we understand your longing for us to become outstanding but please understand: it’s not a cold and sharp carving knife that can carve out a beautiful statue, but a pair of eyes that can appreciate beauty, a heart that’s filled with love and a pair of warm hands that can carve a beautiful statue.
Winter break was over and the new semester was about to start. I sighed, my comfortable days were going to end.
My conflict with Treasure Bowl started again with the new year and went up a few notches too. Punishing me to go stand outside was now a piece of cake and it didn’t affect my mood at all. I became familiar with the people from Class (2) and Class (3) and would often chat with them during the 10 minutes between classes. My social circle suddenly expanded to a new scope and my thick face also increased to a new level.
I deeply knew that the more comfortable my life was, the worse Treasure Bowl’s mood would be so, to anger him, I relaxed and let myself live my days satisfyingly. I enjoyed the spring breeze, looked at the falling flowers…Isn’t it a pleasure! Just facing our corridor was a small classic architectural garden with a pavilion and terrace, everything was there.
Once after class, Ceng Hong smoked while chatting with me who was standing outside for punishment, “Aren’t you tired out standing outside yet? Say you admit you’re wrong and you can go and sit back in the classroom, people don’t know what exactly you’re thinking inside.”
I arrogantly replied, “Fighting with the sky is a delight; fighting with the ground is a delight; fighting with people is a delight.”
The bell for class rang. Ceng Hong flicked the cigarette out of the window and patted my shoulder as if telling me to look out for myself, then went back into the classroom.
Treasure Bowl saw that punishing me to stand outside no longer tormented me so he ordered me to invite my parents to come. In the short space of a month, he had asked my parents to come three times but finding that there was no result, he started to understand that getting co operation from the parents was a failure.
However, through punishing me to stand outside, he observed that I still cared a lot about how people saw me. He started calling me to stand outside his office because there were more students and teachers walking past so it was no longer just students from Classes (1), (2) and (3). I had just adapted to standing outside the corridor so facing this new environment, I was clearly not very used to it and once again suffered the torment, lowering my head as if my neck hang a criminal sign. But gradually, with the increasing number of times I was punished this way, my head slowly rose up, my posture became more and more comfortable, my expression became more and more relaxed and my smile became brighter and brighter. Treasure Bowl discovered that I had once again stubbornly resisted his torment and once again adapted to the natural selection. He hated me so much his teeth itched but in that time frame, he couldn’t think of a better way to torment me.
I had mentioned before that the middle school department’s building was structured like a ‘Z’, it’s just that the middle was straight. To the left of the ‘Z’ was a small classical garden, to the right side was a sports field which had eight cement table tennis tables and a basketball court. Class (1), (2) and (3) were considered the top horizontal line of the ‘Z’ and couldn’t see the sports field but the teachers’ offices were in the middle of the vertical part of the ‘Z’ and faced the sports court so the table tennis tables could be seen. When I stopped lowering my head out of shame and learnt to appreciate the landscape around me, I discovered a once familiar figure near the table tennis tables— the child prodigy Chen Jin.
He seemed to really enjoy playing table tennis, he’d rush out the the table tennis tables as soon as class ended. He played very well and pretty much had no opponents. As long as he wanted to, he could keep standing at the table playing and only the others changed back and forth.
No matter how good he was at playing table tennis, Chen Jin seemed to have no difference from the average middle school student. I couldn’t understand, where did that brilliant, dazzling, arrogant, self inferior child prodigy go? If he was still as bright as he was during primary, I should have heard about him as soon as I entered the school and not remembering that he existed from suddenly discovering him in this corner.
I admit that I was rather bored so I asked Xiao Fei to help me inquire about Chen Jin, proving that he really was ordinary and mediocre. His grades were only in the top ten in his class. Of course it was still considered good but it was a long distance away from being outstanding, making him ordinary. His personality was even more ordinary, when classmates mentioned him, their tone of voice were indifferent seemingly as though it didn’t matter if he was in the class.
Xiao Fei was extremely nervous towards me inquiring about Chen Jin, she inquired all around and afterwards, she continuously said to me, “Although it’s very troublesome to like a boy who stands out, you don’t need to lower your standards this much. How about I introduce someone to you, I know lots of Year 3 boys.” Because Chen Jin was three years younger than the other students in his year level, he seemed to only develop his brain and not his height so standing in the middle of a group of big and tall Year 3 boys, he seemed like a little shorty. He wasn’t able to participate in any of the most popular sports in school, basketball, soccer and volleyball. It was the trend for boys to pretend to be cool and say a few swear words from time to time. However as Chen Jin was brought up in a good family by his parents, everyday he dressed tidily, his hands were washed cleanly, his face was washed cleanly, his words were also clean plus, he also used a handkerchief.
When Xiao Fei said, “Chen Jin actually carries a handkerchief on him”, her expression was full of horror.
Seeing Xiao Fei’s painful expression, I wondered that if I told her back in the year, pretty much all the girls in our class liked Chen Jin , would she faint from shock?
Every time I was punished to start, I would see Chin Jin. Everyday during extra curricular activities, he would be playing table tennis. I think I can understand why he plays table tennis what I can’t understand is, what made his prodigal light disappear? What made him disappear into the crowd? Is it a ‘Grieving for Zhong Yong*’?
*[Grieving for Zhong Yong is a story about a child prodigy who loses his ‘talent’, I’ve included the story at the end.]
However, curiosity was curiosity, although I was bored, I wasn’t so bored as to rush in front of Chen Jin and ask him about his situation. Moreover, it’s been nearly three years, who knows if he still recognizes me?
I changed my punishment to appreciating the landscape to anger Treasure Bowl but one day when I was caught by Treasure Bowl due to a small matter, he finally pulled out his ultimate weapon.
Treasure Bowl ordered me to go and stand on the middle table tennis table below the middle school building and think over my mistakes. Whenever I thought it through and gave him an apology is when I can come back into the classroom.
This time, he’s really struck my point of pain. Standing on the table tennis table wasn’t scary, what was scary was that after I stand on there, Zhang Jun and Guan He will be able to see me. However, who let Treasure Bowl be the teacher and me the student? I was so stubborn that I would rather die than admit wrong. Thus, I could only go and stand on the table tennis table.
On the first day, everyone in the middle school department saw a girl wearing a red coat who, after finishing the morning exercises, climbed up the table tennis table and stood right in the middle. They were all shocked. At first, they thought that I was playing so everyone laughed as they looked but later, after the bell for class rang and I still didn’t move, they were all dumbstruck.
That day, the windows of the whole middle school building, from the first floor to the third floor, were filled with heads. I knew that among the people watching me would definitely be Zhang Jun and Guan He so although inside I was already ashamed and wanted to die, I pretended on the outside to completely not care and forced myself to smile. I smiled and stood on the table tennis table, letting everyone look at me. All I was missing was to kindly say, “Thank you for looking, love the environment, please do not clamber to take photos.”
Hearing the news, even the teachers from each office rushed out to come and see exactly which holy goddess could tower aloft like our school’s statue of Liu Hu Lan.
Everyday after finishing the morning exercises, I started my punishment and stood there right until classes ended in the afternoon.
On the first day, everyone stopped playing table tennis. When people walked past me, there were people who curiously looked at me and some who wanted to looked but was embarrassed to look closely. I looked even more strange with the table tennis tables being empty.
On the second day, Chen Jin appeared with a table tennis racket. He stood on the side of the table tennis tables and looked at me for a while. Then he actually started practicing table tennis on the table tennis table beside mine, completely regarding me as a cement post.
Because of Chen Jin, gradually people started playing table tennis and the small sports court returned back to the usual liveliness, apart from- me who was standing on the table tennis table in the middle.
My feelings at the time were of wanting to kill him but I also felt thankful and wanted to say thanks. I hated him was because the people around me were all playing table tennis whereas I was standing on the top and seemed even more strange. I felt thankful to him because this small sports court returned back to normal, everyone was busy playing table tennis, even if they looked at me, it was only a glance.
On the third day, the news spread to the high school department. Xiao Bo heard the news and came to see me. He stood afar and looked at me disbelievingly. When I raised my head and saw him, he immediately turned around and left. I felt very grateful inside because I can only smile for strangers to see. In front of people I know, my fake strength will turn very fragile.
During recess, Xiao Fei brought me ten hot lamb skewers and smiled brightly, “Here, your favorite lamb skewers. Brother Xiao Bo bought them for you.”
I took them and started eating. When I was on my sixth skewer, Treasure Bowl stood in front of the window flustered and exasperatedly shouting, “Luo Qi Qi!” I immediately returned the remaining lamb skewers to Xiao Fei’s hands, wiped my mouth and stood orderly. Everyone on the court looked at me then looked at Treasure Bowl, wanting to laugh but not daring to.
On the fourth day, from the group of people passing by, I accidentally saw Guan He. I exerted all my strength into smiling, lest others would think I wasn’t happy. I pretty much wanted to raise both my hands up high and hold a banner with the words: “Punishing to stand isn’t embarrassing.” Luckily, I didn’t see Zhang Jun at all or else I really suspect my fake strength with break down right there and then.
On the fifth day, I have once again finished a living creature’s evolution and level up. I made standing on the table tennis table seem like a clear sky, joyous and harmonious. Boys from higher year levels would come and joke and chat with me; during recess, the students playing table tennis on the tables around me would ask me to be their referee as I was standing so high and could see the ball clearly.
In any case, standing was standing. I would chat, be the referee and live my little life.
This matter became the biggest news at the time, from the middle school department to the high school department, everyone knew that there was a middle school first year girl who was punished to stand on the table tennis tables by her homeroom teacher and had already stood on there consecutively for a week. Later, even the principal who didn’t pay much attention to the middle school department was shocked and specially came to see me. He tactfully said to Treasure Bowl that educating through corrective influence was the main focus, implying that he didn’t approve of such brazen corporal punishment, even though appropriate corporal punishment was allowed by parents and teachers back then.
Thus on my seventh day of being punished, I was released by Treasure Bowl and allowed back to the classroom. Even though Treasure Bowl sternly reprimanded me in the classroom and said that it was because he didn’t want to disrupt my normal studies so he let me back into the class. However, he and I both knew that from start to end, I haven’t apologized to him or admitted wrong, our battle ended with him losing and me in victory!
As a horse trainer, Treasure Bowl was a failure, not only was he unable to tame the wild horse me, he brought out my endless abilities and from me he had tasted what a setback was. But to me, he really was a good teacher! The humiliation he created for me, starting from sitting in the garbage courts and rose step by step to standing in front of thousands of people on top of the tennis table for a week and in those thousands of people were two people, one called Zhang Jun and one called Guan He. Enduring this battle, I can’t think of anything even more embarrassing.
Are there? None!
So, my fearless quick and fierce personality finally magnificently did a remarkable feat!
At that time, there was a popular curse word, “Your face is thicker than the city wall.” I think that these words are very accurate in describing me, it’s definitely not cursing me, my face is truly very thick, extremely thick, it’s not just an average city wall but the Great Wall of China.
After putting me back into the classroom, perhaps he had felt worry and discontent but he discovered very quickly that I was a hedgehog person, if other people don’t provoke me, I won’t reveal my thorns. Not only will I not reveal, I’d become silent as if I didn’t exist.
Treasure Bowl and I gradually started to live in peace, he ignored me and regarded me as nonexistent. I also didn’t make trouble, even if I read novels in class, I made sure to hide it under the table and gave an image of respect on the outside.
However, due to my battle with Treasure Bowl, I really despised him inside. When I was in his class, as soon as I saw his face, I no longer wanted to listen. I usually also really disliked looking at English books so inevitably, my English grades slid down by a lot but because there were many subjects, it wasn’t very noticeable in my overall grades.
Xiao Fei admired me endlessly whereas I was very doubtful towards the structuring of her brain, I didn’t understand what I deserved admiration for.
Xiao Fei said, “Because you’re cool! You wore a red coat and a red hat and stoof on the grey table tennis table beaming brightly as if you didn’t care, it’s just too cool! Did you know, even Wang Zheng ran to the window to look at you, I excitedly told him that you were my best friend.”
I could only laugh helplessly, actually in my heart, the cool person was her. I was pretend cool, she was the actual cool. I used smiling and not caring to cover up my fear and care. Everything I expressed was fake; but when she was happy, she let out her laughter, when she was sad, she cried loudly, she bravely expressed her true feelings.
One afternoon, she told me that Wang Zheng taught her to play the drums, she half squatted in the corridor and gave me an imitation of playing the drums. Her eyes were half closed and her hands held imaginary drum sticks. She beat the right and beat the left, her body also swayed forth with the beat. The students who walked past were dumbstruck, in their eyes, Ge Xiao Fei suddenly went crazy, beating and hitting the air. If it was me, I would definitely be too embarrassed to let others see me become crazy for a guy but Xiao Fei didn’t care in the least, because she liked it, so she did it. She didn’t care at all what others thought, she followed her heart and lived without restraint, this kind is the real cool!