A Book Dedicated To Our Youth Chapter 4.3

3. Older Repeater

The most stubborn wound in this world is a wound that doesn’t bleed. There is no medicine and there are no ways to cure it. Even if it is healed, it is like the shadow of the moon on the water, it seems to be completely calm but every time the wind blows past, cracks appear, silently in pain.

 

End of year exams finished, there weren’t much change in everyone’s results. As always, in our class Chen Song Qing was first and Lin Lan was second. In Class (2), Ge Xiao Fei was first, in Class (5), Guan He was first and like me, Zhang Jun was around 20 something in his class.

The long summer holidays were my favorite. I hid on the sofa in the Karaoke bar reading while eating snacks, as free as an immortal. Xiao Bo wasn’t like before, he no longer needed to wait until he won billiards before being able to invite me to drink beverages. Now, no matter when I go, the side of the sofa would be filled with snacks and drinks, free for me to eat.

I was never polite with him but occasionally when I thought about economic problems, I would be conscience stricken and ask,  “Do you want me to pay? My mom increased my pocket money.”

Xiao Bo laughed, “How much can you eat? I am still able to afford these things.”

I unhesitatingly asked with a dried fruit in my mouth, “Is your mom still sewing gloves?”

He calmly replied, “Yeah, to her, having things to be busy with allows her to forget about the unhappy things in life.”

Wu Zei heard our topic and was completely unable to understand, he scolded, “But you’re able to provide for yourself now, why do you still let your mom work so hard for money? The money your mom makes from working on the sewing machine all day isn’t even enough to sing a song.”

Xiao Bo and I both looked at Wu Zei and laughed, how simple and happy this guy’s life is!

One evening in the weekend, I was huddled in a room in the karaoke bar reading. When I got tired of reading, I decided to go out and walk around. When I went out, I discovered the the lighting was blurred, it was noisy with voices and the atmosphere was foul. There were even people standing on the stairs. I was bewildered, how was the business so good tonight?

I grabbed a waitress, “Is there something on tonight?”

She nodded, “It’s someone’s birthday.”

I squeezed past the crowd, wanting to get some drinks. Suddenly, in the blur of the flashing lights, I saw a girl with long black hair in a white dress sitting beside Zhang Jun. She was holding the microphone and singing, ‘Like The Fog, Like The Rain And Like The Wind’

You are never clear on the heart that I gave you
The love I gave you is always suffering
In the lonely night I helplessly search
Wanting to find an unchanging reliance
Give me another deep hug
Let me feel your most enthusiastic heart beat
I don’t care at all if you know or not
But the heart that painfully loves you will never grow old
Ah…
To me you are like the fog like the rain and also like the wind
Coming and going only leaving emptiness
To me you are like the fog like the rain and also like the wind
Allowing my heart to turn with you
Ah…

At the time, accompanied by the beautiful Lian Yan Ling, this song became popular over the north and south. It was pretty much a compulsory track for karaoke bars, I had long become insensitive from hearing it but at this very moment, it was like I had been struck by lightning.

The people around me pushed their way around and I was knocked sometimes to the front and sometimes to the back but I couldn’t feel any pain, it seemed like my soul had been removed from my body and I was numbly yet painfully looking at myself.

The people around Zhang Jun applauded loudly, whistled and shouted laughing, “Did you hear? She wants you to give her a deep hug!”

Zhang Jun drank alcohol and smiled but his body didn’t move.

Zhang Jun’s brothers started jeering, “Zhang Jun, you shouldn’t be like this, the girl has already taken the initiative!”

I don’t know if it was the girl’s sisters who took the lead and shouted, “Zhang Jun, kiss her!” Everyone clapped in rhythm while shouting, “Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her……” Their shouts and claps became louder and louder. It seemed as though the whole karaoke bar’s temperature rose whereas my soul looked at myself squeezed between people with a deathly pale face, staring at Zhang Jun blankly with both hands tightly clenched into fists.

Zhang Jun couldn’t endure everyone’s shouts. He finally put down his glass of alcohol, held the girl’s hand and on the back of her hand, he planted a kiss.

Everyone was dissatisfied and booed him. The boo sounds became louder and louder. The girl suddenly put her arm around Zhang Jun’s neck. She cast him a sidelong glance then planted a kiss on his face. It was like a demonstration but it helped Zhang Jun get out of the situation.

Everyone whistled and laughed while trying to push closer to the front. My height wasn’t tall enough and I was also involuntarily pushed forward by the people around me. I was bumped by someone’s arm and the pushing made my glasses fall. I quickly rushed to check, shouting, “Don’t step on my glasses.”

But there were much too many people and the crowd was involuntarily being pushed forwards. Not only was I not able to pick up my glasses, I was nearly injured by the crowd. My glasses was kicked over to a person’s foot. I was just about to go and get it but it was stepped on by a high heel and the lenses shattered. The person wearing the high heels shouted in surprise, “Ah, what is this?” Everyone nearby looked down and saw me lying in an awkward position on the floor.

It turns out that unknowingly, I had chased my glasses to the sofa that Zhang Jun was sitting on. I had only stared at Zhang Jun for the whole time and didn’t realize Xiao Bo was also sitting on the sofa. He pulled me up and resisted the urge to shout, “Do you know how dangerous that was? There are so many people and the music is loud, even if you get stepped on, no one will pay you any attention.”

I said grieved, “I wanted to pick up my glasses.”

Zhang Jun’s girlfriend apologetically said, “I’m sorry, little sister, I didn’t see it. Later, I’ll buy you a new pair.”

Little Six shouted, “Xiao Bo, your chick?” Due to the influence of Hong Kong gangster films, it was popular to call a girlfriend chick  but I despised this nickname.

Xiao Bo quickly said, “No, normal friends.”

“Let her come over here, everyone can drink a few cups and become friends.”

Xiao Bo laughed apologetically, “She’s still small and doesn’t know how to drink.”

Little Six smiled but didn’t say anything. There was naturally someone beside him who spoke for him, “Now that Xiao Bo is a boss, his temper is much bigger than before, he doesn’t even listen to Little Six.”

Fearing that Xiao Bo would be awkward, I pulled his sleeve, indicating to him that it’s fine then I voluntarily sat next to Xiao Bo’s side.

Little Six handed me a small glass of red wine, “Which school?”

“No. 1”

“Good school, it’s the same school as the one my little brother Zhang Jun goes to, right? Zhang Jun?”

Zhang Jun coldly nodded.

I was just about to drink when Xiao Bo took the glass from my hands, “Little Six, she really can’t drink. I’ll drink the wine but the courtesy is hers.”

Little Six stopped smiling and stared at Xiao Bo. Xiao Bo didn’t cower and met his gaze. The people around us all stopped breathing, after a long while, Little Six smiled and nodded, “Okay! Since you’ve said it like this, I also can’t force it. If you want to drink for her then just drink for her!”

Xiao Bo immediately drained the glass in one gulp, “Thanks Little Six.”

The man beside Little Six placed an unopened bottle of white wine in front of Xiao Bo, “Not that glass, it’s this bottle.”

My body trembled from anger but I knew that this was the rule in this circle, if you want to substitute someone, then you’ll have to accept the other person’s rules.

Xiao Bo took the wine bottle and without even using the bottle opener, he used his teeth to open the bottle. He spat out the cap and started gulping in the wine straight from the bottle.

In the “Gulp” “Gulp” sounds, he finished the half kilogram of white wine completely. Xiao Bo placed the empty bottle on the table and smiled, “Thanks Little Six.”

Little Six ignored Xiao Bo and asked the others smiling, “Well, why aren’t you all singing? Sing!”

The girl beside him immediately opened the song book to choose songs. She chose ‘Ping Ju’ and Little Six sang with her while cuddling her.

Xiao Bo asked to leave from Little Six, like waving off a fly, Little Six impatiently waved his hands. I quickly accompanied Xiao Bo to the bathroom. He put his finger in his throat and forced himself to start vomiting. I was very apologetic and feeling very guilty but I didn’t know what I should do and could only lightly pat his back.

After he finished vomiting, he gargled his mouth and wiped his face before laughing, “It’s fine, I’ve drank more wine than this.”

I softly asked, “Why do you have to drink for me? It’s fine if I drank that small glass of red wine, during New Year celebrations, my mom and dad will also let me drink a bit of red wine.”

He smiled and explained, “In this circle, if a man wants to get a girl drunk, it always starts from the insignificant first cup. If you’ve had the first cup, then there’s no way to refuse the second cup. They will always use different kinds of tactics to get you to drink. If you want to refuse, then you have to start from the first cup. Just then, I only drank a bottle but I blocked you from all the wine in the future. Today, everyone in attendance will all understand that you won’t drink wine under any circumstances and there definitely won’t be anyone else who will try to get you to drink.”

Only now did I understand Little Six’s evil intent. Xiao Bo’s tone of voice became more serious, “Qi Qi, to girls, the first is drugs. No matter if they are the so called soft drugs or not, not matter how good people make it sound, that actually there aren’t any poison, that actually it isn’t addictive, you still can’t touch it. The second is alcohol, you can’t drink one drop of it.”

“I know now, I can drink at home with my parents, I can’t drink with these people.”

Xiao Bo patted my head like patting a dog.

 

After Xiao Bo finished vomiting, although he was feeling uncomfortable, he still wanted to continue doing business. I went to find Wu Zei to let him urge Xiao Bo to eat some food when he has some time. Wu Zei looked cold and indifferent. I thought about it and guessed that he wasn’t happy became Xiao Bo helped me block the wine. However, who cares if he’s happy or not happy? After I finished saying everything I needed to say, I turned around and left.

I took my book and squeezed out from the crowd of people.This time, it wasn’t the same as before. Everyone looked at me and actually voluntarily let out a path. In the hall, the sound of ‘Like the Fog, Like the Rain and Like the Wind’ started again.

Ah…Ah…
To me you are like the fog like the rain and also like the wind
Coming and going only leaving emptiness
To me you are like the fog like the rain and also like the wind
Allowing my heart to turn with you

I quickly rushed out of the karaoke bar. Standing on the street with people and cars going past, I had a very bewildering sense of sadness. Suddenly, I started running. I ran all the way down the street and twenty minutes later, I arrived out of breath, at the side of the river.

I stood by the riverside and listened the the sound of the water flowing. The moonlight shone on the undulating surface of the water and the silver water sparkled.

I stood there for a long time, it seemed as though I thought about a lot in my head but at the same time, it also seemed like I thought about nothing. Only when a person riding a bicycle rode past on the bridge did I snap out of it.

I ran all the way home. It was already 11 o’clock. Mom had a very bad expression on her face. I didn’t wait for her to ask and voluntarily apologized, “Xiao Fei and I were at a classmate’s house watching ‘Doraemon’ til late and didn’t notice the time.” I’m really glad that in those days, not many families had telephones.

Mom and dad’s expressions grew softer, “Quickly go to sleep, next time pay attention to the time.”

I nodded and immediately went to brush my teeth and wash my face.

 

Later, I often saw Zhang Jun and that girl together in the karaoke bar. People said that she was Zhang Jun’s girlfriend and over time, I learned that she had already started working, she was a kindergarten teacher but I didn’t know any more. I even refused to hear her name and even if I heard it, I would refuse to remember. It seemed as though as long as I didn’t know her name, I can pretend that she doesn’t exist.

A shadow emerged from my originally happy like a goddess summer holiday. It was my first time knowing that gazing at someone will make your chest hurt and when you listen to that song, you’ll feel like crying. Actually, I never had any hope towards Zhang Jun but perhaps deep inside my heart contained some delusion that even I didn’t know about so when I personally witnessed it, I felt extremely sad. I had even viciously thought, why isn’t this girl like Guan He who doesn’t like Zhang Jun? It’s best if she can throw off Zhang Jun.

That girl really liked to sing ‘Like the Fog, Like the Rain and Like the Wind’. Every time she came to the karaoke bar, it was a must sing for her.

Every time I heard this song, I didn’t have the heart to do anything. ‘Like the Fog, Like the Rain and Like the Wind’ became my most hated song. I immaturely hid all the tapes which had this song on it. Other customers didn’t care if they couldn’t sing this song but that girl was very stubborn and had to sing this song. Xiao Bo searched everywhere for it and continuously said, “I’m sorry” to that girl. I couldn’t stand it any longer and could only flip out the tape from under the sofa and pretend to have just found it, nonchalantly handing it to them.

The girl received the tape joyfully and kept saying “thanks”. She invited me to play with them. I was cold and didn’t give her any face, saying, “I don’t like this song.”

The girl awkwardly laughed, “I see that you play in the karaoke bar all day but you actually don’t like this song?”

Before I could spit anymore thorny words, Xiao Bo rushed me out of the room. Zhang Jun sat on the sofa looking indifferent throughout the whole thing like an outsider watching someone else’s story.

After the door of the room closed, I thought sourly, after the door closes, will you still have this expression?

The waitress sister asked Xiao Bo and I, “Is that Zhang Jun really the same year level as Qi Qi?”

I ignored her, Xiao Bo kindly replied, “They’re the same year level.”

The waitress sister was very surprised, “He really doesn’t look like a child, he’s more adulty that adults.”

I immediately said, “Although he’s the same year level as me, but he’s stayed behind year levels. He’s older than me by two years, he’s an older repeater.”

Xiao Bo probably never saw me being so harsh before, he looked at me then smiled towards the waitress sister, “Peoples’ ages are in their hearts not on their faces. You’re 15 years old this year, many people who are the same age as you have just started second year of middle school and are sitting in the classroom messing around whereas you are already outside working and earning money. Not only do you have to support yourself, you also have to send money back home so that your brother can go to school. If they see you, they definitely also won’t be able to believe that you’re the same age as them.”

The waitress sister said as she left carrying a plate, “Everyone’s lives are different, they are city children, I’m a countryside child, we can’t compare.”

—-

Every year during the summer holidays, there will be two results that scratched at one’s heart. One was the middle school exam results, the other was the high school exam results.

After the middle school entrance exam results came out, Middle School No.1 will post the results outside the school entrance. No.1 was very funny, on the right they stuck the results of the students from their middle school department and on the left they stuck the names of the students who have been accepted into the high school department so the entrance of the school was crowded with numerous parents and candidates. There were people from No. 1 but there were even more parents and candidates from other middle schools.

As this year Wang Zheng participated in the exam, Xiao Fei was extremely concerned. Early in the morning, she dragged me to see No.1’s result announcement. Compared to other people our age, Xiao Fei and I were considered quite tall but when standing next to the adults, we were still quite short so we waited until everyone had seen enough before we were finally able to squeeze to the front and see the names list clearly.

Xiao Fei started from the first name, I didn’t say anything and quietly started from the last name. There were rumors long ago about Wang Zheng’s result and starting from the first name wasted both time and energy. However, this topic naturally couldn’t be said to Xiao Fei.

Very quickly, I saw Wang Zheng’s name. According to the result behind his name, it was very clear that he had no fate with the top high schools, even normal high schools were out of question, he was probably only able to apply for technical schools.

Xiao Fei still focused on looking one by one down the list, I could only wait so I looked from the start with her. After looking through forty five names, I discovered a familiar name, Chen Jin. I froze for a few minutes, this name was stuck so commonly in a group of names.

There were around four hundred candidate names. Finally, Xiao Fei saw Wang Zheng’s name.

She quietly stood there, looking at it again and again as if not believing what she had saw. I was never good at comforting before and could only silently stand there.

Suddenly, she burst into tears, her cries were shattering and she was growing hoarse from it.

Heavens! Even the students who didn’t make it didn’t cry yet she cried like she had failed the entrance exam. The parents and students in front of the school gates all looked at us, Xiao Fei’s cries were like torrents of rain, not caring at all what others thought. My expression was calm but inside, I wanted to use my clothes to cover my face.

There were parents who were seething because their child didn’t get in but seeing Xiao Fei crying so sadly, they pointed at their child and scolded, “Look at yourself, you have no reaction at all over not getting in, at least that person knows how to cry and knows to regret not studying well in the past.”

Their children sulked, I was more depressed!

I didn’t know how to comfort people and could only silently watch Xiao Fei cry. Xiao Fei was really like a person made out of water, she cried for a full half an hour but her tears still didn’t lessen a bit. I watched heart broken and said, “Stop crying!”

Xiao Fei cried while anxiously asked, “What to do now? He wasn’t able to get into high school, later when I go to university, won’t we be unable to be together?”

“As long as you don’t look down on him then isn’t it fine!”

“What if he looks down on me?”

I really suspected that the structure of Xiao Fei’s brain was different to humans and I helplessly said, “How could he look down on you? You’re going to be a university student!”

Xiao Fei was still half doubtful but her tears slowly eased. I originally wanted to invite her to eat ice cream and cold noodles and help her properly regain her lost strength but I never thought that this rascal only had guys in her eyes and not friends, “Qi Qi, I can’t play with you, I want to go and find Wang Zheng, he’s definitely very sad right now. I want to go see him.”

Wang Zheng didn’t accidentally fail his exams, his results were bad all along. He should have been clear about his results long ago, if he wanted to be sad then he would’ve been sad long ago, why would he wait until today to be sad? However, to Xiao Fei I could only say, “Sure then, go find him!”

Xiao Fei rode off madly on her bicycle. I was idle with nothing to do so I might as well walk to the results table on the left and see who got into No.1’s high school department. No.1 accepted 400 students in total, Chen Jin’s name was stuck in between two hundred to three hundred, it really wasn’t easy to find.

There were two girls beside me who also came to join in the fuss. They discussed in low voices, “Is this Chen Jin the son of the television station’s vice director?”

“He is!”

“Wasn’t her son supposedly very smart?”

“I think he was in the past, the vice director had contacted the province’s writers association wanting to get her son included into some new Chinese one hundred outstanding youths but later her child didn’t work hard and no matter how high her heart was, she could only give up.”

I stared at Chen Jin’s name and thought about Grieving for Zhong Yong. I don’t know if his mom had regretted making him skip grades but Chen Jin…… thinking about him, it didn’t feel like he was like Zhong Yong, Zhong Yong was a book nerd and was never as crafty and deceitful as Chen Jin.

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8 thoughts on “A Book Dedicated To Our Youth Chapter 4.3

  1. cathdeary

    Im so curious about chen jin, i even used to like him before. I thought he’s going to be a rival, I hope they get to talk again and find out what happened.

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      I’m also quite curious because I was quite shocked when he was described as being average- what happened!?!?

      Reply
  2. diana

    I’m very2x curious, so far only see zhang jun going to be main man, rival chen Jin or xiao bao? Thanks for ur hard work^^

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      I’m a Xiao Bo supporter! I squealed when he helped her up and drank all that alcohol for her!!! He’s great ❤ I'm quite curious about Chen Jin too though because at the start I had thought he'd be a rival… hopefully we'll find out his feelings/position in this novel soon!

      Reply
  3. inno

    i’m on the xiao bo ship. i loved that he was so protective of qi qi, drinking the liquor in her behalf and giving her advices afterwards. he’s really boyfriend material. but, i’m intrigued with zhang jun. i wonder if deep inside he still cares a bit for qi qi. they used to be close in their younger years, though it was qi qi who started avoiding him.

    Reply
    1. Tofubyu Post author

      I think that he does care since they were quite good friends plus I think that he knows inside that Qi Qi isn’t the ‘good’ type who would ignore him just because her parents said so especially since she’s also quite rebellious at school so I’m also quite curious as to what he’s thinking.

      Reply

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