I pondered whether I should release this part as a whole or as two parts because two very important (???) things happen. I decided in the end to release this as two parts because I’m keen to get your reactions on these two important things so do comment!
(Don’t worry this part is happy happy.)
2. Sadness is also a very complicated matter.
Legend says the carp wants to jump over the Dragon’s Gate*. He has to take off all his fish scales and cut off his fin before he can change into a dragon.
Legend says the bird has to burn itself to death and bathe in fiery pain before it can change into a phoenix.
Is it necessary go through the pain of ignorance during youth in order to obtain the wisdom of maturity?
*[Idiom symbolizing a sudden rise in social status- often used to encourage students to obtain success through hard work and perseverance.]
Ever since Wang Zheng clearly said that he didn’t like Xiao Fei, she stopped going to the dance hall.
She looked pretty much the same as before, she still laughed loudly and shouted loudly as if she didn’t in the slightest bit remember who Wang Zheng was. However, she no longer was herself. After she put on clothes and brushed her hair, she’d always ask me, “Does it look good?” Again and again as if whether or not she looked good was completely decided by others.
She no longer rejected invitations from the other guys, she liked to go out to play with the most popular guys in school but after going with them for a few times, she’d become bored, stop taking notice of him and change to the next one. She became the girl who liked to play the most in our year level. In the eyes of the other girls, she changed ‘boyfriends’ at the same speed as changing clothes. If it was a boy who was like this, many girls would say, “Girls only love bad boys,” but towards Xiao Fei, they sparingly used the most vicious words to attack her behind her back with.
I watched Xiao Fei’s change with detachment, although it pained me, but I had no other way because I knew that I was powerless to stop her, if I said too much, she would choose not to heed my words and instead stay away from me.
I cold only treat her like a child going through their rebellious period and patiently stay by her side, hoping that her sad and confused days would pass by faster. After her pain subsides, she’ll discover that Wang Zheng’s negativeness doesn’t represent the negatives in life, whether or not she’s pretty comes from inside her heart and not from other people’s words.
I tried my best to use our friendship to influence her decisions by setting her friendship circle within middle school students. In my opinion, these people are still pure, if Xiao Fei played with them, nothing would happen. It’s just that I felt apologetic towards them for using them as Xiao Fei’s heartbreak cannon fodder.
During that period of time, I lived very chaotically, one side was the beautiful world of love inside romance novels, the other side was cruel reality. If say I couldn’t obtain the good graces of my dream prince, I could still understand but what about Xiao Fei? She was pretty, smart, friendly and kind but her prince wouldn’t even look at her once. I started to wonder, is there really a kind of thing called love in this world? In this world, can a girl really hope for a guy to wholeheartedly cherish her, love her?
Wondering is wondering but I still enjoyed reading romance novels and I continued to diligently read them. When I walked out of a dream, I’d walk into another dream. In reality, life was too barren, only the dreams weaved from novels can add a little more color to life.
In the pain and confusion of growing up, the first term of the second year ended. Our end of term results came out, other people didn’t have much change but Xiao Fei only ranked forth in her class. In the eyes of others, this was still a good grade but to Xiao Fei, this was the worst grade she’s had.
Xiao Fei didn’t care at all, no only did she have no restraint, because it was winter vacation, she completely let go and played. She intentionally avoided places related to me, probably to hide from Wang Zheng and also because she didn’t want me to care about her but how could I not care?
Once, she was drunk and had a drunken fit at someone else’s karaoke bar. When I went to pick her up, she flung onto me and sobbed.
She was extremely heartbroken yet I couldn’t do anything. I could only pat her back and continuously say, “It will pass, no pain can fight against time, there will be a day when you’ll forget about him.” But I couldn’t even be certain myself, really? Will we really forget the people we’ve liked before?
Just as I was about to hold Xiao Fei and leave, I heard a person cry in the corner of the bar. The sound seemed familiar so I turned back to look, it was actually Zhang Jun’s girlfriend. Xiao Fei was sad because of Wang Zheng, what was she sad for?
I wanted to leave but seeing her drunk made me worried so I could only take her out too.
With Xiao Fei like this, I didn’t dare to take her straight home; I didn’t know where Zhang Jun’s girlfriend lives so I could only call a taxi and go to Xiao Bo’s karaoke bar first.
Wu Zei sent people out to find Zhang Jun to come and pick her up and I poured Xiao Fei strong tea.
When Zhang Jun came, his girlfriend had already lost consciousness. Wu Zei greeted him, Zhang Jun politely said, “Sorry for troubling you.”
Wu Zei pointed at me, “It was Four Eyed Panda who suddenly did her daily good deed, it has nothing to do with me.”
Zhang Jun looked at me but didn’t say anything. He held up his girlfriend and left. I stared at his back and had a strong urge to throw the apple in my hand at him. Wu Zei shivered, “Four Eyed Panda, since you despise Zhang Jun so much, why did you help his girlfriend?”
I smiled sweetly, “Who said I despise him?” Then I stood up to look at Xiao Fei.
Wu Zei shouted after me, “If you don’t despise him, why did you squeeze the apple like this?”
After Xiao Fei became sober, I sent her to the bottom of her building and watched her go up before I left. I knew that tomorrow, she’ll still go out to play with some guy. These guys usually were usually better at playing than studying and were skilled at smoking, drinking and fighting.
Actually, in a sense, I was also considered brokenhearted, it’s just that I was cowardly and overcautious and hid everything inside so I didn’t even dare to reveal my sadness.
I signed up for a holiday drawing class and started to draw seriously. To be able to be assigned to the top class for his third year of high school, Xiao Bo started to pick up his textbook and revise schoolwork while doing questions.
Xiao Bo saw that I was struggling all day with a bunch of colors and couldn’t help but ask, “Why are you interested in drawing all of a sudden?”
I suddenly decided to tell him my secret, “Because I envy this girl, she’s too outstanding, beautiful and intelligent, her grades are good, she knows how to play the er hu, sing, write, the essays she writes are good, she can pretty much do everything.”
Xiao Bo didn’t understand, “What does this have to do with you drawing?”
“I inquired around for a long time and heard that she doesn’t know how to draw so I decided to learn to draw.”
Xiao Bo turned stupefied then continued to laugh, “You actually envy someone? What’s her name? I want to go and see how many arms and legs she has.”
I glared at him, “You can’t! Every guy who has seen her before like her, I don’t allow you to like her so you can’t see her.”
Xiao Bo was astonished, “You really envy her?”
I nodded then said with an immeasurable sadness, “In the past I wished I could change myself to her, I hated being myself but now I understand that no matter whether or not you like yourself, you can only be you so I don’t hate myself anymore but I’m still envious of her. To me, she’s the perfect girl. On the surface, I look like I don’t care but actually, I’ve been secretly comparing us, and secretly working hard but every time I feel like I’ve improved a little, become a little more outstanding, when I see her, I immediately realize that the distance between us is still so far. I feel like in this lifetime, no matter how hard I try, I definitely won’t be able to chase up to her. Even envying her is a joke because envy only suits people who don’t have such a big distance between them, for instance, Li Shen can envy Xiao Fei for being prettier than her but she definitely can’t go and envy Brigitte Lin* for being prettier than her. So, do you understand? Actually I don’t even have the right to envy her.” I took a long and hard sigh, “I can only go and learn their weaknesses to secretly give myself some confidence, it’s better than nothing!”
*[Brigitte Lin is a Taiwanese actress.]
Xiao Bo gently said, “You are you, an unique individual, there’s no need to compare with other people.”
I didn’t say anything, I lowered my head to dilute my watercolors. He wouldn’t understand that kind of envy, to envy someone to yearning for everything she has.
On the third day of Lunar New Year, I went to pay Teacher Gao a new year’s call. Teacher Gao lamented, “Last year there were still quite a few students who came, this year there are less than half. Probably next year there will only be you and Zhang Jun.”
She asked about my grades, I truthfully reported it to her and she sighed smiling. She asked me, “When do you plan on studying properly?”
I truthfully said, “Actually, I have lots of interest to the sciences stream and I’ve also been studying earnestly, it’s just that I’m not hardworking enough, I want to be hardworking but as soon as I start playing, I don’t want to study. How do those good students resist?”
Just as I was chatting to Teacher Gao, Zhang Jun came in to pay his new year’s call. His way of paying a new year’s call was completely different to mine, I went empty handed and only brought my mouth along whereas he came with two hands full of presents, no wonder he was rich.
Teacher Gao was very happy to see him, she let him in while saying, “You came just at the right time, Qi Qi is here too.”
I stood up and said, “Teacher Gao, I made plans to go to my classmate’s house to play so I won’t stay any longer.”
Teacher Gao was regretful, “Can’t you stay a while longer? The three of us haven’t chatted for a long time.”
I apologetically said, “I made plans early in the morning.”
Zhang Jun stood on the side with an expression of indifference and didn’t say anything. After saying “Goodbye” to Teacher Gao, I left her house.
I walked slowly with my hands in my pockets and with the cold wind blowing by, I attempted to analyse my heart.
When Zhang Jun wasn’t there, I would keep thinking about him, guessing what he was doing and look forward to our chance encounter; but once he appears in front of me, I can’t wait to escape. So do I want to meet him or not meet him?
How complicated is it!
I couldn’t analyse it so I might as well stop and go back to drawing.
A person’s heart is too complicated, there are no roads that can lead straight to a heart but drawing can be grasped with diligent practice.
After New Year’s, everyone’s pockets had quite a lot of money and the temperature was hold thus everyone liked to cozy up and play inside so the karaoke bar’s business was booming.
My New Year’s money was all dedicated to my painting careers. It was both painful and sweet, painful because I didn’t even have a dime left in my pockets, no matter what I saw I could only eye it covetously and sweet because looking at the rows of pens and paint gave me a sense of achievement.
My little sister started learning the keyboard. In that era, parents all want their children to learn some arts but apart from families like Chen Jing’s, few parents could afford violin and piano lessons so most chose to learn the keyboard that out of the whole class of girls, you can’t find many who aren’t learning it. Music teachers who taught the keyboard in their spare time were earning bucket loads.
Little sister created noises in the house all day so I moved all my painting equipment to Xiao Bo’s office. Mom and dad saw me with pages and pages of scrawls and felt that I was still studying hard and on the main path so they were very at ease with me and continued to use a carefree approach towards me.
I was very happy they were using a loose approach on me, giving me the freedom to continue secretly meeting these ‘bad youths’ like Wu Zei. However, sometimes when I see little sister getting lectured by dad for being too lazy to practice the piano and getting punished to not watch the television that night, my feelings get complicated as if I hoped my mom and dad would come lecture and punish me.
A person’s heart ah, it is really complicated!
The eighth day of New Year’s, I sat in the sun on the balcony and held up my art board, watching people pass by as I pretended to practice sketching them when I saw Zhang Jun and his girlfriend enter side by side.
Not long later,the song ‘Like The Fog, Like The Rain And Like The Wind’ spread from one of the rooms.
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 frowned in disgust and packed up my art board, preparing to go back into the room. Suddenly, I heard tears being choked back while the song played. I couldn’t help but stop in my tracks and secretly go take a look. I know that secretly peeking is wrong but I couldn’t refrain myself.
The girl was crying while singing. Zhang Jun tried a few times to take the microphone away from her without success, instead, her tears dropped faster and faster. Zhang Jun gave up on taking away the microphone and sat down expressionlessly. The girl finally finished singing and talked to Zhang Jun while crying but Zhang Jun didn’t say anything, only occasionally nodded. A long time later, it was still like this. I grew tired watching, weren’t they tired yet?
The girl wiped her tears and forced herself to smile at Zhang Jun before running out of the karaoke bar. However, Zhang Jun still sat there as if in a daze or as if thinking about a problem.
He didn’t move so I shrunk back into the corner and watched his figure from the window on the room’s door.
The second day, rumors that he and the girl broke up spread.
Everyone felt sympathetic for Zhang Jun, in this circle, being dumped by a girl was a very, very embarrassing thing. Zhang Jun’s mood would definitely be very low.
However, I didn’t care whether or not his mood was good, I rushed into Xiao Bo’s office and shouted, “Xiao Bo, let’s go sing okay?”
Xiao Bo was astonished, “Don’t you not like singing?”
“It’s still New Year’s, let’s celebrate. Stop reading, let’s go sing.” I dragged him out and chose an empty room and started singing wildly. Wu Zei and the others came in to join the fun. I was extremely happy, I held onto the microphone and sang one song after the other while dancing. Wu Zei laughed and shouted, “Four Eyed Panda has gone crazy!”
Someone knocked outside the door, Wu Zei went to open the door and talked with the person in low voices.
The song I chose, ‘Heart’s Rain’, started playing, I immediately put the microphone in Xiao Bo’s hands and we sang together.
I faced the screen singing and laughing, Xiao Bo also sang while laughing. The two of us were both being mushy and affectionate. When Xiao Bo got to, “Miss you miss you miss you miss you, the last time I’ll miss you……” he intentionally stared at me with deep sorrow and affection. He was normally steady and sedate and was hardly every so frivolous that Enchantress rocked with laughter.
“Good singing!” Wu Zei applauded and shouted good loudly. He then joked, “Who dares to snatch from you? Let’s find some mates and make his wedding turn into a funeral.”
I laughed and threw the fruit on the table at Wu Zei. When I turned my head, I saw a person lean on the wall near the door of the room, it was actually Zhang Jun. He expressionlessly stared at the screen. Xiao Bo also saw him and hurriedly put down the microphone and invited him to sit. He smiled, “Originally I wanted to find you to have a few drinks with but you’re currently having a get-together with your friends so I won’t interrupt.”
Xiao Bo politely said, “We’re only being silly, what do you want to drink? I’ll ask them to bring it in, let’s drink and play.”
Zhang Jun laughed and opened the door, “No need, I’ll find you for a drink next time.” As he talked, he already closed the door and left.
Xiao Bo’s eyes were full of puzzlement, Wu Zei said in a low voice, “He was dumped so his mind is not normal.”
“When was this?”
The next song was still a duet. I dragged the Enchantress to sing with me, “Clearly my heart desires some true feelings……”
“My song, my song……” Wu Zei snatched the microphone from my hands and sang together with the Enchantress. The two of them were indeed veterans of the karaoke bar, they didn’t look at the screen at all. The two of them stared at each other, holding hands and sang with deep emotions. I grimaced and rubbed my arms at Xiao Bo, showing that I was getting goosebumps. Xiao Bo shook his head laughing.
To be honest, I never got the feeling that Zhang Jun wanted to date that girl, it seemed like he was peer pressured to from the crowd that night at the karaoke bar so it would make sense if his girlfriend realized that they had no feelings and that their split was eventual which is why she cried so hard.
Does this mean Qi Qi finally has a chance? 😀