To those of you thinking that I have given up on translations and have disappeared off into the abyss of the internet world, nope, I’m still here!
The last few months have been quite busy for me! I was in China for over a month and sadly, WordPress didn’t work(load) very well there 😦
I’ve also moved countries for the short term! It was quite a rushed and last moment decision (yet such a big one!) but I’ve managed to somewhat find my footing for now so translations will continue! Yay! It’s been a crazy ride but one that I would love to share with you guys sometime. 🙂
Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!
2. Dodging Conflict
Not all memories are beautiful and not all people are worth being remembered.
The river of time is endless and most of the people and things will be swept away mercilessly.
However, everything related to the sediment of youth will always form a sediment to the bottom of the river, becoming beautiful memories that won’t wear away.
What is unforgettable to us may not be the people of things, but the dreams and emotions that passed.
Every year, the first year students in No. 1 High School would go through three weeks of army training. It was usually held right at the start of the school year but luckily, the field troops were on a special training mission so ours was pushed back two weeks when they could train us after they had finished their own mission .
The school’s arrangement for these three weeks were that every morning, we would go to class and in the afternoon, we would receive army training. Every class had an instructor and on the big sports field, each had their own designated area to train in.
The sun in September was ruthless, however, under that sun, we had to walk and run and stand. Everyone anticipated rest time where they could sit under the shade of the trees for a while.
There weren’t many patches of shade on the field but luckily, there was a patch close to our area. Due to the distance, naturally, we had the right to use it so the other classes could only enviously look over. We never thought though, that on the second day, when the instructor released us for rest time, Song Peng from Class (4) led a group of boys to our patch of shade and took over it. Song Peng was infamous as a gangster. His brother, Song Jie, had some popularity in our city. The boys in our class were all very discontent but hearing of Song Peng’s notoriety, they could only find some other place to rest in.
Army training was extremely difficult and I nearly got heatstroke as a result. Hence when we were released, I rushed over to drink the green bean soup that the cafeteria made for us, but there was already a long line of bobbing heads.
Zhang Jun squeezed out with difficulty through the crowd, holding two plastic cups in his hands. I knew that I shouldn’t search for the answer. Sometimes, not knowing is a form of happiness. But, I couldn’t control my line of sight so I watched as Guan He smiled as she took a cup from Zhang Jun’s hand.
I immediately looked away and squeezed into the crowd holding my own cup. Not only did I get a cup of green bean soup, I also ended up helping Chen Yuan Zhe who came late get one too.
Chen Yuan Zhe saw Zhang Jun and Guan He so he called out to Zhang Jun. Guan He smiled and greeted me. I could only drink my green tea soup while talking happily with Guan He, unable to express that I didn’t care.
After we went back to our class’ resting place, we discovered that the resting spot had already been taken by Class (4)’s boys.
A few new students from our class purposefully called to Chen Yuan Zhe, “Class Monitor Chen, you have to speak up for us!”
However, Song Peng and the new students from Class (4) said to Zhang Jun, “Class Monitor, we’re depending on you to back us up.”
A few students told Chen Yuan Zhe about what had happened and Zhang Jun stood beside him listening.
Chen Yuan Zhe furrowed his brows but Zhang Jun started laughing. He drank his green tea soup and continued to chat with Guan He as if it had nothing to do with him.
Chen Yuan Zhe wanted to be the president of the student council so he didn’t want any trouble arising. Zhang Jun didn’t have any wishes and he knew that Chen Yuan Zhe would definitely think of a solution so naturally, he was very relaxed.
I was really tired and knowing that our resting time was limited, I didn’t have the energy to listen to them fight. I walked directly over, squeezed into the group of boys , found the most shaded place, which was also right in the middle, and sat down. When I was sitting down, I called out, “Excuse me, excuse me,” forcing two boys to shift to the the side.
All the boys from my class and the boys from Class (4) stopped shouting and silently stared at me.
I drank my green tea soup with an innocent expression, you guys keep chatting, I’m just sitting here! If you guys can sit here, why can’t I?
Song Peng cleared his throat, wanting to disregard me but looking at me, he found it a bit hard. His expression turned stern and glared at me, probably assuming that everyone knew of his infamy and also, as he was a male and I was a female, I definitely wouldn’t be able to handle it and would voluntarily run away.
Under his influence, all the boys started shooting rays at me with their eyes. In my entire life, all the stares I’ve received from boys added up didn’t amount to this much.
I held my green bean soup with both hands and sat there obediently, smiling back at Song Peng without blushing at all.
Back in the year, when I stood on the table tennis tables and accepted the whole school’s stares of awe, he was probably secretly peeking at girls somewhere.
Song Peng’s personality was probably quite stubborn so when I didn’t blush and avoid his stare like he assumed, it turned into a confrontation and we both glared at each other.
If this was shot through the lens of an animation, you would definitely be able to see lasers shooting from our eyes.
But actually, it was only him who was shooting lasers, I was calm and not the slightest bit angry.
After Song Peng and I ‘deeply’ stared at each other for a long time, he finally started to realise just how thick my face was*. He patted his bottom and stood up and with a provoking smile, said, “We’ve rested enough today, see you tomorrow.”
When he left, all the other boys left too so there was only Zhang Jun, Guan He and Shen Yuan Zhe standing to a side. Only then did I realise that Zhang Jun had seen the whole thing. I secretly shot a quick glance at his face and saw him smile amusedly but I couldn’t guess what he was smiling at.
Our classmates came back one after the other to enjoy the cool. Tong Yun Zhu sat beside Zhang Jun and greeted him then smiled at me, “You’re so headstrong! It’s only been two weeks since school started but you’ve already picked a fight and with Song Peng at that. The difficulty is becoming higher and higher.”
A girl whose name i didn’t remember reminded me kindly, “When Song Peng was in middle school, he called a bunch of gangsters to beat up a physical education teacher. Even our school director doesn’t dare to get involved with him.”
However, the guys supported me, “Someone like him can fight? Someone like him has brothers outside of school? Luo Qi Qi, don’t be scared.”
Faced with a foreign enemy, the guys actually overlooked the division between the new and old students. They were united and eager to fight.
However, Chen Yuan Zhe didn’t want to start a group fight. He called Zhang Jun to the side and they had a discussion quietly.
The next day, before army training, the headmaster called all the classes together and issued an order. Following Chen Yuan Zhe and Zhang Jun’s recommendation, for the convenience of the kitchen staff giving green bean soup, in the future, everyone will be divided into three groups and have free time at different times. Luckily, our class and Class (4) had different resting times so naturally, we didn’t need to fight over the shade any more.
A simple solution had resolved everything. I think that even though those new students didn’t look like they liked this idea, inside, they couldn’t deny that this was the best solution.
Army training was divided into learning to stand at attention, the miliary march and throwing military fists.
My military pose and running were okay but I had difficulty in doing the military march. My walking is usually quite normal but when the training officer orders, “Military march”, I start getting my arms and legs mixed up. At the start, it wasn’t noticeable with the whole class doing it but it was noticed when we were divided into groups of four. However, no matter how he tried to teach me, I couldn’t correct my march.
The training officer could only call me out to practice individually.
Our practise time was Class (4)’s rest time, plus their resting spot was right in front of our class so everyone in Class (4) could see me march, including Zhang Jun, Guan He and Song Peng.
Ever since that incident, Song Peng started giving me extra notice thus, finding a good opportunity for revenge, he saw my march as a joke. He provided commentary and applause while he watched me march, causing the boys in Class (4) to laugh along with him. However, I laughed along with him until in the end, his anger dissipated completely.
When it was our rest time, my other ‘enemy’, Ma Li, ran in front of everyone and copied my military steps. He was originally trying to ridicule me but because I didn’t mind at all and laughed louder than anyone else, the whole class and the instructor were able to let our their laughters too.
As Ma Li walked, he actually started making the same mistake as me, getting his arms and legs mixed up too. The more anxious he got, the more mixed up he became. He couldn’t correct himself and thus, the instructors had two people to train.
The first time Song Peng saw Ma Li and I stand shoulder to shoulder with out heads high and chests out, he spurted out all the juice he was drinking in laughter. Zhang Jun also couldn’t resist smiling. However, his line of sight moved away quickly and he went off to play with his classmates, not caring about us in the slightest.
The expression on my face was bright but inside, that difficult feeling! On one side, I really didn’t want him to see me in such an embarrassing manner so I was really happy that he didn’t stare but on the other side, I felt that if he didn’t care about me even though I was like this, then he must really see me as a stranger and thus, I felt very bad.
As we were under the sun for the whole day, and I also had to work more than others, my face was so sunburnt my skin started to peel. At that time, I didn’t know anything about things like sunscreen. Not only did I have no idea about sun protection, often, because I had a tomboyish nature, after I was sunburnt, I would splash my face with cold water then run back into the hot sun.
One day, when I went to class, I discovered a brand new bottle of sunscreen on my desk. The description on it was written in Japanese and traditional Chinese. After reading it, I learnt that this was specially used to protect against the sun.
Under normal circumstances, when a girl receives these things, her first thought would be that a guy has a crush on her. My first thought however, was that someone probably put it on the wrong desk. I put the sunscreen back on the table for that person to come back and collect. After a day, when still no one came to ask me for it back, I started suspecting that it may be a present for me.
It would be a lie to say that I wasn’t surprised!
No matter who he was, I definitely wouldn’t like him but I had a feeling of vain satisfaction. No matter how early I matured mentally, I was still a teenage girl, yearning for a guy’s appreciation and like.
On one side, I was secretly happy but on the other side, I decided to return the sunscreen to the sender. But, who is it?
Two days later, I discovered a ‘love letter’ on my desk. First, he praised me for being special, then he asked me to go dancing in the evening on the weekend. He filled the four sides of the card with the English words I like you in different letters. None of these were shocking, what was shocking was that the sender was actually Song Peng.
This was my first time receiving a love letter from a guy but I didn’t have the slightest feeling of delight. Perhaps this was all planned as revenge. I’ve seen these kinds of situations before.
The two days of being vainly pleased with myself completely turned into awkwardness and indignation. I grabbed the love letter and took out the sunscreen I had hidden in my bag before walking into Class (4).
Class was about to start so everyone was sitting in their seats. When they saw me enter, they all looked at me strangely.
I strode in front of Song Peng’s desk and slammed the sunscreen and love letter on the desk, “I’m warning you, don’t bother me again!”
As all the students in Class (4) saluted me with their eyes, I walked out of the room. Just before I walked outside, I shot a glance at Zhang Jun. Apart from gaping, the corners of his mouth seemed to hang a wry smile.
Apparently as soon as I left, Song Peng threw the things into the rubbish bin and resolutely denied sending me those things.
However, not two days later, he stubbornly slammed his desk and said to the guys in his class, “F*ck! I don’t believe I won’t be able to get Luo Qi Qi.”
When the news spread to me, I coldly smiled, let’s see how you try.
Probably because of Song Peng’s ‘care’ towards me, even Tong Yun Zhu started noticing me. Not only did she voluntarily start chatting to me, she even lent her sunscreen to me. I started being more careful too. Because of youth, not long after military training, my skin healed without leaving a scar.
During army training, the most enjoyable thing would be singing. We sang class by class and after my class finished, we shouted to our ‘enemy’ Class (4), “Class (4), Sing! Class (4), Sing!”
Class (4) had no reaction. It was then that I realised, during our song, Song Peng caused trouble and was quarrelling with Zhang Jun. The guys in Class (4) had divided into two groups, one group supported Song Peng and the other supported Zhang Jun.
Probably at this time, Shen Yuan Zhe was grateful the worst person in our class was Ma Li. He was a gangster wannabe, he would tease the girls but wouldn’t commit crimes, unlike Song Peng who would be polite to the girls but use knifes when quarrelling with boys.
Song Peng didn’t care about being disciplined by the school. He had punched a guy to the ground. The scene became a mess, Zhang Jun prevented his friends from fighting back but the instructor had already been alerted.
Class (4)’s instructor hurriedly ran over and shouted at Zhang Jun, “What happened?” Luckily the headmaster had come to inspect us, he stood to the side watching.
The guys by Zhang Jun’s side was about to speak before Zhang Jun loudly said, “We were discussing how to throw military fists. A student was accidentally hurt when we practiced.”
Song Peng froze, he didn’t expect Zhang Jun would actually protect him. However, he didn’t feel grateful and snorted.
Zhang Jun continued, “Song Peng and I want to practice fighting with each other, please correct our mistakes instructor.”
The instructor hadn’t spoken when the guys in Class (4) had already started shouting in agreement and applauding. The boys in our class joined in and also started wildly applauding. The students in the other classes hadn’t understood what was happening but hearing us applaud, also started applauding.
As we weren’t real soldiers, Class (4)’s instructor couldn’t directly reprimand us. He looked at Class (1)’s instructor who was in charge of all the instructors for help. Class (1)’s instructor called Zhang Jun and Song Peng to the front and after warning them about a few points to look out for, agreed to Zhang Jun’s request.
The students all quietened down to watch Zhang Jun and Song Peng’s fight.
Zhang Jun and Song Peng both believed that things that couldn’t be decided through words can only rely on fists to solve. This was also the only way to make Song Peng lower his head. To real gangsters, power was the most important thing. However, Zhang Jun has started to understand doing things legally and rationally.
At the start, the two pretended to use the military gestures but afterwards, Song Peng got impatient and started listening to his natural instincts. Zhang Jun still patiently used the military style against Song Peng’s attacks.
Seeing Song Peng fight, Class (1)’s instructor quickly walked to their side to break them apart. However, seeing Zhang Jun use the proper way of fighting, he stopped and only stood by their side, watching closely.
It was clear that Zhang Jun put in effort and heart into practising the military moves. Perhaps to the instructor, out of us 400 people, only Zhang Jun was considered a student.
Song Peng wanted to kick Zhang Jun but Zhang Jun dodged it and seized the opportunity to pounce and pressed Song Peng to the ground. Song Peng struggled hard but Zhang Jun didn’t press down harder. Instead, he immediately stepped back and let Song Peng stand up. Song Peng was furious and shouted loudly, wanting to keep fighting.
The instructor grabbed his hands, “If this was on the battlefield, your life would already be lost.”
Song Peng turned from red to ashen white as his body slowly calmed down. The instructor released his hands. Perhaps the instructor had also been a hotheaded youth so he didn’t say anything and only quietly walked to a side.
Song Peng’s expression was very ugly, but he didn’t embarrass his brother- losing was losing. He threw the words, “In the future you’re the boss” to Zhang Jun then walked back to his class and sat down.
I had known that Zhang Jun can fight from my third year of primary school but this was the first time I had personally seen him fight. I don’t know how to rate it, I can only say that he didn’t waste his time out on the streets.
This time, Zhang Jun established the definite authority in Class (4) and in the future, no matter if it was a new student or an old student, they all listened to him. Shen Yuan Zhe didn’t take such big risks like Zhang Jun and so, it was only until the first semester was nearly over before he had slowly gotten the acceptance of all the boys.
Although their ways were completely different, in the end, they both achieved their goals.
These three weeks were both long and short, both painful and happy.
When happiness and pain are shared together and glory and failure received together, even the hardest ice can be melted. Although the new and old students from No. 1 in our class weren’t completely united, we were no longer hostile to each other either.
The only disappointment was that right up until military training ended, my hand feet co-ordination problem still hadn’t been fixed. The instructor couldn’t do anything about it either so when it came time to present, I was put hidden right in the middle of the class. Our class wasn’t in the position to win the first prize award but we received the award for spiritual civilisation and our instructor was chosen as the best instructor.
All the boys in our class were extremely happy and when the event ended, they carried the instructor right up in the air and walked around the court, singing military songs along the way as if they were really soldiers. Usually, none of them enjoyed these old songs but now, it was as if only the loud and resonant military songs could truly release the fervour and energy inside them.
Quite a number of teenage girls standing by the courts grew teary-eyed and even the instructor’s voice was choked with sobs when he spoke. During military training, everyone hated the instructor so much but when saying farewell, everything turned into a beautiful memory.