Chapter 9.3: Becoming famous once again (Part Two)
After analysing my weaknesses and planning out study time for English, I started customizing study tactics for each subject so that I could use the time from each class effectively based on the way the teacher taught each subject and the way I studied it.
For instance, I felt that the way our biology teacher taught was very confusing so I stopped listening to him and did my homework instead. When the biology class ended, my biology homework was also completed, plus I was left with extra energy to sum up my thoughts. I did the similar in chemistry. Although the teacher taught well, I felt that I didn’t need to listen to her. Our maths teacher was infamous in our school for being sloppy and often during class, he’d either have a trouser pocket hanging out or have all his buttons done up wrong. His hair always seemed to be unkempt. Our classmates had all given up on him, wondering how they ended up with such a bad teacher, but, I felt that he taught well. So sometimes I would choose to listen to his classes while other times I wouldn’t.
I never recorded notes for the three science subjects. Although our chemistry teacher requested we all take notes, I tried a few times but realised that my pen speed was too slow. Note taking constrains my thoughts and slows down the speed of my thinking. Plus, when I am deep in thought, I would completely forget to take notes.
However, my tactic towards English was different. As soon as the bell rang, it was as if I had taken a stimulant. My ears would prick up and my eyes would shine brightly as I stared at the teacher. As my foundations were bad, there were many things that I didn’t understand. However, that was fine because I would first note everything down then analyse it after class. My English skills weren’t good enough to decide which things the teacher said were useful so I would use the stupid way of writing down everything.
I also analysed Lin Yi Ran and Yang Jun’s notes often, studying their different ways of note taking.
During English class, my head would be completely locked on the teacher. I would concentrate too much so when the bell ran, I would usually be exhausted. In the ten minutes after class, I would go outside and rest so that my brain can prepare to work effectively for the next class.
For Chinese, I set Lin Yi Ran as my target and I read every one of her essays. I also bought a book of model gaokao essay examples and I read it like a novel, flipping through an essay when I had nothing to do.
For history and politics, I felt that I needed to rely on memorization so I never listened in class. I secretly used the time to memorize the English vocabulary for each day or spend it strengthening my maths or sciences. If I had finished all those, I would do some idle reading.
I never stayed up at night and I also never gave up the time to play. I believe that study lies upon a good rest. People who do not have enough rest don’t study effectively.
However to outsiders, it seemed like I had neither learning nor skill. During self revising classes I would be reading idly, during biology I would be doodling. Actually, these were the spare time that I had already planned for myself.
Yang Jun’s situation was similar to mine. Although our thoughts, strengths, weaknesses and hobbies were different, we were both people who didn’t like to listen during class. This made it seem like we had a lot of ‘idle time’.
One day, the Chinese teacher walked into the class and Chen Yuan Zhe called for us to stand. Everyone bowed to the teacher then sat down, but I fell to the floor with a thump. It turns out that Yang Jun had taken advantage of me standing up to pull my chair out so when I sat down, I fell to the floor.
Another day, I stuck a copy of Doraemon between my maths work book to read while swinging on my chair. As I swung, Yang Jun violently kicked my chair and once again, I fell to the floor. The Doraemon comic flew up in the air, spun a few times then fell on my head. The whole class roared with laughter.
Our maths teacher who had been writing on the board turned around. He pushed up his glasses and looked around the class at a loss then asked confusedly, “Where is Luo Qi Qi?” Everyone laughed again. My hand rose from under the table, and my voice although weak, was gritted, “Here.”
Another day, as soon as the bell for the end of class rung, Yang Jun rushed outside. I followed him, appreciating my masterpiece. After he sat on his chair for the entire class, his bottom was completely dyed pink by the pink chalk dust on his chair. Stuck to his back was a note with the words in big letters: monkey’s butt. Our classmates were long used to our mischievous tricks so they didn’t alert him to it. Because he was good at physical education, during broadcast gymnastics, he would be right at the front of our year leading us. As a result, everyone from Class (4) to (6) all laughed. He turned around continuously but didn’t know what everyone was laughing at.
However, my satisfaction didn’t last long because by the next day, the words “If you see me, please hit me” was stuck to my back. Everyone who passed by me would ‘kindly’ oblige my request and hit me on the back. I was confused, how come everyone’s way of greeting me today had turned in to hitting my back?
As our grades were good, the teachers didn’t mind our tricks. However, we weren’t blind. We could tell which teachers would be able to tolerate our jokes and which ones couldn’t.
As the days slowly passed by, I gradually fit in to high school life. I had new best friends- Yang Jun and Lin Yi Ran. Their grades were very good and they were pure and welcoming. They were the most common and normal good students, completely different to my middle school friends.
I knew that in this year level, there were still girls like Lin Lan, Li Shen and Ni Qing with similar stories. I didn’t know though, if it was because I had changed or if it was because of the atmosphere I had created with Yang Jun but I attracted friends with good and bad grades, but with personalities all open and positive, bright and simple.
In a group, we would spend the day together reading comics, eating snacks, chatting and bickering. We would annoy each other and have fun together.
Because my grades were good, the teachers liked me. Because my personality was bright and open, I had a group of mates to play with. My high school life was completely sunshine and blue skies without the slightest haze.
The people and things from middle school seemed to drift further and further away from me, including the silent, cold and stubborn Luo Qi Qi.
My high school classmates never saw me as quiet and introverted. When they talked about me, they would shake their head and laugh while praising, “Huh! Luo Qi Qi can kick up a fuss much too easily. She loves playing tricks and she can make you laugh and cry. The teachers are helpless about her. ”
They also definitely didn’t think of me as cold and stubborn. In their eyes, Luo Qi Qi was lively, energetic and mischievous. She was brothers with all the boys. If the girls had a crush on one of the boys, they liked to get her to help them pass notes.
I think people like to live under brightness and I wasn’t an exception. I slowly started to like my current life, enjoying being praised and liked by my teachers, classmates, parents and relatives. Everyday, I laughed loudly, played boisterously and worked hard while enjoying the glory that came with working hard.
I started to slowly hide Xiao Bo and Xiao Fei into the deepest corners of my heart.
Perhaps, this was a person’s nature. No matter how big the hurt, we are still able to heal. No matter how painful the loss, we are still able to get used to it.
You can call it being strong, you can also call it forgetting.
When it was close to the mid semester exam, Yang Jun was listless and in low spirits
I jokingly asked him, “Don’t you plan on beating me any more?”
He sighed, then sighed again. Finally, he passed me a note. On it he had written, “I think I’ve fallen for someone.”
I resisted laughing and coughed twice. He looked at me depressingly and quietly asked, “Do you think I’m handsome?”
I looked at him stupidly, bro, if you ask a question like this, how am I supposed to answer it?
“Some people say that I look good, especially my eyes. In high school quite a few girls said that I looked good.”
This was true, Yang Jun’s eyes were honestly quite pretty. His eyelashes were long and thick, his eyes bright. I resisted showing my amusement and wrote on the paper, “Who exactly have you fallen for?”
Yang Jun was embarrassed and dawdled for a while without telling me. Teachers and parents often think that we say the word ‘love’ too easily but, what they don’t know is often, we have a hard time even saying the word ‘like’.
I laughed, “Please don’t tell me it’s me!”
He was shocked and immediately said disdainfully, “You? I haven’t lost my mind yet!”
The classmates around us all raised their heads and looked over at the sound of his voice. Yang Jun wasn’t like usual where he didn’t care. Instead, he lowered his voice.
A long while later, when our classmates all stopped looking at as, Yang Jun said seriously, “You have to promise to keep it a secret for me. You can’t tell anyone.”
He passed me another small note: “Fourth row, second desk.”
Was it the second from the left? Or the second from the right? And he was supposedly someone who was good at science! His logic wasn’t the slightest bit strong. However, when I raised my head to look, I knew that in reality, the world often didn’t need logic.
Sitting on the second to the left was the pretty Tong Yun Zhu. Sitting on the second to the right was the chubby Zhao Miao Miao.
I didn’t need to ask further, common sense had already told me who it was. Tong Yun Zhu was doing her homework with her head lowered. Apart from having a better appearance, she looked no different to any other girl in this class.
Yang Jun threw me another note: “How do you think I should chase her?”
“Do you really want to hear my suggestion?”
“Even if the truth hurts?”
“Do you think I’m a pig head like you?”
“My advice is to not chase her. She’s not from the same world as you.”
Yang Jun was in disdain, “Then which world is she from? Pluto or Neptune? I’ve already asked about her, apparently her ex boyfriend was sent to jail. But what does that have to do with her? She’s done nothing wrong.”
“I knew that even if I said something it would be like saying nothing at all.”
“I’ve decided to chase her.”
I waved my hand, as if waving a fly away, “Go well, I won’t see you out!”
Tong Yun Zhu wasn’t a maths problem. She wasn’t something that could be conquered through intelligence and diligence. I could already see Yang Jun being crushed to pieces. However, no one can stop him.
It was just lucky that this infectious disease came at the right time. It was only first year of high school. If he caught a disease, he’d still have enough time to fully recover before gaokao.
For the end of semester exam, I was second overall in the class, Lin Yi Ran was first and Yang Jun, second.
My Chinese had improved but my English results were too sad to look at. In the mid-semester exam, I had gotten 79% but this time, I only received 71%.
When our results were released, it was already winter break. The school was empty. I grasped the English paper in my hands, continuously walking around in the cold wind without stopping.
This time, the blow was even bigger than in the mid-semester exam, to the extent that I couldn’t see the slightest bit of hope.
Basically, I spend three times the amount of effort and time on English than I did on other subjects. My notes were the most well written in the class. In class, I only focused on the teacher speaking so even if Yang Jun was talking beside me, I couldn’t hear him at all. Even in the weekend, I would persist in reciting English for half an hour. I memorised every lesson. I don’t believe that there was a more hard-working student in our class!
I didn’t slack off for one day but instead of improving, my grades had dropped!
If heaven rewards the diligent, then where is my reward? Could it be that the heavens can’t see the slightest bit of my diligence?
I wasn’t hoping for over 90% but at least, I should improve.
Why was it like this? My half a year of half work ended up like this? After working hard, I didn’t gain any rewards. This makes people disappointed. It makes people wonder if there’s a point in trying so hard. Since studying or not doesn’t make a difference.
I couldn’t give myself an answer. After I had walked over two hours in the cold wind, after my entire body was frozen, I decided to forget about this. To forget about this powerless frustration. To forget about this feeling of hopelessness.
I will still memorize ten words a day. I will still recite half an hour of English everyday. Next semester, I will still focus in class and work hard doing my homework.
I made a bet with myself, there is no royal road to learning!* Since I can’t find the reason and discover a better study method, I can only bet my wisdom!
*[There is no easy way, you have to lay down the foundations of your path to wisdom.]
I ripped up my English script and threw it into the wind and pushed the half a year’s worth of frustration and dejection into the deepest corners of my heart.
I think this story is really realistic in that life has so many set backs. I like the verse at the start of this chapter (last part) -even if you work hard, you may not get what you want but you definitely won’t get what you want if you don’t work hard. I find it quite interesting how instead of romance, studying is taking the centre piece in this story- that even though Luo Qi Qi has someone she likes, she sees dating and the process of chasing someone as a disease that could prevent you from studying hard.
I’ve also realised that circumstances can really change a person. Luo Qi Qi was once forced into a shell by her circumstances but now that there are no teachers who push her down and classmates who judge her, she’s finally coming out of her shell. 🙂 Even though some things will never change like her stubbornness (but it’s so good that her stubbornness, which once got her into so much trouble, is now helping her reach her greater goals even when faced with challenges and set-backs.)