After Shi Yan entered his second college, you could say that he was absolutely satisfied. His buddies were also pleasantly surprised. They immediately liaised their other buddy nearby and asked him to pull some strings to transfer over too. After military training ended, their other buddy managed to successfully join them as well.
When National Day was approaching, it signified that their military training would be ending soon as well. Their college gave them a three-day holiday, but no one planned to return home and instead arranged to meet up somewhere nearby to have fun. They only contacted their other high school schoolmates in the same city; all of them began preparing a week in advance so by the time the weekend rolled around, quite a few of their schoolmates had come over to discuss the specific itinerary for their trip. Shi Yan actually saw Yu Yao, and after they chatted for a bit he realised that she had enrolled in a college just a few stops away from his. Shi Yan quickly asked her what college He Nuo was in, but Yu Yao was surprised when she heard his question.
Shi Yan pressed her for the reason, but Yu Yao’s eyes instantly reddened. Shi Yan got even more anxious and Yu Yao asked him a question in return, “You actually don’t know? What kind of a friend are you? And here I thought you actually treated him as a friend, but looks like…” She shook her head and left without continuing.
“How am I not treating him like my friend? He’s my iron pellet, I’ve always been asking around to find out which college he enrolled in, but everyone always said that they didn’t know. You think only you, his girlfriend, would worry about him?” Shi Yan grabbed Yu Yao in a hurry.
Yu Yao turned around with an even more surprised look on her face, “Girlfriend?” then immediately smiled, “Did he tell you that…I’m his girlfriend?”
“He’s too shy to say something like that.” When Shi Yan thought of his embarrassed face, he felt like laughing.
“Then why would you say that I’m his girlfriend?” Yu Yao asked, puzzled.
“Why are you playing the fool? Didn’t I see it the other day?”
“Ah!” Yu Yao turned her head away out of embarrassment, then only looked back at Shi Yan after awhile, “I was saying goodbye to him. That day I only…told him that I liked him. Also, I had applied for the college that he filled in on his aspirations form, but I wasn’t sure that I could enroll in the same college as him. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see him again, which was why…I…” Yu Yao sighed, “But who knew things would turn out this way now.”
“Turn out this way now? What’s happening now?”
“You really don’t know? He didn’t pass. I heard some of our classmates who were in the same examination venue as him say that he would lie on his table without writing his answers down, it seemed like he was sick during those few days.”
Shi Yan was dumbfounded, he was so stunned by this news that he had turned into a fool. He asked, bewildered, “He resumed classes?”
“If it were so then that would be great,” Yu Yao choked, “but he didn’t resume classes. I’ve already asked my classmates who resumed classes, he’s not around.”
“Then what is he doing?”
“How would I know? I didn’t come here to discuss the trip. I wanted to ask around to see who would be returning home on National Day, so that I can ask them to help me find out what he’s doing right now.”
Shi Yan was no longer in the mood to play. After he endured it for two days more, he applied for leave to go home. His parents sent a car to pick him up and he only got back at night. Their dinner was naturally sumptuous, and after dinner they surrounded him to ask him all kinds of questions. When Shi Yan lied down on his back, he thought about all the possibilities that could have happened. The most likely one was that He Nuo didn’t manage to get into a college and his lie about being in the science stream was exposed at the same time, so his parents were so angry with him that they locked him up at home. Shi Yan thought about how he could persuade He Nuo’s parents to allow him to resume classes, and actually, as long as they weren’t angry it would be fine. With He Nuo’s grades, the examination wouldn’t be a problem for him next year. Shi Yan only guessed half of it right, but he didn’t manage to guess the mystery behind it.
When the college entrance examination results were released, it had brought upon a shock so huge to He Nuo’s family that they could feel the earth tremble and the mountains sway. Putting aside how He Nuo’s results were two marks below the cut-off point, the fact that he was in the arts stream had shocked his entire family. He had actually deceived his parents for an entire year. His father was so angry that his whole body trembled, so he couldn’t pull his belt out. Thus, he dragged He Nuo to the yard and used a broom to beat him up without rhyme or reason.
His mother and brothers all thought that He Nuo was really way too bold and had crossed the line, so he should be taught a good lesson to carve it into his memory. Hence, no one tried to stop their father. After the broom broke from hitting He Nuo too hard and He Nuo was kicked onto the floor by his father, his father threw away the broom that had been split into pieces in his hand and saw a rod on the side — it was a rod they used to tie their mop up which hadn’t been used yet. He Nuo was about to stand up when the rod landed on him. He Nuo didn’t dare to avoid it, so he only hugged his head.
Towards the end, his mother and brothers did persuade his father to stop and dragged him into the house. He Nuo didn’t dare to enter the house, so he waited in the yard, and after that he was punished to kneel inside. The next morning, when he had been kneeling until his vision turned blur, his father came in and frightened him awake. After he had been dragged into the yard and forced to kneel for an entire night, his legs couldn’t support him at all anymore, so he could only endure a few hits before he was knocked down to the ground by the rod. Before he went to work, his father instructed his twin younger brothers (their school hadn’t reopened yet) to watch over him as he knelt in their yard.
In the afternoon, his mother had returned home first after work. She was afraid that his father would get angry again if he saw him after he got back, so she asked He Nuo to go back into the house to kneel there first. When his father came home from work, he could then kneel in the yard again. The cooling start of autumn had ended, and the spell of hot weather afterwards was in full swing. In the afternoon, He Nuo had to endure the heat in the sun as he knelt in the yard until he was both hungry and thirsty. Since he was kneeling, he couldn’t look into his younger brothers’ room so he guessed that they were taking their afternoon nap. He stood up and went to the kitchen to get some water, and he was only halfway through his cup when he heard a knock on the kitchen’s screen door, “What are you doing?”
He Nuo was startled and swallowed the water in his mouth, “I’m, I’m drinking water.”
His younger brother pouted, “Pa didn’t allow you to get up, just look at how much you angered Pa. Also, how could your score in the exam even be considered a score? I’m too embarrassed to even mention it when others ask me about how you fared.”
“I’m sorry.” He Nuo quickly went back to continue kneeling.
When his family had fallen into a deep sleep at night, He Nuo secretly sneaked some bites of their leftovers in the kitchen. He poured a cup of water for himself and went back, and because the ground was cold, he could feel the chilly air in the latter half of the night pour into his body. He was afraid that his hematuria would relapse, so he went to consume some norfloxacin first. When he felt like he couldn’t kneel any longer, he went to grab a stool so that he could lie on it and sneak in a short nap. But he was very alert while he slept, and at dawn he had returned the stool to its original position and didn’t dare to sleep anymore. This lasted for a few days until he didn’t need to kneel anymore, but to avoid provoking the fury of his father, his family asked him not to appear at the dining table when they ate and to eat only after his father finished his meal.
His parents were discussing about what they should do with him. His father had beaten him, but it’s not like their anger would dissipate just like that, and it’s not like everything that had happened could be reversed. The problem they had to resolve now was what He Nuo was going to do next. Actually there were only two options they had to consider: to let him resume classes and retake the college entrance examination, or take the recruitment examination. As a mother, Zhou Xiaoyu would like to think that she had never maltreated the previous wife’s children, and she did like their fourth and fifth sons very much. Now, their fourth son had graduated and their fifth was still in college. After Zhou Xiaoyu said all this, she asked her husband if she had been a fair stepmother all these years, and naturally received his full appreciation and gratitude.
Thus Zhou Xiaoyu said that her twins would be entering high school this year, and since they were both entering at the same time, it would mean double the expenses. If they didn’t save up enough money now to prepare for the future, then wouldn’t these two sons of hers lose the opportunity to attend college instead? Every child should be treated fairly. He Nuo had been given a chance to attend college but he was the one who didn’t cherish it, so he had lost his chance. Also, aside from the expenses that they would have to bear for him to resume classes, when he enrolls in college two years later their family would have to provide for three students at the same time.
He Papa had also thought about the difficulty of supporting three college students and couldn’t make up his mind. Zhou Xiaoyu said, “If it wasn’t because He Nuo had decided for himself to study the liberal arts, he would’ve been able to get into college.” This was something that angered He Papa to the extremes, so he thought that this could be considered as He Nuo’s fault and proper punishment for his own bad behaviour ba. His family decided to ask him to take the recruitment examination.
T/N: I just finished translating chap 68 and I almost cried…….in a good way. My heart is aching so badly right now as I remember why this novel struck such a strong chord with me…………..