Shi Yan wasn’t going to allow He Ma to end their conversation like that. He turned towards He Pa, “I went to look for our teachers in school today. They all said that it was a pity for He Nuo and kept asking me why he hadn’t resumed classes. As long as he maintained his previous standards, it wouldn’t be difficult for him to enter a key college.”
The He couple knew why Shi Yan had come. They looked at He Nuo and He Nuo’s heart rose all the way up to his throat. They were rather unhappy and thought that He Nuo had invited Shi Yan over to be a lobbyist, so it only added onto their sense of aversion. Nevertheless, they still needed to show their grace as elders. He Pa gently said, “Shi Yan, thank you for your kind intentions. You’re a pretty good kid who’s very considerate of his friend.”
“Uncle He, don’t say that, He Nuo’s the kind one. It’s really a great pity for him to not resume classes.” Shi Yan didn’t accept the praise and avoided the change of topic; he has always kept a tight hold on the matter of resuming classes for He Nuo.
“College isn’t the only pathway in life. Once he gets a stable job after he takes the recruitment examination, it’s an iron rice bowl1 all the same, which isn’t too bad either.” He Ma refuted.
“Getting recruited isn’t too bad, but after He Nuo graduates from college he’ll become a state cadre. If he gets recruited, he’ll only be a worker.”
“Isn’t his dad a worker as well? His two elder brothers became workers too after they graduated from junior high school. His third brother became an apprentice after he graduated from junior high, and since he got into a good company, they had even sent him to a vocational school. He Nuo is a a high school graduate now, even if he becomes a worker his conditions would be much better than his three older brothers. If he wants to study, then he can just focus on doing his job well and his company would train him in the future.”
Shi Yan thought of the type of work that He Nuo had applied for and he suddenly really wanted to strangle her to death. Those types of work could be said to have good conditions? Now Shi Yan has really committed to memory what a ‘stepmother’ meant. But you couldn’t really blame this on her status as a stepmother. She didn’t want He Nuo to resume classes because of her selfishness to prepare for her sons’ futures instead, but as a mother, who wouldn’t first consider and love their own children? Since he’s not attending college, then of course he should choose whatever pays him the most. As far as hard work was concerned, isn’t it just a little more exhausting than usual? This kind of tiring work was nothing to the He couple.
“If He Nuo doesn’t resume classes, then it’ll be as if I’ve harmed him for a lifetime. I feel really guilty. Uncle He, He Nuo’s life can look completely different. He has always been very diligent in his studies, and it was all for the sake of the difficult and dangerous path known as our college entrance examination. But in the end, it wasn’t because he didn’t work hard that he couldn’t get into college, but because of an accident. If it ends like this, then all those years of hard work that He Nuo had put in would be for naught. That would be too cruel towards him.”
He Pa didn’t say anything, but He Ma was a little anxious. She was afraid that He Pa would be persuaded by Shi Yan. At this moment, they heard the courtyard door open — He Nuo’s fourth brother had returned. He was a college graduate and had already been working for two years, but because his company was situated far away from their house, he has always lived in a dormitory and would only return home on the weekends. But it wasn’t a weekend today. Though He Ma felt a bit puzzled, she was happy that someone who could help her had returned. Their fourth son was more well-liked by this couple just like their fifth son, and He Ma prefers their fourth son more, while He Pa prefers their fifth son more.
When fourth bro entered, he was stunned when he saw Shi Yan. Shi Yan stood up to greet him. They had met before; fourth bro first knew about Shi Yan from fifth bro. He didn’t know why he was at their house, and he even looked like he was discussing something with his parents, but the upset fourth bro wasn’t in the mood to ask and wanted to go back to his own room. He Ma could tell that fourth bro was in a bad mood, but she still stopped him and asked him to support her.
“Aiwen, don’t leave first. We’re discussing He Nuo’s recruitment exam now.”
“O.” Fourth bro sat down and responded lazily.
“Don’t you think it’s good to be a worker with an iron rice bowl and a down-to-earth job? He Nuo wants to resume classes and insists on going to college.”
“College? Once you graduate you’ll still be with the workers, and you’ll still be doing the same kind of job anyway. What do you think is so great about going to college?” Fourth bro’s voice was full of anger and sarcasm as he vented.
“Aiwen, what’s wrong? Are you suffering any grievances?” He Ma quickly asked when she saw how angry fourth bro looked.
“Work isn’t going well?” He Pa was concerned as well.
Fourth bro came home after he had been angered at work. Even though he’s a college graduate, his family had no authority or power so he had no strings to pull for his allocation and everything was done for him strictly by the book. He was allocated to a factory below , and it was still okay at first. He could start off by being a technician, then gradually move up the ranks by becoming an assistant engineer, then an engineer and he would be satisfied. But when their manager assigned tasks to them today, he was actually put together with a bunch of workers and he worked on the same kind of tasks as them. He went to reason with the manager, and his manager opened his big mouth, “Youngsters need to undergo some training.”
Fourth bro asked his manager how long the training would last.
“You need to obey the organization’s allocation.” The manager said half-heartedly without mentioning a time limit.
“Then what about the others? Why aren’t they allocated this position? To be trained in this way?” Fourth bro angrily assumed a bureaucratic air.
The manager’s expression changed immediately, “Do our leaders need to report to you on how they want to assign tasks? If you don’t want to obey orders from the top, then just go to any other place that would tolerate you.”
When the He couple heard this, they got worried too but they were unable to help their son. Mere comforting words would have no effect on the situation at all. Fourth bro said agitatedly, “To be placed amongst that pile of workers for no reason…won’t other people think that I was put there because I made some sort of mistake?”
“Why not let Ma give you some money, then you can use it to buy something tomorrow and bring it to your manager’s house?”
“I won’t go. If you want me to put myself down and beg him, keep dreaming!”
“Then what should we do?”
The three of them fell silent. They were worried that their son would have to wear small shoes in the future2, but they didn’t want their son to be humiliated either. Fourth bro was still thinking about what he should do tomorrow, should he go back to work?
“Fourth bro, transfer to another place ba.” Shi Yan said.
“Transfer? Where do I transfer to? I don’t know anyone so how am I going to transfer someplace else? Your idea’s too simplistic.” Fourth bro scoffed.
“Transfer to XXX factory ba.” This was Shi Yan’s father’s company. It was a company where tons of people were fighting over to get into, yet they wouldn’t even have the opportunity to no matter how many gifts they send. “I might not be able to get you straight into the head office, but I can get you into a subsidiary department, or a branch office. But we can take it step by step in the future, okay?”
“Can you really get me that transfer?” Not only was fourth bro pleasantly surprised, but the He couple were in disbelief too. They knew that Shi Yan’s family had a lot of influence, but Shi Yan’s willingness to do such a huge favour for them was still quite unbelievable. After all, Shi Yan was still just a high school graduate.
“Fourth bro, take a day off first, I can get you the news tomorrow.”
The three of them thanked Shi Yan profusely, and their gratitude had almost completely overwhelmed Shi Yan. Fourth bro even put his arms around Shi Yan’s shoulders in a familiar manner, “You really are a good buddy, it’s He Nuo’s honour to have a friend like you. Shi Yan, no matter whether or not this can be done, fourth bro will always remember what you’ve done for me.”
Shi Yan wasn’t a hundred per cent certain if he could get it done, but judging from the current situation, he thought that he would need to get his Dad to agree to this request no matter what.
1. Iron rice bowl = a stable job and salary↩
2. Giving someone small/tight shoes to wear = deliberately causing trouble for that person/punishing that person through underhanded means/making things difficult for that person by abusing one’s power↩
T/N: hehehehehehe mega sweetness around the chapter 75 mark I’m meltinggggg ❤ yes I’m very much ahead on translations, I’m around chapter 80 now? I intend to finish up the translations in a week or so while I release 2 chaps per day. Then once I’m done translating + editing I’ll release the rest of the chaps in one go. I’m hoping that the later chaps won’t be too difficult to translate (i.e., chaps that won’t kill my soul) so it won’t delay my translation streak