After he sent He Nuo back home and watched him go in, Shi Yan turned around and left on his bike. He had just rode a few metres away before he turned back and went up to He Nuo’s window. He saw that He Nuo had opened up his cabinet and was currently tidying up its contents. Shi Yan whistled loudly, and when He Nuo saw him, he quickly rushed to his window and opened it.
“You haven’t been to school in a few months, don’t worry about the content you’ve forgotten. Your foundation is so strong so you’ll be able to catch up in no time. Don’t tire yourself out.”
“Un. I understand.”
“Eat more, and eat more meat. Put the snacks (that Shi Yan had brought) in your bag, eat them when you get hungry at school.”
“You’re not allowed to give them to other people (he’s referring to the twins), eat them by yourself. You’re not allowed to give out even the small ones.”
“Un.” He Nuo couldn’t help but laugh.
“Remember to drink those supplements, and you definitely can’t catch a cold.”
He Nuo nodded.
After the two of them fell silent for awhile, Shi Yan revealed a sunny smile, “I’ll write you a letter the moment I get back, don’t miss me too much.”
The edges of He Nuo’s lips curved up as well, “Take care of yourself when you’re outside too.”
He Nuo resumed his lessons smoothly. There was only one liberal arts class as usual, and he was with the new students. With his strong foundations, his grades didn’t take long to get back to his old standards, and because being together with Shi Yan was too conspicuous, almost all of the new students this year knew who he was. As a prominent figure, Shi Yan didn’t vanish without a trace just because he left the school; there were still people who would ask He Nuo about him. Especially because of his letters — Shi Yan really did write He Nuo a letter the moment he got back to his college. Students’ letters are all placed in front of the window of the reception office on the first floor, and they could take their letters whenever they saw one addressed to them. If He Nuo gets a letter, it would be from Shi Yan without a doubt because He Nuo had no other friends whom he was close with. So some of his classmates would bring him his letter if they saw it at the office.
What He Nuo didn’t know was that: he shouldn’t only be receiving Shi Yan’s letters. Yu Yao had always wanted to contact him, but Shi Yan didn’t tell her that He Nuo had gone back to school, so Yu Yao naturally wouldn’t know where to address her letter to. When his classmates took He Nuo’s letters for him, they did so with the intention of getting the address on the envelope, so Shi Yan had received quite a few love letters from his high school junior sisters.
Shi Yan’s letters weren’t long, and there would be innumerable repetitions of certain words — such as ‘eat’, ‘clothes’ and ‘rest’. Then he would add a few simple sentences about his college life: how he slacks off in class, where he would go to play with his buddies, in any case you wouldn’t be able to tell that this young master was there to study. He Nuo knew that his heart wasn’t set on studying, plus he was hanging out with that group of people, and even their new friends are of the same kind — it truly fit the phrase ‘birds of a feather flock together’. But from his words, he could tell that Shi Yan was having a good time in college.
He Nuo didn’t reply him often. Shi Yan usually wrote him one letter per week, and he would always conclude with how he was writing the letter in some class. Just look at him slacking off like that, yet he always urged He Nuo to not take his studies lightly. He talked about how he believed in He Nuo’s grades, but still emphasised that he didn’t need to reply him too often as it would waste his time. He Nuo would reply him once after he received two to three letters.
Thanks to the educational reform that advocated a reduction in the burdens placed on students, their school has now changed their night self-study system. Afternoon classes in high schools now end at 4.30pm, then students would have some free time for an hour before their night self-study sessions began. Hence, they would be able to leave school by 7.30pm. Because of this, a lot of hawker carts began to show up outside the school around 4pm to sell a variety of snacks. Students generally don’t bring food to school anymore, so they would usually buy some snacks to fill their stomachs. He Nuo thus had a few more yuan of allowance to spare in buying more envelopes and stamps.
The temperature dropped on the first afternoon of December. He Nuo felt cold during their free time, and after he thought about it he went back home to change into thicker clothing. After he endured the cold winds from the northwest for half an hour, his hands and feet were already frozen by the time he got home. He wore an extra pair of woolen underwear inside (he was already wearing cotton-padded trousers), and he hadn’t taken that many steps after he locked the door before he felt like going to the toilet. He Nuo knew that this was a sign of a relapse. He had only felt cold when he urinated at school, but now only half an hour had passed before he felt like urinating again. He quickly went home to boil some water and looked for his medication.
Because of this delay — in addition to filling a bottle with water before hugging it to school — he heard the bell that signalled the start of classes as soon as he arrived at the school’s gate. He quickly ran to class, but he was still late because the liberal arts class for this year was on the fifth floor, which was the top floor of the building. He Nuo heard his Geography teacher answering some questions. Ever since their time in school was compressed, their teachers often made use of their night self-study sessions. After He Nuo knocked on the door, he heard no answer, so after he hesitated for a bit, he gently opened the door to enter his classroom. He thought that he wouldn’t be disturbing his teacher and classmates, so he quietly walked to his seat. Since he was a student who resumed classes late, his seat was among the first row.
Unexpectedly, his teacher shouted at him immediately, “Who let you in?!”
He Nuo stood up, “Laoshi, I’m sorry, I’m late. You might not have heard me when I knocked, and I was afraid of disturbing your class so I came in quietly.”
This teacher wasn’t deaf, so of course he had heard He Nuo’s knock. Also, there was only one seat that was empty in the first row, so he didn’t even need to think to know that the latecomer must be the owner of that seat. However, he was coincidentally in a bad mood today, so he had ignored him. For He Nuo to just come in and sit down on his own was an act that provoked him like someone had just touched his tiger butt — a student actually dared to disregard him like this? So he vented all his anger and frustrations on He Nuo.
“Late, hng, since you’re going to be late anyways why did you come? Aren’t you a student who’s resuming classes? You should’ve learnt all of this before, so do you really need to come in and listen to class?”
He Nuo looked at his teacher in surprise. It wasn’t rare for students to be late — especially for third years, since they usually based it off instinct. Their form teacher might nag them if they were always late and tend to leave their classes early, but their subject teachers had never cared about them.
“………if you’re not willing to learn then get lost, resuming classes………” He Nuo’s silence inflated his teacher’s arrogance and his words became even more offensive, “Your parents still want you to resume classes? They still want you to get into college? Someone like you who only has a father but no mother to guide you still dares to………”
“Shut up!” He Nuo exploded. That sentence had really ignited He Nuo’s fury.