The lower part of my body has never bled like this nor ever hurt like this. When I woke up, it was past noon again. I got up to see the bed damp with redness. I quickly got up to take a shower, washing away the smell from my body.
I turned off the water, put on clothes and wiped the mirror with a towel. A yellow face emerged, yellow as if it had jaundice. The dark circles were still in their old place. I smeared on a layer of magnolia cream and whitened my face with nice smelling powder. Efficiently, I put on lipstick, eye shadow, and hairspray. My hair was brushed shining and bright.
I confessed to the mirror. Yes, I, Xie Xiao Qiu, was quite ashamed of my manner last night. Li Chuan clearly didn’t want me, yet I was trying to throw a fit with him. He didn’t have such nerve, I was the one with such nerve! He didn’t have a problem, I was the one with the problem! My hormones were in chaos, I was being unreasonable in my infatuation. I told myself, Xie Xiao Qiu, don’t head towards the mountain if you know the mountain has tigers! Don’t mow the grass if you know the grass has snakes! Your love is merely just a fire in the winter that has been burning for a whole six years. It has burnt through your youth, burnt through your feelings, and burnt your hormones. Don’t tell me it hasn’t already become ashes? Do you have to wait until you are burnt to death?
When I got to this thought, I dashed back into the bedroom and found my life saver in my suitcase. It was a full bottle of Tongren Wuji Baifeng Wan. The logo “Tongrentang” was clearly visible. Using yesterday’s leftover tea, I raised my head and took sixty granules. I asked myself again, why couldn’t I hate Li Chuan? That’s right, I couldn’t hate him because I still owed him. I still owed him 250 thousand! Even though, starting from my first day of work, I had been scrimping and saving to give that Lawyer Chen Dong Cun two thousand yuan every month. After doing the calculations, to pay the debt back in full would take ten years! Even Chen Dong Cun called me laughing. Miss Xie, why do you have to do this? Does Mr. Wang care about this money? When buying flats from Long Ze garden, he bought two, one on top to live in and one on bottom to leave empty, because he was afraid of being disturbed. No matter what Chen Dong Cun said, I still resolutely pressed money at him and even forced him to provide a receipt. In any case, that money allowed my father to live for one more month and allowed me to live with a father’s love for one more month. I was lost in love with Wang Li Chuan, to love him, I had to be determined. When will I be able to break out of this hell!
After finishing up getting ready, I put on glasses and took a walk around the corridor. Li Chuan’s suite was diagonally across from mine. On his left was Director Wang and on his right was Su Qun. One more over was Director Zhang.
At eight every morning, CGP held a thirty minute meeting with each person reporting their work progress. However, Zhang Qing Hui said that I didn’t have to go. Even though I was the translator, in reality, I was only working for Li Chuan. How I was doing my work only required Li Chuan and I to talk over. Since it came from the boss and as a lazy person, I happily idled around and didn’t attend any meetings.
I slipped away to the dining room and got a plate of chili fish pieces and a bowl of red rice porridge.
It was lunch time, but when I looked around the dining room, there were only a few people from CGP. I only saw two drafting employees, Xiao Ding and Xiao Song. It seemed like everyone had gone to the construction sight. I sat down at a table and ate slowly. As I was eating, a shadow fell over me. I raised my head and saw Su Qun.
At first glance, Su Qun looked a little bit like Andy Lau. It was just that his skin was darker and nose wasn’t that high. His height was about the same. The northerners of CGP were actually mostly all southerners, which is why his height was short. I heard that he had started out as an architect and was also in design. But for some reason, he changed his profession to become an admin.
Su Qun’s post was the assistant to the chairman and his rank was on the same level as Director Wang. Because of his close relationship with Li Chuan, everyone was careful and polite when speaking to him. as if he was the boss. He followed Li Chuan all the time and had the same way of speaking and smiling as Li Chuan. He wasn’t like an assistant, more like a bodyguard.
I thought he was here to eat lunch. Unexpectedly, he only got a cup of tea and sat next to me.
“Don’t be so polite. You can just call me Su Qun.”
He drank a sip of tea and looked at me eating before suddenly asking, “Annie, did you know Mr. Wang before?”
“No.” I shook my head.
“But…” he muttered with a reluctant expression, “you seem…hm…to have some disagreements with Mr. Wang?”
“No. He is the boss. I am a subordinate. I listen to whatever he says. There’s no disagreement.” I said resolutely.
He looked at me with a cold expression. After a short time, he said, “Last night, I had something I needed to see Mr. Wang about, and, by coincidence, I saw you angrily rush out of his room.”
Of course, no one saw all the good things I did but as soon as I did something wrong, someone would see.
I knew what I did was very unprofessional, but I could only lie shamelessly, “That wasn’t the case! Mr. Wang said that he needed a dictionary, so I went to my room to get one for him.”
He continued to look at me coldly.
“It was just that.” I mouth was parched. I spread out my hands and didn’t say anymore.
“You are the translator. Looking up things in the dictionary seems to be something you should do, right?” He asked back without batting an eye.
“We had a dispute about a word’s translation, so we needed to check the dictionary. You know that Mr. Wang recognizes quite a few Chinese characters.”
Who said I couldn’t lie.
His tone suddenly stiffened and slightly rose, “Are you sure you were giving him a dictionary and not smashing a dictionary on him?”
“What? I smashed it on him? Me? How could I dare do that?”
I said this with a bit of a guilty conscience. I really didn’t remember everything I had done in my fit of rage. I only remember throwing the dictionary on his body, turning around and leaving. After thinking about this, I started cold sweating in my palms. That dictionary was pretty thick and was probably around 1.5kg. If it was thrown carelessly, it could be like throwing a brick.
I immediately lowered my voice, “No, I didn’t…smash it on him.”
“You’re still saying you didn’t smash it on him. It hurt him so much that he couldn’t even stand for quite awhile! That dictionary even had your name on it. Aren’t you Xie Xiao Qiu?”
I became even more depressed by what he said. That dictionary was given to me by Li Chuan in N year. That time, we were browsing Xinhua Bookstore. When I saw the dictionary, I thought it was too expensive. I held it in my hands and thought about it for a long time, unable to bring myself to purchase it. It was Li Chuan who paid for it. Thus, on the title page, I wrote the three words, “From Li Chuan.” After Li Chuan left, I still used the dictionary. When I saw Li Chuan’s name, I would get angry, so I used a black permanent marker and crossed out his name. It was thick and black, basically covering up the words completely. I reckon Su Qun couldn’t make it out.
I cautiously asked, “Then is…he hurt?”
“Hurt? He still hasn’t recovered from his waist injury from skiing last month. Today, he had to go to the construction site, but now it has to be canceled. He also didn’t go to the meeting this morning. I went to see him just now and he was still lying in bed.”
“Then, what’s going to be done? Why don’t you quickly send him to the hospital?”
“Mr. Wang hates the hospital. No one dares to mention the word hospital to him!”
That was correct. He was always that way.
“Do you not want this job anymore?” He asked calmly.
“…No.” 6000 yuan a month and generous year-end bonuses. Have me resign and go cold and hungry? I wasn’t afraid of losing my job, but the bad reputation of “violently attacking her boss” would follow me. Who would dare hire me if it followed me?
“Then go apologize to him.”
I thought about it and said a bit listlessly, “No.”
He stood up and said, “I’ll go find Director Zhang.” Director Zhang was in charge of personnels.
“Wait,” I stopped him, “I’ll go.”
I slowly arrived at Li Chuan’s door. After I had knocked for a long time, a voice came from inside, “Come in, the door isn’t looked.”
I opened the door and entered, passing through the living room and the office to arrive at the door of his bedroom. The door wasn’t closed, but I still knocked on the door.
“I am Annie.”
“I temporarily can’t get out of bed. If you don’t mind, please come in to speak. If you do mind, you can stay outside and speak.” His voice was very low, I couldn’t tell what was wrong with him.
I’m finished. He was pretty injured. I was dumbstruck. In the past, when I walked on the streets with Li Chuan, I would always block the crowd for him. If anyone bumped into him, I would quarrel with that person. Now I actually smashed at him with a brick. I have really progressed, “I don’t mind. Then I’ll come in.”
He really was covered under the blankets, sitting half up in bed with several rolled up designs beside him. There was a short table in the center where he placed his laptop. There were two frames sticking out from each side of the bed where two 30 inch apple monitors were mounted. On there were brightly colored design pictures from various points of view. There were different points, profile view, 3D view and bird’s-eye view.
His complexion was somewhat pale. His eyebrows were wrinkled and lips were in a stiff straight line. He wore a black striped collared shirt. The collar was ironed stiffly. The outline of his face was also stiff.
He looked at me, clearly not expecting me, “What is it?”
I said stiffly without lowering my voice , “Please return the material from yesterday to me. You are very busy, I am the translator. I should do the translations.”
His gaze returned to the screen and his hands flew at lightning speed across the tablet, drawing designs, “There’s no need. I can look it up myself.”
After a moment, he pressed a button and I heard the projector in the office next door start humming. He pushed away the screens by his bedside, looked at me and said, “Is there something else?”
I thought about it and said, “If you have time right now, I want to finish last night’s translations. I don’t want to waste your time.” This sounded like I was begging him. My face couldn’t help but turn red.
“I don’t have time right now.” He said coldly.
“Then please let Mr. Su know that it’s you who doesn’t have time, not that I don’t want to work.”
“Su Qun?” He wrinkled his brows, “What did he say to you?”
I didn’t say anything. I was definitely not going to complain.
We stood in confrontation.
After awhile, he said, “Besides a dictionary, do you not have an electronic translating software? Looking things up like this is too inconvenient.”
When I heard this, I froze. I thought that he was acting out of rashness earlier, but it looks like he was really going to translate it himself. He could only recognized 950 Chinese characters, and I bet he’s forgotten at least half in the past six years. Whether he could read “Reader’s Digest” was already a question.
“Yes! I have the newest edition Jin Shan Ci Ba.”
“Give me a copy.”
The usb was on my key chain. I handed it to him and watched him put it into the usb port.
“The name of the file is JSCB, in my software folder.”
I saw his mouse move a bit and then he handed the usb back to me, “I don’t have time to find the file right now. I’ll copy the entire usb for now and will slowly search for it at night.”
This made me frantic.
I wasn’t worried about any of the files except that the usb had the original copy of “Li Chuan’s Past.” I couldn’t tell him and definitely couldn’t express my worry. Otherwise, he would insist on looking out of curiosity. With Jin Shan Ci, I wasn’t worried that he wouldn’t understand it.
“Okay.” I bided my time, praying inwardly that he would never discover my secret.
He appeared as if he was waiting for me to leave. But I didn’t leave.
“Is there something else?”
“Yes! Since you want to translate this material yourself, may I ask what I should do?”
He thought about it and said, “You can rest.”
My mouth dropped, “Me? Rest?”
“Mhm, you rest.”
“Will I still be paid?”
“Still be paid.”
“Then I’ll go buy a ticket back to Beijing.”
I stared at him, “Didn’t you tell me to go rest?”
“You can rest here, and be on call at all times. If I need to see anyone, you have to come and be the interpreter.”
“Then alright,” my heart softened looking at his solitary figure, “I don’t have anything to do anyway. Tonight, I’ll start translating ‘Yongjia Records.’ I’ll finish it the night after tomorrow and give it to you.”
“I can also look at ‘Yongjia Records’ myself. I have Jin Shan Ci Ba.”
I sarcastically said, “‘Yongjia Records’ is classical Chinese. Classical Chinese from the years of the Qing emperor. Can you understand it?”
Actually, I also didn’t know the differences between classical Chinese of the Qing Emperor verus the classical Chinese of Qianlong Emperor’s reign (6th Qing emperor.) I was just trying to bluff at him.
He supported himself with his hands, got up from the bed, and said, “Looks like the classical Chinese from the Qing Emperor’s reign is a piece of cake to you. Since that’s the case, then can you do it more quickly? Deliver the translated draft to me before three in the afternoon tomorrow. If it’s at night, don’t blame me for complaining to Director Wang.”
After saying this, he lifted the blankets and looked for his slipper on the carpet using his single, slender leg. Then, he bent over to get crutches from the carpet. I looked at him and suddenly remember a certain night of N year. The sight of him getting milk from the fridge burst forward, making my heart ache.
I rushed to pick up the crutches first and handed it to him.
He stood up. He was wearing a pair of black yoga pants. I could see that he was moving somewhat slowly as if he was clenching his teeth in suffering. He walked me to the door and opened the door for me. He lowered his head while I raised my head, my forehead just hitting his chin. I quickly dodged to the side.
He said, “Off you go.”
I was just about to go when I remembered something, “That’s right, where’s my dictionary? Return my dictionary to me.”
He walked into the room, found the Yuan Dong dictionary, and placed it into my hands. If it was said that he was polite when opening the door for me, then when he placed the dictionary into my hands, he was clearly not being polite.
There was an ivory bookmark in first page of the dictionary. My dad had given it to me. It was now gone.
I glared and was just about to speak angrily when he said, “It’s in the back. I searched for a few words last night.”
“What is in the back?”
I wasn’t angry because of this, “Where’s the first page? Why isn’t it there?”
“I threw it away.”
“Why do you think?”
I turned and left.
The “Yongjia Records” wasn’t that thick. That, along with my two months of training from Jiu Tong, the culture and geology that Li Chuan wanted to see was more or less finished by 10 the next morning after I smoked, drank tea, drank coffee, and pulled an all nighter. The words were not quite aesthetic but it was definitely correct. I spent another three hours polishing and then seeing Li Chuan’s profile online on CGP’s MSN, I sent the word document to him through MSN.
After a while, he replied, “(English) Thanks. Could I also have a hard copy?”
I typed in English, “(English) Don’t you have a printer in your office?”
There was no reply. He ignored me.
After half an hour, the phone by my bedside rang.
“Annie, come over here!”
I quickly shuffled to his room. He wasn’t on the bed this time. Instead, he sat in his wheelchair holding my manuscript. He indicated for me to sit and I could only sit on the white couch again. The red spot from the other day was still there, clearly sitting there.
“Who is Xie Ling Yun?”
“A poet of the Eastern Jin dynasty.”
“Eastern Jin dynasty?” To a Chinese person, this phrase shouldn’t be unfamiliar with it.
“Do you know about Tao Yuan Ming?”
“I’m not too familiar with him.”
“Xie Ling Yun and Tao Yuan Ming are the creators of Chinese landscape poetry.”
“I’m asking about Xie Ling Yun, why are you mentioning Tao Yuan Ming?”
“They are both Eastern Jin dynasty people.”
“When was the Eastern Jin dynasty?”
I was speechless and depressed! Wang Li Chuan, I really overestimated your Chinese level!
I spent fifteen minutes explaining the history of Eastern Jin dynasty to him.
“Do you understand now?”
“Yes.” He said honestly, “So that means, Xie Ling Yun stayed in Wenzhou — that is, the Yongjia of that time.”
“He was the governor of Yongjia.”
“Is this phrase, ‘(English) Pond and pool grows with grasses of spring; Garden willows very the birds that there sing,’ a famous saying of his?”
“Mhm, the Chinese reads ‘’池塘生春草，园柳变鸣禽’.” [Note: Just go with the author’s translation? :/]
“I don’t think there’s anything great about it.” He said, “Otherwise, you didn’t translate it well. Tell me what is so good about the phrase?”
“Xie Ling Yun wasn’t happy to be demoted to Yongjia and was bedridden for a whole winter. One day, he opened his windows and saw the pool outside his window. It had drown over with spring grass and the willows in the yard were germinating. The chirping of the birds were also different. As a result, his discouragement through the entire winter was swept out.”
I saw that he didn’t really understand so I also explained it to him using English.
“Do you understand now?”
“I understand the meaning, but I still don’t know what’s so good about this phrase.”
“What’s good about this phrase is that it uses inversion.” I was scolding myself. I shouldn’t have translated so many Xie Ling Yun’s poems. Xie Ling Yun was a famous cultural person of Wenzhou. All local records will mention him, his poems. But I didn’t have to translate so many. If Li Chuan asked me about every poem like this, I would be finished. Now, I could only stump him with ancient grammar.”
“What is inversion?”
“(English) Dislocation. The original grammar of this phrase was ‘池塘春草生，园柳鸣禽变.’ The predicate because the subject. This is called inversion. The main purpose of inversion in Tang poety is to isolate the meaning from the grammar to rush at you visually.”
“Mmm, rush at you visually. I like this phrase.”
It seems as if he was going to continue asking. If he continued to ask, I would be finished. I quickly stopped him, “What does this have to do with your architecture?”
“I can’t hear about it even if it doesn’t matter? I just want to get some more knowledge.”
I shut up.
“Xie Ling Yun’s surname is Xie. Your surname is also Xie. Are you related to Xie Ling Yun?”
“There’s no relation.” I wasn’t too angry, “My dad said that our Xie family was supporter of the Chen Jin Xie clan, of the same sect as Xie Ling Yun.”
“My grandfather says our Wang clan name is from Lang Ya. It is also an ancient clan.”
“That’s why a Tang poem says, ‘In the olden days, the Wang and Xie clans became swallows, flying into the homes of the common people.’ It refers to our two household. Our ancestors both lived outside of Jinling, by the Vermilion Bird bridge, on the Wu Yi lane. They knew each other. It’s the current Nanjing. Understand?”
He sincerely nodded, “Understood.”
After a while, he said again, “Annie, I find that your knowledge has become deeper. I had never heard of many of the words you said the night before last. For example, what is (English) Actinidia Chinensis?”
“Mi Hou Tao (Kiwi fruit/Chinese gooseberry).”
“If you had said, (English) kiwifruit, then I might have understood it faster.”
“(English) Kiwi means a New Zealander. Yet, Chinese gooseberry is from China. It’s been here for the past tens of thousands of years. It’s indigenous. Even the Tang poem says ‘the walls of the courtyard well, is covered with Chinese gooseberry.’ It wasn’t until 1904 that New Zealand missionaries started exporting them. You can call them whatever you want, but I won’t call it (English) kiwi.”
“Mmm, I admire that. I didn’t know that you loved your country so much, even down to its fruit.”
I don’t know who to feel sorry for. Li Chuan or Xiao Qiu. I’m glad they are finally interacting again, but not sure whether it’s a good thing or not. What I did like about this chapter is that you can still see the spunk in Xiao Qiu, she’s still got that headstrong personality despite having changed so much after Li Chuan left.