2. The first step towards destruction
Poisoned by a sugarcoated bullet, the starting point of me trying to correct Cheng Yong Kang wasn’t really for anything good. A bad person wanting to do good things would make someone die laughing. However, there’s that so called saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure; things that are evil for Cheng Yong Kong, can be good for others. From this I attracted an annoyance that will lead me down the wrong path for the rest of my life.
One Sunday, I went to find classmates to play. When I passed by Lantern Lane, I happened to see Cheng Yong Kang bullying his older sister. Of course I didn’t hesitate and went up to pull him away from his sister using one hand. And then kicked him in the butt. Cheng Yong Kang started howling at once.
It was a major miscalculation. I had forgotten that the place was his front door. Very quickly, his crying attracted that old mother hen. Cheng Yong Kang was easy to deal with, but that old mother hen in his family was someone I could not deal with at the time.
There’s that saying, “Your head may be cut off, you blood may flow, but your honor must be kept.” Even though my power fell short, I still resolved to confront the old mother hen. The scene was very chaotic that day. We started by hurling insults at each other and then hitting each other, neither side won in the end.
The final outcome of the event was that I ended up with an additional younger sister. It was because when the old mother hen and I were fighting and throwing insults at each other, without thinking much about it, I, very heroically, made an exaggerated announcement — saying that I was going to take that girl home to raise. That shameless old mother hen, simply, very despicably grabbed onto that opening and didn’t let go — determined to have me bring that girl back home. And for the sake of that damned so-called honor of men, with a bloody nose and swollen face, I brought that woman’s child back home.
When I got back home, my miserable appearance drew out Grandma and Mom’s fluster for their “darling treasure” at once. While Dad, as usual, wrinkled his brows and asked, “Who did you provoke this time?”
I gripped the girl hiding behind me and pushed her in front of everyone, “I want you guys to adopt her!” And then I narrated what had just happened in full detail to them.
Grandma and Mom reacted as expected; while they stood on my side, they harbored misgivings about adopting that girl. Instead, it was Dad who, for the first time ever, didn’t scold me. He relaxed his brows and praised me, “Good child, you did well. A man keeps his word. Our family will adopt him. Dad will go complete the paperwork tomorrow.”
Grandma and Mom wanted to raise their objection, but Dad waved them aside, “In the past, when you shouldn’t have gone along with him, you were always blind. Finally, the child shows signs of benevolence. You are not allowed throttle it. Besides, what is the big deal about raising another child. It’s just a drop in the bucket. It’s not like our family can’t afford to raise her. It’s been decided.”
Like this, under Dad’s insistence, that girl came to live at our house. Soon after, Dad settled the adoption papers and I got a new younger sister.
When Mei Mei (younger sister) first came to my house, she was the splitting image of someone who had just come out of a refugee camp. Her hair was all dried up, tied up into a messy pigtail. A pair of huge eyes were on her little dried yellow face. Like ET, she always bore a bit a fear — cowering and not daring to look at people. Who knew how many years she had worn the clothes on her back, you couldn’t even tell what the original color was. It was a lump of gray, tightly stretched on her body. Half of her elbows and legs were exposed. She was all skin and bones with purple streaks on her. Mom said that they looked like marks from being beaten.
Mei Mei didn’t know much, just a tiny little thing will move her for half a day. Not needing her to do household chores, giving her a drumstick in her bowl, buying her new clothes, and other stuff will cause her to show a face of disbelief, a overwhelmed, humbling expression. Grandma said that she was definitely badly treated in that old home of hers.
I was very resentful to all of it. At that time, my level of understanding had gone up and I started to reflect on whether the “bad person” image actually suited me. Do I really want to become a bad person like that old mother hen in the future, being spurned by everyone who saw me? So much that I even look down on it? Should I continue on this road? I sunk into perplexity.
Ah, Chow ge (Chow Yun-fat)! You are the lighthouse in my life, show me the direction for me to advance!
In my perplexity, I watched a string of Hong Kong triad movies Chow ge starred in before discovering that my understanding of a “bad person” was too narrow minded before. Bad people were also divided into levels and types; the type that the old mother hen was one that couldn’t even go out in public. After eliminating the vulgar lower-class, the treacherous and deceitful, and others — the type that I felt were beneath me — I confirmed that I still wanted to become a bad person, but only a certain kind: wearing windbreakers and sunglasses, a gun in the back of the belt, a knife stuck in the boot; I wanted to have accurate marksmanship, be an expert at martial arts, have deadly knife throwing skills, and use poker cards as darts; I also wanted to value loyalty, have brothers, shield the young, be just in the face of evil, use violence to curb violence, avenge for debts of gratitude…
That’s right, just like that! A person isn’t afraid of erring, only afraid of erring till the end. I was very glad that I understood my own mistake at the age of 12 and promptly pinpointed my life direction — I wanted to become a triad boss.
By the time I had woken up from my perplexity, I discovered that Mei Mei had already smoothly sunk her roots into my family. Ever since she became comfortable in my home, she grew much prettier — no longer dried out like before. Her face became a bit rounder, white with a hint of pink. Her lips also increased in color. Her eyes were no longer large with misery, they sparkled like no other. Now, Mom loved to buy her new clothes, always saying that dressing her daughter up like a flower gave her a sense of accomplishment.
All the neighbors said that she will definitely become a great beauty when she grows up. Even that old mother hen showed regret when she saw how she looked now, grumbling that if she knew this, she wouldn’t have given her to my family; who knew if they could have used her to climb ladders in the future. When I heard about this, I rudely stopped up the sewer outside the walls of her courtyard.
The previously cowering manner of Mei Mei’s, also, gradually subsided. After a period of being overwhelmed by love, she could now be completely proud of being a part of the Li family. She was always full of smiles. When she came across people she would talk about how kind my grandma was, how wise my father was, how gentle my mother was, and how awesome my Ge Ge (older brother) was — as if she was extremely happy.
She was very obedient and had great judgement. She would bring tea, pour water, hand over slippers, and was very efficient about it. Grandma always said that she’s never seen a child more clever, thoughtful, and considerate than her; she really didn’t know where the brains of the Chen family went, willing to mistreat and part with such a good child.
Dad was also very proud of himself now because of his wise decision to adopt Mei Mei. Grandma and Mom who used to object to adopting her both started liking her, so much so that they liked her better than me. One time, I even heard Grandma say to Mom, “Before, I would always worry about Hao Ran and didn’t know how he would turn out in the future. Now that there is a younger sister, if Hao Ran fall into dire straits in the future, there will still be someone to look after him.”
I didn’t think that Grandma thought so lowly of me in her heart. I couldn’t take that lying down! The root of the problem was Mei Mei. Ever since she came along, my place in the family had steadily deteriorated.
Furious, I went to look for Mei Mei to settle things. I knocked once as a gesture and then I went in. She was earnestly studying at the time. When she saw me, she welcomed me over with all smiles and looked at me with worship and thankfulness, and asked sweetly, “Ge Ge, are you looking for me for something?” If she was a puppy, I am convinced that her tail would have been up and wagging to death.
It was like that every time. Ever since I fought with her previous adoptive mother and brought her home, she regarded me like her savior; never forgetting to express her gratefulness at all times. She was always docile and obedient towards me. Later on, there were a few times were other people bullied her. I stepped up to put a stop to it and, furthermore, put out the word that whoever made her life difficult was making my life difficult. What a joke. How can a triad boss’ younger sister be bullied by others? It had to do with a man’s honor.
It’s just that I didn’t expect her to reach of stage of blindly worshiping me due to that. If I said that a huge wind blew the well to the other side of the fence, just you watch, she would immediately go and move the well to this side of the fence.
As they say, you don’t hold out a hand to slap a smiling person. Plus, the plan I drew up to become a bad person didn’t include hitting a woman. Thus, it caused me to never be able to release my anger.
This time was no exception. I opened my mouth, but the attacks I had prepared would not come out. I could only make an angry posture and make a humph sound through my nose.
She tried to figure out what my expressing was, then fawned over me asking, “Ge Ge, I helped you mix a cup of Cola Cao. It’s being chilled in the fridge. Do you want to drink it now?”
I made an “uh-huh” sound in an arrogant manner and sat down on her chair. Eagerly, she went to get my drink. After awhile, she brought a cup over and handed it to me respectfully. After she watched me take a sip, she made a “waiting to be complimented for a good deed” expression.
She was really annoying. How could she figure out my tastes so well? The mixture wasn’t too concentrated or diluted. It suited me perfected. Even I couldn’t mix this taste myself. Now, I couldn’t continue my arrogant role. I loosened my face, nodded and said, “Mmm, tastes good!”
She immediately smiled with her entire face, a very happy look. *Sigh*, even though a bad person needs a few unwavering followers, it was really very unusual to be so worshiped by her. Thus, when I finished drinking, I stood up, and showed the affection of an older brother and stroked her head, “Take the cup and go wash it.”