Translator: Polarbearadise & Kaylarala
Less than twenty minutes later the car arrived at the downstairs of Xiao Yi’s house, the two brothers carried one man’s big suitcase as they ran as fast as flying to the sixth floor, this neighborhood was newly built, the vicinity was very clean and the occupancy rate was very low, Luzhou glanced at their house as he got off and said: “Your house is not bad. ”
“It was bought a few years ago.” Xiao Yi said, “The plan was that after I graduated,
it would be my marriage house, now my parents and my brother live here, it’s under my brother’s name.”
(T/N: Marriage house = the house that newly-wed couple bought after they got married)
Luzhou nodded, Xiao Yi said: “Brother Zhou, stay at my house tonight, everything has been cleaned up, we’ll change to a hotel tomorrow … …”
“No,” Lu Zhou said, “We’ll go back on the third day of the lunar month.”
Xiao Yi breathed a sigh of relief, though Luzhou acted tyrannically at home, fortunately, when leaving the house he wasn’t difficult to serve. As they entered the house Xiao ba and Xiao ma were enthusiastic to death, they ran out to welcome them, the first thing into the Xiao family was Luzhou’s LV bag, although Xiao ba didn’t come into contact with luxury goods, he also knew that this thing seemed a bit expensive.
(T/N: Xiao ba and Xiao ma = Xiao Yi’s father and mother)
“Aiya – finally, we waited for you -” Xiao ba and Xiao ma thought they could see their daughter-in-law, then Luzhou appeared, the two of them were at once dumbfounded, their daughter-in-law was actually a man.
Xiao ba: “……”
Xiao ma: “……”
“This is brother Zhou.” Xiao Yi said: “Brother Zhou, this is my dad and mom.”
“Hello uncle, hello auntie.” Luzhou with a head full of black lines shook hands with Xiao ba and Xiao ma, Xiao ba was the first one to regain his composure, he laughed: “Quick quick, please sit, you must be tired coming all the way here.”
It was perfectly safe after they arrived at home, Xiao Yi thought to himself ‘No matter how bad Luzhou’s temper is, when coming to my house he will calm down in several days, but is it possible that you want to scold me in front of my father and mother ah!’
Sure enough, Luzhou hadn’t scolded him, on the contrary, as a guest at Xiao Yi’s house he was still very polite.
Xiao ba was an elementary school guidance director who was soon to be retired, Xiao Ma used to do manual work in a knitwear factory in Jingshan but she quitted early, every day she would often talk about the matter of marriage to her two sons, although the elders couldn’t meet the daughter-in-law and were a little disappointed, but they immediately adjusted themselves and still treated Luzhou very cordially.
On one side Xiao Yi was moving Luzhou’s things into the room while on the other he was introducing Luzhou as his new boss, he told them that he had been taking care of him, Xiao ba repeatedly thanked Luzhou and said that his son was not sensible, aiya he should worry more about his son.
“Just call me Xiao Lu.” Luzhou laughed.
(T/N: Xiao = little)
“Get something to eat,” said Xiao ma, “I thought you guys were coming back in the afternoon…… it’s the chunyun period the road are like a Shangdu wall, come come come, Xiao Lu, eat something first to fill your stomach and I’ll go heat the soup.”
(T/N: Chunyun period = The Spring Festival travel season, a period in China when people returned home during Chinese New Year, there will be extremely high traffic and crowded with people)
Xiao ma turned on the pressure cooker to heat up the soup, Luzhou said to Xiao Yi: “You are busy, you don’t have to care about me, yes, thanks auntie.”
Xiao Yi finally finished arranging everything for Luzhou, after the brief liveliness the family returned to normal, Xiao ba asked: “How is Duma? Last time, he called home and asked for your contact information.”
Xiao Yi recalled, it should be a year ago, when they wanted to hold a student reunion, Duma had called him, he said: “He is now taking over his father’s company as he does private short-term lending, and always driving a Lexus.”
Xiao ba made a slightly criticizing look at Xiao Yi, Xiao Yi just laughed mischievously and sat down at the table, Luzhou was drinking soup, Xiao Yi said: “Mom! Is there any soup left?”
Xiao ma also scooped up a bowl of soup for him, Xiao Yi scooped up many lotus roots for Luzhou, he said: “Brother Zhou, you should try these winter lotus roots, you won’t be able to eat it in the whole nation.”
“I know.” Luzhou said: “I used to often eat it when I lived in Wuhan, I rarely eat it after I moved to Beijing.”
Only the lotus roots in Hubei that were boiled in pork ribs soup would have a unique color and fragrance, the lotus roots could be pulled out into threads, Xiao Yi ravenously drank the taste of home, feeling that nothing was more comfortable than this.
After eating supper Xiao Yi went to turn on the water heater, then he went to get Luzhou’s clothes, he was hurrying back and forth, Luzhou said: “I’ll do it myself.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Xiao Yi said, “Tonight we’ll sleep in this room.”
Xiao Yi’s house was a two-bedroom but it was more than ninety square foot, very spacious, he knew the habit of Luzhou so he had told his parents in advance to clean up the room and move out all the unnecessary things, the computer was moved to the corner of the living room for his brother to go online, the quilts were all replaced by new ones, there was no heating in central China, when winter came, it would be wet and cold so they had to turn on a heater to warm themselves.
Because they hadn’t lived in this brand new house for long, the windows were very clean, the outside was slowly turning into a nightscape, the bed was very large, the furniture was also very new, and the living conditions would not be too different from the hotels. Xiao Yi put down a glass of water on the bedside cabinets, he connected all the electronic products with the house’s Wi-Fi, only then would he go take a bath.
Luzhou stood in front of the french window and looked out at the balcony, the lights were bright, hearing the cuckoos from the balcony, Luzhou was startled, he discovered that they had two chickens that they raised outside.
“A student’s parents sent them.” Xiao Yi came in after taking a bath and said, “It’s a little cold, let’s move them to the kitchen and eat them in celebration of the New Year.” Xiao Yi moved the two chickens’ cage into the kitchen.
“How much is this house per square?” Luzhou asked.
“It was bought several years ago.” Xiao Yi wiped his hair while saying,”It was only 3,000 yuan, now it rose up to more than 5,000 yuan.”
Luzhou: “Not bad, the atmosphere is also very good.”
Xiao Yi made his bed on the floor, and said, “The per-capita wage is also low, my brother works in logistics at the supermarket, more than 2,000 yuan a month, yet he’s still searching for a job through a trusted relation.”
Luzhou said, “You have a home to return to, why don’t you come back?”
“Yeah.” Xiao Yi said, “I can’t stay in the county if I come back, I majored in the music department, how can I find any work when coming back here? Or I’ll have to go to Wuhan to buy a house that costs 10,000 yuan per square foot, which I can’t afford.”
(T/N: Wuhan = Subprovincial city and capital of Hubei province)
“You can play the erhu?!” Luzhou seemed to have discovered a new world, he picked up Xiao Yi’s erhu that was hidden at the bottom of the bookshelf.
(T/N: Erhu = 2 strings bowed musical instrument)
“I learned it when I was a child.” Xiao Yi said, “I even participated in a ranked examination, I played it from third grade in elementary school all the way to my second year in junior high, I played it for several years and this became my motivation to learn music, shall I play a song for you?”
Xiao Yi opened the erhu case, it had been so long since he last played it, Luzhou looked at him suspiciously, he didn’t seem to believe that he could really play it, Xiao Yi tuned it and wiped the strings for half a day, Luzhou said, “Forget it, forget it, put it away, there is dust everywhere.”
Xiao Yi pressed the strings and thought for a moment, then he played the song Two Springs On the Moon, Luzhou said, “Be merciful and stop, it’s New Year, don’t play this kind of song.”
Xiao Yi smiled in embarrassment as he put away the erhu, he said: “The erhu was handed down from my grandfather, this is a family heirloom, my dad didn’t learn to play it, therefore I went to school to learn it, though I couldn’t develop it into a profession.”
Luzhou said, “What about that one? Take it down so I can take a look?”
Luzhou referred to the picture frame on the bookshelf, Xiao Yi immediately became flustered and wanted to put the picture frame away, Luzhou’s complexion changed so Xiao Yi had to obediently take it out and to show it to him.
It was a picture of Xiao Yi and a very popular draft singer, both standing close together as they smiled and held up a V sign.
(T/N:選秀歌手 = draft singer = People in talent show/contest. Through the contest/show, the players from no one knows to be known, they began to gradually have fans, began to enter the entertainment industry, began to embark on their own dream music road)
Luzhou was surprised and said, “You know him?”
Xiao Yi said, “We were in the same batch……”
Luzhou looked up and down at Xiao Yi as he was feeling something he couldn’t identify, Xiao Yi honestly confessed and said, “At that time we participated in the pre-selection for the best male student competition, we took this photo then.”
“You didn’t make it to the nationals?” Luzhou said.
“I needed five hundred thousand yuan for sponsorship fees.” Xiao Yi said, “I couldn’t fish it out, so I was immediately eliminated from the the regional selections.”
Luzhou scoffed and said, “President Du always wanted to sign a contract with him, this child was popular for a few years, then he offended the company manager and now he’s climbing further and further down.”
Xiao Yi made an interjection sound and put the picture frame back facing it against the wall. Luzhou looked at Xiao Yi’s appearance and got angry, he lectured, “What are you doing with the picture? Jealous?”
Xiao Yi: “……”
Without any better option Xiao Yi turned the photo over, Luzhou said again, “Not willing to accept defeat, you’re a loser.”
“I’m a loser.” Xiao Yi said helplessly.
Luzhou looked curiously at Xiao Yi’s photo on the bookshelf, it was a photo of Xiao Yi with a guitar standing in the center of a stage, the colorful stage lights illuminated him and he looked high spirited, just like any star on stage.
Below there were all sort of pictures where he posed with popular stars from the time when he still worked at Sina.
“When I was a child my mother lived in Wuhan for twelve years.” Luzhou said, “I attended elementary school in Hankou.”
“Uhm.” Xiao Yi said.
Luzhou said, “You come up here and sleep.”
Xiao Yi hurriedly said, “No, no, I’ll sleep on the floor.”
Luzhou said: “It’s fine, the bed is big, let’s sleep together, the floor is too cold and it won’t be good if your parents see you sleeping on the floor, you may be a loser but you’re also your parents’ treasure, right?”
Xiao Yi then had to climb up and lie down, he folded the quilt into two layers, Luzhou conveniently flipped over Xiao Qiang’s game magazine while he said: “My mother made me take the entrance exam for a sports college as sports colleges would give subsidies, but your brother Zhou didn’t want to and wanted to act instead.”
“Acting majors are expensive, you know.” Lu Zhou said to Xiao Yi: “At that time one year cost more than forty thousand yuan and it was one hundred and sixty thousand for four years, that wasn’t a small amount of money. My father was a hoodlum and my mother wouldn’t allow me to go, I was determined to become an actor so I took on jobs, a part-time job as a model, running around doing miscellaneous work in the studios, cutting film, lying on the ground to push a camera, you know.”
“I know.” Xiao Yi: “I know.”
“Good good talk, I’ll let you talk!” Luzhou shouted angrily and threw the magazine away, he said: “I’m not talking!”
“I’ll talk, I’ll talk, I’ll talk……” Xiao Yi wailed in anguish like a horse and turned around to hug Luzhou, Luzhou’s face turned red at once, he acted in confusion and tried to push Xiao Yi away, as he kicked him aside, he also said: “If I didn’t persevere in those years, how could there be the me right now?”
“I read your interview.” Xiao Yi said: “There were many movies and magazines that had special reports of your interview, brother Zhou, you were very inspirational.”
“To be a singer in Beijing, even if they don’t get 10,000 yuan, they still at least get 8,000 yuan.” Luzhou said: “Do you know how President Du and her people choose which actors to sign contracts with? Not only do they have to see if you can become popular, it also depends on whether you can develop afterward, out of ten thousand people only around ten people are able to succeed, as for the remaining, even if they don’t splash water in Huadu river, they won’t be able to submerge. Can you even say that these people don’t work hard? Any one of them are working hard.”
“Are you saying that these people have no talent?” Luzhou said thoughtlessly, “You’re just wrong, many people are more talented than those in their early days, like you, you are very talented. But who is to blame for the lack of popularity?”
Xiao Yi: “……”
Xiao Yi thought, ‘are you encouraging me or are you laughing at me? To encourage is also not right, I already signed a three-year contract selling myself to you, even if I want to go back to become a singer, I can’t run away’
“So this is life.” Xiao Yi emotionally said.
“It’s a matter of chance!” Luzhou angrily said: “Be patient! Wait for an opportunity! Seize the opportunity! Have your IQ been in a state of decay for a long time? Why can’t you understand what I’m saying? I’m about to die from an excess of anger because of you……”
Xiao Yi was at a loss, he thought for a moment and said, “Ok.”
Luzhou said: “Work as my assistant earnestly, someday, when given the opportunity, a TV show theme song or a movie theme song, you follow me and go try it out, if you grasp the opportunity and compose the lyrics, won’t you then be popular?!”
“Can I really?” Xiao Yi’s whole body shuddered as he stood up.
Luzhou issued an ambiguous nasal sound, Xiao Yi immediately shouted loudly as he rushed over to hug Luzhou and said: “Can I?! Brother Zhou, you have to promise me! My whole life’s dream is to sing a theme song for you ah ah ah ah——”
Luzhou was prepared this time, the moment when he finished, he immediately raised a leg, the moment Xiao Yi was about to rush up to hug him, Luzhou decidedly kicked Xiao Yi out of the bed.
The next day, Xiao Yi was awakened by the sound of firecrackers outside, the New Year Celebrations in Jingshan had started, the farther away you were from the city and county, the stronger was the flavor of New Year, many people who worked far away had returned to Wuhan, it was really heated and lively, from outside the window carried a faint smell of nitrate.
Xiao Yi looked up with drowsy eyes and saw Luzhou sitting at the dining table chatting with his mom, Xiao ma always rambled on about her worries toward her son’s marriage, Luzhou was sincerely listening and from time to time he would give some small advices, Xiao ma seemed to consider Luzhou as Xiao Yi’s big brother, she repeatedly asked Luzhou to take care of him and not to spoil him too much.
Xiao Yi on one side brushing his teeth while on the other vaguely said: “Mom!”
“Your mother is right.” Lu Zhou pointed at Xiao Yi and said: “He just doesn’t grow up. Did you hear what auntie said? Sometimes I wonder how he survived in Beijing.”
“Ah, yes.” Xiao ma said helplessly.
Xiao Yi brushed his teeth as he thought to himself that the roles of host and guest had been inverted, why had it now turned into Luzhou and his mother scolding him together……these days……
“Xiao Lu!” Xiao dad called, he was currently reading the newspaper in the living room: “What kind of business are you doing now?”
Luzhou said: “I’m in the entertainment industry.”
Yesterday night was busy and Xiao Yi had introduced Luzhou as “my boss”, Xiao ba had not noticed that this guy was actually unexpectedly popular among thousands of boys and girls plus aunties and uncles, Xiao ba conveniently picked up the remote control and changed between a few channels, he said: “I have a student who also opened a company in Beijing, he makes a lot of money and is very great, just like you, the funds are very strong and solid. The news broadcast said … …”
Xiao Yi: “Dad, you can’t believe something on the news broadcast.”
“Why can I not believe it?” Xiao ba changed the topic of discussion and said:” I think the house prices in Beijing are not as high as you said, the country is on regulation and taking everything into account, 1 square costs 10,000 yuan at most! How can it be 18,000, you’re just exaggerating!”
Xiao Yi: “……”
Xiao ba: “The news broadcast says that the low-rent housing is only 400 yuan a month, you can apply for a Government low-rent housing instead of spending your money recklessly……”
Xiao Yi: “……”
Lu Zhou: “……”
“Beijing is the political and cultural center of the country.” Luzhou diverged the topic and said: “Finding a job up North, if develops well, it’s very good.”
Xiao Yi’s dad looked down from his presbyopic glasses, he glanced at Luzhou from the distance, he smiled and said: “I recently watched an anti-war film, you look like the actor.”
Luzhou chuckled, Xiao Yi’s mother remembered and said: “Wang Guoyi! You look like Wang Guoyi!”
Lu Zhou: “……”
Xiao Yi: “……”
Wang Guoyi was the name of the role played by Luzhou, Xiao Yi almost spit out the porridge in Luzhou’s face, he tried not to laugh and continued eating the porridge with side dishes, Du Mei had warned him not to disclose that he was Luzhou’s assistant so Xiao Yi didn’t dare to say anything.
However, if Luzhou said it himself, then it wouldn’t be related to Xiao Yi, Luzhou’s eyes were simply bright and piercing, in this kind of situation he was still able to handle it, he said: “These year’s anti-war films were a lot more than the previous years.”
“Yes, yes.” Xiao ma said: “His father and I really love watching TV series with the Republic of China as the setting.”
(T/N: China during the period of 1912- 1949
Ex. The cage of love, Battle of Changsha, Lady and the Liar, The Cruel Romance, etc.)
“Xiao Lu ah.” Xiao ba said earnestly.
Xiao Yi immediately had a kind of ominous premonition.
Luzhou with a smile looked toward Xiao ba.
Xiao ba asked, “Xiao Lu, have you gotten married?”
“Uh, I haven’t,” Luzhou said, “I just broke up with my girlfriend some time ago.”
Xiao ba said: “Xiao Yi’s cousin works at a city post office, she has just come back for the New Year……”
“Dad! That’s enough!” Xiao Yi was simply like being struck by the God of thunder and thrown outside of the window, he tearfully said: “Don’t say anymore!”
Luzhou laughed, Xiao ba said: “What, Xiao Yi, what’s the matter? Your little sister and Xiao Lu are well-matched——”
Luzhou waved his hand and said: “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, I currently don’t plan to get married.”
After dinner, Xiao Yi and his mother gathered together to count the money, Xiao Yi held a stack of pink money, the thickness was around twenty thousand yuan, Xiao ma exerted all her strength to push the money back saying that “your father and I have a retirement pension” and that they didn’t need that much money. Xiao Yi noticed that they had been pushing back and forth, and if they continued in this way, they would get into a quarrel so he said: “In Beijing, I live and eat with brother Zhou, the company also has reimbursed me, I don’t use much money.”
“Then I’ll keep it for you.” Xiao ma said.
“You hold on to it and spend it.” Xiao Yi said: “Use it for your living expenses, eat more on regular days and order more dishes from the restaurant for this year’s family reunion dinner.”
Xiao ma said that “it’s your hard-earned money, how can we dare to spend it” but her expression was radiant with joyful, she sat in front of the table as she counted the money.
Luzhou said: “Xiao Yi.”
Xiao Yi knew what he wanted to say so he immediately said: “No, brother Zhou.”
He said to his parents: “The salary was given to me by brother Zhou, and my brother Zhou also gave me an end of the year bonus.”
Luzhou said: “You must.”
Xiao Yi: “No, ai, brother Zhou, stay out of this, I’ll go prepare the clothes, we’ll go out……”
Luzhou said: “I’ll do it myself, you’re busy.”
Luzhou then walked into the room, Xiao ma said after a moment: “Xiao Yi, your brother has a girlfriend and want to buy a new car … …”
“Oh,” Xiao Yi said: “How much money does it cost?”
“He said two hundred thousand yuan, your dad and I said that it’s too expensive.”
“The car is two hundred thousand!” Xiao ba said: “Only a boss could drive it! I told him that the mortgage hasn’t been fully paid off yet, he doesn’t need to buy it, don’t tell me if you ride a Santana you can’t get married? On the street, there are many people who don’t even own a car.”
Xiao Yi knew that his parents were being a little biased toward his younger brother, after all, his younger brother didn’t go to Wuhan and instead stayed in the county to take care of his parents, if he could afford it, he would have helped him, but the problem was that he didn’t have much money.
“Buy one around a hundred thousand yuan.” Xiao Yi said: “If you buy an expensive car, he can‘t afford to keep it.”
Xiao ma thought about it and said, “I tried to tell him not to buy it, the mortgage hasn’t even been paid off yet.”
Xiao Yi said: “It’s okay if he likes it, let him buy it, in Beijing even if one has a car they can’t even drive it, they still have to buy the lottery, at home he can drive immediately and that’s very good..”
(T/N: 搖號 (Yaohao) = a lottery system created by the government to limited amount of car and prevent serious traffic)
After Xiao ma counted the money, she took off her glasses and sighed, Xiao Yi took the car keys, and said: “I’m going out with brother Zhou, we won’t be back to eat lunch.”
Xiao Qiang just got up at this time, yesterday he was playing games all night until early morning before he went into his parents’ room to sleep. Wearing long underpants and a sweater, he walked out of the room and saw Luzhou, when he turned to go brush his teeth, he suddenly made an ‘O’, in a flash he was frightened and with a doubtful look he came over and stared at Luzhou.
“You…… Aren’t you Luzhou? “Xiao Qiang seemed to have discovered a new world.
Xiao Yi thought ‘my work is going to be ruined in the hands of my family’. Luzhou smiled and said: “Uhm, I’m Luzhou, shh…… ”
Xiao Qiang shouted “Wow!” and got up, he was excited and wanted to explain to his parents but Xiao Yi immediately roared: “Don’t go and don’t say it! You’re dead if you say it!”
“Don’t tell anyone.” Xiao Yi said.
Xiao Qiang was already in a state of extreme shock, Xiao Yi repeatedly stressed that he couldn’t tell anyone but Xiao Qiang was just cock-a-doodle-doo, his facial expression showed that he completely didn’t listen, Xiao Yi had to use his car to threaten him, he said: “If you dare to speak about this, your car will be gone. ”
Xiao Qiang at once said: “I will absolutely not say anything! Even if I die I absolutely won’t say! ”
Xiao Yi knew that the car was the most effective threat, he proceeded to dress Luzhou and put a woolen cap on him conveniently putting an earplug on for him, then trousers, a sports jacket, and sneakers, they then went out.