When Shi Yan was in the hospital, his buddies had called his parents. His parents put down whatever work they had on hand — actually most of the units were also having a new year get-together in the afternoon of 31 December — and rushed to the hospital with anxious hearts. Honestly, the amount of blood that gushed from the wound might have seemed scary, but it only required a single st.i.tch. And this st.i.tch was only added under Shi Yan’s mother’s fervent requests, as she feared that his wound would not be able to recover properly during winter, plus Shi Yan would need to use his arm frequently for daily activities. The reason why there was so much blood was because there was a cut through the ball of the thumb – a muscle rich with blood vessels – but the wound was not deep enough to warrant st.i.tches. The physician cleaned Shi Yan’s palm thoroughly, ensured that there were no gla.s.s shard remnants then bandaged his wound.
As she waited for Shi Yan’s medicine, watched him get a teta.n.u.s shot and looked at her son’s bandaged hand, Mother Shi’s heart ached very badly. She started to ask how he got himself into this situation, and how he ended up with “so many injuries and scars”. His buddies told her that it was because he was messing around and tagged on, “How could He Nuo kick people while messing around.”
“He Nuo?” she noticed this name while listening for news from the guys, “Is he the one from before?”
“Hey, Shi Yan, that guy looked so frail and listless, but was actually waiting for you to lower your guard. Isn’t this his revenge for before?”
“Unlucky, and you even got kicked by him. What if we break his leg in return?”
Usually, normal parents wouldn’t take the words of children too seriously. But Shi Yan’s Mama’s education stopped when she was in grade two of elementary school, and was only able to fish a good husband because of the Cultural Revolution as he wanted to find someone of high social status to for protection. So she is an avid supporter of the struggle between cla.s.ses, and until today, her thinking was still stuck in the past and vastly different from a normal person’s mentality. The moment she heard that someone had taken revenge against her son, she immediately asked for more information to get to the bottom of the matter. Shi Yan and his buddies weren’t going to confess their smoking habits, so they just vaguely answered, “Shi Yan is his group leader, but he wasn’t happy when Shi Yan tried to manage him and didn’t follow Shi Yan’s distribution of duties.”
This mother would not allow other people to harm her son like this, especially when she heard that the other party came from a single-worker family1, so after dinner she immediately stormed off to He Nuo’s house. Shi Yan’s Mama disdainfully stepped into the living room. As they looked at the visitor who suddenly walked in all high-and-mighty dressed like a variegated b.u.t.terfly, the He couple waited for her to state her intentions. Shi Mama used her sharp tongue to tell them what had happened – albeit with a little touch-up on the truth here and there. She threw the receipts for Shi Yan’s medicine and injections at their faces. Don’t misunderstand anything, at the time all their medical expenses were covered, she didn’t show them the receipts to ask for money. She waved the receipts in their faces to prove the severity of her son’s injuries.
The He couple understood at a glance that she wasn’t someone whom they could talk to, so they called out the He Nuo who was in the middle of some work and asked if he had gotten into a fight with someone at school today. He Nuo was surprised at how his parents had gotten wind of the news so fast and wanted to explain when he saw the middle-aged woman sitting at a side, glaring at him with enraged eyes. She opened her mouth, “Are you in the same group as Shi Yan.”
He Nuo nodded his head.
“He’s the group leader?”
“He tried to manage you, but you didn’t listen to him. He distributed duties to you, and you didn’t do them, right!” Shi Mama accused with unwavering confidence.
He Nuo thought about how the group leader had asked them to bring food for the party, yet he didn’t bring anything. At the moment, he didn’t want to try and justify himself and willingly carried all the blame; he did injure Shi Yan today, so he was in the wrong. Hence, He Nuo didn’t answer her accusation.
As she saw that he kept silent, Shi Mama’s fury escalated, “You even had the audacity to kick him today,” then she turned towards the He couple, “do you know where he kicked my son? If my son has any problems in the future, your whole family’s lives wouldn’t even be enough to compensate for it.”
The He couple and He Nuo were taken aback. He Nuo really couldn’t remember where he had kicked He Nuo, and when this mother twisted her words like that, he really thought that he had kicked Shi Yan’s there, and he immediately worried about whether he really injured Shi Yan that badly. After He Papa’s recovered from his surprise, he slapped He Nuo, “You little b.a.s.t.a.r.d, we didn’t send you to school to start fights!”
He then quickly asked Shi Mama about Shi Yan’s current situation, and apologised profusely.
“Your son is so vulgar, do you guys not know how to educate your children properly? If you can’t educate them, then don’t have so many kids. Your son will probably turn into a delinquent next time.”
Flashes of black and red colours intertwined on He Papa’s face. He had no words to reply Shi Mama. He Mama couldn’t stand her tart words any longer and retorted, “When boys fight they don’t know how serious it can be, if he had hit the wrong place it was probably by accident. He Nuo is usually a good kid and wouldn’t cause any trouble, maybe…”
Shi Mama’s voice immediately raised an octave and she shrieked, “Then what else do you want? So it’s ok to seriously injure someone else if it wasn’t done on purpose? With parents like you two, no wonder your son turned out to be so vulgar! How can this kind of family even want to send their kids to high school? And don’t even think about sending them to university. Your son who’s in his third year of high school? He can forget about stepping into any university.”
He Nuo couldn’t bother with his parents whose faces had turned white after hearing her threat and ran after her, “Auntie! Shi Yan…is he ok?”
“It’s none of your business!”
He Nuo turned around and walked back, He Papa was already calling him from the living room. “Get the h.e.l.l back here.”
“Take your clothes off.”
He took his clothes off and stood in the same spot stark naked. He Papa pulled out the belt that was wrapped around his waist and started whipping He Nuo. The belt fell on He Nuo like raindrops relentlessly, accompanied by He Papa’s furious remonstrations. When the belt lashed onto He Nuo’s head and swept by the corner of his eye, he used his hand to shield his head in fear of the belt sweeping across his eyes again. The He Papa who had beaten him till he was out of breath ordered He Nuo to kneel in a corner, then left the room to discuss this headache-inducing issue with He Mama. On the second day, He Papa whipped him again, then grounded him to stay at home and didn’t allow him to go to school.
1. Author’s note: If a family had only one state employee (the so-called “steel rice bowl”), it is called a single-worker family. This type of family usually didn’t do very well financially because of the single source of income, and tend to have low statuses in society.?
TN: Sorry for the delay! As mentioned before, these few weeks are my h.e.l.l weeks of school… it’ll probably get better in two weeks… probably…