Chapter 3

The Promise Sealed with Our Lips Guan Gai Man Jing Hua, 冠蓋滿京華 2022/9/13 16:52:18

With a dual income and Hei Mama’s meticulous planning, raising the kids they had was barely manageable. But now that their income was suddenly cut in half, the family immediately fell into a tighthold. One could imagine how difficult it would be to also try to find a woman under these circumstances. Hei Papa’s colleagues and neighbours were filled with enthusiasm as they pitied the children, so there wasn’t a lack of people who were trying to help Lao Hei. However, many were scared away the moment they heard the number “six”. After several twists and turns, a girl whose surname was Zhou from the countryside finally agreed. She was a pretty lady, but it was because of her above average looks that she was a bit proud, and was thus unwilling to marry someone from the countryside. Now she was already 25 years old, and was considered a pure, old lady in her village.

A family with a woman in it slowly recovered its vitality. Aside from Aiguo and Aidang who, because they were older, couldn’t really get close to the new woman, the other three little ones happily accepted Zhou Xiaoyu as their new mama. As for the sixth son who couldn’t understand anything, it was still the eldest and second son who were taking care of him. Instead of the sixth son, the new mama would rather play with the fourth son who would act coquettishly and the fifth son whom was more talkative. Hei Papa’s face was also slowly regaining some colour. As such is life. Even though the one he loved was the woman who had passed away, Hei Papa still had a duty towards his six children and was obliged to provide them with a proper home. As he gained a companion to accompany him through the lonely nights, he felt a spark of hope and the courage to continue living, so he was unwilling to continue ruminating over the past.

With Zhou Xiaoyu as a new addition to the family plus her income from her new job at the factory, their days passed by peacefully. By the time Hei Papa knew that his wife was pregnant, they had already been married for almost two years. Several conflicting feelings arose in Hei Papa. They could barely afford feeding all the mouths in his household, but asking Zhou Xiaoyu to never have a child of her own would be too unreasonable of him. Eventually he and Xiaoyu would need to have a child of their own. At this thought, his previous wish of having a daughter was slightly stirred up again, though his heart still remembered the trauma from two years ago. Zhou Mama was completely elated at the news, who wouldn’t want to have a child of their own? Even though there were six sons in the family, according to conventional ideas, she could not rely on any of them on the future. As the saying goes, “raise a child so that someone will look after you in old age”, Zhou Xiaoyu also needed to make plans for herself. She hoped that it would be a son, so her status in the household would be more stable.

This time, Hei Papa was abnormally worried, so in the summer of 1975 Zhou Xiaoyu gave birth in the hospital.

The birth of the newborns…brought one parent happiness, and the other sorrow. Was the heavens telling Hei Papa that he was cursed to never have a daughter? Or were the heavens being way too kind to him? As Hei Papa looked at the twin boys who looked exactly like each other, he completely destroyed his dreams of having a daughter. Zhou Mama could not rein in her excitement, with these two sons she no longer had to worry about the future.

After they left the hospital, Zhou Mama gave her two beloved sons resounding names: Hei Junhui and Hei Youhui1. No wonder they were husband and wife. Zhou Mama admired soldiers who had impeccable honour and high statuses in their society, so she wanted her sons to be “friends of the army”. At night, the couple happily looked at the two new names added to their household register2. They flipped the pages back and forth to look at their big family, and counted every person’s page. Eh? The couple looked at each other. They were missing a page? Who’s missing? They flipped through the book again, and realised that the sixth son wasn’t on their household register.

The next day, Hei Papa entrusted the duty of registering his sixth son to his third son who was almost ten, Aijia. When Aijia went to the office that handled household registrations, the uncle who worked there asked him for the name he wanted to register. That was when Aijia realised that his dad didn’t tell him what name he should report.

The Dragon Boat Festival was currently ongoing, and the colleague who walked in passed a dumpling to the uncle who was working in the office, “Eat up, it’s pretty good. I wolfed down a few in one go.”

“Glutinous rice? Or white rice?” (In the north, dumplings were made with glutinous rice; they were fragrant and even had fillings like red bean or jujubes. Originally there were even delicious bacon fillings, but in the times they were living in, how many families would have meat? So as long as they had glutinous rice it was good enough. But because the southerners weren’t very good at making dumplings, they used white rice instead. White rice scattered easily and didn’t have as good a mouthfeel, so its texture left much to be desired. The difference in taste between dumplings from north and south was immense)

“Of course it’s glutinous rice! It’s so sticky it sticks to your teeth, delicious!”

Uncle was about to tear the dumpling wrapper when he realised that the little boy Aijia was still around, so he asked, “Do you have a name yet?”

The smell of the dumpling had already wafted into Aijia’s nose. When his mum was still alive, she would wrap dumplings for them, and even though each of them only got one dumpling, it felt like they were celebrating a grand festival. Because Mama’s dumplings were really too delicious, around this time of the year many families would ask Mama to help wrap dumplings for them. After they cooked the wrapped dumplings for about 5 hours, they would send Mama a few but she never accepted a single one of them. For the past two years, they haven’t been able to eat those fragrant, delicious dumplings again.

Faced with the uncle’s question, Aijia’s head was full of images of green glutinous rice dumplings, so he blurted out, “Glutinous rice.3”

“……………” the two uncles were stunned for awhile before they burst out in laughter.

“Glutinous rice? Little buddy, do you want to name your brother Glutinous Rice? Un, let me see, Hei Nuo Mi, that’s good, the next one can be called Hei Gao Liang4.” Uncle teased.

Aijia scratched his head. He really didn’t know what name to come up with. The uncle who was looking from the side interrupted, “Why not we leave out the Mi, Hei Nuo sounds pretty good too.”

“Hei Nuo, Hei Nuo,” Aijia repeated a few times, and thought it was pleasant on the tongue. “Ok then Uncle, Hei Nuo it is.”

Uncle started writing in the new name, then suddenly said to his colleague, “Might as well change the “Glutinous” Nuo character to the “Promise” Nuo character5, it sounds a little better than Glutinous Rice?”

“Un, this name sounds really good, once you change the character it really makes a difference.”

After being a nameless member in the Hei family for the past 3 years, the sixth son finally had his own name and even had his own page in the household register. He had formally become a member of the Hei family – Hei Nuo.