Chapter 35

The Promise Sealed with Our Lips Guan Gai Man Jing Hua, 冠蓋滿京華 2022/9/13 16:52:47

Shi Yan realised that he had unintentionally cracked a joke, but he didn’t find it embarra.s.sing and his att.i.tude was as c.o.c.ky as usual, “What are you laughing at? Are you showing off the depth of your knowledge? Your Daye1 I just hate reading this kind of chick lits.”

“If you say cla.s.sics are chick lits, then wouldn’t Water Margin2 be a lad lit?”

Shi Yan suddenly thought that he hadn’t really seen much of a variety of books around, “What kind of novels do you like?”

“Un,” He Nuo thought for abit, “I like to read those that are good. I’ve read quite a lot, no specific genre.”

“Let me see your novels.”

“My novels? All the ones I read belong to my brothers. They borrow books from the unit’s library. But they don’t really borrow any nowadays, when I was younger they often borrowed books.”

When He Nuo’s nephew woke up, Shi Yan dragged them out to play. But actually, he just brought them to Xinhua bookstore. This one teenager and one kid were very excited; He Nuo carefully walked by every counter3 and looked at every book on display through the gla.s.s casing, and he lingered at the autobiography section for quite some time; while his nephew stayed at the Children Books and Children Literacy Pictures section and refused to leave.

That night, Shi Yan told his parents that it was boring to stay at home during the holidays, so he wanted to read some novels and gave his parents a list of t.i.tles. It was a good chance for their son to gain knowledge through reading so they didn’t object to it, though they were puzzled as to why there were two children books included in his list. So within two days, Shi Yan had gotten the books that he wanted — you could consider it as books bought under public expense.

Shi Yan excitedly ran over to He Nuo’s place the next day, and the moment he entered He Nuo’s room he dropped a plastic bag on his bed. He Nuo’s eyes immediately fixated upon the books on his bed and picked each and every book up to look at its t.i.tles. The Three Gians of World War II: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin; The Three Main Culprits of World War II: Hitler, Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, and there were two other solitary books on the World War II famous generals Desert Fox Rommel and Five-Star General MacArthur4.

“You bought these?” He Nuo’s voice was trembling.

“You think I’m crazy enough to buy them?”

“These are new.” He Nuo stated the truth. It would be weird if it wasn’t new; He Nuo had glanced over it a few times, these were all new books that had never been touched before and it’s impossible that these books belonged to the library. Most importantly, the library doesn’t stock books that are published this recently.

“My Dad bought them for me.” Shi Yan sat next to him, “I can lend them to you, but you need to promise me something.”

“What is it?”

“My Dad stipulated that I had to finish reading these books before our holiday ends. But half of summer vacation is over and I haven’t even started on them. So when you finish reading these books, you need to tell me what they’re about.”

He Nuo couldn’t help but laugh, then sighed, “What have you been doing during the holidays? You don’t even have the time to read books? Have you been watching TV and playing all day? We’ll be third years when school reopens.”

“Don’t tell me you want me to study instead of play during the holidays? How can that still be called a summer vacation? We might as well just resume cla.s.ses.”

When his nephew woke up, He Nuo began to doubt Shi Yan’s words again. If these books were purchased by his Dad to as reading a.s.signments, then why are there children books included too? And these are the books that He Nuo had paid special attention to when they went to the bookstore the other day. Otherwise, why would there be two extra books that weren’t part of the set?

“These were bought after that day right?” He Nuo looked at Shi Yan as he asked hesitantly.

Shi Yan knew that he wouldn’t be able to lie his way through this, so he didn’t intend to continue lying, “It’s none of your business when these were bought, why is your head full of such s.h.i.tty thoughts? In any case, they were all bought using the unit’s money.”

This afternoon, two teenagers and one kid quietly pa.s.sed their time while reading books. Once in awhile, Shi Yan couldn’t stand sitting still anymore and would read the children books with the little guy and answer the little guy’s never-ending silly questions.

When he sent Shi Yan off, He Nuo thanked him and anxiously added the conventional phrase “come again soon” which made the edges of Shi Yan’s lips curve up as he rode his bicycle home. He felt unparalleled comfort in his heart.

Today, he gave He Nuo two movie tickets and casually asked, “It’s enough right.”

“Do you still have extras?”

Of course he did. “You want to bring your sister-in-law along?!” He liked the little guy, but he wasn’t willing to get acquainted with that woman. After he found out what really happened last time from the little guy, he didn’t have a good impression of He Nuo’s sister-in-law.

“My brother and sister-in-law are already asking who keeps calling Dongdong ‘little guy’, and you’re still calling him that. Dongdong’s going to his grandmother’s house tomorrow, but my younger brothers are coming back tomorrow and I thought that they would like to watch a movie.”

“Wait for me at the entrance of the cinema tomorrow then, I didn’t bring any extra on me today.”

The next day, He Nuo saw Shi Yan and gang while he was waiting, then became much more restrained. They changed seats until they sat together as usual, and Shi Yan was shocked when he found out that He Nuo didn’t even know that the cinema has either single or adjoining seats — he had never been to this cinema before!!! But this was very normal. There were times when his family would get tickets too, but his family had so many people that the tickets they got would never be enough for everyone.

When the movie started, Shi Yan’s buddies bought ice cream. He Nuo was staring at the screen intently, Shi Yan stuffed a stick in his hand before he realised what it was and he anxiously tried to return it to Shi Yan in the dark. Shi Yan forced him to hold it, so he thanked the one who bought the ice cream in embarra.s.sment. As he looked at the He Nuo who was staring at the screen without knowing how to unwrap the ice cream packaging, Shi Yan bet that he wasn’t even watching the movie. The same bad feeling that he felt before arose again in Shi Yan’s heart. He tore off the packaging, “I’ll buy it next time to pay them back.”

During the last three weeks of their summer vacation, Shi Yan would go look for He Nuo in the afternoon twice a week. Sometimes after dinner, he would accompany He Nuo to send his nephew back, then they would ride around for a while before he sent He Nuo home. When the weather got so hot that Shi Yan would be drenched in sweat whenever he rode his bike, He Nuo asked Shi Yan to park his bicycle in front of his house, then they would send his nephew back and return to He Nuo’s house on foot.

The two of them had gotten much more familiar with each other, so much so that Shi Yan would drag He Nuo with him to watch a movie every weekend (and he would provide two extra tickets for his two younger brothers with seats far away from He Nuo). Even the little guy knew that he would get to watch movies during the weekends, so he would insist on eating dinner at his sixth uncle’s place during the weekends. But Shi Yan no longer forced He Nuo to sit together with him and his friends. He would only walk over to tease the little guy before the movie starts and give them some snacks that he had brought or bought, then send the little guy back with He Nuo after the

1. Daye = grandfather?

2. Water Margin (Chinese: 水滸傳; pinyin: Shuǐhǔ Zhuàn; literally: ‘Water-Margin Chronicles’), also translated as Outlaws of the Marsh, Tale of the Marshes, All Men Are Brothers, Men of the Marshes or The Marshes of Mount Liang, is a Chinese novel attributed to Shi Nai’an. Considered one of the Four Great Cla.s.sical Novels of Chinese literature, the novel is written in vernacular Chinese rather than Cla.s.sical Chinese.

The story, set in the Song dynasty, tells of how a group of 108 outlaws gather at Mount Liang (or Liangshan Marsh) to form a sizable army before they are eventually granted amnesty by the government and sent on campaigns to resist foreign invaders and suppress rebel forces.?

3. Author’s note: At that time, Xinhua bookstore placed books on rows of shelves with a gla.s.s counter in front of them. There would be 3 to 4 layers of books on display inside it. A salesman stood inside separated from guests, guests could only see what the books look like in the counter. If they wanted to buy it, then they had to get the salesman to take it out, it’s not like today where we can freely take books as we wish.?

4. Author’s note: If it wasn’t MacArthur then it would’ve been Eisenhower because He Nuo appreciated both these people, I can’t quite remember which book Shi Yan got him the first time. In any case, Shi Yan would get the whole set for him in the future. There would also be “Patton”, “Montgomery”, “Zhukov”, “Yamamoto 56”.

T/N: These are all war generals/admirals etc.?