Zhou Xiaoyu definitely isn’t like Snow White’s evil stepmother; she still liked the sons of the previous lady, especially the third, fourth and fifth sons. But deep down in her heart, even if she doesn’t admit it she knows that she treats her own flesh and blood differently. She gives them the most sincere kind of love – the selfless love that a mother gives her own children. Once the two newborns were off weaning, Zhou Xiaoyu needed to go back to work. At this time, the little big brother Hei Nuo was old enough to enter elementary school, so she couldn’t bring him to work anymore. But due to their financial difficulties, they couldn’t send all three to the nursery, plus the twins still couldn’t be by themselves, so they were sent to the nursery while Hei Nuo stayed home.
While Aiguo graduated and started doing apprenticeships, Aidang and Aijia attended junior high, Aiwen and Aige went to the same elementary school everyday, the two little “friends of the army” started modelling after their mother and were saying their first words, Hei Nuo was already about 5 years old. He was a rather obedient child. Even though his parents were away at work and his brothers went to school so he was always alone at home, he never caused any trouble.
He liked to read the xiao ren shu1?his brothers borrowed. While they were in school, he could take his time to read them. He was illiterate, but he would try his best to guess the meaning of every picture. Once in awhile, his brothers would discuss the plot and people in the xiao ren shu while he listens intently at a side, then he would go back and reread the book again to verify the characters in it. Second Brother and Third Brother stayed in one room, while he, Fourth Brother and Fifth Brother would stay in another. Fourth and Fifth Brother have always played, attended school and went home together after school since they were young, so they were very close.
Actually, in this families residential area2?there were many children, every family had a few. Naturally there were children about Hei Nuo’s age too. But these children played in the nursery together everyday and had cultivated very close relationships; because Hei Nuo didn’t go to the nursery, he wasn’t close to the other kids, so no one would take the initiative to invite him to play. There were a few times when he saw some boys and girls playing, and he did want to join them but he was very shy so he just stood at a side to watch them. He didn’t have the courage to ask if he could play with them.
During one of the midsummer’s nights, everyone was outside cooling themselves down. The children in the families residential area were making a racket and playing together as usual. Hei Nuo was looking at a game of soldiers VS robbers; he watched them use wooden swords and rods to attack the enemy’s camp and the desire in his eyes leaked out. Early on, he had already found a relatively straight tree branch and emulated a picture he saw in the xiao ren shu by holding up the tree branch as a wooden gun. He hoped that the others would be intrigued by his exquisite gun and invite him to join them.
One of the neighbour’s sons who was one year older than him, Han Ming, really did see his gun and asked his friends to check it out too. Everyone was interested in the gun, because compared to their rough and shoddy “weapons”, the gun looked way more sophisticated. The children all wanted to use the gun in their battles. Han Ming said to Hei Nuo, “If you let all of us use your gun, we’ll let you play with us.”
Hei Nuo happily nodded and stood at a side to wait. The children started a new round of games and the gun was transferred from one child’s hands to another – when someone “sacrificed” the gun, it was passed onto someone else. Hei Nuo happily looked at how excited each child was when they got ahold of the gun, as if he was the one who was excitedly being accepted into their group, not the gun. Once everyone had their turn, Han Ming returned the gun to him, the children were all tired from running about so they left. Hei Nuo was a bit upset, but he wasn’t used to expressing his feelings so he just quietly returned home.
When he walked up to his house courtyard’s door and pushed the door, the door wasn’t as easy to push as before so he used a bit more strength to push it open. Suddenly, a big cry rang out, and in front of him one brother was sitting on the floor crying while the other was standing at a side bawling. He was stunned. What happened? Zhou Xiaoyu was sitting in the courtyard when she heard the cries and quickly came over to carry little Junhui, coddling him while chastising Hei Nuo, “Why would you use so much strength to open the door, you hit your two little brothers…”
Originally the door could be opened and closed from both sides, such that one could stand outside and push the door toward the courtyard side while another could stand in the courtyard and push the door towards the outside. When Hei Nuo came home and pushed the door, coincidentally little Junhui was also pushing the door to go outside too. The Hei Nuo who was older by Junhui by 3 years naturally had more strength, so the Junhui behind the door got pushed back down onto his butt and even knocked into Youhui. The Hei Papa who had heard the cries also ran out, and when he saw that the kids started to cry even more he asked, “What’s wrong, what’s wrong?”
Zhou Xiaoyu carried Junhui and pursed her lips toward Hei Nuo, “Hei Nuo doesn’t even know how to control his strength when pushing the door and rushed in so roughly. The door hit Junjun, who knocked Youyou. Hurry and check if Youyou’s ok.” As Hei Papa carried Youyou, Zhou Xiaoyu coaxed Junhui, “Junjun’s a good boy, don’t cry anymore, ask Papa to hit him, Papa will hit him for Junjun, Junjun no more pain.”
Little Junjun didn’t give in and continued crying loudly while pointing at Hei Nuo, “Papa hit, papa hit.” Youyou copied him and said, “Papa hit, papa hit.” Hei Papa lifted his leg up and kicked Hei Nuo, who cried out as he flew and harshly fell onto the hard ground.
“Papa has hit him already, don’t cry, if you keep crying you won’t be a good boy anymore.” Mama continued coaxing the two. Hei Nuo stifled his anger, and as he saw his brothers slowly stop crying he didn’t dare to cry either. He crawled up from the ground, and when he saw that no one was paying any more attention to him, he returned to his room. His other two brothers whom he shared the room with haven’t returned. He carefully rubbed the area that had been kicked. It had a stinging, fiery sensation.