Chapter 5

The Promise Sealed with Our Lips Guan Gai Man Jing Hua, 冠蓋滿京華 2022/9/13 16:52:19

Hei Nuo knew that if he let his brothers feel any more pain, he would be hurt too. So he unconsciously started to avoid his little brothers, afraid that he would hurt them again. Luckily, his little brothers preferred Fourth Brother and Fifth Brother because their Mama likes them, so she felt comfortable with them carrying her sons.

In the blink of an eye, another year pa.s.sed. After they celebrate Chinese New Year, Hei Nuo will need to attend school. This year, the political arena had experienced momentous changes. Even though the people were in the midst of a disaster, their leader had turned the tide and brought them out of their terrible plight. During the new year, Mama made an exception and bought two pounds worth of sweets. She called up every child in the house (the oldest had gone out to celebrate with his colleagues and cla.s.smates) to share the sweets. The third to fifth son left to find their friends once they got their sweets, while Hei Nuo stood right at the back and waited for his two little brothers to take their sweets before he took his share. Because the other brothers all left, Mama wanted the twins to take more so the two little ones both grabbed a big handful to stuff into their pockets. Hei Nuo came over and looked around before picking one sweet – he picked it because he thought its wrapper was very pretty. He was about to put it into his pocket and leave when his brother grabbed him, “I want this one.”

Hei Nuo didn’t loosen his grip on the sweet, and when his brother saw that he wasn’t handing the sweet over he looked to Papa and Mama for help, “I want this one, I want this one……”

“Don’t you already have sweets? You have so many, Hei Nuo only has one, don’t take his.” Mama just finished talking when the little one started wailing.

Mama quickly took a few more sweets and gave it to the little brother, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, there are still so many here, Mama will give you more, Mama will pick out the tastiest sweet for you.”

Sadly, little brother refused all the sweets Mama gave him and cried, “Don’t want, don’t want……”

Hei Papa saw this and told Hei Nuo, “Exchange the sweet with your little brother.”

Hei Nuo didn’t respond, and didn’t move. Hei Papa was a little unhappy, “You’re older, and you’re his elder brother, why don’t you give in to your little brother a little? Hurry and give your little brother the sweet.”

When the little brother heard his Papa’s words, he cried even more sorrowfully.

Hei Nuo lowered his head and didn’t say a word. Hei Papa got even more angry, “Are you asking for a beating? It’s the New Year and you want me to whip you a good one.”

Mama walked over and tried to make peace, “Stop it, stop it. Hei Nuo, be a good boy and exchange your sweet with your little brother, will you?” as she was talking, she reached out to hold Hei Nuo’s hand. Hei Nuo avoided her grasp, walked to the door, and mustered all his strength to swing his right arm as hard as he could out the door.

Everyone was stunned. When the little brother realised what he had done, his crying instantaneously became ear-piercing. Hei Papa flew into a rage and scurried over to slap Hei Nuo. Mama tried to stop him, so Papa grabbed the broom lying behind the door.

“What are you doing, we’re celebrating the New Year!1 Isn’t it just a piece of sweet?” Mama soothed, “Hei Nuo, hurry and tell your Dad that you’re sorry.”

Hei Nuo neither ran nor hide, he just stood rooted in place. Hei Papa got even angrier and pulled Mama away, “Move aside. He’s already this disobedient at this age, I need to discipline him.”

The little brother was still crying at a side, so Mama went over to comfort him. As Hei Papa used the broom to whack Hei Nuo’s b.u.t.tocks and legs, he scolded, “Do you know that you’re wrong? Will you admit your fault? ……”

Hei Nuo didn’t say anything, and didn’t raise his head. There were a few times when he was. .h.i.t till his knees almost buckled. After Mama stopped little brother’s tears and saw that on this side the beating was still ongoing, she walked over and said, “Leave it, leave it, it’s the New Year.”

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Hei Papa’s anger had also subsided quite a bit, but because Hei Nuo’s silence seemed to indicate a hint of rebelliousness, he was still irritated so he punished Hei Nuo to continue standing at that spot to reflect on his actions. It was only after they all left that Hei Nuo bent over and patted his pants. Luckily it was winter, so his cotton pants absorbed most of the urine that leaked as he was being hit. He took the broom that his Papa threw away and swept the bit of stain left at where he was standing which had seeped into the bricks. (In the olden days, no one’s house had cemented floors. Red bricks were used for both flooring and the construction of the house)

Once he made sure that there was no one else in the house, he took off his cotton pants and hung them next to the stove to roast. By the time Papa and Mama returned, not only had he roasted his pants dry, he had also released the weird urine smell that arose from the roasting of his pants out of the house. Only a slightly weird smell was left on his body because of the cotton pants he wore. His parents looked like they were in a good mood, and Papa’s tone when he asked if Hei Nuo knew he was wrong wasn’t as stern anymore. Hei Nuo softly replied, “I won’t… eat sweets… anymore.”

They couldn’t hear what he said clearly, but because he looked like he knew that he was at fault, Mama asked him to go out and play.

When he left the house, little Hei Nuo headed towards the river next to his house – the place where he usually spied on the other children who were playing. It was winter; there was a fish pond a few hundred metres away that was frozen solid and became a natural ice skating rink for children, so no one went to the river. He walked to the river bank, picked up a small piece of rod, found a place he liked and started digging through the soil. Even though the winter’s soil was hard, he managed to quickly dig a small hole the size of a fist. He looked left and right, ensured that there was no one around, then he smiled proudly. His left hand dug into his pocket and took out a prettily-wrapped sweet which he placed in the hole, “If I eat sweets I’ll get hit, so I won’t eat sweets anymore. I’ll hide you here instead.”

1. For the Chinese celebrating Chinese New Year is a really big thing and it’s supposed to be an auspicious happy occasion, so Hei Papa hitting Hei Nuo was kinda shameful (if other fams knew about it) and inauspicious in a way I guess. No bad things must happen during New Year!!?

TN: As a Chinese who was born into and raised by a Chinese family (with a lot of China influence; Chinese families from other countries are slightly different), this type of discipline by Hei Papa Mama is actually considered normal (Hei Nuo is a slightly special case cuz he’s like…the middle of the middle child LOL). As the eldest, I was always expected to give in to my little bros too. Always, without exception, cuz in my parents’ words I was “older”. The youngest ones are always pampered like crazy. Yeah so Hei Papa and Mama really aren’t being exceptionally mean to Hei Nuo or anything, it’s just Chinese culture. Not saying this type of parenting is right though.