At night, Wang Feng and Shi Yan had a long talk on the phone. When they were at the hospital during the day and Shi Yan heard about how He Nuo’s toenails had been frozen off in the cold, his tall and big body had trembled involuntarily and his hands that couldn’t be clenched into fists quivered — this was why Wang Feng was so anxious to find an opportunity to chase him away then. Afterwards, while He Nuo was in the toilet, Wang Feng heard the doctor diagnose his condition as nephritis. He couldn’t care about which kind of nephritis it was — his mother was the director of the Internal Medicine Department, and through all the experiences he had garnered while following her all these years, he knew just how severe this disease was. He was afraid of agitating Shi Yan again, so he told the doctor not to write that kind of diagnosis down, and instead wait for his mother to to consult about He Nuo’s condition in detail first.
After communicating with his mother, Wang Feng knew that Shi Yan had known a long time ago that He Nuo was suffering from nephritis. When Shi Yan took so many books from him for research a year ago, he just never had the confirmation of a professional diagnosis. Mama Wang talked to Shi Yan for a bit, mainly to explain He Nuo’s illness to him, but she also comforted these kids: he’s really young — so as long as he undergoes treatment, doesn’t suffer from a relapse and pays attention to his recuperation, no big problem should crop up.
After Wang Feng answered the phone, he told Shi Yan his mother said that even though the hematuria symptoms had disappeared, He Nuo needed to continue his infusions. He would probably need to get an injection every day for at least a month, so he had to discuss it with Shi Yan. Today, they prescribed enough medicine to last for 10 days, but their college would be reopening in two weeks. Wang Feng wanted Shi Yan to get all the medicine required for the next month and place it in his mother’s ward, then after they went back to college, He Nuo can take some time out every day to get his infusion at the ward. Shi Yan was thankful for such an arrangement.
It was nephritis — this result was no big surprise to Shi Yan. The burden on his heart now was how He Nuo had vividly described to him about his village life before.
Behind all that colourful simplicity, He Nuo had never mentioned the blood and tears he had to shed, and never even touched on any of the sufferings he had to endure. He always silently bore all of those burdens in a place where no one would notice. Shi Yan couldn’t bleed, and couldn’t shed tears; he could only allow his tears that no one else could see accumulate into a huge, bitter fountain that hung on the tip of his heart everyday.
He Nuo went back to school the next day, then went to the hospital for his infusion after his afternoon classes ended. Shi Yan thought that the journey to He Nuo’s house to get his dinner took too long, and it wasn’t nutritious enough either, so he ordered some food at his father’s company. He Nuo may say that he wasn’t picky, but due to his years of monotonous eating habits, he wasn’t used to eating a lot of things. Shi Yan was also dissatisfied with how little he ate, yet he couldn’t force it down his throat either, so he would give He Nuo some canned fruits to eat half an hour after his meal.
After Yu Yao knew that He Nuo had to stay at the hospital for a few hours everyday, she often went over to accompany him. There were times when Shi Yan would bring food over for He Nuo and Yu Yao to eat, then he would go home to accompany his parents for a meal before returning. Shi Yan’s buddies had visited He Nuo too, but they would always come in a huge group and play poker at a side. Shi Yan found them too noisy and didn’t want them to disturb He Nuo’s studies, so he would always chase them out after a short while.
Shi Yan ate at home today, but he didn’t return to the hospital immediately. Instead, he went back to his room in a depressed mood; Shi Yan was reluctant to go back and see Yu Yao in the ward. Qiu Linsong ordered their meals from his father’s company today. Shi Yan went to take the meals with him, and when they returned to the ward, they coincidentally saw He Nuo lower his head to eat the orange in Yu Yao’s hand. He Nuo and Yu Yao were somewhat embarrassed when they saw the two of them come in. Yu Yao explained, “He can’t peel it with one hand, it’s too inconvenient.” Shi Yan emanated a cold air as he shifted a small table over and spread out all the meals they had brought on it, then left with Ah Song. On their way home, Ah Song mischievously asked if Yu Yao and He Nuo were together.
Qiu Linsong’s question made Shi Yan choke up and extremely unhappy. But he kept asking Shi Yan if he was still interested in Yu Yao. Qiu Linsong likes He Nuo’s character, and had never looked down on him because he was different from them. Thus, he had good intentions too as he was afraid that Shi Yan and He Nuo’s relationship might suffer just because of a woman. When he heard Ah Song speak up for the two of them, Shi Yan coldly threw out a sentence, “If he’s willing to pick up my trash, who can stop him!”
With those words, how could Qiu Linsong not think that Shi Yan was angry? As he looked at Shi Yan’s gloomy expression, he sincerely said, “San Ge, brothers are for life. You won’t break it off with He Nuo just because of a woman?ba.”
“Of course not.”
“Then what do you really think about Yu Yao? Be more straightforward about it.”
“What I think about Yu Yao? Not interested, at all.”
Qiu Linsong heaved a sigh of relief before he laughed, “Then why are you always at odds with her? And here I thought you were interested in her, but you’re not the kind who would graze on old grass. I think she likes He Nuo a lot.”
“She can’t like him!”
“Un?” Qiu Linsong was confused, “You don’t want her, but you’re not going to let someone else have her either? Do you want her to become a spinster? San Ge, don’t tell me you’re sick?ba?”
“I meant that she can’t like He Nuo. She can look for someone else, but she’s not allowed to look for He Nuo.”
“Why can’t she look for He Nuo? Just because He Nuo’s your friend? San Ge, when did you become so narrow-minded?”
“It’s a mantou that I’ve bitten, but after I chewed it for a bit I spat it out because it was tasteless. Isn’t it disgusting to give that to He Nuo? He Nuo shouldn’t be disgraced like that.”
At first, Qiu Linsong didn’t understand what he was saying, but when he realised that this metaphor was referring to Yu Yao, he burst out in laughter and pointed at Shi Yan as he scolded, “Your mouth is really terrible…no matter what, Yu Yao is still quite a pretty girl, yet you demoted her to being a mantou. If she knows about it she’s going to hate you to death,?haha,?haha……..”
Shi Yan couldn’t stop himself from laughing too, though he was still trying his best to control his facial muscles from losing control completely. He pretended to be stern as he said, “If you’re eating someone’s leftovers, it’ll be tasteless no matter how pretty it is.”
“Fuck, when He Nuo gets a girlfriend next time, does San Ge want to go check if she was a mantou that had been bitten?” Qiu Linsong couldn’t continue any further as he burst out into raucous laughter again. Shi Yan laughed as well and kicked him. The two of them thus rode their bikes as they made a scene with all their laughing and mutual cursing.
“……..He Nuo shouldn’t look for a woman, he should?be?a woman, then it would cause the least trouble if he became our sis-in-law……..”
At the junction where he split up with Shi Yan, Qiu Linsong joked before he rode towards the other side and laughed as he waved his hand.
After he ate, Shi Yan quietly thought of the words, “if He Nuo was a woman”. Shi Yan had never thought of something so impossible before. But, if,?if?He Nuo really was a woman? It was as if the moment this thought surfaced in his mind, Shi Yan thought of marrying him — he wanted to marry him. He wanted to hold his hands and hug him as they bathed in the warm spring breeze, tread the waves of summer, listen to the patter of the autumn rain and admire the snowfall in winter together. He wanted him to draw warmth from his embrace every night, and wake him from his dreams with a kiss every morning, then tell him: I love you, I’ll love you forever.
Shi Yan held his head that had drooped down. His hair fell in front of his forehead, and his eyes were filled with boundless tenderness and affection. He had merely imagined it, but Shi Yan’s heart couldn’t contain all the warmth he felt so his feelings were overflowing. During those nights when he stayed over at He Nuo’s house and had to quietly leave before dawn, he would always sneak a look at He Nuo before he went back. He Nuo would usually be in a deep slumber as he used Shi Yan’s arm as a pillow, then Shi Yan would give him a gentle kiss on his lips. However, he had always felt like something was missing. And in this moment everything was made clear to him — what was missing were those three words that have always been left unsaid!