Chinese Almanac Master - novelonlinefull.com
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Xiao Nanzhu overslept the next morning. What happened the previous night was so strange that he couldn’t sleep well on his first night back home.
He tossed and turned, unable to sleep, and kept thinking for the whole night. He got up eventually, took down the old Huangli on the wall, and studied it carefully for a while.
To his surprise, Xiao Nanzhu discovered that there were a couple of things he didn’t notice on the old Huangli that had been in his house for so many years.
First things first, apparently, this old Huangli didn’t seem to differ from the general Hong Kong version of Huangli-s.
Similar red background and gold lettering as its cover, with all kinds of traditional elements symbolizing good luck and festivity fully filled these old papers, recording the changes of the four seasons, bearing the thousand years of time repeatedly over and over again.
In olden times, people didn’t have mobile phones or computers. The only way they judged when to sow and harvest, and when the season starts to change from spring to autumn, was to rely on the existence of the old Huangli.
According to the legends, Huangli was originally created by the Yellow Emperor. It took thousands of years of ancient China workers’ wisdom to evolve and become what it is now. Until the modern days, when such old things seemed to be gradually eliminated by the continuous progression of time.
However, as Xiao Nanzhu sat on the bed, leaning against the wall and smoking, the moment he flipped open the Huangli, he couldn’t help but be fascinated.
Before him was all three hundred and sixty-five days in the various form of gorgeous, exquisite human or animal paintings, pleasingly arranged.
From traditional festivals to international festivals that only appeared in modern times. The four seasons to the most common and ordinary days. Not one day was missing, it didn’t seem strange at all.
What was strange, was that, as Xiao Nanzhu examined these beautiful and antique-feeling paintings carefully, he found that each calendar page had some weird things that he couldn’t tell, such as the one he was looking at… The third of August, international women’s day.
The face of a woman holding a mirror couldn’t be seen clearly, but her figure seen from behind was refined and graceful.
That figure of her had an indescribable charm and attractiveness, just looking at it made one wonder. The Phoenix hairpin in her hair was so vivid as though it were alive, and the combination of pearl and jade drop earrings with a matching vermilion dark embroidered dress was extremely beautiful.
Overall, it should have been a very normal painting of an ancient lady dressing, but the sharp-eyed Xiao Nanzhu managed to get a glimpse of this beautiful lady’s pear blossom wooden dressing table, which had several bottles and jars of modern cosmetics on it.
Of course, no one can argue that ancient women cannot put on makeup, after all, they do brush powder on their faces and used chunzhi②.
(Source: Baidu search result. It’s always amazing how cosmetics had evolved over the times.)
Besides, Xiao Nanzhu is a grown man, he’s not good at judging whether if he had mistaken those as something else, but what’s even more strange was that when Xiao Nanzhu furrowed his eyebrows and avert his gaze away from the folding screen with two mandarin ducks playing in water③, he found a bag that had carelessly fallen behind the screen, with a corner revealing…Hushubao④.
Xiao Nanzhu: “…”
He shut the calendar instantly as if he had seen a ghost in broad daylight. Xiao Nanzhu inexplicably felt ashamed. He shut his eyes closed as he broke out into a cold sweat and frowned, chanting silently “I must be dreaming I must be dreaming”, and lost his curiosity to continue investigating the calendar for the moment.
If the appearance and disappearance of the chubby little carp kid had left him in doubt, this surprising discovery was enough to convince him that his family’s old lady who had worked as Huangli Shi for decades must have kept something from him.
A calendar that had been hanging in his house for at least fifteen years was always kept up to date. If he had stayed at home more often, he wouldn’t have discovered it just now.
But what exactly are these mysterious things hidden within this calendar…?
With that question in mind, Xiao Nanzhu kept his eyes opened nervously in the darkness.
His lifestyle had been very disciplined when he served in the military, but now his mind was in complete state of chaos. Somehow, what Situ Zhang had said to him echoed in his mind. The entire night pa.s.sed just like that.
He took down that suspicious old Huangli and placed it on the living room’s coffee table. However, out of some indescribable sense of worry, Xiao Nanzhu stood up and stuffed it into the fridge.
The fridge hadn’t been used for half a year and contained nothing but two rotten eggs. With the old Huangli being shoved inside, the fridge’s blueish lighting shone on them as if demons were sealed.
(Source: link. Yeah, right. It will work. Definitely.)
Xiao Nanzhu squinted his eyes in distrust and stuffed it in a little more, confirming that this thing probably wouldn’t escape and appear from the fridge from nowhere, he then headed back to his room and slept.
As he was finally asleep, his chaotic brain plunged into rare tranquility and he dreamt of something that had happened when he was a child and which he had since forgotten.
Xiao Nanzhu was never obedient as a kid. Except for his grandmother, who he only listened to sometimes, he was always showing his impudent nature to everyone.
He attended his cla.s.ses, he read his books, but the little hooligans loitering near his school would still ‘challenge’ him with ‘martial arts’.
Xiao Nanzhu didn’t know how to hold himself back at that time, he often fought with kids who found trouble with him until they ran home crying. Every once in a while, his grandmother, old lady Xiao, would sigh for half a day at all the medical bills sent to their home.
“I say, Nan, you… Why did you break some other kid’s head again?”
“If I don’t break their heads, your grandson’s head will be the one broken.”
With a bruised mouth, he pursed his lips tightly, this rascal of only 12 years old had the nerve to defy his elders like this.
Grandma Xiao ran out of ideas on how to talk sense into this unruly child that even she couldn’t even handle. She could only take some time out to send him to school and personally pick him up every day.
Such treatment was unique among the children at that time.
After all, everyone thought that they were big children already, n.o.body wants to let their grandparents hold their hands and fetch them to and from school. Xiao Nanzhu naturally was reluctant too, but his grandmother’s temper was no better than his.
No matter how much he refused to comply, he had no choice but to hold his resentment in, yet Situ Zhang used that to make fun of him every time.
Such strict discipline was imposed over the semester, during which Xiao Nanhu never encountered those big children again. Still, there was one particular time when Grandma Xiao had something else to do and didn’t fetch him from school.
Xiao Nanzhu was blocked by several older children at the school’s back door of the school and was beaten up quite severely. Then, on that very day, something happened that had Xiao Nanzhu remembered for years.
For a long time, Xiao Nanzhu could recall every single thing that happened that evening. He was already in a bad mood, moreover, his head was trampled by numerous pairs of stinky rubber shoes that hadn’t been brushed for days. His whole face was covered with dirt.
He gritted his teeth and refused to beg for mercy, but the other two children pressed his arms and legs down with full force. They kept mocking him as a motherless orphan, their voices became so sharp in his ears that it was almost deafening. Just then, a strange woman suddenly appeared.
“What are you brats doing?! See if I’ll call your parents over or not! Hah! Don’t run!! You dare to run huh!! You beat my son and you still want to run?! Say! Which school are you from! Oho, Zhang Da isn’t it? I know your mom, she’s that vegetable seller Xiaoliu from the vegetable market right? Just wait, I’ll tell your mother when I buy groceries tomorrow… And you, aren’t you Peng Jiajia? What were you doing just now? Being so tall that you think you can bully others?”
This woman with a loud voice shot her scoldings just like a machine gun and helped him drove the big children away. She then gently picked him up from the ground. Xiao Nanzhu with eyes that were swollen and black, blinked and looked at this total stranger who seems to have a faint glow on her cheeks.
The woman with a mysterious glow all over her patted the ashes off him and lectured a whole lot to him. Seeing that Xiao Nanzhu remained silent, she sighed, and couldn’t help but pinch his cheeks.
“What are you looking at. You don’t obey your elder’s words, you deserve what you get. Let’s go, I’ll take you home.”
Xiao Nanzhu didn’t know her at all.
But her voice was unfamiliar to him yet gentle, which kind of warmed his heart. He blankly followed this naggy, mother-like woman home hand in hand and didn’t dare to utter a word the entire way.
He had a thought as to whether or not it was another form of child abduction used by bad guys, but on second thought, he was already a big child, so he a.s.sumed he wasn’t worth as much and didn’t worry about it.
The woman, on the other hand, showered sparkles as she walked, like tiny stars scattered at her feet, and did not seem to care about Xiao Nanzhu’s defensive att.i.tude. She just nagged him in a pained and angry tone like every ordinary mother would. Xiao Nanzhu hadn’t heard these words since birth, he had no idea how he blindly followed her home.
Xiao Nanzhu didn’t see his grandmother that whole day until they almost reached home as she came rushing out to see them. His grandmother was instantly relieved upon seeing the woman was holding his hand.
“Ah, thank you so much today… I’ve bothered you.”
“It’s alright, old lady. I shall take my leave.”
This strange G.o.ddess-like woman spoke a few words to his grandmother and disappeared into the house. Xiao Nanzhu was scolded by her grandmother that day, but, for once, he didn’t talk back.
He tried to ask his grandmother who that woman was, but what Grandma Xiao didn’t want to tell, no one could dig out from her.
Luckily, Xiao Nanzhu is not the most curious person, he won’t bother to dig into it even if he doesn’t know the truth.
However, on that night as he was about to do his homework, he opened up his bag and suddenly saw the homework a.s.signed by their Chinese teacher in cla.s.s.
“Students, today is Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a special day for all mothers in the world. On this day, everyone should be respectful and thankful to our mothers who gave birth to us. So please go back and write a short composition about ‘My Mother’. You can write about what happened in your daily life or things you did for your mother, and hand it in tomorrow morning, alright?”
1. Niansi 廿四: 24th day of the month.
2. Chunzhi 唇纸：A closer description would be lip tints made from flowers and other organic substances dried on papers. More info(youtube)
3. Two mandarin ducks playing in water 鸳鸯戏水：A Chinese proverb for loving and loyal couples.
4. Hushubao 护舒宝：A brand of pads and tampons in China.