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Chinese Almanac Master Chapter 4

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It was nine o'clock the next day when Xiao Nanzhu finally woke up.

He rubbed the side of his head as he walked out of the bedroom with his brain still groggy and slow. His eyebrows scrunched together tightly.

Humans unconsciously relax once they are no longer in a harsh environment. Even though Xiao Nanzhu had been used to military life before, those overwhelming scenes and words that were enough to turn a person’s views upside down on that night rendered him unable to think.

His phone showed two missed calls from Situ Zhang. He tucked his phone in between his neck and shoulder to return the call as he walked towards the kitchen. As he came up to the refrigerator, he stopped his steps abruptly when he suddenly remembered the strange old Huangli that he stashed in the refrigerator.

“Hey, so you’re finally awake?”

Situ Zhang’s sluggish voice resounded on the other end of the phone. Xiao Nanzhu replied with a soft “en” as he absentmindedly raised a finger and held the refrigerator door. His mind was still going over what happened last night——this ghostly matter could not be mentioned to others. Even if he talked about it, they certainly would not believe him.

“Why are you calling me in the morning?” Xiao Nanzhu asked flatly. He was preoccupied with the refrigerator in front of him at the moment, but he still managed to spare some of his attention to chat with Situ Zhang. Upon hearing him, Situ Zhang let out a sigh and spoke in an awkward manner.

“I say, how could your memories be so bad when you’re still young? Didn’t I tell you just yesterday? I promised to help you find a job after the New Year, remember? I know a lot of people——surely there’s a way if we ask around, but you have to promise me to accompany me for a few meals in the next few days. These things can only be discussed over the table, you know? You can’t do as you wish like you used to, Xiao Nanzhu…”

Situ Zhang was nagging him non-stop like an old mother, but Xiao Nanzhu knew he had good intentions, so he didn’t interrupt him. In actuality, however, Xiao Nanzhu was not the kind of person who could make friends and call them bros after a round of drinks. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been an outcast in the army and ended up in such an awkward situation.

Likewise, knowing fairly well about his temper and personality, Situ Zhang understood the difficulties that Xiao Nanzhu faced and tried to deliver his message patiently. He even considered Xiao Nanzhu’s “face” and contacted him without waiting for him to ask him for help——this heart of his was very precious.

As he thought to himself, Xiao Nanzhu felt that maybe he shouldn’t be so ungrateful. Afterall, he couldn’t be picky given his lousy condition. If Situ Zhang managed to help him get a reliable job, it wouldn’t hurt for him go to work after New Years.

While he was still lost in thought, Situ Zhang on the other end had already changed the topic and decided to finish what he had to say.

“Anyways, no matter what, you must come to this Jiuju① tonight! This host is one of my biggest customers; he always come for an entire treatment and ma.s.sage… You know who he is? He’s the sales manager of an insurance company! You know how many contacts and resources this kind of person holds onto-it’ll surely benefit you. If you work with him, there will surely be a future for you!! If this job doesn’t suit you this time, I’ll find another one for you! Investors——I even know those who sell health products! The sales industry has shaped lots of talented people! Of course, if you could find yourself a job before New Years, that would be the best! Then this buddy of yours can be accountable② to your grandmother! Right? Haha!”

After trolling his childhood buddy with words that even he himself didn’t believe, Situ Zhang cut the call immediately. As if he knew Xiao Nanzhu was going to be mad, he left him no chance to utter a word and hung up. Having been cut off, Xiao Nanzhu was left at a loss for words and pocketed his phone. The frustration pent up in his heart had nowhere to go. It was only after awhile that Xiao Nanzhu silently let out a curse.

“Darn Situ, why don’t you just tell me to do the Pyramid scam③ instead…”

He said it in a rather teeth-gnashing way. The inexperienced occupational newbie Xiao Nanzhu felt helpless for once. He, too, wanted to solve his work and life problems once and for all.

But just as Situ Zhang had said, in today’s society, without certifications or connections, he couldn’t get anywhere without a hitch.

As he continued to think, anxiety filled his heart and urged Xiao Nanzhu to smoke. He frowned and unwittingly looked at the refrigerator. There was a supermarket gift magnet attached to the fridge door. He pursed his lips, put his hand on it, and grasped the magnet in a daze. However, before he could open the fridge door, he heard a faint sneeze from inside the fridge.

He had been already shocked twice in a row yesterday. Xiao Nanzhu feared nothing at the moment.

It was the daytime anyway, so there was no need to be scared of demons or monsters. Moreover, it wasn’t even a problem for him, a retired soldier, to fight a demon empty-handed. His life and work problems were troubling him, so he desperately needs a punching bag then and there.

With that being said, as he was solemnly waiting for this creature to come out of the fridge to welcome him with a kick, the fridge door opened. Immediately, a young, scholarly man with green robes and frost-laden hair popped his head out as he shivered and fussed.

“H-How absurd! Who set the air conditioner this cold during winter?! This young man is gonna catch a cold sleeping naked… Achoo! Achoo!”

Xiao Nanzhu: “…”

Based on Niansi(24th)’s appearance, he appeared to be a delicate and pretty young scholar around twenty years of age. He was a poetic man who seemed to be surrounded by the fragrance of ink.

Niansi usually stayed in the old Huangli. His job was really relaxing and provided a lot of liberty for him.

During his free time, he would read some books in his small study or listen to Kunqu④. He would also often write a few love letters and flower petal rafts to Mangzhong-jiejie and Guyu-meimei⑤ whom have enamored him for a long time.

(Source:baidu search result. A Kun opera actress.)

Although his carp-farming neighbor Xiaonian was a noisy, hyperactive kid that liked to wear crotch pants and disturb his good night’s sleep, that didn’t stop him from living the simple and poetic life he pursued.

Even though he wasn’t an important holiday, nor was he a special solar term, being the most ordinary of the most ordinary days meant he must work hard! What if one day he becomes the memorial day of someone great?!

Harboring such a great ambition in his chest, Niansi thought to himself and worked even harder.

Every year when it was his day to work, this young man would come down from the calendar and work for his boss, who was also the owner of the Huangli, for a full day.

This kind of repet.i.tive routine had been in effect for thousands of years by now. As calendar G.o.ds, they must give the Huangli Shi the most accurate tellings of the daily fortune and mishaps and zodiac and dream interpretations. Sometimes, they even need to dispel evil spirits in person.

Niansi had 364 colleagues. All of them worked for the Huangli Shi because of the presence of the old Huangli.

During this period of time, they had countless masters. In the end, time is vast and boundless: the lifespan of human beings could not compare to theirs.

In Niansi’s memory, he may have met his new master for only a few times, but by the next meeting, nothing remained the same. Niansi’s master had changed yet again five years ago along with the sentimental partings and vicissitudes.

His female boss, surnamed Xiao, was stingy and bad-tempered. When Niansi first met her, she was only 21.

She got the old and rugged Huangli from her sc.r.a.p-picking father and unknowingly discovered the secrets of the old Huangli. This was a magical occurrence almost unimaginable for ordinary beings.

However, this brave young lady didn’t show a single sign of fear or backing off. She volunteered herself to become a Huangli Shi. During the period of years that she became a Huangli Shi, Niansi didn’t even feel that time had done anything to him, but this young lady named Xiao Ruhua grew old.

Old lady Xiao was sick. She always reprimanded those lazy calendar G.o.ds for not working when she was healthy, but when she fell ill, none of them were happy about it.

Double Ninth Festival⑥ suggested that they organise a donation for old lady Xiao. Nurses Day, on the other hand, called for everyone to take care of their body and stay vigilant against cancer. Mid-autumn Festival specially brought two boxes of five-kernel mooncakes⑦ from Guanghan palace⑧ to express his sincerity. Children’s Day, on the other hand, said nothing but cried for the whole day holding old lady Xiao’s hand.

They are the almighty and powerful calendar G.o.ds, but faced with such circ.u.mstances, even they cannot change the fate of a person who is reaching the end of her life…

Because of this, Niansi was especially sorrowful for a very long time.

He had prepared a beautiful acrostic poem for the ill old lady Xiao. Unfortunately, she pa.s.sed away on a day he wasn’t working, and he never had the chance to read it to her.

The only thing he remembered was a boy’s stiflingly pained groans from inside the hospital ward. From that day onwards, the calendar G.o.ds in the old Huangli were no longer under the restriction of a boss.

(Source: net)

This indefinite period of rest left a layer of dust over the once-new labour contract lying on the coffee table.

Niansi and the other calendar G.o.ds were actually prepared to negotiate with the new boss about work welfare and insurance, but that dumb grandson of old lady Xiao didn’t know anything. His only intention was to get out of there later on. So just like that, he left this huge crowd of over 300 employees hanging on the wall to collect dust.

Because of this, the few proud and arrogant traditional festivals that usually couldn’t be bothered with insignificant small fry had secretly complained about him. It had been several years since that Xiao Nanzhu fellow left. When he finally came back, Niansi looked at himself in the mirror and saw that even his chin had grown a beard.

It was midnight. Xiaonian ran outside noisily and then came back whining.

Niansi was curious to see how that lonely boy who cried pitifully that time was now. He even shaved his beard for this occasion.

Nianwu(25th) and the others wanted him to have a good talk with Xiao Nanzhu, whether it be about life,ideals, or dreams—— all were fine. Their purpose was to let him know about the advantages of being a Huangli Shi, so Niansi accepted this honorable mission.

However, what he really didn’t expect was that before he even got out of the calendar, he immediately felt a bone chilling gust of wind blowing on his face.

“H-How absurd! Who set the air conditioner this cold during winter?! This young man is gonna catch a cold… Achoo! Achoo!”

1. Jiuju 酒局:Not sure if there’s an English equivalent word for it. Basically a culture of talking business over alcohol. 

2. Accountable in this case refers to Situ Zhang feels that he had some responsibility to give Xiao Nanzhu a hand/take care of him so as not to make grandmother Xiao worry.

3. Pyramid scam 传销:Or pyramid marketing, a pyramid scheme is an illegal investment scam based on a hierarchical setup.

4.  Kunqu 昆曲:Or Kun opera, it is one of the oldest opera in China’s history.

5. Jiejie 姐姐=elder sister, Meimei 妹妹=younger sister, Gege 哥哥=elder brother, Didi 弟弟=younger brother

This chapter is edited by Noxeru. Thank you so much for reading >w

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Chinese Almanac Master Chapter 4 summary

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